In an about-face of U.S. foreign policy, the White House announced Sunday that U.S. troops will withdraw from northern Syria in anticipation of an upcoming incursion by Turkish forces. According to a statement from White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham, the U.S. is leaving the region because President Donald Trump believes the fight against the Islamic State in Syria (ISIS) to be over. Some, however, are concerned that allowing the Turkish fighters into northern Syria will trigger a conflict with the U.S.-backed Kurdish forces currently fighting there.

WGBH News Analyst and CEO of the Groundtruth Project Charlie Sennott said such a conflict would be a betrayal of a key American ally.

“They aren’t just our chief allies in fighting ISIS. They were critical allies in the war in Iraq in 2003 and taking down the regime of Saddam Hussein,” Sennott said during an interview with Boston Public Radio on Monday. “This is a history of us not understanding the yearning among Kurds for their own nation … [and] for the Turks' brutal suppression of that dream, particularly in southeast Turkey.”

Though many presidents have had to balance their dueling alliances with Turkey and the Kurds, Sennott said that Trump’s calculus appears to be based on his own personal friendship with the strongman president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, more than anything else.

“This is about personal politics. It’s about personal benefit. It’s about personal political gain,” Sennott said. “It’s the same idea of trying to exert pressure diplomatically based on a personal relationship.”