Former United States Ambassador to Turkey Eric Edelman criticized the Trump administration’s pending withdrawal from Syria as likely “creating a vacuum” that will be filled by bad actors in an Oct. 8 Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA) National Leadership Conference Call.
On Oct. 6, the administration released a statement saying that they will no longer oppose Turkey’s northern Syria operation and make the Turkish government responsible for the captured ISIS terrorists in the region. Edelman, who served as the ambassador to Turkey from 2003-2005, said on the call that the announcement has “already raised enormous concerns” among Kurdish militias.
“We need to remember that the president likes to trumpet the fact that we defeated the Islamic caliphate… but that was purchased with essentially 11,000 Kurdish dead by our side,” Edelman said. He argued that President Donald Trump’s defense that the United States could simply go back into Syria if ISIS resurges under Turkish control doesn’t hold water, posing the question, “Who’s going to want to sign up to go do that fight a second time around if we walk away from this?”
Edelman added that the Kurds are holding 10,000 ISIS detainees in Syria, and they’re likely going to get loose since the Kurds are going to be fighting for their survival against Turkey.
“You’re going to be creating a vacuum that’s been filled by us and our allies over the last several years that will be filled by Russia” and Iran their allies,” Edelman said.
Additionally, Trump’s tweet threatening to destroy Turkey’s economy if the Turkish government does anything that’s “off limits” has “activated” anti-American sentiment in Turkey that has “insulated” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan from domestic criticism, Edelman argued.
“The whole thing is extremely damaging to US credibility,” Edelman said.