Pompeo: Turkey’s Threats Won’t Delay US Pullout From Syria

Pompeo dismisses Erdogan threats, makes vague promises of protecting Kurds

Speaking in the Iraqi Kurdish capital of Irbil on Wednesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo dismissed the idea of Turkish threats of military action against the Syrian YPG having any impact on the US withdrawal from Syria. He said that the pullout would not impact a US commitment to protect the YPG.

Pompeo’s position seems to be to overtly ignore the comments made by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on how no concessions can be made with respect to the YPG. Instead, Pompeo is insisting that Erdogan “understands” the US determination to see the YPG protected, and that he had made some unspecified “commitments” in that regard.

What was actually said isn’t entirely clear, but Pompeo has repeatedly made reference to Turkish promises to “protect” the Syrian Kurds. Erdogan, on the other hand, has said as recently as yesterday that Turkey “cannot make any concessions” on the YPG.

In the end, Pompeo seems to be willfully ignoring what Turkey is actually saying publicly with the respect to the YPG, and insisting that everything will fall into place, without any suggestion of how this might happen.

Taking Turkey at their word, the more likely scenario is that they follow through on years of threatening to invade YPG territory. The US reaction will likely be minimal, publicly criticizing Turkey, but ultimately not doing anything too serious to the NATO member.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.