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    Can't Win: Trump's Blurred Syria Withdrawal Angers Turks and Kurds Alike

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    Turkey's responses to US National Security Advisor John Bolton's condition regarding the removal of American forces from Syria were triggered by an overall sense of confusion from the Trump administration's mixed messages, Dr. Gönül Tol, founding director of the Middle East Institute's Center for Turkish Studies, told Sputnik.

    "There's a lot of confusion, and that confusion has angered Turks," Tol, who's also an adjunct professor at George Washington University, told Radio Sputnik's Loud & Clear on Tuesday.

    "Turkish officials are angry that National Security Advisor Bolton and that top American military officials are slowing down what [US] President [Donald] Trump suggested would be a quick exit from Syria."

    ​In December of 2018, Trump told his millions of followers on Twitter that US service members would be leaving their posts in Syria because "we have defeated ISIS [Daesh] in Syria," a move which he went on to note was the "only reason for being there."

    However, since then, the White House has walked back from such claims of Daesh forces being defeated, while also delaying troop removals from the war-torn Middle Eastern country. The time frame for US soldiers leaving their post was initially pushed from 30 days to 120 days, before Bolton stipulated his conditions over the weekend.

    Speaking to reporters in Israel, Bolton indicated that US forces would only be removed when Daesh militants are completely defeated, and when Turkey makes guarantees that it won't attack US-backed, Kurdish forces of the YPG.

    "All those conditions mean that the process could take months, if not more than a year, and that's what's frustrating the Turks because they were expecting a quick withdrawal," Tol explained to hosts Brian Becker and John Kiriakou.

    "And they certainly were expecting an end to the US-Kurdish partnership in Syria, but Bolton's statement suggests that might not be the case."

    On Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan went as far as refusing a meeting with Bolton and expressing that he preferred to speak directly with Trump. And Erdoğan isn't the only one that's upset over the Trump administration's blurred stance.

    CBS reported on Tuesday that members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) likened the US withdrawal to a "stab in the back." The SDF is militarily led by the YPG, a mostly Kurdish group, which Turkey sees as a terrorist organization.

    Noting that Turkey classifies the YPG as a terrorist organization, Tol indicated that the withdrawal of the US' roughly 2,000-strong forces would ultimately place the Kurdish militants "in a very difficult spot."

    "If the US withdraws from Syria completely, [the YPG] will be in a very vulnerable situation," she stressed.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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