Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan rejected a request from national security advisor John Bolton to protect U.S. allies fighting in the region. He did, however, threaten them with military strikes. It turns out he's a little on edge after Bolton told Erdogan that U.S. troops would stay in Syria unless Turkey promised not to hurt the Kurds.
“John Bolton made a serious mistake,” Mr. Erdogan told lawmakers from the Justice & Development Party. “Those who share the same view are also deeply wrong.”
Trump reportedly did not demand that Kurdish forces be protected in former phone calls with Erdogan and the Turkish leader was frustrated that "different opinions have begun to be heard from different levels of the Trump administration."
He also reportedly refused to meet with Bolton when he was visiting Turkey this week.
On Tuesday, instead of meeting Mr. Bolton, Mr. Erdogan warned in an address to the Turkish parliament that Turkey, which has stationed troops along the border, stood ready to launch an offensive into northern Syria to teach a “necessary lesson” to the Kurdish fighters.
Ankara says Kurdish fighters from the People’s Protection Units militia, or YPG, who have carved out a swath of territory in Syria during that country’s conflict, pose an existential threat to Turkey. (Wall Street Journal)
Erdogan emphasized in his remarks that his government would make no concessions for the Kurds.
When Trump announced he was withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria last month, he drew the ire from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. It seemed members of his own cabinet weren't thrilled either. Former Defense Secretary James Mattis tendered his resignation the day after Trump made the Syria move.
According to some Republicans, a smaller U.S. presence in Syria would result in the rebirth of ISIS.