There's no room for doubt now that Donald Trump has no concept of the notion of "power vacuums."
Trump created a vacuum in Syria when he withdrew US forces under cover of darkness to clear the way for Turkey to slaughter America's former allies, the Syrian Kurds. He wanted out. He was getting out. Screw everybody and anybody else. It's the sort of addled, messianic thinking that we once associated with end-phase thugs like Robert Mugabe, just before they're shown the door.
Sometimes these power vacuums linger for a while, a few months at least, but eventually a new player, foreign or domestic, moves in to take over. This time it was just a matter of days.
Guess who's running Syria now? Full marks if you guessed Vlad Putin. Not only is Putin moving in to fill the Trump vacuum, he's putting Turkey's Erdogan on notice that Russian forces may respond if Turkey doesn't back off.
Russia said on Tuesday that its military units were patrolling territory in northern Syria vacated by the Americans following the withdrawal ordered by President Trump, underscoring the sudden loss of United States influence in the eight-year-old Syria war.
The Americans had until Monday maintained two military bases in the area, and Russia’s announcement signaled that Moscow, the Syrian government’s most important ally, was moving to fill a security void left by the withdrawal of both the American military and its partners in their effort to destroy the Islamic State and its Syrian base.Erdogan, meanwhile, is vowing to continue the attacks by Turkish forces on Kurdish strongholds in Syria. He speaks in terms of eliminating them. The Russians appear ready to prevent that. It could lead to military force used by the Russians against a NATO partner which might put an end to the Article 5 "mutual defence" provision that requires all NATO members to come to the defence if another is attacked. That doesn't really seem likely.
Meanwhile Trump, who greenlighted Erdogan's attacks on America's former Kurdish ally, is catching so much heat at home that he's now acting all indignant and threatening Ankara with punitive tariffs. Maybe the Gullibillies will eat that horse shit.