Executive Intelligence Review


President Says Again He Wants U.S. Troops Out of Syria

April 4, 2018 (EIRNS)—U.S. President Donald Trump said again yesterday that he wants to pull the U.S. military out of Syria. At the same time, two of the people charged with executing U.S. policy against ISIS were contradicting him.

“I want to get out. I want to bring our troops back home,” Trump said during a press conference with the three Baltic Presidents. “Sometimes it’s time to come back home. And we’re thinking about that very seriously,” he said. Trump went on to say that the “primary mission” for keeping a military presence in the country was the defeat of the Islamic State, reported Politico. Given that this task is “almost completed,” Trump said, his administration will look to make a final decision on the status of U.S. troops in the region “very quickly.”

At the U.S. Institute of Peace, Gen. Joseph Votel, the commander of U.S. Central Command, and Brett McGurk, the U.S. special envoy for the anti-ISIS coalition, were disagreeing with the President, and were both speaking as if the U.S. military would be remaining in eastern Syria for the indefinite future. “The hard part is in front of us” in Syria as the U.S. seeks to defeat the remnants of the Islamic State, aid in resettling refugees and encourage negotiations to end the seven-year-old civil war, Votel said, reported Military.com. “Of course, there is a military role in this,” he said. “At this point in, we’re probably six to eight months ahead of where we anticipated being” in the campaign against ISIS in Syria and Iraq. “The military success we’ve had is quite extraordinary,” but much remains to be done.

McGurk, for his part, said:

“We are committed to finishing the campaign against ISIS. We are ahead of where we thought we would be at this time, but we are not finished and we will get this job done clearing out those last areas of ISIS. That mission is not over.”

Also worried about Trump’s plans to withdraw from Syria is Benjamin Netanyahu. They spoke by phone yesterday, but a terse statement from the White House did not clarify what developments were addressed or what was said, nor was there any immediate comment from Netanyahu’s office, reports the Times of Israel. It only expressed the continued U.S. commitment to the security of Israel. The call comes with Israel concerned that Trump wants to pull out of Syria, a move that they believe would give greater freedom to Iran, which is seeking to set up a permanent presence there, Times of Israel says.