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Experts Ritter and Jatras Urge Trump To Stay the Course on Syria Withdrawal

Jan. 22, 2019 (EIRNS)—Arms control expert Scott Ritter, who oversaw the disarmament of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, penned a feature in The American Conservative, “Make No Mistake: ISIS Needs the U.S. To Survive,” countering the ravings of various Congressmen and assorted neo-cons who demanded that, in response to the Jan. 16 suicide attack in Manbij, in which four Americans were killed, President Donald Trump should reverse his plan to withdraw American troops from Syria.

Ritter was seconded yesterday by former American diplomat and foreign policy adviser James Jatras, who wrote an op-ed for RT that so far, despite “expertise” from advisers, Trump appears to be staying the course. Jatras further says that the U.S. military presence in Syria was never really about defeating ISIS in any case, but rather, in the words of former Secretary of State John Kerry, to use ISIS as leverage against Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad.

Ritter argues that the ISIS suicide attack in Manbij was carefully calculated and planned, “to sow chaos in the processes associated with an American disengagement in Manbij.” The reality, he continues, is that ISIS needs U.S. forces there “in order to survive.” With the U.S. gone, once the Syrian government can turn its full attention on eradicating ISIS, the group’s days are numbered. The Iraqi government, with Iran’s help, is regaining control of its own territory, so the last bastions of ISIS are on Syrian soil in areas controlled by the U.S. military, Ritter observes.

“A U.S. withdrawal from Syria would set ISIS adrift, allowing the Syrian government, backed by Russia and Iran, to defeat it and reassert its control over, not only the territory currently occupied by ISIS, but also the hearts and minds of the Syrian Arabs whom ISIS needs for sustainment.”

Jatras rejects claims that the U.S. withdrawal from Syria will create the conditions for ISIS to reconstitute itself. Rather, he says, the terrorist group will be finished off, once and for all. The U.S. never wanted to see the complete elimination of ISIS in any case, he states, so that task was left to the Syrian Army and the Russian Air Force, with help from Iran, Iraq and Hezbollah. He quotes U.S. Army Col. Douglas Macgregor (ret.): “When the U.S. is gone, any element left of ISIS would be annihilated by Russia, Iran or Syria.” Trump, Jatras says, seems to understand this, but he warns that another incident can’t be ruled out in an attempt to get the President to change course.

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