WASHINGTON DC (Kurdistan 24) – Turkish proxies in northeast Syria are guilty of “war crimes and ethnic cleansing,” Amb. William V. Roebuck charged in an official State Department memo.
“Turkey’s military operations in northern Syria, spearheaded by armed Islamist groups on its payroll, represents an intention-laced effort at ethnic cleansing,” Roebuck wrote in an Oct. 31 internal report, The New York Times stated on Thursday.
Roebuck said those atrocities are “what can only be described as war crimes and ethnic cleansing.”
Roebuck is America’s top diplomat on the ground in northeast Syria. A 27-year veteran of the US foreign service, he is Senior Advisor to the Special Representative for Syria Engagement, Amb. James Jeffrey, and Deputy Special Envoy to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.
In an unclassified 3,200 word memo, Roebuck described the situation in northeast Syria and then sent the memo to Jeffrey and nearly 50 other State Department, White House, and Pentagon officials who also work on Syria.
Roebuck’s report was written some three weeks after Turkey’s cross-border assault into Syria began, following an Oct 6 telephone conversation between US President Donald Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Trump promised then that if Turkish forces committed any atrocities, including against religious minorities, he would impose severe sanctions.
Yet nothing has happened. Although White House officials received Roebuck’s report a week ago, Trump, on Wednesday, issued a pair of tweets that took no notice of that report.
Rather, Trump affirmed his good relationship with Erdogan and that the Turkish president would be visiting Washington next week.
Just had a very good call with President @RTErdogan of Turkey. He informed me that they have captured numerous ISIS fighters that were reported to have escaped during the conflict – including a wife and sister of terrorist killer al Baghdadi….— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 6, 2019
“Just had a very good call with President @RTErdogan of Turkey,” Trump wrote. “Look forward to seeing President Erdogan next Wednesday, November 13th at the @WhiteHouse!”
....Also talked about their Border with Syria, the eradication of terrorism, the ending of hostilities with the Kurds, and many other topics. Look forward to seeing President Erdogan next Wednesday, November 13th at the @WhiteHouse!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 6, 2019
There is strong opposition to Trump’s accommodation of Turkey in the US Congress. Last week, the House of Representatives passed two bills. One sanctioned Turkey for its attack on northeast Syria. Another condemned the World War I-era genocide against Armenians, under Ottoman rule.
In the Senate, a bipartisan bill providing for sanctions against Turkey for its attack on northeast Syria, entitled “Countering Turkish Aggression Act of 2019,” has been introduced by Senators Lindsey Graham (R, South Carolina) and Chris Van Hollen (D, Maryland.)
However, the administration opposes such legislation, and it is stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R, Kentucky) has given no indication that he is ready to bring the issue to a vote.
“Until he gets some signal from the administration as to whether or not they support any of these sanctions bills, he’s been unwilling to move forward,” Van Hollen complained on Thursday.
In his memo. Roebuck also affirmed that the administration could have done much more to block Turkey’s attack on Syria. He “raised the question of whether tougher American diplomacy, blunter threats of economic sanctions and increased military patrols could have deterred Turkey from attacking,” the Times reported.
Indeed, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East, Michael Mulroy, who left his position last week to work in the private sector, suggested just that, as he departed Washington.
“One day when the diplomatic history is written,” Roebuck warned, “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.”
Indeed, such judgments—and their effects—may not wait for “history.”
On Thursday, the highly regarded British news magazine, The Economist, published the English translation of an interview that it had conducted in Paris, in French, with French President Emmanuel Macron on Oct. 21.
Macron complained of serious problems within the trans-Atlantic alliance.
“To my mind, what we are currently experiencing is the brain death of NATO,” Macron startlingly affirmed. Asked to explain, he cited Turkey’s assault on northeast Syria, where French troops, as well as British, were deployed, alongside American, in support of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in the fight against the so-called Islamic State.
“You have an uncoordinated aggressive action by another NATO ally, Turkey, in an area where our interests are at stake,” Macron said. “There has been no NATO planning, nor any coordination. There hasn’t even been any NATO deconfliction.”