Trump’s Syrian Bomb

Al-Okaz, Saudi Arabia, December 21

As usual, U.S. President Donald Trump changed the global scene with one unexpected decision. Trump decided to withdraw all American forces from Syria, which, together with its local Kurdish allies, formed a physical barrier that blocked the advancement of Iranian militias towards the Mediterranean. The last remaining reason for the American presence in Syria was to fight and eliminate the poisonous Iranian activities in the region. Trump claimed that he was simply implementing his promise from the elections to end all U.S. foreign military interventions. But the puzzling thing is that the global scene has not changed, so why rush out of Syria right now? Is there a clear new pretext? ISIS still exists and Iran is increasing its activity in the region. Trump’s explanation is therefore confusing. On his twitter post, the president stated that “Russia, Iran, Syria & others are the local enemy of ISIS. We were doing their work. Time to come home.” Simply put, Trump wants to let the Russians, Iranians and Syrians deal with the terrorist threats emerging in the region, instead of framing them as U.S. threats alone. But the Pentagon was clear to state that the “war on ISIS” still isn’t over. Russian President Vladimir Putin has been similarly quoted saying that there is a difference between declarations and actions on the ground. The United States claimed that it withdrew from Afghanistan, but has remained in the country for 17 years. Therefore, we will have to wait and see what action the Department of Defense actually takes as a result of Trump’s announcement. In the meantime, the biggest losers of this move are the Syrian Democratic Forces, an alliance of Kurdish and Syrian militias mainly fighting against ISIS, and Trump’s closest Mideast ally, Israel. The former already announced a plan to establish a new security base following the American withdrawal. The latter has been a little less optimistic, claiming that there is still eminent threat posed by Iran’s activity in Syria, which necessitates a presence of troops on the ground. The only way to make sense of Trump’s move is to believe that there are secret motives, which we aren’t yet aware of, at play. This could be an agreement reached between Trump and his Russian and Turkish counterparts. –Mashri al-Zayidi

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