Pentagon officials visited Capitol Hill on Thursday to reassure lawmakers amid confusion over plans to implement President Donald Trump's order for USA troops to withdraw from Syria - but some Democrats and Republicans were left unsatisfied.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan publicly blasted national security adviser John Bolton Tuesday for saying the U.S. withdrawal was contingent upon Turkey's pledge not to attack US-backed Kurdish fighters in Syria once American troops go home.
The reference was to Bolton's remarks this week the United States would not exit Syria until Turkey promised not to target U.S. Kurdish partners.
It also comes weeks after President Donald Trump's abrupt announcement that he will pull all 2,000 United States troops from Syria, which caused alarm among USA allies in the region.
The YPG is the backbone of the Syrian Democratic Forces, which is the main U.S. partner on the ground in the battle against ISIS and has controlled a large swath of northern Syria for the past several years.
The same source said that he understood Bolton to have told the Israelis that the U.S. withdrawal from Syria would be a very slow process that could undergo delays if needed.
The vacancies are especially problematic as the Trump administration continues to send contradictory messages about its policies toward friends and foes in the region.
In addition to explaining Washington's policy on Syria and reassuring its allies, especially Saudi Arabia, that the United States is not giving up on plans to isolate Iran, Bolton and Pompeo will also give time to discuss the Palestine-Israel "situation".
He added that the U.S. was a "force for good" in the Middle East, adding: "Where America retreats, chaos follows". Either we will never withdraw from "northeastern Syria", or we will stand by and watch our anti-ISIS allies get massacred as Turkey reneges on any security pledge they make.
The two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies are at loggerheads over the Syria conflict, including the withdrawal of American forces from the Arab country.
Pompeo blamed the previous administration's approach to the Mideast for the ills that consume it now, particularly the rise of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria and Iran's increasing assertiveness, which he said was a direct result of sanctions relief, since rescinded by the Trump administration, granted to it under the 2015 nuclear deal.
He instead stated in a speech to the Turkish parliament that Bolton had made a "serious mistake" in imposing the condition. In contrast to other USA allies, Turkey can point to major sacrifices it has made in the struggle against Daesh in Syria, which Erdogan did when referencing the bloody Al Bab campaign of 2016/2017 in his New York Times article.
Erdogan's comments came shortly after US National Security Adviser John Bolton held talks in the Turkish capital with Erdogan's adviser Ibrahim Kalin, in a key meeting focusing on the surprise US decision to withdraw its troops from Syria. 'With that being said, we're pulling out of Syria.
But Pompeo insisted the two statements were entirely consistent. "And when we partner with our enemies, they advance", he said. With the mini-state of ISIS largely gone, whatever threat the group poses is a matter not of military control of a patch of Syria-a patch of "sand and death", as Trump put it -but instead of ideology, politics, fear, and hatred that can not be described on a battle map. "I think it's a major foreign policy blunder because not only does it abandon the Kurds and the Syrian Democratic Forces, but it leaves Russian Federation and Iran to expand their influence in Syria".