By: Nate Morris
- Retired General and former Trump advisor tells NPR that Trump knew Turkey planned to attack Kurdish fighters in Syria if he pulled US forces out
- Kurdish rebels have been instrumental allies to the US in fighting and dismantling the ISIS caliphate in Syria
- President’s decision to pull troops back has drawn global, bi-partisan condemnation as concerns grow that ISIS could re-emerge
- Turkey’s attack on Kurdish civilians in northern Syria since Trump pulled troops back being described as “ethnic cleansing”
In an interview Friday morning on NPR, venerated Retired Four-Star General Jack Keane told the national news broadcast that Trump knew of Turkey’s plan to use force against Kurdish rebels in northern Syria once US forces were pulled from the region before the president announced the troop withdrawal.
“It is a strategic blunder of significant consequence to permit Erdogan to use military force to establish a buffer zone” by attacking Kurdish forces in northern Syria.
“You’re saying that President Trump knew that Erdogan wanted to take that land by force? Because that’s not what the president has maintained,” a seemingly stunned Rachel Martin asked Gen. Keane, who had been a consistent advisor to president Trump on middle-east policy.
“Yes,” Keane replied, “Erdogan told him he was going to take it by force.”
“Erdogan told [Trump] that he fully intended to conduct operations to clear that buffer zone to the depth that he wanted to have it,” Keane continued.
General Keane’s statement, if true, is a radical departure from President Trump’s consistent statements that he did not know Turkey would launch an attack that has been described as “ethnic cleansing” against Kurdish forces once the US pulled troops from the area.
Kurdish rebels in the north of Syria have been instrumental allies of the United States in combating and destroying the ISIS caliphate that was rapidly expanding in Syria over the last several years. Many speculate that, without help from the Kurdish people, Syria would be almost completely under ISIS control by this point.
Trump’s decision to abruptly pull US forces out of the region ran against advice from the vast majority of the intelligence and national security community and has drawn fierce condemnation from both sides of the political spectrum.
It is not clear why Trump chose to pull out of Syria at such a critical juncture, nor why he made the conscious decision to leave vital US allies defenseless to, in his own words, “fight their own battles.”
What is clear is that General Keane’s words this morning provide a startling counter-narrative to the one being pushed by the President and the White House.
If the president did know of Turkey’s plans to attack civilians and US-allied forces and chose to step aside in order for those plans to be carried out, it not only threatens US lives and national security with the potential re-ignition of ISIS in the region, but also does nearly irreparable damage to this country’s credibility across the globe.
As Turkey continues to attack the Kurdish people without reprisal, the world remains in waiting for America’s response.