U.S. President Donald Trump’s unexpected decision to pull U.S. troops from Syria (and Afghanistan) was music to Turkish ears. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called it “the clearest and most encouraging statement” from Washington.
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavuşoğlu welcomed Trump’s abrupt decision to withdraw all 2,000 U.S. troops from northern Syria. Defense Minister Hulusi Akar vowed that that Syrian Kurdish fighters whom Turkey considers as top regional security threat, would soon be “buried in the trenches that they dig.”
The way Trump made that decision has also given new ammunition to Turkey’s pro-Erdoğan media to portray the decision as “Erdoğan’s victory.” The media, in Turkey and abroad, widely reported that Trump decided on the pullout after a Dec. 14 telephone conversation with Erdoğan. According to Washington’s official account of the conversation, the two leaders had “agreed to continue coordinating to achieve our respective security objectives in Syria.”