A top Syria expert is sounding the alarm on President Donald Trump’s refusal to fight back against Turkey’s war with America’s Kurdish allies.
A New York Times report revealed Bill Roebuck, Deputy Special Envoy to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, issued an internal memo that hammers the White House for careless and lazy foreign policy.
National security reporter Katie Bo Williams noted on Twitter that Roebuck “has spent more time on the ground in Syria than just about anybody in Washington right now,” and would have the expert information necessary to guide the White House policy on ISIS and the Middle East.
Roebuck’s 3,200-word memo asks whether “tougher American diplomacy, blunter threats of economic sanctions and increased military patrols could have deterred Turkey from attacking,” The Times reported, noting that it’s something that has worked in the past.
“It’s a tough call, and the answer is probably not,” Roebuck wrote. “But we won’t know because we didn’t try.”
There were reasons that the Turks might have ignored Trump if he went that route, but what Trump did instead, ultimately, “upended” the existing policy for Syria and sent the area into destabilized chaos.
His memo goes on to describe Trump’s sudden turn as a “catastrophic sideshow” after “bloody, yearslong upheaval” in the area.
“Turkey’s military operation in northern Syria, spearheaded by armed Islamist groups on its payroll, represents an intentioned-laced effort at ethnic cleansing,” Roebuck went on, saying the abuses “what can only be described as war crimes and ethnic cleansing.”
“One day when the diplomatic history is written,” the memo continued, “people will wonder what happened here and why officials didn’t do more to stop it or at least speak out more forcefully to blame Turkey for its behavior: an unprovoked military operation that has killed some 200 civilians, left well over 100,000 people (and counting) newly displaced and homeless because of its military operation.”
The Times explained that Roebuck’s memo is the first formal expression of dissent on Syria from within the Trump administration that has been made public.