Ceasefire In Syria

I don’t pretend to understand what has been going on in northern Syria in the last week or so. My understanding is that Turkey has limited objectives in the area that are not entirely illegitimate, that the handful of troops that we had in the area couldn’t have stopped the Turkish advance, and that President Trump pulled our troops out of harm’s way in recognition of the inevitable. But that may be a misreading of the situation. I really am not sure. I do have considerable sympathy with yesterday’s tweet by President Trump:

In any event, Vice President Mike Pence has been meeting with President Erdogan, and a little while ago they announced a ceasefire.

Pence explained Thursday that Turkey’s military would pause its military offensive in northern Syria for 120 hours in order to allow Kurdish militia forces to exit the roughly 20-mile-wide “safe zone” near the border. He also added that Turkey’s operation would be “halted entirely upon completion of the withdrawal.” Pence said that the administration has also begun to facilitate the withdrawal of Syrian forces from the area.

“Also Turkey and the United States agree on the priority of respecting vulnerable human life, human rights, and particularly the protection of religious and ethnic communities in the region,” Pence explained.

Let’s hope that Turkey respects the terms of the ceasefire. Senator Lindsey Graham says he will proceed with sanctions legislation against Turkey in case Turkey fails to abide by the agreement.

President Trump hailed the agreement as a signal triumph:

I doubt that millions of lives are being saved, but I am sure the president is glad to have the Syria controversy behind him, at least for now. I am also certain that the Democrats regret the loss of their political weapon–a hypocritical weapon, in view of their record in Syria and the region generally–more than they regret any loss of life that may have flowed from our troop withdrawal.