Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

Ignoring the experts has paid off for Turkey

Data: FactSet; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios
Expert Voices

Rushed Syria retreat undermines U.S. interests and betrays allies

Syrian Kurds demonstrating in the northeastern Syriai on December 28, 2018, against threats from Turkey to carry out a fresh offensive following the US decision to withdraw their troops.
Syrian Kurds demonstrating in Qamishli, Syria, on Dec. 28, 2018, against threats from Turkey to carry out a fresh offensive following the U.S. decision to withdraw troops. Photo: Delil Souleiman/AFP via Getty Images

Last month, President Trump announced the immediate and complete withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria. Then he backtracked, declaring that the U.S. withdrawal is contingent on benchmarks set by national security adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Pompeo: destroying ISIS and security guarantees for the Kurds in Syria. Now, the current course is unclear.

Why it matters: Although U.S. forces cannot stay in Syria forever, withdrawing them too hastily could create a vacuum for ISIS to fill. While Turkey has pledged to fight ISIS, Erdogan's agenda is eradicating Kurds, whom he calls "terrorists." If Turkey attacks, many Kurds would be killed or displaced.

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