The Middle East is in for another major strategic shift as US troops began withdrawing from northeast Syria ahead of a Turkish operation in the region to clear out Kurdish militants - who for long had been a vital partner of the US in the war against ISIS. After months of impasse between the two sides, a quick call between the Turkish and US president cleared the way for the withdrawal and the impending military offensives.

While the implications for the region will become clearer over the coming days as the extent of the operation becomes known, what is obvious from the outset is the dismissive disregard with which the US has abandoned yet another “valued ally and asset” once its needs are met. Kurdish fighters in the region – promised continued US support and fed on dreams of an eventual independent state – must be reeling from the whiplash of this sudden policy change. It surprised no one when the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) described this decision as “a stab in the back”. It should also surprise no one that the US left the Kurdish fighters to their own devices. Between Turkey - a stable and important state in the region – and a loose collection of militants, the US was always going to side with the former, where greater strategic interests can be secured. Once we consider the long US history of abandoning its partners – from the Taliban in Afghanistan to The Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) in South Vietnam – the pattern becomes predictable; it was only a matter of time.

Such incidents should caution nations and local power groups against partnering with such a fickle ally, yet short-term goals always seem to trump better sense. Regional partnerships based on permanent strategic realities will always be stronger than artificial ones created out of temporary expediencies.