WASHINGTON — Turkey will use a temporary halt in its military thrust into Syria to consolidate its forces and recalibrate strategy before continuing its anschluss in the critical border area, Pentagon officials said Friday.
On Thursday, Turkey’s leadership agreed to what Vice President Mike Pence called a ceasefire in its invasion of northern Syria. There is to be no pullback of Turkish forces under that agreement which, according to news reports, has already been breeched in some locations.
Turkey wants the U.S. to help remove Kurdish fighters it claims are terrorists. Its leaders have indicated military operations will resume once that is completed.
On Wednesday, the Pentagon ordered an air strike at the US-French military base near Kobani after U.S. and allied forces withdrew to prevent the coalition operation center from being utilized by Syrian, Russian and other outside forces.
President Trump said Friday things worked out fine for the U.S. since “We have ISIS under control. We’ve taken control of the oil in the Middle East, the oil that everybody was worried about. The U.s. has control of that. And there are no shots being fired,” accoridng to news reports.
He insisted the deal was great for everyone and said permitting Turkey to attack the U.S. Kurdish allies was all part of his master plan.
“Sometimes you have to let ‘em fight, like two kids in a lot you have to let ‘em fight and then you pull them apart,” he told a crowd Thursday night, according to news reports.
He insisted the ceasefire, which acquiesces to all of Turkey’s demands, is a win for everyone.
“The announcement today is being portrayed as a victory. It is far from a victory,” Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), said in a speech on the Senate floor on Thursday. “The ceasefire does not change the fact that America has abandoned an ally. Are we so weak and so inept diplomatically that Turkey forced the hand of the United States of America? Turkey?”
A review by CSIS analysts said the U.S. retreat from its Kurdish allies is likely to be seen in history as “the breaking point for U.S. credibility.
“Trust in the United States has been in a state of steady erosion for well over the past decade, but this singular act, as well as recent suggestions that the United States will withdraw forces from other regions, has warned all U.S. allies that nothing is certain and nothing—even strong U.S. economic ties and U.S. forces on the ground—is guaranteed,” the CSIS analysis said.
“These decisions have also inspired adversaries who have identified tactical opportunities to fill the vacuum that the United States leaves behind. As these adversaries more fully enter a region, U.S. allies step back, and the United States becomes a more insecure country,” it said.
Trump has strongly denied he gave the green light to Turkey to attack in a phone call with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier this month.
On Friday, Erdogan said his country “cannot forget” the harshly worded October 9 letter from President Trump where he warned Erdogan not to be a “tough guy,” according to news reports.
Erdogan told foreign journalists in Istanbul on Friday that Turkey would “do what’s necessary” concerning the letter “when the time comes,” according to news reports.
Erdogan is to visit Washington in November.
Once a permanent cease-fire is in effect, the U.S. sanctions imposed Monday in retaliation for the Turkey’s incursion will be withdrawn, Pence said. Those are separate from any sanctions imposed by Congress.
— By Tom Squitieri