Washington (AFP) – Turkey’s agreement to suspend military operations against the Syrian Kurds may give President Donald Trump a reprieve from accusations he abandoned the US allies but it is also being seen as a capitulation to the Turks, analysts said.
Vice President Mike Pence announced after talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Ankara had agreed to suspend its Syria offensive for five days and end it if Kurdish forces withdraw from a “safe zone” along the border.
Trump has been under fire from Democrats and some Republican supporters for abruptly withdrawing US troops from northern Syria, paving the way for Turkey to launch the offensive against the Kurds, US allies against the Islamic State group.
Trump welcomed the Ankara agreement, calling it a “great day” for the United States, Turkey and the Kurds, and heaped praise on Erdogan, saying he “did the right thing.”
Nicholas Danforth, a fellow for the German Marshall Fund, said the US and Turkey had “reached a deal that both can try to sell to domestic audiences as a victory, but will have little impact on the ground.”
In Washington, the announcement did appear to — at least temporarily — take some of the Republican heat off the president although not from his Democratic opponents.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham has been one of Trump’s staunchest defenders but has been harshly critical of his decision to pull US troops out of Syria.
Graham had been poised with a Democratic colleague to introduce tough sanctions against Turkey in the Senate when the deal was announced.
“Sounds like we may have made real progress regarding a cease-fire and hopefully a sustainable solution that will prevent the reemergence of ISIS and the abandonment of our ally, the Kurds,” Graham tweeted.
“I stand ready to continue working with the President to build upon this breakthrough.”
To reporters, however, Graham stressed that he does not trust Erdogan and he was “going to keep working” to get the sanctions bill to the Senate floor.