A national security source told Newsweek on Monday that Donald Trump got “rolled” by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The source states that during a scheduled phone on Sunday between Trump and President Erdogan, Trump stated that he would withdraw U.S. forces from northern Syria. The phone call was scheduled after Turkey made announced that it would be invading Syria.
Trump’s decision to withdraw troops plays right into the hands of the Islamic State group, Damascus and Moscow. It also left Trump’s Defense Department “stunned.” The U.S. and Turkey want to see a regime change in Syria. Russia and Iran back the Assad regime.
“President Trump was definitely out-negotiated and only endorsed the troop withdrawal to make it look like we are getting something—but we are not getting something,” the National Security Council source, who requested to remain anonymous, told Newsweek. “The U.S. national security has entered a state of increased danger for decades to come because the president has no spine and that’s the bottom line.”
The source said it would not be surprising to see a Turkish incursion in the next 24 to 96 hours.
Late on Sunday, the White House released a statement that Turkey would soon invade northern Syria, However, the Defense Department and Trump used Twitter to state that they made clear to Turkey that they do not endorse a Turkish operation in northern Syria.
“As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off-limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!),” said Trump on Twitter Monday. “They must, with Europe and others, watch over the captured ISIS fighters and families…it is time now for others in the region, some of the great wealth, to protect their own territory.”
As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!). They must, with Europe and others, watch over…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 7, 2019
An NSC official with first-hand knowledge of the phone call stated that Trump did not endorse any Turkish military operation against Kurdish Forces, but also did not threaten economic sanctions during the phone call if Turkey decided to undertake offensive operations.
White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham stated that “The United States Armed Forces will not support or be involved in the operation, and United States forces, having defeated the ISIS territorial “Caliphate,” will no longer be in the immediate area.”
On Monday, The New York Times reported that about “100 to 150 American forces would withdraw from northern Syria but not completely from the country. The Times also reported that witnesses observed United States forces withdraw from two observation posts in Tel Abyad and Ein Eissa in northeastern Syria.”
The two world leaders also discussed the 2,000 Islamic State militant prisoners being held by the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Defense Forces in northeastern Syria, who the U.S. military assists financially.
Trump reportedly told Erdogan that he did not want anything to do with ISIS prisoners despite the United States not currently detaining Islamic State prisoners in Syria. Erdogan reportedly stated that Turkey would take custody of the ISIS militant prisoners.
“The ISIS prisoners, some of them, will eventually be freed amongst the chaos, and remain in the area or go elsewhere to rejoin the fight,” speculated the National Security Council official.
If Trump had refused to move out of Turkey’s warpath, “U.S options would not just be the threat of potential conflict between nation-state militaries, it would have been applied pressure on the Turkish economy,” the National Security Council official.
However, the United States chose not to stand its ground to protect Kurdish Forces against Turkish airstrikes as a part of Trump’s “America First policy” and his historical views that war is bad for business, according to the National Security Council official.
The official also stated that Trump’s withdraw of U.S. forces had not occurred the United States could have continued to refine the buffer zone on the Syrian-Turkish border.
“To be honest with you, it would be better for the United States to support the Kurdish nation across Turkey, Syria, and Iraq,” said the National Security Council official. “It would be another Israel in the region.”
A senior Defense Department official told Newsweek back in January that “no U.S. general was happy with the decision to pull back U.S. troops from Syria as Pentagon officials feared the withdrawal could spark an ISIS resurgence similar to the Taliban’s growing influence and territory in Afghanistan.”
On Monday the National Security Council official compared Turkey to “playground bullies” on Monday.