Trump Claims Turkey’s Ceasefire in Northern Syria Now Permanent, Lifts Sanctions
US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday a ceasefire in northern Syria is now permanent and he lifted sanctions on Turkey as a result, rejecting criticism of his decision to pull out US troops and allow Kurdish allies to come under attack.
Trump‘s move, announced in a White House speech, did not blunt attacks from US lawmakers over his abrupt decision early this month to withdraw US troops out of northeastern Syria to clear the way for a Turkish invasion.
Trump described the truce as a “major breakthrough” negotiated by a team led by Vice President Mike Pence. Trump said he had instructed Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to rescind the sanctions imposed on Turkey in response to its moves against the Kurds “unless something happens that we are not happy with.”
“Countless lives are now being saved as a result of our negotiation with Turkey, an outcome reached without spilling one drop of American blood: no injuries, nobody shot, nobody killed,” Trump said.
But questions remained about Trump‘s policy and Congress was still working on a sanctions package of its own intended to punish Turkey for its cross-border offensive.
Kurdish allies who helped the United States in its war against Islamic State militants felt abandoned by Trump, whose policy created an opening that Russia is capitalizing on by moving forces into the area. The fate of Islamic State militants in Syrian Kurdish prisons also remained up in the air.
Controversy surrounding Trump‘s Syria pullout has contributed to a climate of political chaos in Washington, where Democrats are seeking to remove Trump from office through impeachment over his attempts to get Ukraine to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer took to the Senate floor to excoriate Trump over Syria.
“Three weeks after first announcing the troop withdrawal, the president does not seem to have a clear strategy for securing the enduring defeat of ISIS (Islamic State) and fixing the mess he’s created in Syria,” said Schumer.
Trump continued his drumbeat of criticism of past US efforts to keep American forces in the Middle East.
The United States will “let someone else fight over this long, bloodstained sand,” he said.
“How many Americans must die in the Middle East in the midst of these ancient sectarian and tribal conflicts?” he said. “I am committed to pursuing a different course, one that leads to victory for America.”