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Turkey Agrees to Pause Military Operations in Syria

Published: October 18, 2019
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Turkey agrees to a 5-day suspension coupled with a U.S. pledge to facilitate a pullout by Syrian Kurdish fighters.

Following a meeting with Vice President Mike Pence, Turkey Agrees to Pause Military Operations in Northern Syria.

Turkey agreed to suspend military operations in northern Syria for five days in return for a U.S. pledge to facilitate a pullout by Syrian Kurdish fighters, a deal President Trump hailed as “an amazing outcome,” but that some critics said mainly fulfilled Turkish goals.

Vice President Mike Pence reached the deal after five hours of talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday aimed at stopping a nine-day Turkish military incursion into Kurdish-held areas in northern Syria. The U.S. and Kurds have been allies in fighting Islamic State, but Turkey considers Kurdish forces to be terrorists.

“Today the United States and Turkey have agreed to a cease-fire in Syria,” Mr. Pence said, adding that Turkey would pause military operations for 120 hours while Kurdish forces withdraw from a “safe zone.” Once that withdrawal is complete, the cease-fire will become permanent, he said.

But the Kurds didn’t say they would withdraw from the area, hand over heavy weapons and dismantle fortification—all conditions of the agreement reached by the U.S. and Turkey.

“We have a very convoluted situation, with Russian, Syrian Army, Turkish, American, SDF and some [Islamic State] elements all floating around in a very wild way,” said James Jeffrey, the U.S. special representative for Syria, who accompanied Mr. Pence. “And we’re most concerned about getting our troops out of the way, which is what DOD is doing at this point.”

Russia, the main backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has warned Turkey that it would accommodate only a limited incursion inside Syria. Mr. Erdogan is scheduled to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Russian resort town of Sochi on Tuesday to discuss the Syrian issue.

Nudge Nudge Wink Wink

What good can such a deal do if it does not involve the second key player?

Is this one of those nudge nudge wink wink deals no one expects to be honored?

The Kurds would have to be crazy to hand over weapons.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

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