Ex-NATO Official Suspects Erdogan Blackmailed Trump Over US Exit From Syria

© 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
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The remarks come after US President Donald Trump announced last week that Washington would be withdrawing its roughly 2,000-strong contingent of troops from Syria, since Daesh* has been defeated. Shortly after, the White House clarified that the decision does not mean the end of the US-led international coalition's fight against Daesh terrorists.

Donald Trump's move to withdraw US troops from Syria prompts speculation on whether Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blackmailed his US counterpart into the decision, according to Wesley Clark, a former NATO commander.

In an interview with CNN, Clark specifically singled out the lack of "any strategic rationale for the decision", which he said prods people to ask why the move was made.

READ MORE: US Pulling Troops Out of Syria Due to Failed MidEast Policy — Syrian Ambassador

"People around the world are asking this and some of our friends and our allies in the Middle East are asking, did Erdogan blackmail the president? Was there a payoff or something? Why would a guy make a decision like this? Because all the recommendations were against it," Clark pointed out.

He claimed that Trump' decision may also raise questions over Washington's foreign policy.

"What does this say about the foreign policy of the United States? That we're not reliable? That we make strategic decisions based on no strategic logic? What kind of person is driving the helm? That's the issue," Clark noted.

READ MORE: Macron Voices Deep Regret Over US Decision to Withdraw Troops From Syria

His comments came a day after Trump tweeted that Erdogan informed him Turkey will "eradicate whatever is left" of Daesh in Syria.

"[…] And he is a man who can do it plus, Turkey is right 'next door.' Our troops are coming home!" Trump wrote.

The remarks followed a CNN report citing several Pentagon sources as saying last week that outgoing Defence Secretary James Mattis signed an order to withdraw US forces from Syria.

This coincided with Mattis writing a resignation letter, in which he stated that Trump has a right to have a secretary of defence "whose views are better aligned" with those of the US president.

READ MORE: Turkey Reportedly Redeploys Troops to Border With Syria Amid US Pullout

US army soldiers stand next a military vehicle in the town of Bartella, east of Mosul, Iraq, December 27, 2016 - Sputnik International
Pullout of US Troops From Syria Should Be ‘Catalyst for Peace’ - Iraqi President
Mattis announced his resignation last Thursday, a day after Trump decided to withdraw US troops from Syria, posting on Twitter that the United States had defeated the Daesh terrorist group in the Arab Republic.

In late March, Trump said the US would "very soon" withdraw its troops from Syria, though the Trump administration later explained it would be keeping forces in Syria until Daesh is defeated.

The US-led coalition continues to launch airstrikes on Daesh positions in Syria, in a campaign that was neither approved by the UN nor the Syrian government.

*Daesh (also known as ISIS/ISIL/Islamic State) is a terrorist group banned in Russia and many other countries. 

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