Erdogan phones Trump to talk Turkey

Was Erdogan’s sole aim in calling to talk Mr. Trump into withdrawing US troops from Syria?

US PRESIDENT Donald Trump talks to Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium in July. (photo credit: REUTERS)
US PRESIDENT Donald Trump talks to Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium in July.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
On December 19, President Donald Trump announced the decision to withdraw the 2,000 US troops still stationed in Syria. The world reacted with shock and awe! The president clarified that the battle against Islamic State is not over, but refused to elucidate on just what prompted the decision. The order came, presumably, after Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to clean up pockets of ISIS elements in Syria.
Was Erdogan’s sole aim in calling to talk Mr. Trump into withdrawing US troops from Syria? Why should he be believed? The Turkish leader hates Israel and Saudi Arabia, supports the Muslim Brotherhood, and loves Iran. 
A major concern for Israel has been the pockets of ISIS operatives spotted near the Syrian-Israel border. Israelis are deeply concerned that Erdogan, whose hatred of Israel is well-documented, cannot be trusted to defend Israel against an attack. This is the same leader who, while accusing Israel of war crimes, has been guilty of condoning the slaughter of women and children in Kurdish villages in Iraq and Turkey.
Some have speculated that US objectives with Erdogan have changed, and that Mr. Trump is rethinking his options in the region regarding Turkish intervention. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been avoiding direct criticism of Erdogan while trying to reveal to President Trump just how blatantly antisemitic the Turkish president really is.
Is Erdogan so removed from reality that he doesn’t understand ISIS has morphed from a localized terrorist threat into a global menace? Does he think that just by a bit of saber-rattling ISIS will retreat in sheer panic? Conversely, forestalling further Iranian incursion into Syria will not be prevented by 2,000 troops.
Erdogan has, of course, assured Trump that his troops would be able to clear any members of ISIS remaining in Syria as it did in 2016-2017. President Trump approved of the strategy, but the Turk’s scheme may go far beyond the terrorist group to the Kurdish militia, operating under the banner of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). He has long-sought the decimation of any Kurdish forces, long-time US allies.
Following the phone call between the two leaders, Erdogan indicated that Turkey will postpone any attack against Kurds in Syria. Gloomy details have already surfaced following the phone call. Sources have reported a build-up of Erdogan’s troops along the border near Manbij, a town currently under the control of the Kurdish and American forces. Witnesses have stated that Turkish military equipment and troops have begun to cross into the area. The reason for the build-up is not at first obvious, except for Turkey’s angry accusations that the US has failed to fulfill its obligations to Erdogan.
Organizations such as World Vision and Samaritan’s Purse are preparing for as many as 100,000 Christians and one million Kurds who might be forced to flee their homes into northern Iraq ahead of a Turkish invasion. There are also reports that Iran and Erdogan may have reached some agreement to divide Syria and use the country as a staging area to move against Israel. Any religious freedom that had been gained under the Kurds would immediately be lost.
This move has also posed a problem for strong pro-Israel Evangelicals who have supported Mr. Trump. Should Israel be threatened, the president’s chances for reelection could be compromised.
The writer is a bestselling author with 89 published books. He is the founder of Friends of Zion Museum in Jerusalem and serves on the Trump Evangelical Faith Initiative.