In the week since it was announced the United States would withdraw its forces from northern Syria, opening the door for Turkey to assault Syrian Kurdish forces, Trump has been accused of betraying a longtime U.S. ally.
On Thursday, Trump tried to put a different spin on the situation by claiming that it was part of a larger plan to negotiate a peace deal between Turkey and the Kurdish forces:
“It was unconventional what I did, I said ‘They’re going to have to fight a little while.’ Then people find out how tough the fighting is… Sometimes you have to let them fight, like two kids in a lot. You have to let them fight, and then you pull them apart.”
WATCH: President Trump on Turkey attacking the Kurds: "Sometimes you have to let them fight, like two kids in a lot. You have to let them fight, and then you pull them apart!" pic.twitter.com/rSgu1U3ERu
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) October 18, 2019
Trump continued to say that after more than a decade of conflict between Turkey and the Kurds, there was only one way to make a deal:
“And for fifteen, think of it, for fifteen years, twenty years, they couldn’t make a deal. The Kurds didn’t want to move. Turkey didn’t want to budge. And Turkey was having a lot of bad things happen from this region — in all fairness to Turkey. Now all of a sudden they’re fighting and it’s not fun having bullets going all over the place.”
“And we went there and we said ‘We want a pause.’ And the Kurds have been terrific, they’re going to move back a little bit. We’re going to keep ISIS all nice and locked up, okay, we’re going to find more of them. And Turkey’s all set.”
The agreement secured by Pence and Pompeo dictates that Turkey suspends its military campaign for five days to allow Kurdish forces to leave a 20-mile wide strip on the Syrian-Turkish border to create a buffer between Turkey and the Kurds.
“The President’s decision to reverse sanctions against Turkey for brutally attacking our Kurdish partners in exchange for a sham ceasefire seriously undermines the credibility of America’s foreign policy and sends a dangerous message to our allies and adversaries alike that our word cannot be trusted.”
Reuters reported that despite the ceasefire there was still on-going fighting on the Syrian-Turkish border.