The Trump administration is considering abolishing key diplomatic posts for the Middle East, and the future bodes ill for the ISIS-defeating Kurds and their allies and for the larger region.
The key counter-terrorism post currently occupied by Brett McGurk may be abolished with McGurk’s future uncertain.
Moreover, the former powerful US diplomat John Hannah, who served under former VP Dick Cheney, has turned down the position of Syria envoy after talks with the administration.
Both McGurk and Hannah are intensely disliked by Ankara which has long lobbied the US for the former’s removal from the CT post. According to Foreign Policy magazine:
The proposed move comes at a moment of renewed bloodshed and diplomatic chaos in Syria, with a NATO ally, Turkey, locked in combat with U.S.-armed and trained Kurdish forces. Some Western government officials and experts said it was too soon to consider withdrawing the envoy, particularly when the United States has struggled to articulate a coherent political strategy following military successes against the Islamic State.
It appears Rex Tillerson has given in to Erdogan’s “Ottoman slap”, and that mending relations with Turkey is becoming a priority for Trump, as the administration shifts its focus from defeating ISIS to containing Iran.
If the State Department returns to pre-ISIS “factory settings” -no special envoys, restoring relations with traditional allies, purging the growing numbers of anti-Turkey and anti-jihadi career diplomats-, then the Kurds in Syria and Iraq will lose enormously, and the resurrection of ISIS will be all but guaranteed.
What a shame!