Breaking: Trump defends Syria withdrawal, announces Turk-Kurd permanent ceasefire agreement; Update: Kurdish commander thanks Trump


It’s too early for congratulations, Donald Trump admits, but his presser this morning definitely had the look of a victory lap. Trump announced that the temporary cease-fire between Turkey and the Kurdish forces in Syria has now been made permanent in a new agreement. Trump insisted that his decision to abruptly withdraw from the contested border areas created the opening for potential peace in the region.

“This was an outcome created by us, the United States, and nobody else. No other nation,” Trump claimed, while blaming the countries in the region for involving us in their “ancient tribal conflicts.” Declaring that his course will always be “victory for America,” Trump said that he would ensure that American troops would only be deployed in the future in service to a “vital national interest,” and only when a path to victory is clearly defined:

Even if the ceasefire collapses, Trump noted, we won’t come back. “Let someone else fight over this long-bloodstained sand,” Trump declared, and called on other nations to do their part in policing peace. That has its own implications for the region; which nations will fill the vacuum left behind the US withdrawal? Do we really want Iran and/or Russia becoming the policeman in the region? Saudi Arabia already has enough of Iran playing policeman in Yemen and parts of Syria, and Jordan and Israel won’t much care for that idea either.

However, this is entirely consistent with Trump’s election campaign rhetoric. In fact, this speech sounded almost like a sequel to his 2016 agenda, with claims of progress and determination to get the rest of it accomplished. Clearly the criticism from both sides of the aisle over his Syria withdrawal has not dented Trump’s resolve to see through his disengagement policies; it sounds more like he’s doubling down and hoping to accelerate the process.

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The government in Afghanistan is no doubt getting more nervous after this speech, and they should be. Whether the government in Ankara is at all nervous about Trump’s threat of economic war as a consequence of violating the ceasefire remains to be seen, but I doubt the Kurds are anywhere near as grateful as Trump claimed.

Update: Here are Trump’s full remarks, but you need to skip to the -26:00 mark to get to them.

Update: Trump said that Kurdish SDF commander General Mazloum would shortly issue a readout of their call in which he thanked Trump for forcing the Turks to end their attacks. Sure enough:

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