Damascus troops took up positions on Thursday along the northeastern Syrian border, between the cities of Derik and Jawadiyeh. Located in the most eastern part of the country, along the border with Turkey, the area is outside the ‘safe zone’ that Russia has given as a gift to Turkey.
Meanwhile, Moscow announced that it had taken control of a former American base north of Qamishlo, the capital of Rojava, emptied by the withdrawal of US Marines who left an opening for the Turkish military campaign against the Syrian Kurds.
That campaign is still ongoing: the Syrian Democratic Forces and pro-Turkish Islamist militias are still fighting between Serekaniye and Tel Temer and in Manbij. The Rojava Information Center is reporting a substantial increase in the number of people displaced from Tel Temer to Hasakeh, a city that at first welcomed the people running from the border areas, and now finds itself in the crosshairs of the Islamists who are looting the surrounding villages.
Washington is light years away. With Putin assuming its previous role, and with a President Trump who changes his mind every week, the United States has never appeared so confused. This is also evident from the Senate’s decision to block a motion recognizing the Armenian genocide, which passed the House with 405 bipartisan votes last month.
This was simply a momentary expedient: on Wednesday, Turkish President Erdogan was greeted with great fanfare by Trump, after months of wavering between rapprochements and deep freeze in terms of military and commercial relations between the two countries. The Republican Party withdrew the motion in order to avoid putting the real estate mogul in an embarrassing position.
In this way, Trump could try to patch up the alliance between the two countries, starting with the promise of more trade (which is anything but certain: just a month ago, the White House was sanctioning Turkey and saying that it would destroy its economy). The US president said that “right now we’re doing about $20 billion [in trade]. But we think that number should be easily $100 billion, which would be great for Turkey and good for us.”
Trump’s warm reception of his “good friend” Erdogan aimed at stopping Turkey’s slip away from NATO in recent months, which took the form of purchasing Russian S400 air defense systems, leading to a freeze on the purchase of American F-35 fighters.
The two discussed this matter, but Erdogan seems to have ruled out any change in policy. On Thursday, now far from Washington, he said: “We can’t ruin our relations with Russia. … Last year, 6.5 million Russian tourists visited Turkey. Our bilateral trade is heading toward $30 billion. … I said I don’t want to create an enemy. I want both America and Russia be my friends. We’re taking our steps accordingly and that’s disturbing them.”
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