Andrew Caballero-Reynolds / AP
Trying to allay concern over American troops withdrawal from Syria, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described the American exit as a "tactical change" in military strategy that would not dissuade efforts to defeat the war. 39; ISIS or harming US interests in
Pompey's statements in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, come after the Pentagon announced on Friday that "the process of our deliberate withdrawal" had begun.
The unexpected announcement by President Trump last month that troops would have left the country has fueled the fear that a power vacuum could strengthen ISIS and cede influence in the region to the 39; Iran and Russia. It also raised concerns over the security of the Kurdish forces that fought ISIS alongside the United States in Syria, but are considered terrorists by Turkey and its president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
"We recognize the right of the Turkish people and President Erdogan to defend their country from terrorists," Pompey said Saturday, according to Michele Kelemen of the NPR, who travels with the secretary.
"We also know that those who are not terrorists, those who were fighting alongside us all this time deserve to be protected," said Pompey. "We are confident of being able to achieve a result that results from both."
Erdogan said his troops are ready to attack the gangs of Syria under the control of the Kurdish People's Protection Units. In a televised speech in December, he said that the Turkish army would be ready to "neutralize terrorist organizations" in the coming months, according to the Financial Times.
When Pompey said at the beginning of this month that the US wants to ensure "the Turks do not massacre the Kurds", Turkey has reported Pompey, saying that he exhibited "a worrying lack of information". Erdogan also canceled a meeting with Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton.
No US personnel have yet left Syria, according to a Pentagon spokesman. A separate spokesman for the anti-ISIS coalition refused to discuss troop times, positions and movements, as reported by Bill Chappell of the NPR.
More than 2,000 US soldiers are serving in Syria. Their exit has not only alarmed the Kurds of the nation, but also Christians in the country are afraid of what could happen after the American troops leave, says Bassam Ishak, president of the Syrian National Council of Syria and representative of the United States of the Syrian democratic council, the political arm of the Syrian democratic forces, a Kurdish group supported by the United States.
The Kurds and Christians in the north-eastern region "have tried to put together this pluralistic model based on secularism," he told NPR.
"We are going to lose our way of life, we are also losing our property and our livelihood," said Ishak. "We will be second-class citizens at best, if we survive as Syriac and Kurdish Christians."
Pompey told reporters that he spoke with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Saturday. He said that many details on the withdrawal of troops have yet to be resolved, but that it is optimistic that a "good result" can be achieved between Turkey and Kurdish groups in Syria.
Just because "a couple of thousand divided" will leave Syria, said Pompeo, does not mean that US interests have changed.
Nor will it stop the United States from trying to get "every Iranian boot from Syria," said Pompey. He described a "big and growing" coalition to exert pressure on Iran.
Special Representative for Syria Jim Jeffrey, a former US envoy to Turkey and Iraq, should return to Turkey to continue discussions, Pompeo added.
Trump's decision to recall US troops in Syria, which were deployed for the first time in 2015, was followed the day after the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who wrote a letter to the president saying he has the right to have a defense secretary "whose opinions are better aligned with yours".
The president's announcement also accelerated the resignation of Brett McGurk, the special envoy of the coalition that fights ISIS.
The President of Turkey wrote in a New York Times oppressed that Trump "made the right call.
Pompey also spoke of the partial closure of the government, which became the longest nation "Morale is good" among the diplomats, he said. "They understand that there are quarrels in Washington, but their mission remains, their duties continue and they are executing them."
The secretary, who started his A trip to Amman, Jordan, Tuesday 19659020, should visit Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Kuwait before returning to Washington.