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US Troops Will Remain in Syria Despite Trump Comments to Contrary
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Donald Trump has decided to keep US forces in Syria for a limited period, ending speculation about an immediate pull-out fuelled by the president himself. He agreed at a National Security Council meeting that the 2,000 US troops backed by massive airpower should stay in Syria where they support the Kurds in the east of the country.

“We’re not going to immediately withdraw, but neither is the president willing to back a long-term commitment,” said a senior administration official. He added that Mr Trump wanted to ensure the final defeat of Isis and would like other countries to help stabilise Syria.

The White House said later that its military mission to eradicate Isis in Syria “is coming to a rapid end”.

In recent weeks Mr Trump has been at odds with the Pentagon in promising a swift US withdrawal, just as senior generals were reiterating their commitment to stand by the Syrian Kurdish forces, the People’s Protection Units (YPG). These hold between 25 and 30 per cent of Syria and are the only US ally in the country. Isis has lost almost all its territory but is reverting to guerrilla warfare in parts of eastern Syria. Its fighters have been emboldened by the withdrawal of YPG forces, which have gone to confront the Turkish-led invasion of the Kurdish enclave of Afrin in northern Syria.

The leaders of Turkey, Russia and Iran held a summit in Ankara on Wednesday to try to find common ground on the future of Syria where they all have military forces. Their agendas differ radically, with Russia and Iran supporting President Bashar al-Assad, while Turkey wants him removed from power.

The one big aim uniting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in their approach to the Syrian conflict is that they all want US forces out of Syria, though their motives differ. Mr Putin and Mr Rouhani want Mr Assad’s forces to extend their control to the east and north of the country, while Turkey wants to destroy the Kurdish quasi-state, which the Syrian Kurds call Rojava, which has grown up east of the Euphrates during the war against Isis.

If the limited number of US ground troops were pulled out of Syria, along with – most crucially – the YPG’s ability to call in massive US airstrikes, then the YPG would be unable to stop a Turkish invasion across the long Syrian-Turkish border. The north Syrian plain is flat and could not be defended against Turkish tanks backed by airstrikes.

ORDER IT NOW

In a joint statement released at the end of their summit, Mr Putin, Mr Rouhani and Mr Erdogan said they “rejected all attempts to create new realities on the ground under the pretext of combating terrorism”. This is a clear reference to the US. They said they were committed to Syria’s unity, but this is not preventing them intervening by using local proxies and allies. No Syrian parties attended the Ankara summit, the second in a series of three with the next one to be held in Tehran.

Mr Rouhani called on Turkey to hand over Afrin to the Syrian army, something that is unlikely to happen. Russia is eager to cement its new alliance with Turkey, but at the same time is committed to Mr Assad whom it has just helped to retake almost all of Eastern Ghouta on the outskirts of Damascus. It was Russia’s willingness to allow Turkey to use its airforce in Afrin, which had previously been defended by Russian aircraft and anti-aircraft missiles, that opened the door for the Turkish invasion on 20 January and the capture of Afrin city two months later.

The Russian-Turkish-Iranian alliance looks opportunistic and temporary, but it might have a longer life than some commentators expect. Iran badly needs diplomatic allies and commercial partners if Mr Trump effectively withdraws the US from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal on 12 May when he once again has to certify Iranian compliance, something he has said he will not do.

Turkey needs Russian support or neutrality if it is to broaden its intervention against the Kurds in northern Syria. Mr Putin probably gave a green light to the Turkish invasion of Afrin in order to fuel the US-Turkish confrontation, as the US tries to protect its Kurdish allies and Turkey seeks to destroy them.

The three countries meeting in Ankara pledged to stabilise Syria, and this, to some extent, they can do because Isis has been eliminated as a territorial state, though not as a guerrilla force. Isis will be hoping that differences among its enemies will enable it to strengthen itself once again.

Mr Assad will soon control all of Damascus, Aleppo and the most highly populated areas in Syria. He will also draw hope from the fact that, while the Syrian Kurds do not like his government, they prefer it to the prospect of being overrun by the Turkish army and its Sunni Arab auxiliaries.

(Republished from The Independent by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: American Military, Iran, Russia, Syria, Turkey 
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  1. with the Pompeo and Bolton appointments

    behaviorally signalling that an Isramerican attack on Iran is now certain,

    Trumpenthal will not be removing any Imperial Stormtroops from Syria.

    with Trumpenthal, you can invariably predict behavior

    by inferring the opposite of any verbal signal.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Randal

    with Trumpenthal, you can invariably predict behavior

    by inferring the opposite of any verbal signal.
     
    Unfortunately that's exactly what you can't do, because his verbal signals ("we're pulling out of Syria", "we're not pulling out of Syria yet") are as mutually contradictory as his non-verbal ones.
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  2. obama 2.0..
    Sad!

