US President Donald Trump gave a positive response to Turkey’s operation east of the Euphrates, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on December 17 following a phone call with the US President, according to Turkish media. “We can start our operation any moment now in Syrian territory at any place, especially along the 500-kilometer border, without harming U.S. soldiers,” Erdogan said at the opening ceremony at Mevlana Square in central Konya province.
Erdogan said that he had told his Trump that “terrorists” must leave the region east of the Euphrates River. “If they don’t go, we will send them,” he said. “The terror corridor [in Syria] is disturbing us. Since we are partners with the US, we must do this.”
The Turkish President also called on the US to uphold to the Manbij deal to clear the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) from the region. “Our fight against terrorism in the Syrian territory will continue until a political solution is opened,” Erdogan said.
Last weekend, Erdogan announced that Turkey is about to launch to a military operation against the YPG in the area east of the Euphrates. According to sources in pro-Turkish militant groups, about 15,000 members of pro-Turkish militant factions are ready to participate in this attack. (SouthFront)
Erdogan announced this coming offensive on 12 December during the Turkish Defense Industry Summit. There has been a steady beat of the war drums in Turkey since that announcement. The initial targets of this FSA offensive appear to be Kobani (Ayn Arab) and Tell Abyad. Although the FSA forces are massing north of the border, Turkish troops will not take part in order to avoid any confrontation with US forces.
The US has established observation posts in this area ostensibly to protect Turkey from “terror threats.” In actuality the presence of US troops on the border are meant to discourage the kind of invasion that Erdogan announced on the 12th. This South Front article casts doubts on this strategy. Has Trump decided to abandon the Rojava Kurds? We have a rich tradition of abandoning Kurds so he would not be breaking new ground here. However, the Kurdish YPG/YPJ are the backbone of the SDF and our ongoing efforts to establish a lasting presence east of the Euphrates. Perhaps Trump has decided to abandon that policy. Has he made peace (in his mind) with Iran? That would be a major shift and a major blow to neocon strategy in the region. It would also be a kick square in the stones of both the Israelis and Saudis.
Unfortunately, Erdogan may be reading too much into his phone conversation with Trump. Trump has a lot on his mind right now and he may not have clearly expressed what he wants or is willing to accept. It wouldn’t be the first time a poorly enunciated political message has led to an invasion in the region. We won’t know until Erdogan’s FSA jihadis cross the border and threaten Kobani. Remember the last time the jihadis were at the gates of Kobani? We brought scunion down on their heads while the YPG/YPJ held them by their short and curlies.