President Trump’s Syrian policy was put on display this weekend in a pair of tweets.
On Sunday night, he praised Turkey’s pledge to take over the fight against ISIS.
This is in keeping with the reporting on Friday that Trump had decided to pull out of Syria during a conversation with Erdogan. Turkey is officially an ally of the United States, but Erdogan has consolidated power away from the secular military leaders and representative government, shifting the country toward a dictatorial system. They actively threatened the United States less than nine months ago.
Moreover, Turkey has stated an intent to initiate an offensive not against ISIS but against a US military ally on the ground in Syria, the Syrian Kurdish forces. The safety of the US ally was not negotiated as part of the American pullout; instead, Turkey has reportedly agreed to postpone the attack until the Americans can get clear, according to Bloomberg.
On Monday, he thanked Saudi Arabia for taking over the task of reconstruction in Syria.
Syria is in the throes of a civil war. The official U.S. position is in support of those rebel forces deemed as “moderate”. Should there be a negotiated peace with a division of land or should Assad be successfully overthrown, the US or its allies might be expected to provide financial aid. In the event of a Syrian government victory, the allies of Assad are expected to provide financial aid. In this case, that would fall to Iran, Russia and Turkey.
With the aforementioned removal of military support for Syria rebels and a planned Turkish offensive, there is very little chance of a military success or even a negotiated settlement for the Kurd-heavy rebel forces.
The accolades for Saudi Arabia, however, do provide an excuse for President Trump to continue to ignore the calls for his promised hard stance against the Saudi Crown Prince in response to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, the dissident journalist and U.S. resident who was lured into a trap of murder and dismemberment.
They also provide an appearance of distance from the projected losses of the Syrian Kurds, as the U.S. will no longer be positioned as even the primary economic ally of the beleaguered rebels.