Democracy Now! Oct 7, 2019
U.S. troops have begun withdrawing from northeast Syria as Turkey prepares to invade Kurdish-controlled areas of the country. For years, the Kurds have been close allies to the United States in the fight against ISIS. On Sunday, however, the White House released a statement that surprised many in the region, announcing that Turkey would be “moving forward with its long-planned operation in Northern Syria,” following a phone call between President Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “The United States Armed Forces will not support or be involved in that operation, and the United States forces, having defeated the ISIS territorial ‘Caliphate,’ will no longer be in the immediate area,” the statement said. The announcement marks a major shift in U.S. policy, since as recently as January President Trump threatened to “devastate Turkey economically” if it attacked Kurdish forces in Syria. Meanwhile, in neighboring Iraq, the death toll continues to rise as police and soldiers fire on people defying a government-imposed curfew in mass anti-government protests. For more on events in the region, we speak with Patrick Cockburn, Middle East correspondent for The Independent newspaper.