It has been little over a week since President Trump upended US foreign policy in the Middle East by abruptly recalling the few thousand US troops fighting alongside Kurdish fighters in Syria, and the administration is still figuring out exactly how to manage the withdrawal in a way that won’t leave an opening for ISIS to make a comeback. Perhaps the biggest sticking point so far has been how much support to allow the Kurds, who – in addition to trying to take back the few slivers of ISIS territory remaining in northeastern Syria, are also at risk of being decimated by Turkish forces in a cross-border attack.
And though the DoD hasn’t finished hammering out the final details of a plan to be presented to President Trump, one of the more controversial strategies under discussion is the possibility that the US might allow Kurdish forces to hang on to the weapons that were initially supplied by the US back in the spring of 2017 ahead of a bloody offensive against the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa (the self-declared caliphate’s de facto capital), according to an anonymously sourced Reuters report.
The report could create some tension next week when National Security Advisor John Bolton is expected to visit Turkey, which vehemently opposed the US’s decision to arm the Kurds, and would likely view the decision to allow Kurdish forces to hold on to the arms as an affront, arguing that US arms could wind up in the hands of Kurdish separatists in Turkey, which have been subject to a brutal crackdown by President Erdogan and his regime.
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