- Turkish forces launched a bombing campaign against U.S.-allied Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria following Trump’s decision to abruptly withdraw U.S. forces from the region, paving the way for the attack. The attacks are aimed at crushing Kurdish militias, which have been fighting for their independence from Turkey. The Turkish bombing campaign, which is being conducted in coordination with the Syrian National Army, immediately drew criticism and calls for restraint from European leaders. Kurdish-led forces in the area have been key U.S. allies in the fight against ISIS, but Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says his military is targeting both Kurdish fighters and ISIS extremists. “The Turkish Armed Forces,” Erdogan tweeted, “together with the Syrian National Army, just launched #OperationPeaceSpring against PKK/YPG and Daesh [Isis] terrorists in northern Syria.” (New York Times / Associated Press / NPR / The Guardian)
- A Kurdish commander says the militia will attack Turkish forces if they enter northeastern Syria. “We have been at war for seven years,” he said, “so we can continue the war for seven more years.” The threat of armed resistance from the militia, a force trained and armed by the United States, raises the risks for Turkey as it weighs sending troops into Syria, and for the United States, which could find itself on the sidelines of a new front in Syria’s war — this time between two of its allies. (New York Times)
- Trump called Turkey a “big trading partner” and invited Erdogan to visit the White House a day after giving Turkey the green light to attack the Kurds. Trump defended his decision on Twitter, insisting that “in no way have we abandoned the Kurds,” calling them “special people and wonderful fighters.” Trump also brought up the trade relationship between the U.S. and Turkey. “So many people conveniently forget,” he tweeted, “that Turkey is a big trading partner of the United States, in fact they make the structural steel frame for our F-35 Fighter Jet.” Trump said Erdogan will visit the White House on Nov. 13. (Bloomberg / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / MarketWatch / Washington Post / MSNBC)
Lindsey Graham: “Nobody besides Trump believes the president’s claim that the U.S. is not abandoning the Kurds.” Graham said Trump’s decision on Syria represents the biggest mistake of his presidency. He also said Trump is putting his presidency at risk by going against the advice of his national security team. “If I hear the president say one more time, ‘I made a campaign promise to get out of Syria,’ I’m going to throw up,” Graham said. (Axios)
Trump’s decision to pull U.S. troops out of Syria shortly after his phone call with Erdogan is raising alarm bells from policymakers and government ethics watchdog groups who see Trump’s extensive business interests as potential conflicts of interest. Trump and his family have longstanding business ties in and with Turkey, including the Trump Towers Istanbul. (NBC News)
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