Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the last minute nixed a planned meeting with United States National Security Adviser John Bolton, who earlier had stated that the White House has no timetable for withdrawing American troops from northern Syria and might choose to maintain a military presence at the al-Tanf base straddling the borders of Iraq and Jordan. Bolton was in Ankara to seek guarantees from Erdogan to not launch a campaign against U.S.-backed Kurdish YPG units that have been the predominant force on the ground fighting the Islamic State but which the Turkish government considers an offshoot of the banned PKK. Erdogan has reacted with fury to the Trump administration’s apparent backtrack on a proposed immediate drawdown of American soldiers from Syria, a move the U.S. president decided to undertake during a phone conversation with his Turkish counterpart. The decision shocked American allies in the region and evoked strong criticism in Washington, including from within the Republican Party and even from cabinet members. Approximately 30 percent of Syria presently is controlled by a YPG-led alliance of Kurdish and Arab forces.
The Media Line spoke about the issue in greater detail with Dr. Vehbi Baysan, a lecturer at Ibn Haldun University in Istanbul.