    Enjoy your 1 term, and crap legacy Mr Trump.

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  3. Randal says:

    If the limited number of US ground troops were pulled out of Syria, along with – most crucially – the YPG’s ability to call in massive US airstrikes

    The YPG has no ability to “call in massive US airstrikes” unless the US is willing to fire on a NATO ally’s troops, which seem pretty unlikely in support of a mission in Syria which has long degenerated to damage limitation and which seemingly is viewed very differently by the US President and certain neocon-inclined members of the US regime and military.

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  4. Randal says:
    @Haxo Angmark
    with the Pompeo and Bolton appointments

    behaviorally signalling that an Isramerican attack on Iran is now certain,

    Trumpenthal will not be removing any Imperial Stormtroops from Syria.

    with Trumpenthal, you can invariably predict behavior

    by inferring the opposite of any verbal signal.

    with Trumpenthal, you can invariably predict behavior

    by inferring the opposite of any verbal signal.

    Unfortunately that’s exactly what you can’t do, because his verbal signals (“we’re pulling out of Syria”, “we’re not pulling out of Syria yet”) are as mutually contradictory as his non-verbal ones.

    Read More
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  5. Constant lying is the one aspect of Trump’s persona that seems genuinely “presidential”.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Realist
    Amen.
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  6. “Donald Trump has decided to keep US forces in Syria for a limited period ending speculation about an immediate pull-out fuelled by the president himself.”

    Of course he has; was there ever any reason to think otherwise? No. I’m surprised that there are still some people out there who “speculate” that something the pathological liar says can be taken at face value.

    “He agreed at a National Security Council meeting that the 2,000 US troops backed by massive airpower should stay in Syria where they support the Kurds in the east of the country.

    ‘We’re not going to immediately withdraw, but neither is the president willing to back a long-term commitment,’ said a senior administration official.”

    LOL! Another shameless lie. Of course it’s a “long-term commitment”, just like every other imperial “commitment.”

    Read More
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  7. In recent weeks Mr Trump has been at odds with the Pentagon in promising a swift US withdrawal…

    The Pentagon is a building. Exactly who at the Pentagon is Trump at odds with. And why doesn’t Trump fire him? Who has the authority to make the decision to withdraw from Syria? Is Trump afraid of his generals? It can’t be that Trump does not trust his own judgement. What does he gain by saying I will and then I won’t?

    Trump is not an idiot. Although he sometimes presents as an idiot savant. He must know that joining Russia and China is a better deal than fighting them. I would love to hear him say exactly that. Even if he walked it back the next day.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Weaver1
    Trump doesn't trust his own judgement. You say this can't be so, but it is so. Obama also didn't trust himself much.

    Mortal men cannot resist the allure of the Neocons, generals, etc. and their claims of glorious expertise. Could Odysseus resist the Sirens' songs?

    , @Realist

    Trump is not an idiot.
     
    Au contraire. He is very much an idiot. And further more he is a nutless idiot.
    , @Randal

    Who has the authority to make the decision to withdraw from Syria? Is Trump afraid of his generals? It can’t be that Trump does not trust his own judgement.
     
    Trump has no expertise, knowledge or experience that would allow him to argue effectively with either the military men or the diplomats in their own areas of expertise. He's out of his depth in such matters, and knows it. That's probably why he's easily swayed by them in these areas. In these matters, he literally dare not trust his own judgement when it conflicts with the advice he is getting.

    He will acquire experience in the job, as most presidents do, but the question is will he do so quickly enough and how far can he be "shaped" by the lobby representatives surrounding him in the process? Time will tell.
    , @Harold Smith
    "The Pentagon is a building. Exactly who at the Pentagon is Trump at odds with. And why doesn’t Trump fire him?"

    Exactly.

    The thing is, Orange Clown's been contradicting himself practically since the day he was inaugurated. I remember when he first "articulated" his position on Crimea for example. IIRC it was something like: "Russia has to give Crimea back to Ukraine, and sanctions will not be lifted until it does. But I really, really, really, really, really want better relations with Russia."

    At the time I thought, even Orange Clown, as dull as he is, must realize that Russia cannot give back Crimea, and the Russians probably believed that Orange Clown knows they cannot give it back. So why would Orange Clown make such an absurd statement?

    I believe it was a calculated absurdity. As I look back on the last 14 months of the Orange Clown presidency, I think it's all part of an ongoing psyop (in which Orange Clown is a knowing, willing participant) to present Orange Clown as a sympathetic figure; a nice guy (with good intentions) in a bad situation; a political babe-in-the-woods, who's in over his head, and just-happened-to-get-mixed-up-with-some-bad-people-kind-of-a-thing.

