Turkey says US team coming to discuss Syria troops withdrawal

Turkey says US team coming to discuss Syria troops withdrawal
1 / 2
A US military delegation will visit Turkey this week to discuss the withdrawal of American ground forces from Syria, after US President Donald Trump's shock decision last week to order the pull-out of 2,000 troops
Turkey says US team coming to discuss Syria troops withdrawal
2 / 2
Trump’s sudden decision sparked turmoil within his administration, prompting the resignation of Brett McGurk, the special envoy to the anti-Daesh coalition, as well as Mattis. (File/AFP)
Updated 24 December 2018

Turkey says US team coming to discuss Syria troops withdrawal

Turkey says US team coming to discuss Syria troops withdrawal
  • The announcement shocked global partners and American politicians alike
  • US troops will leave under the auspices of a new Pentagon chief set to start next month

WASHINGTON: A US military delegation will visit Turkey this week to discuss the withdrawal of American ground forces from Syria, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's spokesman said on Monday.
"They will discuss how to coordinate (the withdrawal) with their counterparts," Ibrahim Kalin told a news conference in Ankara after US President Donald Trump's shock decision last week to order the pull-out of 2,000 troops.
The US has for years supported the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the fight against the Daesh terrorist group in Syria.
Critics of Trump's move fear that thousands of Daesh members could make gains in Syria, despite the US leader's claim that the group had been defeated.
"There is no question of a step backwards, vulnerability or a slowdown in the fight against Daesh," Kalin vowed, adding: "Turkey will show the same determination against Daesh... We can bring peace to this region."
He referred to Turkey's cross-border offensive launched in August 2016 against Daesh in northern Syria and said Ankara would take all measures to avoid a power vacuum after the US withdrawal.
Kalin said there would be further talks between the two countries' foreign ministries and other departments including a meeting planned in Washington on January 8.
"There will be intensive traffic" between officials, he added, a day after Trump and Erdogan held a telephone conversation agreeing to coordinate the Syria pull-out.
Trump's order came as Ankara warned it would launch an operation east of the Euphrates River against the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia which dominates the SDF.
Ankara says the YPG is a "terrorist offshoot" of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has waged an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984.
Although Turkey said it would postpone the offensive, a Turkish military convoy has arrived in the Turkish border district of Elbeyli carrying howitzers and artillery batteries.
Parts of the convoy entered Syria, the private IHA news agency reported.


UN says breakthrough achieved in Libya transition talks

UN says breakthrough achieved in Libya transition talks
Updated 52 min 4 sec ago

UN says breakthrough achieved in Libya transition talks

UN says breakthrough achieved in Libya transition talks
  • Talks in Geneva have been taking place amid a heavy international push to reach a peaceful settlement to Libya’s civil war
  • The US welcomed the breakthrough and urged all parties of Libya “to work with urgency and in good faith”

CAIRO: The top UN official for Libya said Saturday that an advisory committee for representatives of Libya’s different regions has proposed a way forward for choosing a transitional government that would lead the war-torn country to elections late this year.
The talks in Geneva, structured around the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum, have been taking place amid a heavy international push to reach a peaceful settlement to Libya’s civil war. Previous diplomatic initiatives have all collapsed.
UN acting envoy for Libya Stephanie Williams told a news conference in Geneva that the advisory committee’s members “have met their responsibility with a constructive spirit, cooperative efforts, and a great deal of patriotism.”
The committee is part of a 75-member forum that represents all the three main regions of Libya. The 18-member committee has proposed that each region’s electoral college name a representative to a three-member presidential council, Williams said. A prime minister would be chosen by the 75-member forum. A successful nominee should receive 70% of votes.
Williams said that the forum would resort to lists formed from Libya’s three regions, with each list consisting of four names, nominated for the presidential council and a prime minister position.
She said a list should obtain 17 endorsements: eight from the western region, six from the eastern region and three from southern Libya. The wining list should receive 60% of the votes of the 75-member forum in the first round. A run-up is expected if no list received the required votes, she said.
Williams said the forum would vote on the proposed mechanism on Monday and the results are expected the following day.
The transitional government would be “a temporary unified executive staffed by Libyan patriots who want to share responsibility rather than to divide the cake,” the UN acting envoy said.
The US welcomed the breakthrough and urged all parties of Libya “to work with urgency and in good faith” to establish an interim government, according to a statement by the US Embassy in Libya.
“It is time to move past the conflict and corruption facilitated by the status quo,” it said.
The forum is part of the UN efforts to end the chaos that engulfed the oil-rich North African nation after the 2011 overthrow and killing of dictator Muammar Qaddafi. It has reached an agreement last year to hold presidential and parliamentary elections on Dec. 24, 2021.
The oil-rich country is now split east to west between two rival administrations, each backed by an array of militias and foreign powers.
The warring sides agreed to a UN-brokered cease-fire in October in Geneva, a deal that included the departure of foreign forces and mercenaries from Libya within three months.
No progress was announced on the issue of foreign forces and mercenaries since they inked the cease-fire deal almost two months ago.