Israel Uneasy Amid Reports That Trump 'Surrendered' Syria to Turkey

Monday, December 24, 2018 |  Ryan Jones

Reports this week that US President Donald Trump effectively "surrendered" Syria to Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan only served to increase Israel's concerns over the situation on its northern border.

In a December 14 phone conversation between the two leaders, Trump said that his administration was "done" with Syria, and told Erdogan that the war-torn country is "all yours," according to a transcript of the call obtained by CNN.

Trump made what many see as an impulsive decision after Erdogan reportedly assured him that Turkish forces would mop up what remains of ISIS and other radical jihadist groups in Syria.

The problem is that Turkey also views Kurdish forces allied with both the US and Israel as terrorists, and experts are convinced that the Turkish military will soon engage the Kurds.

The Kurds have long been seen as a counter to the rise of Sunni radicals, as well as a buffer against spreading Iranian hegemony. Turkey, Iran and regional Arab powers also fear the Kurds finally establishing a state of their own and forging a military alliance with Israel. The Kurdish autonomous areas already maintain warm relations with the Jewish state.

Allowing Turkey to cripple Kurdish ambitions threatens Israel by weakening one of its only true allies in the region and by opening the door to the further spread of Iranian influence.

Given the very clear danger of the move, Trump's decision left not a few Israelis scratching their heads.

PHOTO: Trump and Erdogan discuss Middle East issues during a gathering at NATO headquarters in Brussels in July 2018. (EPA-EFE/TATYANA ZENKOVICH)

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