White House seeks "emergency talks" in Ankara, after Trump withdrawal allows Russian troops to pour into Syria

Having effectively abandoned the Kurdish people to their fate just days ago, the Trump administration is reported to have dispatched "top officials" to Turkey for emergency talks to try to persuade Ankara to halt an assault on northern Syria, while Russian troops swept into territory abandoned by Washington in the unexpected (but apparently not by the Kremlin) retreat.

White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien arrived in Turkey aiming to meet Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Wednesday (Oct 16th). Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are expecting to meet the following day with President Tayyip Erdogan. 

The administration is trying to contain the fallout from Erdogan’s decision to send forces last week to attack Syrian Kurdish militia that were Washington’s close allies. 

Erdogan repeated his insistence there would be no ceasefire, and said he might call off a visit to the United States next month because of the “very big disrespect” shown by U.S. politicians. 

He also denounced the United States for taking the “unlawful, ugly step” of imposing criminal charges against a Turkish state bank over allegations it broke sanctions on Iran. 

The Turkish assault, launched after a phone call between Erdogan and Trump, has forced Washington to abandon a strategy in place for five years and pull its troops from northern Syria. 

It has spawned a humanitarian crisis, with 160,000 civilians taking flight, a security alert over thousands of Islamic State fighters abandoned in Kurdish jails, and a political maelstrom at home for Trump, accused by congressional leaders, including fellow Republicans, of betraying loyal U.S. allies, the Kurds. 

Syrian government forces, backed by Washington’s adversaries Russia and Iran, have meanwhile taken advantage of the power vacuum left by retreating U.S. troops to advance swiftly into the largest swath of territory previously outside their grasp.

Read also: Russian backed forces in Syria make huge advances after Donald Trump's reversal of U.S. policy

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