    And the strategy is brilliant. While everybody was guessing and trying to figure out who's in charge, speculating that Orange Clown is playing some kind of 4D chess against the "deep state", and making excuses for his behavior, Orange Clown is quickly moving 2000 more troops and military equipment into Syria, in pursuance of "plan B", something that Clinton - who "carries [her] banner openly" - wouldn't have been able to get away with.

    So apparently as part of their strategy, every so often our masters have to "throw us a bone" in the form of one of Orange Clown's pretended acts of defiance; e.g., "oh look, he's defying the 'deep state' by calling Vladimir Putin to congratulate him on his election victory"; or "oh look, he's saying it's time to get out of Syria, and the 'neocons' are screaming". But it's all just cheap talk from Teflon-Don-The-Con-Man.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  8. Weaver1 says:
    @WorkingClass

    In recent weeks Mr Trump has been at odds with the Pentagon in promising a swift US withdrawal...
     
    The Pentagon is a building. Exactly who at the Pentagon is Trump at odds with. And why doesn't Trump fire him? Who has the authority to make the decision to withdraw from Syria? Is Trump afraid of his generals? It can't be that Trump does not trust his own judgement. What does he gain by saying I will and then I won't?

    Trump is not an idiot. Although he sometimes presents as an idiot savant. He must know that joining Russia and China is a better deal than fighting them. I would love to hear him say exactly that. Even if he walked it back the next day.

    Trump doesn’t trust his own judgement. You say this can’t be so, but it is so. Obama also didn’t trust himself much.

    Mortal men cannot resist the allure of the Neocons, generals, etc. and their claims of glorious expertise. Could Odysseus resist the Sirens’ songs?

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  9. Realist says:
    @WorkingClass
    Constant lying is the one aspect of Trump's persona that seems genuinely "presidential".

    Amen.

    Read More
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  10. Realist says:
    @WorkingClass

    In recent weeks Mr Trump has been at odds with the Pentagon in promising a swift US withdrawal...
     
    The Pentagon is a building. Exactly who at the Pentagon is Trump at odds with. And why doesn't Trump fire him? Who has the authority to make the decision to withdraw from Syria? Is Trump afraid of his generals? It can't be that Trump does not trust his own judgement. What does he gain by saying I will and then I won't?

    Trump is not an idiot. Although he sometimes presents as an idiot savant. He must know that joining Russia and China is a better deal than fighting them. I would love to hear him say exactly that. Even if he walked it back the next day.

    Trump is not an idiot.

    Au contraire. He is very much an idiot. And further more he is a nutless idiot.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  11. Randal says:
    @WorkingClass

    In recent weeks Mr Trump has been at odds with the Pentagon in promising a swift US withdrawal...
     
    The Pentagon is a building. Exactly who at the Pentagon is Trump at odds with. And why doesn't Trump fire him? Who has the authority to make the decision to withdraw from Syria? Is Trump afraid of his generals? It can't be that Trump does not trust his own judgement. What does he gain by saying I will and then I won't?

    Trump is not an idiot. Although he sometimes presents as an idiot savant. He must know that joining Russia and China is a better deal than fighting them. I would love to hear him say exactly that. Even if he walked it back the next day.

    Who has the authority to make the decision to withdraw from Syria? Is Trump afraid of his generals? It can’t be that Trump does not trust his own judgement.

    Trump has no expertise, knowledge or experience that would allow him to argue effectively with either the military men or the diplomats in their own areas of expertise. He’s out of his depth in such matters, and knows it. That’s probably why he’s easily swayed by them in these areas. In these matters, he literally dare not trust his own judgement when it conflicts with the advice he is getting.

    He will acquire experience in the job, as most presidents do, but the question is will he do so quickly enough and how far can he be “shaped” by the lobby representatives surrounding him in the process? Time will tell.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  12. mr meener says:

    the inbred demonic satanyahu will never allow his blood brother trump to exit Syria. another hollow statement like sending troops to the border. they will be unarmed and just process the illegals for faster entry into the uS

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  13. @WorkingClass

    In recent weeks Mr Trump has been at odds with the Pentagon in promising a swift US withdrawal...
     
    The Pentagon is a building. Exactly who at the Pentagon is Trump at odds with. And why doesn't Trump fire him? Who has the authority to make the decision to withdraw from Syria? Is Trump afraid of his generals? It can't be that Trump does not trust his own judgement. What does he gain by saying I will and then I won't?

    Trump is not an idiot. Although he sometimes presents as an idiot savant. He must know that joining Russia and China is a better deal than fighting them. I would love to hear him say exactly that. Even if he walked it back the next day.

    “The Pentagon is a building. Exactly who at the Pentagon is Trump at odds with. And why doesn’t Trump fire him?”

    Exactly.

