Trump told Turkey he would stop arming Syrian Kurds

Russia, Turkey, and Iran are largely setting the parameters for a postwar Syria without the United States. President Trump promised to end U.S. support of Syrian Kurdish militants Friday, a major concession to Turkey and a Russian-backed peace plan.
By Rick Docksai | Nov 27, 2017
 

A Russian peace plan for Syria got a concession from President Trump this week when Trump Turkish President Recep Ergodan that he will stop supplying arms to Kurdish militant groups in Syria. Trump's promise, which Turkey's foreign minister announced on Friday, ends a policy that had inflamed U.S.-Turkish relations.

The U.S. government had been arming the Syrian Kurdish YPG, which was fighting the Islamic State. The practice had begun under President Obama and continued under Trump but was a constant source of tension with Turkey, which is contending with a Kurdish separatist movement in its own borders.

Syrian forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have routed the Islamic State from all but a few remaining Syrian towns, with support from Russia and other partners inside and outside Syria. U.S. forces currently stationed in the country will remain in the meantime, however, to aid in securing a peace settlement, U.S. Defense Secretary Jerome Mattis.

"We're not going to just walk away right now,'' he said.

Turkey, Iran, and Russia have been making plans for a postwar Syria largely without the United States, however. Russian President Vladmir Putin met exclusively with Erdogan and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani this week to discuss a Russian-backed peace plan.

Erdogan discussed the peace plan afterward with Trump by phone, according to Turkish Foreign Minister Meylut Cayusoglu. Cayusoglu said that Trump told Erdogan that continuing to arm YPG would be "ridiculous" and that he would put a stop to it.

 

Trump also conceded that a peace plan for Syria does not have to require that Assad step down, the foreign minister also said. This is another departure from the Obama administration, which had consistently called for Assad's departure and supported armed militants fighting Assad.

 

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