In a Sunday phone call between the two, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told President Trump that Turkey is “ready” to take over security in the Syrian city of Manbij, the site of a bombing last week that killed four US troops.
According to Turkish officials, Erdogan expressed the belief that the bombing was done specifically to try to affect President Trump’s decision to withdraw from Syria, and said it should not impact US plans.
The White House version of the call didn’t even mention this, nor the offer for Turkey to take over Manbij’s security. Instead they said the two had agreed to “continue to pursue a negotiated solution for northeast Syria that achieves our respective security concerns.”
This comment gives the impression that President Trump is further softening on the Syria pullout, again with a focus on trying to negotiate with Turkey on the status of Syrian Kurdistan, which Turkey is planning to invade in the course of the US pullout.
Opponents of the pullout had been using the fate of the Kurds as an argument to keep US troops in Syria, and have since presented the Manbij bombing as another reason the troops have to stay. Though the White House had insisted before that the plan was still a pullout, their resolve is clearly weakening as they slow the process further and further, and present the near-term focus as negotiation with Turkey, not physically extricating US troops from Syria.
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