US, Turkey Reach Ceasefire Deal In Syria As Rand Paul Blocks House “War” Resolution
Pence Says US, Turkey Reach Ceasefire Deal In Syria; Lira Soars On "Agreement To Withdraw Sanctions"
update: A deal has been reached for Turkey to suspend military operations in northern Syria, as Vice President Pence has confirmed in a briefing to reporters. "A pause in military operations for 120 hours" - or 5 days - while the US facilitates an "orderly withdrawal" of its forces as well as partner SDF Kurdish forces outside a 20-mile 'safe zone' will take effect based on Thursday's meeting with President Erdogan, Pence said. Meanwhile a senior Turkish official has told Middle East Eye"We got exactly what we wanted out of the meeting."
POMPEO: WORK REMAINS IN REGION, DEAL SETS GROUND FOR RESOLUTION
PENCE: TURKEY AGREED TO CEASE OPS PERMANENTLY AFTER WITHDRAWAL
PENCE SAYS TRUMP VERY GRATEFUL FOR EFFORT ON CEASEFIRE
The deal involves removal of US sanctions conditioned on the "pause" and road map to permanent ceasefire:
"Part of our understanding is that with the implementation of the ceasefire, the United States will not impose any further sanctions on Turkey," Pence said. "And once a permanent ceasefire is in effect, the President has agreed to withdraw the economic sanctions that were imposed this last Monday."
Concerning the 5-day "pause" the Vice President said, "On the basis of a pause... we will not be implementing additional sanctions during that period of time."
A copy of the printed agreement, handed out the press pool:
The Turkish Lira surged on the announcement, rallying as much as 1.15% to a session high of 5.8194, the strongest point since Oct. 10.
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Visible tension pervaded the icy photo opp during Thursday's meeting between Vice President Mike Pence and Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara — a meeting which the latter initially rejected, saying he would only meet with Trump, amid a White House initiative to push for a ceasefire in northern Syria.
The Pence-Pompeo-Erdogan meeting, which reports say lasted for about 90 minutes, which was significantly "longer than planned," also came after Trump's strange "don't be a fool" letter to Erdogan was made public, which Turkish officials say Erdogan threw in the trash.
It was further less than 24 hours after Trump seemed to downplay Turkey's invasion against US-backed Kurdish forces in Syria, saying the fight was over land that "has nothing to do with us."
The president told reporters in the Oval Office Wednesday, "If Turkey goes into Syria, that’s between Turkey and Syria," and added, "It's not between Turkey and the United States."
All of this means that the US delegation went to Ankara with perhaps significantly less leverage (also considering Erdogan isn't dealing with Trump directly); however, also after the White House authorized sanctions on Turkey this week, vowing that more could come.
The US has demanded that Erdogan immediately halt his 'Operation Peace Spring' — to which Erdogan responded this week he'll pursue the Turkish 'safe zone' in northern Syria even without international backing or support of allies.
A Turkish official told Reuters of Trump's now viral letter, which apparently wasn't reviewed or proofed by his staff: “The letter Trump sent did not have the impact he expected in Turkey because it had nothing to take seriously.”
“What is clear is that Turkey does not want a terrorist organization on its border and the operation will not stop because of the reaction that has been coming.”
Rand Paul Blocks Vote on House Measure Condemning Syria Withdrawal
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), one of Congress’s most prominent non-interventionists, blocked a move on Thursday to bring a House-approved measure formally condemning President Donald Trump’s withdrawal of U.S. troops from northern Syria.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) attempted to gain consent to introduce the measure to the upper chamber’s floor, but because it requires unanimous consent, any senator has the ability to thwart it.
“The most important thing we can do right now is send President Trump a message that Congress, the vast majority of Democrats and Republicans, demand he reverse course,” Schumer said.
Paul argued Schumer was attempting to circumvent the U.S. Constitution by bringing the measure to a vote.
“He should come to the floor and say that we are ready to declare war. We are ready to authorize force, and we are going to stick our troops in the middle of this messy, messy, five-sided civil war where we would be ostensibly opposed to the Turkish government that has made an incursion,” he said.
The House had passed a resolution Wednesday condemning President Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria in a 354-60 vote.
The move by Paul comes as U.S. officials said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has agreed to stop its offensive in Syria, signaling an end to a military campaign that has so far killed dozens of Kurdish fighters and drawn international condemnation.
Vice President Mike Pence announced the agreement for a five-day cease-fire after hours of bilateral meetings in Ankara among U.S. and Turkish officials — which included Erdogan and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The situation will be re-evaluated at the end of the five-day deal.
Erdogan’s forces began Operation Peace Spring a week ago in northeast Syria, to clear border territories of Kurdish fighters so Ankara can send back Syrian refugees who fled to Turkey. The Turkish leader has previously insisted he would accept no cease-fire.
“The United States and Turkey have both mutually committed to a peaceful resolution and future for the safe zone, working on an international basis to ensure that peace and security defines this border region with Syria,” Pence stated.