America’s Kurdish allies in Syria spent Wednesday getting killed near the border, where Turkish air strikes resulted in the death of at least five civilians as well as three fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces (which are led by the YPG, America’s staunch ally in the fight against ISIS).
Meanwhile, Donald Trump – whose Sunday decision to pull some 50 US special operators away from YPG border positions effectively green-lighted the Turkish offensive – spent his day tweeting about Joe Biden and defending his Sunday evening phone call with Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who quite clearly talked his distracted US counterpart into acquiescing to a bloodbath.
“Journalists on the Turkish side of the frontier watched as explosions struck the Syrian town of Tel Abyad”, Reuters wrote Wednesday. “After dark, the red flare of rockets could be seen fired across the border [as] flames burned near the town [and] civilians fled en masse”.
“Turkey is now responsible for ensuring all ISIS fighters being held captive remain in prison and that ISIS does not reconstitute in any way, shape, or form”, Trump said, in a farcical statement following Turkey’s initial airstrikes. “The United States does not endorse this attack and has made it clear to Turkey that this operation is a bad idea”.
Suffice to say that’s small comfort for the Syrian Kurds who, right up until Sunday, were largely immune to Erdogan’s wrath thanks to the presence of four-dozen US soldiers, but who are now being shelled and bombed and will, in short order, be engaged in a ground fight with the Turkish army.
Speaking to reporters at the White House on Wednesday afternoon, an exhausted-looking Trump reiterated his pledge to decimate Turkey’s economy if Erdogan’s invasion of Kurdish-held Syria ends up being inhumane. Asked by a reporter “what that actually means”, Trump said “we’re going to have to define that as we go along”.
“We’ll see how [Erdogan] does it”, Trump meandered. “He can do it in a soft manner, or he can do it in a very tough manner, and if he does it unfairly he’s gonna pay a very big economic price”.
So far, eight people have reportedly been killed, and that was just in the first six or so hours of what promises to be a prolonged engagement.
It wasn’t immediately clear how many of America’s allies need to die before Trump decides that Erdogan’s approach has morphed from “soft” to “unfair” and “very tough”.
Pressed on Wednesday about what the White House will do if Erdogan does attempt to “wipe out the Kurds”, Trump simply tripled down on the bombast.
“I will wipe out his economy if that happens”, Trump said. “I hope he will act rationally”.