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    Let Syrians Take Care of Syria? Trump's Pledge to Leave Syria Explained

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    Donald Trump has frozen more than $200 million in funds for recovery in Syria. According to the Wall Street Journal, the aid was pledged by departing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in February. Trump has also said the US would be withdrawing from Syria very soon. Sputnik talked to Dr. Kevin Barrett, political scientist and Middle East expert.

    Sputnik: The Russian Foreign Ministry has already started taking action, ordering the expulsion of several diplomats, what will be the immediate fallout of this?

    Dr. Kevin Barrett: We’re living in a time of chaos and it’s really mainly the result of the neo-conservatives who have been in power one way or another since there coup-d’état here in the United States on September 11, 2001. They believe in transforming the world through chaos, some of them are Trotskyites, they believe that the interests of Israel are served by destabilizing the Middle East and that’s the underlined reality that’s been driving the less-than-rational US policies during the past decade and a half. Now we have Trump, who’s instincts are very much those of a nationalist who wants to rebuild the United States first and foremost and is skeptical about American exceptionalism and American empire, and yet he is surrounded by people like Kushner and many, many others who are very much part of the neo-conservative party. I don’t think Trump really has a clear idea of what his program is, what he wants to accomplish, but this has led to the kind of situation that we just saw, where Trump has said that we’re getting out of Syria very soon and the rest of the American establishment immediately, in a panicked way, tried to contradict him right in the middle of this crisis with Russia, the diplomatic expulsions and the absurd allegations of poisoning that have led to all of this, so this is a great example of the old Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times.”

    Sputnik: Donald Trump said in his statement that “we will be leaving Syria very, very soon,” and it seems that the statement in itself contradicted a lot of the statements that were made by other top US officials, including Rex Tillerson, who is no longer a top official (secretary of state). Who should we be listening to when we want to understand what US policy will be like on keeping troops in Syria?

    Dr. Kevin Barrett: I wish I could say that we should take Trumps at his word, but unfortunately there are many reasons why this is not the case, we do have an extensible system here in which the president is the commander-in-chief and, as Harry Truman said: “The Buck stops here,” so theoretically if Trump orders you the withdrawal from Syria, it would happen. However, unfortunately, we have seen encroachment of a deep state which is linked to the military-industrial complex and a complex of intelligence community, the National Security Council or organizations like the Council on Foreign Relations, so we have these mechanisms of elite guidance of US policy and US policy has gone off the rails because the neo-conservatives and some others who have been convinced to go along with that party line, have taken it off the rails. So when Trump makes statements like this, in the past Trump has spoken quite loosely about a number of topics. For instance, he said if you elect me president you’ll find out who really did 9/11, and I’ll give you a hint, it was the Saudis; and then after election, he’s gone through Kushner and become very closely linked to Saudi Arabia. So there are many cases were Trump's statements, which may have some validity, have not ended up indicating where policy is going, so I would be very surprised and pleased if his statement that we’re getting out of Syria soon turns out to be true, but I’m not holding my breath.

    Sputnik: Trump said: “We'll be coming out of Syria, like, very soon. Let the other people take care of it now,” and I’m just wondering, France has recently shown increased interest in the situation in Syria, do you think that the other people that Trump was alluding to could possibly be the French?

    Dr. Kevin Barrett: That’s possible, that's one way of looking at it, although, frankly, I’m not sure Trump is enough of a details guy and a strategist to be thinking that way. Trump's blurred out what in this case could be simply an expression of his general predilection for being sceptical about this US imperial-hegemonic role as world policeman that maybe we should be minding our own business and taking thing care of things at home. This is a common-sense position which many of us share here in the United States, both on the left and on the right, and I think Trump's instincts are very much in harmony with that position. As far as whether he is indicating that the French are going to move in, it’s possible, maybe one of his advisers has whispered something like that to him, but I had thought that maybe he is just willing to let the Syrians take care of Syria which, of course, would be the ultimate common-sense position.

    Sputnik: How would you define the end goal of the US in Syria, is it just to oust Daesh and other like organizations, militants or is there something else the US is hoping to achieve in Syria?

    Dr. Kevin Barrett: Well no, the US is not fighting an honest war on terror in any way, shape or form, this is simply an ideological excuse for imperial meddling, in fact, the US largely created Daesh just as it created Al-Qaeda back in the days of the Soviet Union in the war in Afghanistan, Daesh was yearned for openly in a National Security Council document saying that our allies are hoping to see the emergence of a Salafist principality in Iraq and Syria. That smoking gun document, released by WikiLeaks, shows that well before Daesh emerged in its current form, that the US policy-makers wanted it to, and al-Baghdadi spent a lot of time in a US prison camp, presumably being trained, and he had the run of the camp on organizing Daesh while he was there in the camp and then they've lied and said that he was only there for a year, but he was actually held in the US custody for closer to five years, according to numerous witnesses, and presumably he was there to, not just allowed to organize what would become Daesh, but actually trained.

    The views expressed in this article are solely those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

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