[Marxism] Trump Considering Full Withdrawal of U.S. Troops From Syria

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Dec 19 08:05:30 MST 2018

NY Times, Dec. 19, 2018
Trump Considering Full Withdrawal of U.S. Troops From Syria
By Helene Cooper, Eric Schmitt and Mark Landler

WASHINGTON — President Trump is considering pulling 2,000 United States 
ground troops out of Syria in a move that would seek to describe the 
four-year American-led war against the Islamic State as largely won, 
officials said Wednesday.

“We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during 
the Trump,” the president said in a Twitter post on Wednesday morning. 
He offered no details on his plans for the military mission in Syria.

A formal withdrawal announcement could come as early as Wednesday, 
administration officials said. But Pentagon officials were still trying 
to talk the president out of it, arguing that such a move would betray 
Kurdish allies who have fought alongside American troops in Syria and 
who could find themselves under attack in a military offensive now 
threatened by Turkey.

”At this time, we continue to work by, with and through our partners in 
the region,” Col. Rob Manning, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a short 
statement on Wednesday morning.

In a series of meetings and conference calls over the past several days, 
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and other senior national security 
officials have tried to dissuade Mr. Trump from a wholesale troop 
withdrawal, arguing that such a significant national security policy 
shift would essentially cede foreign influence in Syria to Russia and 
Iran at a time when American policy calls for challenging both countries.

Abandoning the American-backed Kurdish allies, Pentagon officials have 
argued, will hamper future efforts by the United States to gain the 
trust of local fighters, from Afghanistan to Yemen to Somalia.

But Mr. Trump promised during his presidential campaign to withdraw 
American troops from Syria, and has been looking for a way out since. He 
reluctantly agreed in April to give the Defense Department more time to 
finish the mission.

In recent days, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey has given Mr. 
Trump just such a possible path: Mr. Erdogan has vowed to launch a new 
offensive against the Kurdish troops that the United States has equipped 
to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

As the debate over withdrawing from Syria was raging inside the White 
House over recent days, Mr. Trump argued that the risk of a Turkish 
incursion could be a threat to the United States forces in Syria, 
officials said, although Mr. Erdogan would likely face huge reprisals if 
Turkish troops killed or wounded any Americans.

One possibility under discussion, officials said, was a phased 
withdrawal of American troops. But Mr. Trump, the officials said, seems 
to prefer pulling out all forces as soon as possible.

Some details of the administration debate on Syria were first reported 
early Wednesday by The Wall Street Journal.

On Monday, Mr. Erdogan said that he told Mr. Trump that Turkey would 
launch its offensive soon, and that he received positive assurances from 
Mr. Trump. But Turkish officials have said that before.

Turkey considers the American-backed Kurdish forces to be a terrorist 
group because of their connection to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, a 
Kurdish insurgency in the region. The Syrian Kurds hope to create an 
autonomous region in northeast Syria, similar to the one in neighboring 
Iraq. They now control around 30 percent of Syria’s territory.

Pentagon officials have been pushing for a diplomatic solution to the issue.

The Islamic State, a militant group also known as ISIS, has lost an 
estimated 90 percent of its territory in Iraq and Syria, where the 2,000 
American troops are mostly advising a militia made up of Kurdish and 
Arab soldiers.

In recent days, Turkey has accused the United States of failing to 
tackle security threats in the region. The United States and Turkey are 
NATO allies but uneasy partners in the war against the Islamic State.

But one Defense Department official suggested that Mr. Trump also wants 
to divert attention away from the series of legal challenges confronting 
him over the recent days: the Russian investigation run by the special 
counsel as well as the sentencing of his former personal lawyer, Michael 
Cohen, in a hush-money scandal to buy the silence of two women who said 
they had affairs with Mr. Trump.

Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, was in 
court on Tuesday, where he was harshly criticized by federal judge for 
his efforts to mislead federal investigators.

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