President Donald Trump announced on Wednesday that conditions have been met that indicate a “permanent ceasefire” between Turkey and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which has prompted the president to lift the sanctions on Ankara that were implemented by the United States after their invasion of northern Syria.
The President spoke at the White House about the volatile region, and said that while a “permanent ceasefire” will be tough to maintain, he hopes it will finally put an end to the conflict between Turkey and the Kurds.
“I do believe it will be permanent,” Trump said. “This was an outcome created by us, the United States, and nobody else…we’ve done something very, very special.”
The president made the announcement of the ceasefire during a time of harsh bipartisan criticism over his choice to remove U.S. forces from northern Syria, which they say gave Turkey an opportunity to attack the country.
Career diplomat James Jeffrey, whose role is to oversee Washington’s role in the global fight against the Islamic State, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that he does not believe the withdrawal of US troops contributed to Turkey’s decision to invade northern Syria. He did think though that if U.S. forces were tasked to defend during a Turkish invasion, the country may have reconsidered the attack.
The Trump administration, however, has sought to halt the fighting between the countries. The compromise for the ceasefire required Kurdish forces who formerly allied with the U.S. against the Islamic State group to move a 20-mile area along the Turkish border. Now that Kurdish forces have evacuated the area, Turkey has halted the attack.
“We’ve saved the lives of many, many Kurds,” Trump said. He also said that if Turkey breaches the cease-fire, the sanctions could be imposed again immediately.
“The sanctions are lifted unless something happens that we’re not happy with,” said President Trump.
The president’s announcement of the ceasefire comes after he posted on his social media accounts earlier in the morning about the “safe zone” along the Turkey-Syria border. He sounded optimistic about the situation due to the 120-hour pause in the Turkish military operation there.
“Ceasefire has held, and combat missions have ended. Kurds are safe and have worked very nicely with us,” Trump posted. “Captured ISIS prisoners secured.”
Even though Trump faced criticism from both Democrats and Republicans who alleged a troop pullout would encourage violence, the agreement reached was astounding. Now, in addition, Turkey and Russia have made an agreement that would put their forces along the border where the U.S. troops were previously stationed.
President Trump announced that nearly all U.S. troops will be leaving Syria, and those that remain will safeguard oil fields. Russian forces have started to take their place in the defense efforts, and have already begun patrols along the Turkish-Syrian border.