On Sunday, President Trump made a call to his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan advising him against the invasion of Northern Syria. Trump has indicated that the Turks will pay a huge price if they fail to treat Kurds and Syrian refugees in a humane way.
Trump warns Turkey against mistreating Kurds
In the Sunday call, Trump promised Erdogan that they would resume the sales of the Lockheed Martin F-35 aircraft to Turkey if they didn’t. According to a senior state official, the president offered the Turks a good package with several other benefits, including a presidential visit.
Following the call, President Trump promised to withdraw around 1,000 US soldiers from the region. There are several US-supported Kurdish allies in North-eastern Syria. Observers have warned that the decision will leave the Kurdish fighters susceptible to Turkish attacks and could also lead to a resurgence of ISIS.
Turkey has always considered the Syrian Democratic Forces dominated by Kurds and Kurdish People’s Protection units as terrorist groups. They have links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Part, a rebel group based in Turkey, and identified as a terrorist organization by Turkey and the US.
US reverse decision not to sell F-35 to Turkey
The offer of the Lockheed Martin F-35 to turkey is a deviation from the United States’ policy to not include Turkey in the flagship program from July. The US had given the F-35 contracts to many of its allies, including South Korea and the UK. They had taken Turkey off the list after it bought the advanced S-400 air defense systems of Russia.
At the time, the US had indicated that their F-35 could not coexist with the intelligence collection platform of Russia that could learn about the capabilities of F-35. In a statement, the US had indicated that for over 65 years, Turkey had been a trusted ally of NATO. However, the acceptance of S-400 dents the commitment NATO allies made of moving away from Russian systems.
President Trump has, however, empathized with Turkey and indicated that they would sell the F-35 aircraft to Turkey regardless of the warnings from Congress.