Executive Intelligence Review


U.S. President in Brawl over Syria Policy

March 31, 2018 (EIRNS)—The policy brawl inside the White House and between President Donald Trump and the U.S. national security establishment more broadly on Syria policy, has broken further into the open in the two days since Trump said on Thursday night (March 29) that the U.S. military would soon be leaving Syria. The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that Trump has already ordered a freeze on $200 million that the State Department had planned to spend in Syria, supposedly for reconstruction.

But beyond the specific incident, the Journal argued, Trump’s action on Syria goes against all the advice he’s been getting, and effectively overthrows the policy that then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had announced at Stanford University in January 2018. In that speech, Tillerson had announced an open-ended U.S. military presence in Syria, not only to prevent a comeback by ISIS, but to attempt to influence the construction of a political settlement in Syria and to try to counter alleged Iranian “ambitions” in Syria.

“Trump cannot have a serious Iran strategy if he allows Tehran to win in Syria,” Mark Dubowitz, CEO of the neo-con Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told the Journal.

According to Associated Press, Trump’s aides thought they had convinced the President in January of the necessity of an open-ended U.S. military presence in Syria. This was when Trump apparently signed off on Tillerson’s speech. But by mid-February, Trump was telling his top aides in meetings that as soon as victory could be declared against ISIS, he wanted American troops out of Syria, unnamed officials told AP.