On 5 February, the Republican-controlled Senate passed a bill requiring that Donald Trump impose new sanctions on Syria and urging the US president not to withdraw from Syria and Afghanistan.
The Senate just passed the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act. I’m especially proud it includes my amendment reaffirming the importance of our nation’s ongoing missions in Afghanistan and Syria.— Leader McConnell (@senatemajldr) 5 февраля 2019 г.
The vote occurred just hours before Trump's State of the Union Address that clearly indicated that he is sticking to his pull-out promise.
"Great nations do not fight endless wars", the US president stated.
A few days earlier Trump tweeted: "I inherited a total mess in Syria and Afghanistan, the 'Endless Wars' of unlimited spending and death. During my campaign I said, very strongly, that these wars must finally end".
I inherited a total mess in Syria and Afghanistan, the “Endless Wars” of unlimited spending and death. During my campaign I said, very strongly, that these wars must finally end. We spend $50 Billion a year in Afghanistan and have hit them so hard that we are now talking peace…— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 1 февраля 2019 г.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 1 февраля 2019 г.
While it is not the first time that the US president has signalled that he would deliver on his election promise, the Republicans have finally decided to openly rebuke Trump.
On 31 January, the Senate voted to endorse Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's amendment challenging President Donald Trump's plans to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan and Syria. The amendment to a bill on the US' Mid-East strategy warns that a "precipitous" withdrawal of US forces from the two countries "could allow terrorists to regroup, destabilize critical regions, and create vacuums that could be filled by Iran or Russia, to the detriment of the United States interests and those of our allies".
"The situation with lawmakers is not much different and many are passing the buck, and Trump seems like an easy target for both lawmakers and intelligence personnel. The use of terms such as 'precipitous' consequences 'to the detriment of the United States interests' is very powerful, especially when the media take them on board and employ them", Kadi said, commenting on McConnell's amendment.
For his part, Assad drew attention to the fact that "the schism between the executive branch and the US Congress was apparent from the very beginning of Trumps' presidency".
"The trouble with US domestic politics is that it always reflects in its careless and hegemonic global policy", he said. "The president wanted to withdraw US troops and end conflicts in many regions, while the Congress and Senate were trying to undermine such efforts by asserting their role as overseers of President Trump's global vision".
Trump to Pull Out of Syria, Shift Focus to Venezuela
There has long been controversy over Trump's withdrawal plan, with administration officials speculating in September 2018 that US military forces were "no longer pulling out by the end of the year".
On 20 December, the American president suddenly announced the withdrawal from Syria, asserting that Ankara would deal with the remaining terror threat.
However, on 2 January Trump remarked that the US would leave Syria "over a period of time", stressing the necessity to protect the US-backed Syrian Kurdish fighters.
It appears that Turkish President Erdogan is unnerved by Trump's flip-flops on Syria and especially his intention to shield the Kurdish militia, seen by Ankara as an affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which is banned in Turkey. Erdogan has repeatedly called upon Washington to pull out of Syria.
"Erdogan has been for a long time trying to get the best from both America and Russia, and despite his numerous loud statements to America that it cannot be supportive of Turkey and the Kurds at the same time, he is still unable to receive the American support he desires", Kadi said, adding that "the irony here is that the deaf ear treatment America is giving him is pushing him more into the bosom of Russia".
According to Assad, "the Congress and Senate['s] dissenting views can be justified based on ideology, whereas Trump can forge ahead to implement his vision based on pragmatism".
"In my view, Trump sees the relationship with Turkey as more important than the loss of all the assets the US had built in the Middle East over the last half century, and that making the shift to focus on Venezuela's oil is a much more beneficial strategy than having to declare almost a complete defeat of empire in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan", Assad opined.
Trump: Unorthodox President in Many Ways
It seems that Trump is facing growing dissent in the US Congress. Apart from the recent Senate legislation, the House of Representatives had earlier passed a bill de facto preventing Trump's potential withdrawal from NATO.
"Such political dichotomy is typical of the two party system of government in the US where little distinction if any can be made by voters in elections. The renegade Trump managed to cruise to victory riding on the strong Republican grassroots' coattails, same grassroots he relies on to hold on tight to his tenure in office", Assad said, commenting on the issue.
"I don't profess to be an expert on American politics, but the way I see it, American politicians across the party divide have an unwritten bipartisan agreement to kowtow to the 'deep state'", he suggested.
Apparently, therefore, Republican lawmakers rushed to oppose Trump, who is challenging the established status quo by his decision to withdraw from Syria and Afghanistan, according to Kadi.
"Love Trump or hate him, he is definitely an unorthodox president in many ways. He is challenging the 'deep state', and unlike previous presidents, he is trying hard to be the actual commander-in-chief as per his constitutional right and obligation", he said.
Kadi noted that "it is only 'natural' for the Democrats to oppose virtually anything that a Republican president supports, but the anti-Trump dissent crosses party lines, and in my view, its roots stem back from how Trump views his presidency in comparison to how previous presidents viewed theirs".
*Daesh (ISIS/ISIL/Islamic State) is a terrorist group banned in Russia.
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