    The thing is, Orange Clown’s been contradicting himself practically since the day he was inaugurated. I remember when he first “articulated” his position on Crimea for example. IIRC it was something like: “Russia has to give Crimea back to Ukraine, and sanctions will not be lifted until it does. But I really, really, really, really, really want better relations with Russia.”

    At the time I thought, even Orange Clown, as dull as he is, must realize that Russia cannot give back Crimea, and the Russians probably believed that Orange Clown knows they cannot give it back. So why would Orange Clown make such an absurd statement?

    I believe it was a calculated absurdity. As I look back on the last 14 months of the Orange Clown presidency, I think it’s all part of an ongoing psyop (in which Orange Clown is a knowing, willing participant) to present Orange Clown as a sympathetic figure; a nice guy (with good intentions) in a bad situation; a political babe-in-the-woods, who’s in over his head, and just-happened-to-get-mixed-up-with-some-bad-people-kind-of-a-thing.

    And the strategy is brilliant. While everybody was guessing and trying to figure out who’s in charge, speculating that Orange Clown is playing some kind of 4D chess against the “deep state”, and making excuses for his behavior, Orange Clown is quickly moving 2000 more troops and military equipment into Syria, in pursuance of “plan B”, something that Clinton – who “carries [her] banner openly” – wouldn’t have been able to get away with.

    So apparently as part of their strategy, every so often our masters have to “throw us a bone” in the form of one of Orange Clown’s pretended acts of defiance; e.g., “oh look, he’s defying the ‘deep state’ by calling Vladimir Putin to congratulate him on his election victory”; or “oh look, he’s saying it’s time to get out of Syria, and the ‘neocons’ are screaming”. But it’s all just cheap talk from Teflon-Don-The-Con-Man.

    Read More
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  14. We get it that you are an extreme anti-Trumper. It reasonably to be expected that your analytical capability is as diminished as your bias is extreme.

    Enjoy your fantasy world and the emotional rewards you derive from that. Then there will be reality.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Harold Smith
    "We get it that you are an extreme anti-Trumper."

    What was your first clue?

    "It (sic) reasonably to be expected that your analytical capability is as diminished as your bias is extreme."

    If you can't by now see that Orange Clown is a liar, fraud, con man, traitor to America, and a piece of excrement, then it is your "analytical capability" that is called into question, not mine.

    "Enjoy your fantasy world and the emotional rewards you derive from that. Then there will be reality."

    You're supposed to be looking at your monitor, not your mirror, as you type your infantile statist drivel.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  15. @jeff davis
    We get it that you are an extreme anti-Trumper. It reasonably to be expected that your analytical capability is as diminished as your bias is extreme.

    Enjoy your fantasy world and the emotional rewards you derive from that. Then there will be reality.

    “We get it that you are an extreme anti-Trumper.”

    What was your first clue?

    “It (sic) reasonably to be expected that your analytical capability is as diminished as your bias is extreme.”

    If you can’t by now see that Orange Clown is a liar, fraud, con man, traitor to America, and a piece of excrement, then it is your “analytical capability” that is called into question, not mine.

    “Enjoy your fantasy world and the emotional rewards you derive from that. Then there will be reality.”

    You’re supposed to be looking at your monitor, not your mirror, as you type your infantile statist drivel.

    Read More
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  16. If Trump hadn’t actually intended to pull out, it wouldn’t have been necessary to gas the place to keep us there.

    Sorry, Trump haters.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Harold Smith
    If Orange Clown wasn't a liar, fraud, mass murderer, and jewish-supremacist-controlled-anti-American traitor, it wouldn't have been necessary for him to illegally, unconstitutionally, immorally, foolishly, pointlessly, and self-destructively occupy Syria in the first place.

    Sorry, Orange Clown apologists.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  17. @Ozymandias
    If Trump hadn't actually intended to pull out, it wouldn't have been necessary to gas the place to keep us there.

    Sorry, Trump haters.

    If Orange Clown wasn’t a liar, fraud, mass murderer, and jewish-supremacist-controlled-anti-American traitor, it wouldn’t have been necessary for him to illegally, unconstitutionally, immorally, foolishly, pointlessly, and self-destructively occupy Syria in the first place.

    Sorry, Orange Clown apologists.

    Read More
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  18. You really are an angry little man. Do you make everyone around you as miserable as you are?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Harold Smith
    Thanks for sharing your opinion. Now, why don't you run along and get back to your Talmudic studies, before your Mommy finds out you're at the computer again.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  19. @Ozymandias
    You really are an angry little man. Do you make everyone around you as miserable as you are?

    Thanks for sharing your opinion. Now, why don’t you run along and get back to your Talmudic studies, before your Mommy finds out you’re at the computer again.

    Read More
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  20. Ah, a mommy jab. Had I known you were capable of such witty repartee, I wouldn’t have underestimated your powerful intellect.

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