Posting to Twitter on Monday morning, Trump slammed The New York Times for accurately reporting that his administration had stepped back from his December announcement that US forces would immediately be withdrawn from Syria. Since then, the Administration has whipsawed to say that it would continue to maintain the US presence across half-dozen military bases in the country without a definitive timeline.
"Erdogan made a commitment to President Trump... that the Turks would continue the counter ISIS campaign after our departure, and that the Turks would ensure that the folks that we'd fought with - that assisted us in the counter ISIS campaign - would be protected", he said. "Secondly, the president chose to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and moved the embassy to Jerusalem-a historic decision which we welcome".
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar hit out at Bolton on Monday, saying on Twitter that Turkey's fight isn't against Kurds but against Kurdish rebels and Islamic States militants who pose a threat to all ethnic groups.
If Trump did not repudiate his adviser, the daylight between their words captured the tricky path that Bolton, 70, a former official in the George W. Bush administration who long occupied the hawkish fringe of the Republican Party, has walked since entering the White House in April. Kurds have sought protection from extremism and their ongoing battles against Turkish forces in Syria. But when Erdogan began asking why American forces were there at all, considering ISIS has lost roughly 99% of its territory, Trump acquiesced. The president was eventually persuaded to change course by his National Security Council. "He has no historical context, he has no diplomatic experience and he's easily manipulated because he's always been under siege domestically and politically, so he's looking for a win".
Trump, speaking to journalists before departing the White House for Camp David on Sunday, denied there was any walk-back of his December announcement. He also stated plainly: "We have won against ISIS". The ensuing chaos led to the high-profile resignations of Defense Secretary James Mattis and Brett McGurk, the State Department's special envoy to the coalition fighting ISIS.More news: Georgia quarterback Justin Fields transferring to Ohio State
It wasn't the first time Trump shot from the hip on a foreign policy matter with a world leader. "I never said we were doing it quickly".
Trump also praised both Pompeo and Bolton, and gave no indication he thought Bolton was straying from his instructions.
In March 2018, Trump called Russian President Vladimir Putin to congratulate him on his re-election, despite being specifically warned not to do so by national security adviserd. Part of those discussions include the strategic partnership between US forces with the Syrian Democratic Forces in the region.
"I have two great stars", Trump said.
Trump, in a tweet today, denied there was any contradiction in administration messages about his Syria withdrawal timeline.
White House national security adviser John Bolton clarified that the withdrawal of USA forces from Syria will not be immediate, but is contingent upon the achievement of certain objectives, including assured protection for the Kurds and total defeat of ISIS. A spokesman for the group, Mustafa Bali, said they included two Americans, two Pakistanis and one Irish citizen. They're very strong and they work hard.