President Trump’s come down on US withdrawal from Syria
When President Trump announced that he would be withdrawing all US troops and personnel in Syria a couple of weeks back and it would likely to be completed within a month, it surprised many of the US’s allies in the region and those involved in the ongoing conflict and civil war. But following the response by many worldwide and his own cabinet President Trump seems to have mellowed his hastiness to withdraw all US forces from the region saying it will happen soon now as opposed to the end of this month.
The US has 2,000 troops and personnel in Syria stationed and working alongside Kurdish and other rebel forces against IS and the threat that they have posed in the region. Although considerable progress has been made over the last four years, IS remain a threat and have a presence in areas in both Syria and Iraq. One of President Trump’s main pledges going into office would be that the US would entangle itself from international conflicts and would ultimately bring as many forces home as possible. This appeals to his base as they have seen the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the amount of US troop deaths and the estimated trillions of dollars spent on these conflicts as too high a price to pay.
Worldwide response has been mixed with this news having pleased Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Iran and Russia who are all also involved in the wider Syrian conflict which has geopolitical meaning and importance. The British Foreign Office responded and stated that “Much remains to be done and we must not lose sight of the threat they (IS) pose”. This move by President Trump is just another example of the unsteady nature of policy and geopolitical policy that the US allies have to deal with following other examples in areas such as Trade, Climate Change and Defence spending and cooperation.
National Security Advisor John Bolton has said that certain conditions have to be met before such withdrawal. One of them being that the government of Turkey guarantees the safety of the Kurdish fighters allied with the US who were integral to the anti-ISIS campaign over the last few years. However, President Erdogan of Turkey has hit back saying to the Turkish Parliament that Bolton's conditions about the Kurds were "not acceptable" and a "serious mistake," adding that "it is not possible for me to swallow this."
This is another indication of how the President is failing to understand the complexities behind such big decisions as withdrawing your forces from an entangled and bitter conflict. President Trump would be well advised to take the approach of some in his cabinet stating the aim and saying what has to be achieved and met in order for it to happen, as things are not in the US’ control such as rebel groups, Turkey’s stance towards the YPG and Kurdish groups that the US are fighting with and indeed IS.