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Rudaw

Syria

Pompeo: Protecting Kurds, religious minorities still America's mission

By AFP 4/1/2019
In this file photo taken on December 13, 2018, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to the press at the State Department in Washington. AFP
In this file photo taken on December 13, 2018, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to the press at the State Department in Washington. AFP

WASHINGTON DC - The United States is speaking to Turkey to ensure it does not "slaughter" Kurds in Syria as US troops leave, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday.

 

Pompeo referenced the growing fears for US-allied Kurdish fighters in northern Syria as he defended President Donald Trump's abrupt decision to withdraw from the war-battered country.

 

"The importance of ensuring that the Turks don't slaughter the Kurds, the protection of religious minorities there in Syria. All of those things are still part of the American mission set," Pompeo told Newsmax, a US news and opinion site popular with conservatives.

 

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis resigned over Trump's withdrawal order, angering the president who nonetheless later indicated he would slow down the planned exit.

 

Pompeo in the interview said that the withdrawal would go ahead but he would not give a more precise timeline so as not to tip off US adversaries.

 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed to rid Syria of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), which he sees as linked to the Kurdish Workers' Party, or PKK, which has waged a bloody insurgency inside Turkey since 1984.

 

The Kurdish fighters formed the backbone of the Syrian Democratic Forces, who with Washington's backing have battled the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group and seized about a quarter of Syria.

 

Syria's government said Wednesday that the YPG fighters have left Manbij, a key city seized from IS near the Turkish border, in light of the planned US pullout.

 

Trump, who declared that US troops were no longer needed as IS was defeated, spoke to Erdogan before his troop decision.

 

But Pompeo said the United States still had "real concerns" with Erdogan, including on detentions of US citizens.

 

"There are lots of places where we need to work with President Erdogan and the Turkish leadership to get good outcomes for the United States," Pompeo said.

 

National security adviser John Bolton and the US pointman on Syria, Jim Jeffrey, are both due to hold talks next week in Turkey.

Comments

 
FAUthman | 4/1/2019
There are indications that Russia could persuade the YPG Kurds to move far away from the border and allow regime forces to come in and replace them. This may satisfy Turkey who would use that for an excuse to back off from carrying out its invasion threats. We saw an indication of that in Manbij when Erdogan said if regime forces enter Manbij city to replace the YPG we have no longer a reason to invade that city. There were reports out of Damascus that the YPG forces have actually started vacating the city. The key player in influencing the direction of events in northeast Syria in the near term is not President Trump who will carry out the withdrawal albeit slowly and will leave Syria eventually, it is Russia who is mediating an agreement between Assad the Kurds and Turkey allowing Assad to take over northeast Syria from the Kurds, ensure that the Kurds do not suffer another war with Turkey, and that a third Turkish invasion Syria is avoided! This I believe is the most likely outcome after I read comments on this subject by former UK amb. to Syria Peter Ford.
Kani | 4/1/2019
this is the sound of morality and loyalty.....and friendship , America must not behave just like the terrorist state of Turkey.
FAUthman | 4/1/2019
Is there any possibility of the US not withdrawing from Syria and not allowing Assad Russia Iran to take over from the Kurds. There may be that possibility. Without US presence in Syria Turkey will find it very difficult to retain the territories it has annexed from Syria west of the Euphrates. Thus there is the possibility that once the March elections in Turkey are over Erdogan would make a U turn and ask the US to stay.
FAUthman | 4/1/2019
Hope there is light at the end of the tunnel. It is not just Kurds US needs to protect. How about the 100,000 Christians living amongst the the Kurds in northeast Syria that need US protection. Tell the world you are needed in Syria and have decided not to withdraw. Period. But Kurds may want to work with Assad/Russia even if US decides not to withdraw! US credibility worldwide is greatly compromised. It is a major blow to the US military by this president's thoughtless impetuous decision to allow the great US superpower be jawboned by the ruler in Ankara forcing president Trump to change US policy and abandon his allies through a single phone call.
Guest | 5/1/2019
I've always supported the people of Rojava, and still do. I disagree with President Trump's order for U.S. troops to leave Syria. But, I also strongly disagree with the accusations of abandonment and spiteful comments I see being made on Rudaw these last few weeks about the United States and our military. If betrayal and abandonment is a foreign military force coming 6,000 miles to another continent to assist the Iraqi and Syrian people in defending themselves against a militant religious group who took over a majority of both nations in less than six months, then the word abandonment has a totally different meaning from what I understand it to be. I am proud of what our men and women in the United States military has done for the last four years in Iraq and Syria. And I am proud of the people of Iraq, Kurdistan, Rojava, and citizens of a whole host of other nations, for their actions in defeating ISIS. I also believe that Syrians will still find the freedoms and prosperity they are striving for in their country, and that Kurdistan will see itself as an independent nation in the near future. I believe the cost of the American lives and substantial amount of American economic resources incurred during the last four years in Syria and Iraq was worth it. Even with the bitterness I see being expressed towards the United States and its military forces in the region, I would agree that it would be worth doing again if required. In 2014, I was sickened daily to see the reports of what was happening as ISIS mass murdered thousands of people, behead men, women, and children. But in August 2014 with the help of American firepower in the air and weapons supplied to local ground forces, the tide began to turn against ISIS. The mighty Peshmerga with the help of U.S. forces providing air support began an offensive against ISIS, successfully retaking the parts of their homeland they’d had to retreat from in the fight against ISIS. In September, there was a group of men and women with valor that history sees only in rare occasion, stood their ground against a force that outnumbered them 10 to 1 and was much better armed. Those were the men and women who defended Kobani, Syria. I was equally proud to see the men and women of the U.S. forces also providing air support over Kobani. ISIS knew, at that point, they would not succeed; they were destined to be wiped from history. The next four years, I was especially proud to see the joint efforts of all the coalition forces, especially the YPG/YPJ, as they retook city after city in Syria, from the control of ISIS. I am still proud of them, and will always be. American did not abandon the people of Syria or Iraq. American came to their assistance and stood with them against the face of evil, just as American did in Europe over 75 years ago. I love you, people of Syria and Iraq, those who believe in justice, freedom for everyone, and are willing to stand with honor to defend those beliefs, even in the face of death. Just before the battle of San Jacinto, when Texas was fighting for its freedom, Sam Houston, a man I put with the ranks of George Washington, Winston Churchill, and Masoud Barzani, made this quote, “We view ourselves on the eve of battle. We are nerved for the contest, and must conquer or perish. It is vain to look for present aid; none is at hand. We must now act or abandon all hope! Rally to the standard, and be no longer the scoff of mercenary tongues! Be men, be free men, that your children may bless their father’s name.” Right after Sam Houston made that quote, the Texians rode into battle against the Mexican force, killing one third of the Mexican forces and defeated Santa Anna in the battle that won Texas its independence.
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