On Sunday, White House national security advisor John Bolton made it clear the United States' withdrawal from Syria is conditional. America needs to know Turkey will not target the U.S.’s Kurdish allies once our troops are removed, the Wall Street Journal reported.
President Trump’s order to withdraw U.S. troops is a “cause-and-effect mission” that requires certain assurances from various players in the region before it can be executed, said Mr. Bolton, the first administration official to outline the conditions for withdrawal.
His comments marked the first public acknowledgment from the White House that the safety of Kurdish allies is being considered as part of its pending withdrawal plan, but it also indicates that a quick withdrawal was unlikely given challenging regional dynamics.
It's hard to know exactly what the time table looks like though.
“Timetables or the timing of the withdrawal occurs as a result of the fulfillment of the conditions and the establishment of the circumstances that we want to see,” Bolton said. “It’s not the establishment of an arbitrary point for the withdrawal to take place as President Obama did in the Afghan situation…the timetable flows from the policy decisions that we need to implement.”
Mr. Bolton said Mr. Trump has told President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey that withdrawal is pending assurances that Turkey will protect Kurdish fighters who have long provided the U.S. with solid support in the campaign against Islamic State, adding, “I’m going to follow what the president said.”
Although the withdrawal is bound to happen, Bolton said there are circumstances that would bring the United States back to Syria.
“Any use of chemical weapons will be met by [a] very strong response, as we have done twice before," he said, referencing the Assad regime.