Brett McGurk, the US special envoy for the coalition to defeat ISIS, on Friday evening informed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that he is quitting in protest of President Donald Trump’s announcement of the pullout of US forces from Syria, NBC News reported, citing three US officials. The resignation will take effect on December 31.
President Trump tweeted in response on Saturday: “Brett McGurk, who I do not know, was appointed by President Obama in 2015. Was supposed to leave in February but he just resigned prior to leaving. Grandstander? The Fake News is making such a big deal about this nothing event!” Was the president supposed to know one of the key architects of the war against ISIS? Possibly. Trump was right, though, about the fact that McGurk merely cut his scheduled departure by a month or so. But, internal politics aside, Trump should be concerned that, come February, he’ll have to do without two of his top officials who led the US fighting in the Middle east.
The biggest winner of the American pullout is Turkey, who will inherit a clear path for an attack on its eternal nemesis, the Kurds. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Saturday said no country would able to stop Turkey after the US withdrawal from Syria, from eradicating the presence of the YPG/PKK. The FM cleverly merged two Kurdish groups, YPG – the People’s Protection Units, which fight on the coalition side in Syria, with the PKK – Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which operates mainly in Turkey and has been known to use acts of terrorism against the regime.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday told an assembly of the Turkey Youth Foundation in Istanbul that “The Jews in Israel kick people laying on the ground. In fact, Jews don’t kick men but also women and children when they fall on the ground,” warning that “we will confront these people if they have courage to deal with us and we’ll teach them a lesson.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday night responded “Erdogan – the occupier of northern Cyprus, whose army massacres women and children in Kurdish villages, inside and outside Turkey – should not preach to Israel.”
An Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman on Saturday welcomed President Trump’s decision to withdraw American forces from Syria, saying the US military presence in the Middle East fuels insecurity in the region.
“Basically, US forces’ arrival and presence in the region was a wrong, illogical, tension-provoking and crisis-inducing move from the outset, and has always been one of the key contributors to instability and insecurity in the region,” the Foreign Ministry spokesman said.
The Russian news agency TASS hailed a Trump Saturday tweet that stated, “On Syria, we were originally going to be there for three months, and that was seven years ago – we never left. When I became President, ISIS was going wild. Now ISIS is largely defeated and other local countries, including Turkey, should be able to easily take care of whatever remains. We’re coming home!”
Or, as Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar put it last week, the Kurds “are digging some trenches and tunnels in Manbij and east of the Euphrates. Whatever they dig, trenches or tunnels […] when the time comes they will be buried in the trenches that they dig. Of this there should be no doubt.”