On May 31, US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert denied that an agreement had been reached between the US and Turkey on the northern city of Manbij and said that the Turkish-US working group on Syria will continue discussing this issue and others.
“We don’t have any agreements yet with the government of Turkey. We announced previously that the United States and the Turkish working group met…in Ankara [on May 25] … We’re continuing to have ongoing conversations regarding Syria and other issues of mutual concern. The two sides then had outlined the contours of a roadmap for further cooperation, and that includes on Manbij,” Nauert said during a daily press briefing, according to the Turkish Hurriyet Daily News.
Nauert’s statement contradicts an earlier statement of the US Embassy in Turkey, in which it had announced that the Turkish-US working group outlined the main contours of a road map for “cooperation in ensuring security and stability” in Manbij during their meeting in Ankara.
On May 30, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Davutoglu said that a roadmap for cooperation on Manbij had been reached and revealed that the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) might withdraw from Manbij before the end of this summer, as a part of the roadmap. However, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which include the YPG, dined that it is planning to withdraw from Manbij.
The statements of Nauert and the SDF hints that the US is planning to walk away from the roadmap that will be discussed by Cavusoglu and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on June 2 and 3.
Manbij city witnessed a general strike that as organized by the locals against the forcible recruitment into the ranks of the SDF on May 20. Later, similar strikes and protests spared into other Arab areas in the governorates of al-Hasakah and Raqqa.
According to observer, the US unlimited support for the Kurdish-dominated SDF on the Manbij crisis and many other similar issues in eastern Syria will eventually lead to more tension between Kurds and Arabs there.