Trump's Establishment-Defying Plan to Exit Syria Likely to De-Escalate Conflict

© REUTERS / Rodi SaidUS forces are seen at the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) headquarters after it was hit by Turkish airstrikes in Mount Karachok near Malikiya, Syria April 25, 2017.
US forces are seen at the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) headquarters after it was hit by Turkish airstrikes in Mount Karachok near Malikiya, Syria April 25, 2017. - Sputnik International
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - President Donald Trump’s pledge to withdraw all US forces from Syria reveals his continuing determination to defy Washington’s national security establishment to scale down the war in Syria, analysts told Sputnik.

Last week, Trump said that the United States would pull its forces from Syria "very soon," but CNN reported that this decision is probably opposed by some high-ranking officials in the president's administration.

Incoming US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford have recommended that Trump not immediately withdraw troops from Syria, as the move would go against national interests, local media reported on Thursday.


Analysts told Sputnik on Thursday that an evacuation of US combat forces from Syria would ease tensions and lead to a reduction in fighting in the country that has been plagued by conflict for the past seven years.

"The exit of US forces from Syria will almost certainly help to de-escalate the conflict inside the country," Just Foreign Policy advocacy group Policy Director Robert Naiman.

This Saturday, April. 29, 2017 still taken from video, shows an American soldier standing on an armored vehicle in the northern village of Darbasiyah, Syria. U.S - Sputnik International
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Trump’s announcement would discourage rebel opposition forces from their dreams of pulling in the United States and its allies to topple the Syrian government for them, Naiman explained.

Trump’s pullout policy would eradicate "from the Takfiri oppositionists the hope they have long harboured that they might easily be able to ‘jerk’ the United States into giving them the kind of full-fledged support from the US/NATO military that their counterparts in Libya won so easily back in March 2011," he said.

The US military establishment wanted to remain in Syria, but Trump remained opposed to this, Naiman maintained.

"My assessment is that Trump doesn't want to be boxed in by the Pentagon to an indefinite presence and is pressuring them, apparently successfully, to prepare plans to withdraw US military forces when the Islamic State [terror group outlawed in Russia] is defeated within the next few months," Naiman said.


Veteran US Syria analyst and historian Helena Cobban agreed that Trump’s announcement was the latest round in his ongoing battle with the US foreign policy establishment over Syria policy.

"There clearly is a deep, long-simmering disagreement over Syria between Trump and nearly the whole of the Washington, DC-based national-security bureaucracy as currently constituted," Cobban said.

Trump entered office with very much of an "America-First" mindset and quite a deep disdain for the norms of diplomacy, the international alliances the US had relied on for 70 years — and the federal bureaucracy itself, Cobban explained.

"On the issue of Syria, he will probably — eventually — prevail over the federal bureaucracy," she said.

A U.S. mine detector armored vehicle, leads a convoy of U.S. troops, on a road leading to the tense front line with Turkish-backed fighters, in Manbij town, north Syria, Saturday, March 31, 2018 - Sputnik International
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This was more likely because Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who had seemed to have some kind of a "vision" for what US troops should be doing in Syria, had left the State Department, Cobban noted.

"But the US national security bureaucracy should not be wholly surprised. They had, after all, completely failed to understand (or willfully refused to understand?) the true, PKK-dominated nature of the Kurdish allies they were working with in Northeast Syria," she said.


US policymakers had also completely failed to understand or anticipate the reaction that their alliance with the Kurds would elicit from the Turkish government in Ankara, Cobban warned.

That was "why we have the current unusual sight of two NATO allies [the United States and Turkey] coming very close to duking it out between the two of them inside northern Syria," she said.

Meanwhile, Russia had taken the lead over the crucial strands of de-escalation and peacemaking in Syria, Cobban observed.

This was true "internally, by brokering and enforcing the various surrenders forced on the defeated, al-Qaeda-dominated forces in Eastern Ghouta and elsewhere," she said.

Russia had also served the cause of peace in Syria by keeping the road open to Damascus-YPG negotiations within the country, and externally by convening key gatherings of outside interveners in Syria in Astana, Sochi, and most recently Ankara, Cobban concludedc.

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