The U.S. has brokered a ceasefire agreement between Turkey and the Kurds after President Donald Trump issued a stern warning to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Following a meeting with Erdogan in Ankara on Thursday, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced terms of a ceasefire agreement that would end violence between Turkey and Kurds in Syria.
In a letter to Erdogan dated Oct. 9, Trump said: “Let’s work out a good deal! You don’t want to be responsible for slaughtering thousands of people, and I don’t want to be responsible for destroying the Turkish economy and I will. I’ve already given you a little sample with respect to Pastor Brunson.
“I have worked hard to solve some of your problems. Don’t let the world down. You can make a great deal. General Mazloum is willing to negotiate with you, and he is willing to make concessions that they would never have made in the past. I am confidentially enclosing a copy of his letter to me, just received,” added Trump.
“History will look upon you favorably if you get this done the right and humane way. It will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don’t happen. Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool! I will call you later,” the letter concludes.
Pence and Pompeo said the deal is for a 120-hour cease-fire, during which time the Kurdish-led forces could pull back from the roughly 20-mile-wide safe zone on the Turkish-Syrian border.
All Turkish military operations under the recent offensive known as Operation Peace Spring will pause during that time, and the operation itself will come to an end entirely upon the completion of the Kurdish withdrawal, under the terms of the deal.
“This is a great day for civilization,” Trump declared in a tweet following a press conference where Pence and Pompeo discussed the deal. “I am proud of the United States for sticking by me in following a necessary, but somewhat unconventional, path. People have been trying to make this ‘Deal’ for many years. Millions of lives will be saved. Congratulations to ALL!”
Turkish soldiers last week launched a cross-border assault against Kurdish fighters who Turkey considers terrorists. The operation was launched three days after Trump’s announcement of a withdrawal of U.S. forces in northeastern Syria.
In addition to agreeing to the terms of a ceasefire, both the U.S. and Turkey “committed to defeat ISIS activities in northeast Syria,” Pence said at an Oct. 17 press conference in Ankara.
“Turkey and the United States agree on the priority of respecting vulnerable human life, human rights, and particularly the protection of religious and ethnic communities in the region,” the vice president added.
Pence said the deal was reached after more than five hours of negotiations with Erdogan and Turkish officials.
“We think the agreement today first ends the violence, which is what President Trump sent us here to do,” Pence said. “We achieved that.”
Pence said that the U.S. did not approve of Turkey’s military operation, but under the terms of the deal will lift sanctions against Turkey upon the fulfillment of the agreement from both sides.
According to State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus, Pompeo will visit Jerusalem on Friday to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The two are expected to discuss developments in Syria and the continued need to counter the Iranian regime’s destabilizing behavior in the region.
Later on Friday, Pompeo is scheduled to travel to Brussels where he will meet with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to discuss Transatlantic security issues and U.S. goals for the upcoming NATO Foreign Ministerial and Leaders Meeting.