Erdogan’s clean sweep

By

Opinion

October 24, 2019 - 10:28 AM

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left, and Russia's President Vladimir Putin give a joint news conference on Syria .

President Trump on Wednesday announced what he called a “great outcome” in Syria, and he’s right if he’s referring to the interests of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russia’s Vladimir Putin. In return for agreeing to consolidate their territorial and strategic gains, Mr. Trump is withdrawing American forces and lifting the sanctions against Turkey he imposed only a few days ago.

The “big success,” as Mr. Trump called it in a tweet, is that Mr. Erdogan has agreed to stop Turkey’s invasion into Syria at about 20 miles. This will save Kurdish lives, at least for a time, though at the cost of the territory they formerly controlled with U.S. assistance.

The border and most of northern Syria will now be patrolled by Turkish and Russian forces, and the Russians will control the balance of power. Abandoned by the U.S. and with no good options, the Kurds are cutting their own deal with the Russians and Syria’s Bashar Assad to survive. Mr. Trump boasted about a “safe zone,” but he must mean safe for Mr. Assad, Turkey, Russia and Iran.

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