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
This deal could NEVER have been made 3 days ago. There needed to be some “tough” love in order to get it done. Great for everybody. Proud of all!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 17, 2019
This is a great day for civilization. I am proud of the United States for sticking by me in following a necessary, but somewhat unconventional, path. People have been trying to make this “Deal” for many years. Millions of lives will be saved. Congratulations to ALL!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 17, 2019
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."
Trump on Syria ceasefire agreement: "What Turkey is getting now is, they're not going to have to kill millions of people, and millions of people aren't going to have to kill them" https://t.co/H9n7JKbYS7 pic.twitter.com/H5lK6AMEjR— CBS News (@CBSNews) October 17, 2019
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.
* * *
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.
More pics from Pence, Erdogan meeting.— Ragıp Soylu (@ragipsoylu) October 17, 2019
STILL NOT HAPPY pic.twitter.com/VmZ1a10QVL
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."
VIDEO from Erdogan, Pence meeting— Ragıp Soylu (@ragipsoylu) October 17, 2019
Pence and Erdogan are stiff.
“Thanks for seeing me” Pence says.
Ambassador Jeffrey addresses Erdogan in Turkish pic.twitter.com/2AtxIhQNmc
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."
Here is @SecPompeo and @VP and erdogan. A US official tell us pence asked @trpresidency twice to allow media in. We were allowed in — no questions allowed — for about 45 seconds. pic.twitter.com/eZESiI1iwe— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) October 17, 2019
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.”