US President Donald Trump has described former Secretary of Defence James Mattis as “the world's most overrated general”, also slamming him for not being “tough enough”, the Washington Post cited several unnamed sources as saying.
The news website Breitbart , in turn, reported that during a White House meeting on Syria on Wednesday, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith allegedly said that Trump “insulted the former defence secretary at great length” when responding to Mattis’s criticism of the US President’s policy on Daesh*.
“He attacked the messenger. Basically, he said, and I don’t want to get into specifics, I have an enormous amount of respect for General Mattis. The president does not. And he basically said, consider the source. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He’s a terrible general. So, that was how he dealt with General Mattis’ concerns”, Smith said, as quoted by Breitbart.
Trump’s remarks reportedly came after Senator Chuck Schumer quoted Mattis’s interview with NBC News on Sunday, in which he argued that Daesh may “resurge” in Syria if the US eases its military pressure.
The Wednesday meeting took place amid Turkey’s ongoing military operation in northern Syria, primarily targeted at Kurdish forces, which Ankara claims are aligned with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, a Turkish domestic insurgency seeking Kurdish autonomy which Ankara has condemned as a terrorist organisation.
The operation was preceded by the US’ full-fledged troop withdrawal from the area, in what was previously ordered by Trump who tweeted, “very smart not to be involved in the intense fighting along the Turkish Border, for a change … Others may want to come in and fight for one side or the other. Let them!”
Trump Initiates Mattis Resignation
Earlier this year, Trump told the New York Times that he'd effectively pushed Mattis to resign from his post as secretary of defence in late 2018, saying that he “wasn't happy with the job that he [Mattis] was doing at all”.
In his resignation letter in December 2018, Mattis said he made his decision because President Trump had “the right to have a secretary of state whose views are better aligned" with his own ones on issues specifically related to commitment to US alliances and the war against Daesh.
In a separate development that month, Trump announced that all US forces would leave Syria and declared the complete defeat of Daesh in the Arab country. The US President later added that "local countries", including Turkey, should "take care" of the situation and deal with remaining terror threat.
*Daesh (ISIL/ISIS/Islamic State), a terrorist group banned in Russian and many other countries