President Trump Backtracks on Withdrawing US Troops from Syria

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President Trump backtracked on his pledge to remove US troops from Syria. During an interview with Face the Nation and said, “We’re going to be there and we’re going to be staying. We have to protect Israel.” Trump changed his vow of complete withdrawal when Israeli President Netanyahu and Washington, DC neocons argued that US troops in Syria border are the last line of defense against Iranian expansion and, therefore, they must stay indefinitely. -GEG

After approaching two months of talk of a “full” and “immediate” US troop withdrawal from Syria, first ordered by President Trump on December 19 — which was predictably met with swift and fierce pushback from beltway hawks including in some cases his own advisers — it now appears the death knell has sounded on the prior “complete” and “rapid” draw down order.

Trump said in a CBS “Face the Nation” interview this weekend that some unspecified number of US troops will remain in the region, mostly in Iraq, with possibly some still in Syria, in order “to protect Israel” in what appears a significant backtrack from his prior insistence on an absolute withdrawal. 

“We’re going to be there and we’re going to be staying. We have to protect Israel,” he replied when pressed by CBS reporter Margaret Brennan. “We have to protect other things that we have. But we’re – yeah, they’ll be coming back in a matter of time.” He did note that “ultimately some will be coming home.”

“Look, we’re protecting the world,” he added. “We’re spending more money than anybody’s ever spent in history, by a lot.” Trump’s slow drift and change in tune on the subject of a promised “rapid” exit comes after Israeli officials led by Prime Minister Netanyahu alongside neocon allies in Washington argued that some 200 US troops in Syria’s southeast desert along the Iraqi border and its 55-kilometer “deconfliction zone” at al-Tanf are the last line of defense against Iranian expansion in Syria, and therefore must stay indefinitely. 

“I want to be able to watch Iran,” Trump said further during the CBS interview. “Iran is a real problem.” He explained that “99%” of ISIS’s territory had been liberated but that a contingency of US troops must remain to prevent a resurgent Islamic State as well as to counter Iranian influence, for which American forces must remain in Iraq as well. 

“When I took over, Syria was infested with ISIS. It was all over the place. And now you have very little ISIS, and you have the caliphate almost knocked out,” the president said. “We will be announcing in the not too distant future 100% of the caliphate, which is the area – the land – the area – 100. We’re at 99% right now. We’ll be at 100.”

However Trump’s invoking Iranian influence as a rationale for staying further contradicts his prior December statement that the defeat of ISIS was “the only reason” he was in Syria in the first place. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: How many troops are still in Syria? When are they coming home?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: 2,000 troops.

MARGARET BRENNAN: When are they coming home?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: They’re starting to, as we gain the remainder, the final remainder of the caliphate of the area, they’ll be going to our base in Iraq, and ultimately some will be coming home. But we’re going to be there and we’re going to be staying–

MARGARET BRENNAN: So that’s a matter of months?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We have to protect Israel. We have to protect other things that we have. But we’re- yeah, they’ll be coming back in a matter of time. Look, we’re protecting the world. We’re spending more money than anybody’s ever spent in history, by a lot. We spent, over the last five years, close to 50 billion dollars a year in Afghanistan. That’s more than most countries spend for everything including education, medical, and everything else, other than a few countries. — CBS “Face the Nation” Feb.3 interview transcript

The Pentagon in recent weeks has reportedly been putting logistics in place for a troop draw down from northern and eastern Syria.

Though it remains unclear just how many troops could remain as the majority possibly begin to pullout toward US bases in Iraq, the Tanf base could remain Washington’s last remote outpost disrupting what US defense officials see as a strategic Baghdad-Damascus corridor and highway, and potential key “link” in the Tehran-to-Beirut so-called Shia land bridge. 

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James
James
4 years ago

It is a shame. Evil is afoot. The “Israel first” collaborators have somehow convinced Trump we need to become part of a wider middle east war as Rand Paul called it that includes 100 thousand Muslims troops from Turkey, and Muslim troops from Syria, Muslim troops from Iran, and Muslim troops from Iraq who in the end are against Jewish troops in Israel. Why would we want to put 2000 US troops in front of that? No wonder Israel wants to keep the fighting among themselves, drawing us into it as their puppet shield. I blame the democrats for not… Read more »

Tom Ball
Tom Ball
3 years ago
Reply to  James

I hold the “Christian” ZOG-bots responsible for giving them unconditional support, and IN SPITE OF EVERYTHING the NEW Testament says about the issue!
These people must get their entire Biblical knowledge from the likes of John Hagee, L Ron Hubbard , and Garner Ted Armstrong.

Eowyn
Eowyn
4 years ago

“We have to protect Israel.” No we do not! We have to protect the united States of America. “We have to protect other things that we have.” You mean like Genie Oil and the drug runners?
“…disrupting what US defense officials see as a strategic Baghdad-Damascus corridor and highway, and potential key “link” in the Tehran-to-Beirut so-called Shia land bridge.” So we are participating in war between Mohammedan sects, the war between the Sunnis and the Shia. Doing so on behalf of Saudi Arabia and Israel.
Bring all of our troops home and stop these endless wars of aggression.