Trump Abandons Kurds in Syria
President Trump has signaled a major shift in US foreign policy this week, paving the way for a Turkish military operation in Syria.
The announcement comes amidst a sudden withdrawal of US troops from the Turkish-Syrian border.
US and Turkish troops had been working together along the border to maintain separation between warring Turkish and Kurdish factions.
Turkish Forces Poised to Move
With the US pulling out of the area, Turkish forces are reportedly gathering near the border ready for an impending invasion.
The “safe zone” patrols carried about by US and Turkish troops ran into trouble as Turkey stated its plans to develop military posts further within Syria to return non-Kurdish Syrian refugees.
However, these plans recovered immediate opposition from the Syrian Democratic Forces, which are Kurdish-led.
Turkey has criticized the US over its support for Kurdish-led fighters in Syria. This is because Turkey considers the Kurds to be a terrorist group.
However, the Kurdish-led SDF has been a key ally of the US in fighting the Islamic State in Syria.
Even Trump’s own military advisers have recommended maintaining a troop presence in north-east Syria to continue fighting IS.
US Will Not Support Turkish Operation
According to reports, President Erdogan of Turkey and Donald Trump spoke over the weekend.
Erdogan informed Trump of his plans to move ahead with invading Syria.
The White House issued a statement this week saying:
“Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into northern Syria. The United States Armed Forces will not support or be involved in the operation, and United States forces, having defeated the ISIS territorial ‘Caliphate,’ will no longer be in the immediate area.”
Trump Follows Through on Withdrawal Calls
The US withdrawal from the region comes after Trump first called for a complete US military withdrawal in December last year.
However, in the face of a severe reaction from the Pentagon, as well as across the political spectrum, Trump reversed the call.
Erdogan Threatens International Community
Erdogan is calling for a “safe zone” to be established of 20 x 300 miles.
This would allow the Turkish army to return a million Syrian refugees who are currently in Turkey. The Turks have threatened the international community with sending the refugees to Europe if it does not back the initiative.
However, Turkey has come under immediate criticism for the move. Many Middle East analysts are saying this could prove to be incredibly destabilizing for the region.
TRY was down sharply in response to news of an imminent move deeper into Syria.
USDTRY continues to trade within the large contracting-triangle pattern which has framed price action over the year so far.
Recently, USDTRY has found support along the structural shelf around 5.6388 and is currently challenging local resistance at the 5.8374 level.
Above here, the next key level to watch is the 5.9765 zone with the bearish contracting-triangle trend line coming in just ahead. For now, focus remains on a further push higher with TRY likely to come under further pressure as operations begin.
Traders should also keep an eye on crude prices as Turkey presses ahead with its planned operations. Any rise in tension in the Middle East typically translates into higher crude prices as the market anticipates supply disruptions.
Crude recently tested the 51.28 level support on the declines seen last week. This level is holding for now. But, it could see a further rotation higher within the range between 51.28 and resistance at the 60.09 level where price has mainly been contained over the last four months.