Trump og Erdogan under NATO-toppmøtet i Brussel 11. juli. Foto: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters/Scanpix
Donald Trump var preppet av medarbeiderne foran samtalen med Recep Tayyip Erdogan 14. desember. Han visste hva han skulle si for å avvise en tyrkisk innmarsj i Nord-Syria.
Men til deres store forbauselse hørte medarbeiderne at Trump snudde 180 grader og var enig med Erdogan: IS var knust, oppdraget var fullført.
Slik fremstiller Associated Press hva som skjedde før den dramatiske kunngjøringen kom om at USA forlater Syria.
Det hele begynte med at Erdogan sa han kom til å sende styrker inn for å knuse kurderne i YPG-militsen og han skrøt av at han hadde fått grønt lys fra Washington:Erdogan says Trump positive on Turkish military plan to push east in Syria
Turkey may start a new military operation in Syria at any moment, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday, touting support from U.S. President Donald Trump even though the Pentagon has issued a stern warning to Ankara.
Last week, the Pentagon said unilateral military action by any party in northeast Syria, where U.S. forces operate, would be unacceptable.
But Erdogan suggested that Trump was more receptive to Turkish plans to move east of the Euphrates river than his own U.S. Department of Defense.
“We officially announced that we will start a military operation to the east of the Euphrates,” Erdogan said in a speech in the central province of Konya. “We discussed this with Mr Trump and he gave a positive response.”
Pentagon har tidligere advart Erdogan og sagt at amerikanske styrker vil forsvare seg, hvis de blir angrepet. Amerikanerne er ikke mange, 2.000, men det er ikke antallet det kommer an på, men avskrekkingseffekten. Erdogan tør ikke risikere å komme i konflikt med USA. Derfor har de 2.000 en mye større betydning enn antallet skulle tilsi.
A source familiar with the Syria issue said Erdogan was urged by the administration to refrain from a military incursion into Syria’s Manbij, a town just west of the Euphrates river held by the YPG, and was warned that the United States would defend itself if threatened.
However, Erdogan has said Turkish forces will enter Manbij if the United States does not remove YPG fighters from the town, including targeting the eastern side where the YPG controls an area of more than 400 km (250 miles) along the border toward Iraq.
Manbij is near an area where Turkish and U.S. troops began joint patrols last month. That cooperation has also been complicated as Turkey has shelled Kurdish fighters to the east of the Euphrates.
The shelling prompted the United States to set up observation posts on the border between Kurdish-held northern Syria and Turkey.
Erdogan har drevet slik skremselspropaganda flere ganger, og har gitt seg når USA har vist standhaftighet og gitt noen konsesjoner, som felles patruljering.
Men denne gang gikk det annerledes. Trumps stab hadde gitt ham talking points for at han skulle ha argumenter klare. Men da Erdogan minnet Trump om at USA har hatt ett erklært mål – å knuse IS, og at dette var oppfylt, var Trump plutselig enig.
The Dec. 14 call came a day after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu agreed to have the two presidents discuss Erdogan’s threats to launch a military operation against U.S.-backed Kurdish rebels in northeast Syria, where American forces are based. The NSC then set up the call.
Pompeo, Mattis and other members of the national security team prepared a list of talking points for Trump to tell Erdogan to back off, the officials said.
But the officials said Trump, who had previously accepted such advice and convinced the Turkish leader not to attack the Kurds and put U.S. troops at risk, ignored the script. Instead, the president sided with Erdogan.
In the following days, Trump remained unmoved by those scrambling to convince him to reverse or at least delay the decision to give the military and Kurdish forces time to prepare for an orderly withdrawal.
“The talking points were very firm,” said one of the officials, explaining that Trump was advised to clearly oppose a Turkish incursion into northern Syria and suggest the U.S. and Turkey work together to address security concerns. “Everybody said push back and try to offer (Turkey) something that’s a small win, possibly holding territory on the border, something like that.”
Erdogan, though, quickly put Trump on the defensive, reminding him that he had repeatedly said the only reason for U.S. troops to be in Syria was to defeat the Islamic State and that the group had been 99 percent defeated. “Why are you still there?” the second official said Erdogan asked Trump, telling him that the Turks could deal with the remaining IS militants.
Hvis det stemmer at Trump måtte spørre sikkerhetsrådgiver John R Bolton hvorfor amerikanerne fremdeles sto i Syria, er det alarmerende. Etter to år i Det hvite hus og etter å ha blitt briefet av sitt team, skal presidenten vite det.
With Erdogan on the line, Trump asked national security adviser John Bolton, who was listening in, why American troops remained in Syria if what the Turkish president was saying was true, according to the officials. Erdogan’s point, Bolton was forced to admit, had been backed up by Mattis, Pompeo, U.S. special envoy for Syria Jim Jeffrey and special envoy for the anti-ISIS coalition Brett McGurk, who have said that IS retains only 1 percent of its territory, the officials said.
Bolton stressed, however, that the entire national security team agreed that victory over IS had to be enduring, which means more than taking away its territory.
Trump was not dissuaded, according to the officials, who said the president quickly capitulated by pledging to withdraw, shocking both Bolton and Erdogan.
Caught off guard, Erdogan cautioned Trump against a hasty withdrawal, according to one official. While Turkey has made incursions into Syria in the past, it does not have the necessary forces mobilized on the border to move in and hold the large swaths of northeastern Syria where U.S. troops are positioned, the official said.
The call ended with Trump repeating to Erdogan that the U.S. would pull out, but offering no specifics on how it would be done, the officials said.
Over the weekend, the national security team raced to come up with a plan that would reverse, delay or somehow limit effects of the withdrawal, the officials said.
Det var møter både mandag og tirsdag mellom Bolton, Pompeo, Mattis og presidenten. Men forgjeves. Trump var ikke til å rikke. Det var bare å be om tid nok til å informere allierte.
Beslutningen var dråpen som fikk begeret til å renne over for Mattis. Han sendte avskjedsbrevet torsdag. Hovedbegrunnelsen er at Trump tar for lite hensyn til allierte.