Washington, D.C. — President Donald Trump’s uncoordinated withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria has thrown the region into chaos, shattered American credibility, and uncovered deep problems with U.S. policy toward Turkey, according to a new analysis from the Center for American Progress.
This issue brief considers the risks of long-term instability caused by these events and outlines steps the United States could take to salvage what it can from the situation and begin to reset its increasingly adversarial relationship with Turkey.
Moving forward, the brief suggests that the United States should take a firm line with Turkey, imposing consequences for its most egregious violations of human rights and the spirit of the alliance, while also trying not to destroy the basic structural components of the relationship, which could be used to rebuild relations after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s term ends.
The United States should also:
- Begin a deliberate process to downgrade security relations with Turkey and hedge its defense posture
- Remove the nuclear weapons stored at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey
- Slowly draw down its non-NATO deployments in Turkey and replace essential defense and intelligence functions located in Turkey with new basing arrangements in the region to reduce U.S. reliance on Ankara
- Formally eject Turkey from the F-35 program, beyond the suspension already announced
- Prevent the sale of further defense articles or arms to Turkey if it is shown to engage in any further human rights abuses in Syria or further defense cooperation with Russia
- Implement the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA)
- Convey to Turkey that, if it pursues further defense cooperation with Russia, full implementation of CAATSA would include an end to the issuance of Arms Export Control Act licenses
Read the issue brief: “Trump’s Syria Shambles” by Max Hoffman.
For more information or to talk to an expert, please contact Sam Hananel at email@example.com or 202-478-6327.