Friday, 18 January, 2019

Trump warns Turkey of economic devastation if it hits Kurds

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his wife Susan arrive at Abu Dhabi International Airport in Abu Dhabi United Arab Emirates Friday Jan. 11 2019 Pompeo 'optimistic' Syria Kurds, Turkey can be protected
Deanna Wagner | 14 January, 2019, 05:24

The president announced the move in December, prompting concerns that Syrian Kurds, who had helped the U.S. fight Islamic State, would be left at the mercy of neighbouring Turkey, which views some of them as terrorists.

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The announcement of a pullout is fueling concern about how quickly the US will abandon its Kurdish allies, amid contradictory statements recently by Trump administration officials on an exit timetable. "The bulk of recent attacks show how we are more committed than ever to act against Iran in Syria, as we promised".

He said the U.S. envoy for Syria, Jim Jeffrey, had travelled to northeast Syria this week and would soon go to Ankara for talks, including on moving forward a UN-led political process to end the eight-year long conflict in Syria. On Friday, the US-led coalition said it had started the pullout, but officials later said only equipment, not troops, were going.

Robertson, in his statement, said the coalition had carried out "logistical measures" to support a withdrawal but did not enter into details.

"The withdrawal is based on operational conditions on the ground, including conversation with our allies and partners, and is not be subject to an arbitrary timeline", he said.

USA national security adviser John Bolton suggested last week that protection for Washington's Kurdish allies would be a precondition of the US withdrawal.

Pompeo's call with Cavusoglu came as the top U.S. diplomat continues a marathon Middle East tour, which has taken him to Cairo, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

The latest comments follow tensions between the US and Turkey over the fate of Washington's Syrian Kurdish allies in the fight against Islamic State group jihadists.

"We hope we can turn the corner here", Mr Pompeo added.

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Trump's Twitter posts on Sunday were the the latest in the slow drip-drip of information being released by his administration after his shock December announcement of a troop withdrawal.

His top diplomat Mike Pompeo is on a whirlwind regional tour aimed at reassuring Washington's Kurdish allies in the fight against Isis.

"If they are terrorists, we will do what is necessary no matter where they came from", Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said last week.

"We also know that those who aren't terrorists, those who were fighting alongside of us for all this time deserve to be protected as well", Pompeo said.

Russia, which has deployed forces into Syria in support of the Damascus regime, said it had the impression that the United States wanted to stay despite the announced withdrawal of USA troops, RIA news agency reported.

"We will protect Kurds and other Syrians against all terrorist threats".

She also said the territory previously controlled by the United States should be transferred to the Syrian regime.

Ankara sees the backbone of that alliance, the YPG, as a terrorist group linked to the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK), which has fought a decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state.

A Kurdish politician told Reuters last week the Kurds had presented Moscow with a roadmap for a deal with Damascus.

In Riyadh, the secretary of state is expected to discuss Iran and the conflicts in Yemen and Syria, US media report, as well as seeking an update on the investigation into the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.