Oct 14, 2019

Trump confirms near-total Syria withdrawal while warning of costs for Turkey

Trump and Erdogan in 2017. Photo: Brenadan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump has confirmed that nearly all U.S. troops in Syria will be leaving the country while warning Turkey of repercussions for its offensive against Kurdish forces who had been key U.S. allies.

  • In a lengthy statement, Trump said the U.S. forces leaving Syria will remain in the region to guard against an ISIS resurgence. He also announced a suspension of trade talks with Turkey, a hike in steel tariffs to 50%, and potential "powerful additional sanctions" against those guilty of "serious human rights abuses."

Why it matters: Trump insists he didn't give Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a "green light" last week to attack America's Kurdish allies, but his withdrawal of U.S. special forces from the Syria-Turkey border was certainly read that way by both Erdogan and by the Kurds.

  • Erdogan considers the Kurdish forces a terror threat on his border. Facing an onslaught, the Kurds quickly struck a deal with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and his Russian backers, reshaping the conflict in Syria in the span of just a few days.
  • The steps by Trump and Erdogan provoked bipartisan outrage on Capitol Hill, where sanctions against Turkey are currently being prepared.
  • Trump turned against Erdogan's invasion after it began, and he is now preempting those looming sanctions with steps of his own.
  • He said only a "small footprint" of U.S. forces would remain in southern Syria, while the northeast of the country would be abandoned entirely.

The big picture: “Trump’s acquiescence to Turkey’s move to send troops deep inside Syrian territory has in only one week’s time turned into a bloody carnage, forced the abandonment of a successful five-year-long American project to keep the peace on a volatile border, and given an unanticipated victory to four American adversaries: Russia, Iran, the Syrian government and the Islamic State,” the NYT’s David Sanger writes.

Go deeper: Behind the scenes on Trump's Syria exit

Go deeper

Federal judge strikes down Florida law requiring felons to pay fines before voting

Gov. Ron DeSantis. Photo: oe Raedle/Getty Images

A federal judge on Sunday ruled that a Florida law requiring convicted felons to pay all court fines and fees before registering to vote is unconstitutional.

Why it matters: The ruling, which will likely be appealed by state Republicans, would clear the way for hundreds of thousands of ex-felons in Florida to register to vote ahead of November's election.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 5:30 p.m. ET: 5,375,648 — Total deaths: 343,721 — Total recoveries — 2,149,412Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 5:30 p.m. ET: 1,639,872 — Total deaths: 97,599 — Total recoveries: 361,239 — Total tested: 13,784,786Map.
  3. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil, coronavirus hotspot in Southern Hemisphere Over 100 coronavirus cases in Germany tied to single day of church services — Boris Johnson backs top aide amid reports that he broke U.K. lockdown while exhibiting symptoms.
  4. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks headed into Memorial Day weekend Report finds "little evidence" coronavirus under control in most statesHurricanes, wildfires, the flu could strain COVID-19 response
  5. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Public employees brace for layoffs.
  6. Federal government: Trump attacks a Columbia University study that suggests earlier lockdown could have saved 36,000 American lives.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
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Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

White House announces new coronavirus travel restrictions on Brazil

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro with Trump, March 19, 2019. Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo-Pool via Getty Images

The White House announced that beginning at 11:59 pm ET on Thursday, President Trump would suspend entry of non-U.S. citizens who have been in Brazil in the past 14 days in an effort to stop the imported spread of the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Brazil has reported nearly 350,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus — the second-most in the world behind the U.S. — and has emerged as a Southern Hemisphere hotspot as other heavily affected countries in Asia and Europe have managed to get their outbreaks under control.