Trump slowing down troop pullout from Syria

Hugh Fox
January 3, 2019

"He has not reversed his decision" to withdraw troops from Syria, Graham said.

On December 19, following a telephone conversation with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Trump made a surprise announcement that he would be quickly withdrawing United States forces from Syria and Turkey would take over responsibility there. "We are not talking about vast wealth" he added. "Were talking about sand and death".

Lindsey Graham, a close ally of the President, told reporters at the White House that Trump will reevaluate the withdrawal plan for Syria, although the SC senator told CNN later Sunday that the President had not reversed his Syria orders. "He told me some things I didn't know that made me feel a lot better about where we're headed in Syria", Graham, an influential voice on national security policy who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, told reporters at the White House.

In was in another tweet on December 19 that Trump announced his intention to withdraw the USA troops.

BBC defence correspondent Jonathan Marcus suggests that Mr Trump appears to be washing his hands of Syria and handing the whole job over to Russia, Turkey and Iran.

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"And, at the end of the day, if we leave the Kurds and abandon them and they get slaughtered, who's going to help you in the future?" he said.

The issue of the potential slaughter of those allies has been a point of contention even among Trump supporters in the days following his sudden announcement of the end of US intervention in the Syria conflict.

The president had declared victory over the Islamic State group in Syria, though pockets of fighting remain. Graham said the process of removing the military could potentially be slowed down.

By extending the timetable for withdrawal to several months, Trump stuck to his commitment to untangle the United States from yearslong military commitments but also heeded warnings from current and former military leaders of the danger of a quick exit.

Although they are seeking "libertarian communalism" of the USA anarchist Murray Bookchin, the authorities of Manbij have implemented a policy of the forced Kurdization of the city.

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Critics not only warn of a resurgence of IS, but worry that the American exit is a betrayal of USA -backed Kurdish forces in Syria and leaves them vulnerable to an attack from Turkish forces. "I never said fast or slow", he said.

During a lightning visit to USA troops based in Iraq last week, Trump said the United States would no longer be the world's "policeman". Other people do. I didn't like the fact that they're selling the small oil that they have to Iran.

"We need to keep our troops there", Graham said.

"But we want to protect the Kurds, nevertheless, we want to protect the Kurds", he continued. That proposal would likely anger North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally Turkey, where Tump's national security adviser, John Bolton, will hold talks this week.

Trump had earlier stunned allies - and prompted the resignation of his respected defense secretary, Jim Mattis - by abruptly announcing that the jihadists were defeated and that U.S. troops in Syria were ready to leave.

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