Kurds throw potatoes at U.S. convoy leaving northern Syria

Kurds throw potatoes at U.S. convoy leaving northern Syria

I can’t believe you-know-who hasn’t already tweeted out these clips this morning calling the Kurds “INGRATES!”

He’ll get around to it eventually. He’s probably busy cooking up something good about Mitt Romney’s secret Twitter feed.

The bad news is that the Kurds left behind in northern Syria will shortly be fed into Erdogan’s meat grinder unless Putin comes up with a way to restrain him in their summit tomorrow. The good news is that a few hundred U.S. troops will remain in parts of Syria to secure something more precious than human life — sweet, sweet oil:

President Trump is leaning in favor of a new Pentagon plan to keep a small contingent of American troops in eastern Syria, perhaps numbering about 200, to combat the Islamic State and block the advance of Syrian government and Russian forces into the region’s coveted oil fields, a senior administration official said on Sunday…

The senior administration official said it was highly likely that troops would be kept along the Iraqi border area — away from the cease-fire zone that Vice President Mike Pence negotiated with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey last week. The main goal would be to prevent the Islamic State from re-establishing all or parts of its religious state, or caliphate, in Syria and neighboring Iraq.

A side benefit would be helping the Kurds keep control of oil fields in the east, the official said.

So that’s what he meant by those mysterious “we have secured the oil” comments over the past few days. Whatever the reason, it’s at least some comfort that Americans will remain in place to snuff out the ISIS brush fires that’ll start now that the Kurds aren’t around in the north.

It sounds like the Kurds won’t let their hard feelings about the American pullout in the north stop them from continuing to partner with American troops in the east. They need those oil fields, after all, and it’d be foolish to reject U.S. help out of pride at a moment when it’s unclear how far Erdogan — or Assad, or Russia, or ISIS — might try to advance into Kurdish territory. Even a weak American commitment is worth something in deterrence, especially with Trump under pressure from his own party not to retreat further. If Kurdish forces rejected his offer of help in the east, it’d be a perfect pretext for him to withdraw from Syria entirely:

The commander of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces, Mazlum Kobani, whose fighters switched sides to join Syrian government forces after Mr. Trump announced the American withdrawal, said on Saturday that despite the Turkish offensive, his troops had resumed counterterrorism operations near Deir al-Zour.

American officials widely interpreted the comments as a signal to Washington that the Syrian Kurds were still willing to fight in partnership with the United States against the Islamic State in eastern Syria, despite their abandonment in other parts of the country.

A Kurdish official told the AP that Kurdish forces are complying with Trump’s ceasefire with Erdogan by withdrawing from the buffer zone near the border. The issue for the Kurds isn’t keeping their *troops* in place, it’s keeping Kurdish *civilians* who live in the area in place. Military withdrawal is one thing, ethnic cleansing is another. The commander of Kurdish forces reportedly emphasized this to Lindsey Graham in a call on Friday:

Are we headed towards a proposal for international peacekeepers in the border buffer zone? The Kurds might agree to that. Trump certainly would agree to it, so long as those peacekeepers aren’t American. Would Erdogan agree? How about Putin? Maybe Russian soldiers can walk the beat as Erdogan resettles millions of Syrian refugees in the area and ethnic tensions with the Kurds gradually begin to rise.

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