American armoured vehicles with their Stars and Stripes flying were patrolling today close to the Turkish-Kurdish frontline west of the Euphrates River in northern Syria. But how long will they go on doing so in the wake of the decision by President Trump to pull 2,000 US troops from Syria, claiming there is no reason for them to be there after the defeat of Isis? And when they do go, will this open the gates to a new and possibly very bloody phase in the seven-year-long Syrian war?
Turkey says it will invade and destroy the quasi-independent Kurdish enclave, which the Kurds call Rojava, once it is no longer under American protection. They say the Kurdish militants who rule the enclave “will be buried in their ditches when the time comes”.
The main Kurdish population centres are in cities and towns on the Turkish border which are within artillery range of the Turkish regiments massing on the other side of the frontier.
If there is a Turkish invasion of this vast chunk of Syria, it will provoke a mass flight of the 2 million Kurds in the area who live in terror of a Turkish incursion. When Turkey invaded the Kurdish region of Afrin at the start of the year, half the population fled and has yet to return.
The Kurds in Syria provided the foot soldiers for the US war against Isis whose “Islamic state” once stretched in 2014 from the outskirts of Baghdad to the Mediterranean.
The Kurdish-US de facto alliance began during the Isis siege of the Kurdish city of…