Pence Heads Delegation to Turkey, Negotiations Could Involve All Forces in the Area
Oct. 15, 2019 (EIRNS)—Vice President Mike Pence will travel to Turkey on Oct. 16 for negotiations, heading a delegation that includes National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and special envoy James Jeffrey. The Vice President will meet with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Oct. 17, according to Axios, citing the White House.
Pence said on Oct. 14 that President Donald Trump spoke with President Erdogan, urging him to implement an immediate ceasefire, reported Sputnik. At the same time, the U.S. Treasury Department announced sanctions “against two ministries and three senior Turkish government officials in response to Turkey’s military operations in Syria, according to a Treasury Department statement Oct. 14.
Trump himself issued a statement on Oct. 14, which says in part:
“I will soon be issuing an Executive Order authorizing the imposition of sanctions against current and former officials of the government of Turkey and any persons contributing to Turkey’s destabilizing actions in northeast Syria. The steel tariffs will be increased back up to 50%, the level prior to reduction in May. The United States will also immediately stop negotiations, being led by the Department of Commerce, with respect to a $100 billion trade deal with Turkey. ... I am fully prepared to swiftly destroy Turkey’s economy if Turkish leaders continue down this dangerous and destructive path.”
Trump also announced that he has ordered the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from northeastern Syria, though they would be remaining in the region “to monitor the situation and prevent a repeat of 2014, when the neglected threat of ISIS raged across Syria and Iraq.” He specified that a contingent of U.S. troops would remain at the Al Tanf base in southeastern Syria “to continue to disrupt remnants of ISIS.” Trump also wrote in a partial tweet yesterday: “Anyone who wants to assist Syria in protecting the Kurds is good with me, whether it is Russia, China, or Napoleon Bonaparte. I hope they all do great, we are 7,000 miles away!”
Negotiations with the U.S. delegation apparently will include discussions with all forces in the area, including Russia and Syria, reported Sputnik. “The President is deeply committed to ending the unnecessary violence and loss of life in the northeast,” a senior U.S. administration official said yesterday.
“What we’re trying to do now is first of all, restore the situation as best we can via ceasefire, via reconciliation of the various interests that are in play at this time in the northeast and ensuring that the various forces, which involve not only ... the SDF [Syrian Democratic Forces], our own troops that are still on the ground, the Turkish military ... as well as Russian and Syrian forces, to get them all to hold in place and to then come forward with a set of plans,”
the U.S. official explained.
The official further stated that earlier in the day, the government did not think the ceasefire negotiations were possible, “but now we do,” and also said “I think the President would not be willing to send a high-level delegation on short notice like this unless he was pretty confident there was at least a chance at getting to a ceasefire,” Sputnik reported.
In its continuing and failing attempt to make itself relevant in today’s current affairs, the European Union member states on Oct. 14 issued a “unanimous” condemnation of Turkey’s offensive in Syria. It stopped short of an arms embargo, most likely because Turkey would have laughed it off, since the entire EU has sold Turkey no more than €45 million worth of arms in the last year.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang called on Turkey to halt its military operation in northern Syria, urging the country to “come back to the right track.”