The US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in Brussels on Thursday, October 24, that Turkey’s latest actions “have put them all in a terrible situation”, Ankara’s unjustified interference into Syria imperiled the safety success achieved as the US-led coalition and united Kurdish forces battled the Islamic State (ISIS) in the region during recent years, he added.
Military veteran and former defence industry lobbyist Esper was appointed to be the secretary of defence in July after the post was left by Jim Mattis who resigned after collisions with Trump over the removal of the US troops from Syria and Afghanistan.
While presenting a speech at a German Marshall Fund event taking place in Brussels, some time before the NATO defence ministers meeting supposed to concentrate on Turkey’s operation and the prospects of the combat against ISIS, Esper sharply criticized Turkey urging Ankara to return to being NATO’s reliable ally as it has always been.
“Turkey put us all in a terrible situation”, –Esper claimed.
“The direction of Turkey in the alliance is going in the wrong direction, the country is spinning more into Russia’s orbit than the Western orbit”, – he told the audience.
His remarks were outlined the next day after Donald Trump stood for his decision to remove most troops out of the Syrian territory and claimed the US’ decision to impose sanctions on Turkey after Ankara decided to stop combating Kurdish forces in Syria on a permanent base. Still Trump warned about his intentions not to hesitate to lift sanctions once more if Turkey does not respect its pledge for a permanent ceasefire.
Esper unexpectedly visited the Iraqi capital on October 23 and announced a “deliberate phased withdrawal of US troops from northeast Syria” which will “temporarily reposition in Iraq pursuant to bringing the troops home”. According to media reports, between 200 and 300 US troops are meant to remain at the southern Syrian outpost of Al-Tanf.
Last week Esper stated that his intention was to press NATO counterparts “to take collective and individual diplomatic and economic measures in response” to Turkey’s intervention.
French President Emmanuel Macron had earlier decried NATO’s inability to react to what he called Turkey’s offensive “crazy” and said it was time Europe stopped acting like a junior ally when it came to the Middle East.
Although a number of European countries have suspended their arms sales to Turkey over its military campaign in Syria, there is no mechanism in the military alliance to sanction one of its members.Tripoli protests