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Battle over U.S. Syria Policy Heats Up

Dec. 2, 2020 (EIRNS)—The battle over U.S. policy in Syria appears to have heated up over the past 24 hours, ahead of the expectation that Joe Biden will take office in January 2021 with a different policy from President Donald Trump’s stated intention over the past two years of getting U.S. troops out of Syria. Biden’s proposal of Antony Blinken as Secretary of State suggests possible preparation for a regime-change war in Syria, instead.

The New York Times reported yesterday, with obvious indignation, that the Pentagon official in charge of the anti-ISIS war was fired, implying that it was done to disrupt the transition to a Biden regime. The Times, citing three unnamed sources, claimed that Christopher P. Maier, who headed the Pentagon’s Defeat ISIS Task Force since March 2017, was fired after a White House appointee told him the United States had won that war and that his office had been disbanded.

According to the Times, a Pentagon statement issued late on Nov. 30 said that Acting Defense Secretary Christopher C. Miller had accepted Maier’s resignation and that his duties would be incorporated into two other offices. The statement also said the transition reflected the U.S. success to crush ISIS’s terrorist state in large swaths of Iraq and Syria. But Maier’s supporters claim he was forced out of an important but low-profile job that required flying off to combat zones, including northeast Syria and Iraq, to work with precarious partners on the ground in the anti-ISIS fight. Brett McGurk, who resigned in a huff as the special envoy for the anti-ISIS coalition the first time Trump tried to pull U.S. troops out of Syria, is among those trotted out to defend Maier.

Today, the London-based Arabic daily Asharq al Awsat reported that James Jeffrey—who replaced McGurk, and who bragged, after just after the election, about having lied to Trump about the number of U.S. troops in Syria—has briefed the Biden team about “the state-of-play in the battle against ISIS and America’s presence in Syria and Iraq.”

The same Asharq report claims that “Biden and his Secretary of State Antony Blinken are expected to correct some of what Barack Obama’s Administration failed to achieve in Syria.” Asharq indicated that Blinken thinks that one of Obama’s mistakes was not bombing Syria after the August 2013 alleged sarin gas attack, even though Obama had called chemical warfare a “red line” that Syrian President Bashar al Assad must not cross.

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