This morning, the Trump administration announced that the United States would be withdrawing the 2,000 or so American forces from Syria “rapidly” on the justification that the United States has defeated the terror group ISIS (Daesh/ISIL) the ostensible reason for our presence there in the first place.
The Trump administration will withdraw all of the approximately 2,000 American troops in Syria, according to a U.S. official. https://t.co/fGWdbuzsOI
— The Associated Press (@AP) December 19, 2018
The president, without bothering to explain what the context for the tweet was, justified the move by bragging that he had defeated ISIS and that there was no longer a need to continue the American mission there.
We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 19, 2018
Unfortunately, this could not be further from the truth. Daesh is not defeated; in fact, it is resurging, emerging from the deserts into which they fled to once again wreak terror upon the lands of eastern Syria and western Iraq.
The announcement appeared to catch even his own military officials by surprise; the United States Special Presidential Envoy for Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, Brett McGurk, was tweeting about ongoing operations against ISIS strongholds just five days ago.
— Brett McGurk (@brett_mcgurk) December 14, 2018
Far from defeating ISIS, all we have accomplished is turn major cities like Raqqa into mine-filled and corpse-choked wastelands of smashed concrete and twisted metal and done almost nothing to clean up the mess, to help people get back to some semblance of a normal life and to help restore the stability that will ultimately put an end to the constant cycle of violence and extremism.
We have not defeated ISIS in Syria or Iraq. We have, however, left Raqqa and Mosul in ruins, filled with dead bodies and unexploded ordnance, and cut recovery aid. There is every reason to expect the group’s resurgence. https://t.co/GwRoksaESh https://t.co/bZPKc2g71e
— Ben Taub (@bentaub91) December 19, 2018
A clear example of Trump’s fixation with appeasing autocrats, the move is a huge win for the Russian Federation, which has been decrying the U.S. presence in Syria as “a dangerous obstacle to the path to a peace settlement” — one that would presumably leave their client regime in Damascus as the ruler of Syria.
On top of that, the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria opens the door for Turkey to wage a genocidal war against the Rojavan Kurds of northwestern Syria. Turkish dictator Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s regime accuses Rojava of supporting the Kurdish separatists in southeast Turkey, against whom the Turks are also waging a genocidal war.
Something I wrote after Turkey invaded Afrin and it’s surrounding villages (YPJ/J held, predominantly Kurdish area). Their proxies’ looting, violence and ethnic cleansing caused a mass refugee exodus. Things have gotten much worse since this was published https://t.co/GnqaBRawbT
— Molly Crabapple (@mollycrabapple) December 19, 2018
The presence of U.S. military forces have been the only thing preventing the areas that the Kurdish YPG/YPS forces liberated from ISIS from being overrun by the Turks and their proxy militia forces, driving out the Kurdish and Yazidi populations and then resettling the area with Muslim Arabs like they did in the Kurdish canton of Afrin.
Looks like Trump selling out Rojava/Kurds to Erdogan's goons in a deal to get Turkey & Qatar to ease up on MbS/Saudis.
— Mark Ames (@MarkAmesExiled) December 19, 2018
The United States’ presence in Syria was not a good thing, in the long run, by any stretch; but by that same token, this immediate withdrawal is certain to only make things worse. It is absolutely reprehensible for us to abandon our Kurdish allies — who lost thousands of men in women in the fight against Daesh and did the majority of the heavy lifting — and to walk out on our moral debt to help rebuild the cities we devastated.
Trust the Trump administration to always make the worst possible decision for the most cruelly selfish reasons.