06:56 GMT16 January 2021
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    News about US Defence Secretary James Mattis’s resignation broke only a day after President Donald Trump announced the decision to withdraw all 2,000 troops from Syria, having declared victory over Daesh. Is this a coincidence?

    In an extensive resignation letter, Pentagon chief Jim Mattis wrote that Donald Trump had the right to have a Defence Secretary “whose views are better aligned with yours”, thus leaving many puzzled over the reason behind his sudden decision to leave the White House.

    READ MORE: Pentagon Chief Mattis to Leave White House in February

    While he never mentioned directly that his departure was linked to Trump’s decision to pull US forces out of Syria, many started speculating that 45’s announcement was the last straw.

    Bill Kristol, a neoconservative political analyst, tweeted that Mattis’s decision was a complete U-turn, and was inextricably linked to Trump’s willingness to stop the war:

    Some have pointed to the fact that Trump’s move was “smart” because it is illegal for the United States to maintain a military presence in Syria – without either a UN mandate, or authorisation of the country’s authorities.

    The Mad Dog’s resignation sent some shockwaves through Washington and beyond, with US politicians taking to Twitter to express their frustration – and somewhat fuel the speculation that his decision was triggered by the envisaged pull-out:

    Meghan McCain, the daughter of the late senator John McCain, is seemingly among those who drew parallels between the troops’ withdrawal and Mattis’ resignation:

    The aftershocks were also recorded abroad, with Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the German Bundestag Norbert Röttgen tweeting that the “last voice of reason” leaves the administration with Mattis:

    Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit Coordinator, tweeted that Mattis’s resignation “makes it look like [Vladimir] Putin’s plan is being delivered on” – although he didn’t specify what kind of “plan” that might be.

    Carl Bildt, Co-Chair European Council on Foreign Relations, described the news as a “morning of alarm in Europe”:

    Reacting to Mattis’s letter, US mainstream media suggested that the Pentagon chief should team up with other former national security officials in order to testify in open hearings in the House and express their concerns about Trump’s fitness and national security threats. 

    Some journalists also floated an idea that Congress must reassert its sole authority to wage war, and proposed that it was time to consider impeaching Trump, who they consistently describe as a threat to democracy and national security – even though he appears to be the only person in the administration who wants the actual war to stop.

    On top of that, the mainstream media, which apparently have a thing for conspiracy theories wrote that it was essential to subpoena the interpreter’s notes from Helsinki summit between President Trump and Vladimir Putin in order to determine “what, if any, pledges” POTUS made to his Russian counterpart.

    The exact reason behind Mattis’s resignation, set for 28 February 2019, remains unknown, but shortly before the announcement Senator Lindsey Graham made it clear that the Defence Secretary’s strategy on Syria didn’t converge with Trump’s views.


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