Turkey is ‘not a reliable partner’ in Syria: US aide

File photo of Brett McGurk, the former US envoy for the anti-Daesh (so-called IS) coalition. — Reuters

WASHINGTON — Brett McGurk, the former US envoy for the anti-Daesh (so-called IS) coalition, who resigned last month because of President Donald Trump’s abrupt decision to pull US forces out of Syria, has criticized the US leader for his abrupt withdrawal from Syria and dependence on Turkey as a “reliable partner”.

McGurk, writing in a Washington Post column published on Friday, described a callous and chaotic process behind the controversial decision, one that had given Daesh “new life” in the war-torn country.

He details receiving a call from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Dec. 17, three days after Trump called his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan and two days before making the decision public.

In that call, while the former envoy was in Iraq, Pompeo “informed us that there had been a sudden change in plans: President Trump, after a phone conversation with his Turkish counterpart, planned to declare victory over the Islamic State and direct our forces to withdraw from Syria,” he wrote.

In his attempt to fix matters with coalition members, McGurk said that he discovered US “counterparts in coalition capitals were bewildered. Our fighting partners in the SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces), whom I had visited regularly on the ground in Syria, expressed shock and then denial.”

They hoped that Trump would change his mind, he said. But that reversal never materialized, leading to Mr McGurk’s exit just days after the resignation of US Secretary of Defense James Mattis.

McGurk, who served three US Presidents, said Trump’s decision to leave Syria “was made without deliberation, consultation with allies or Congress, assessment of risk, or appreciation of facts”. — Agencies