US Inarticulate Policy Towards Syria
Everything is in disarray in Donald Trump’s White House. All of its residents are against him and his policies, and everyone is poised to “attack” their spiritual leader. As soon as Donald Trump says something or takes a political decision, his closest “household members”, the National Security Advisor, John Bolton, and the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, immediately respond with contradictory statements. And we will not even mention the reaction from his sworn enemies, the Democrats. This creates an impression that the White House has now transformed into some backwater theater, which has put on this schtick play for local residents. Please judge for yourself:
The moment the US President made a decision to withdraw American troops from Syria, almost all the liberals, conservatives, and even pacifists and feminists (particularly concerned with the Kurdish issue) immediately descended on their leader and started accusing him of betraying the nation’s interests while backing those of Russia, Iran and Turkey. The establishment was unable to contain its wrath, as Donald Trump had failed to coordinate his decision with a single US institution, which left the Department of State, the CIA and the Pentagon in the dark.
A letter from a group of Democrats and Republicans in response to Donald Trump’s statement on Syria has caused quite a stir. Congressmen from both parties are convinced that the head of state rushed into making that decision. This document reads as follows “We believe that such action at this time is a premature and costly mistake that not only threatens the safety and security of the United States, but also emboldens ISIS (a terrorist organization, banned in the Russian Federation), Bashar al Assad, Iran, and Russia. If you decide to follow through with your decision to pull our troops out of Syria, any remnants of ISIS in Syria will surely renew and embolden their efforts in the region.”
The Secretary of Defense, James “Mad Dog” Mattis, immediately left his post “barking loudly”. In the end though, he admitted the White Helmets organization not only lied about the fact that Bashar al-Assad’s regime employed chemical weapons, but also stage managed “demonstrations” of such use. In an interview with Newsweek, he openly said that the United States did not have any incontrovertible proof that Bashar al-Assad had deployed chemical weapons against his own people. What is more, all the evidence collected, including reports from incidents in Ghouta (2013) and Khan Shaykhun (2017), does not prove anything whatsoever. The Pentagon chief also noted that poisoning by organophosphorus compounds did, in fact, take place, but Damascus was not involved in these acts.
What was definitively established was that the missiles used in the 2013 chemical attack were clearly the work of amateurs. The Syrian Arab Armed (SAR) Forces have never resorted to employing such “home-made” weapons. The White Helmets, on the other hand, who supposedly took part in missions to save all the injured in chemical attack zones, were in no way affected by harmful chemicals or even their residues, which, according to expert chemists, was not possible, in principle.
We can view James Mattis’s words that, in his opinion, using chemical weapons against his own civilian population did not make any sense whatsoever for Bashar al-Assad as the final point. Since such actions not only involved too many risks, but also failed to yield any benefits, even those that were short-term and tactical in nature.
By making such a statement, the retired General openly highlighted the fact that US officials, who demanded Bashar al-Assad “blood” for his crimes against his own people involving the use of chemical weaponry, openly and brazenly lied, despite being fully aware of what had actually transpired. And these are the underpinnings of American democracy!
Surprisingly, the coordinated pressure applied on Donald Trump turned out to be so strong that the US President has recently begun to regret his decision, and to backtrack on it by adding several provisions and requirements for the withdrawal. Some of these conditions serve to reverse the processes of withdrawing American troops and of justly resolving the Syrian conflict in the future. At present, many experts, including Western ones, are doubtful that Donald Trump’s promise on Syria will be kept in any shape or form. For instance, analysts at the US center Global Source Partners think that the probability of his decision being actually implemented is one to one.
In any case, withdrawing forces is clearly not a simple process. For example, when troops were leaving Iraq, the Pentagon drafted a schedule for the withdrawal, and coordinated with Baghdad on pertinent political issues. With Syria, on the other hand, everything happened so spontaneously and with such levity. One morning the American President briskly got up and wrote in his Twitter feed about the decision to withdraw forces from Syria. However, later on, Donald Trump backtracked on his decision under pressure and stated that the withdrawal from Syria would take a certain amount of time. Based on different estimates, this process will take approximately 4 months. In addition, the head of the Oval Office finally underscored that Washington would continue to protect the Kurds in Syria. It is worth reminding our readers that recently, the Kurdish forces have provided active support to the US in their fight against terrorists from ISIS and other organizations.
According to Fox News, the US President has so far refused to announce the exact date for American troops’ final withdrawal from Syria, and he also highlighted that there are forces who can fight against terrorism there. “We’re helping other countries too, when we do that too, you have to remember. Iran hates ISIS more than we do, if that’s possible, Russia hates ISIS more than we do,” admitted the US leader during a press conference. Trump also said that Turkey hated ISIS but not as much as the United States did, but that all of these nations opposed terrorists and were taking part in the fight against them. In other words, the wily American businessman once again wishes to place the weight of the burden of fighting terrorism on someone else’s shoulders, while he simply tries “fishing in Syrian waters”.
In truth, Donald Trump seems completely confused, as he genuinely does not know what to do next. In his attempt to keep up with the latest developments, he directed his loyal guard, John Bolton, to visit the Middle East. Firstly, the American visited Israel, where in unison with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu he performed “a special duet” about mutual interests. He also assured his Israeli counterpart that if the withdrawal of troops from Syria occurred, it would not harm Tel Aviv’s interests. Benjamin Netanyahu’s “solo performance” was just as impressive “Your visit to Israel gives us an opportunity to do two things. First, it gives us an opportunity to thank the Trump administration for the extraordinary support it has shown Israel.” Benjamin Netanyahu also added that it was important to put an end to Iranian aggression with joint efforts.
It seems apt here to remind the readers about a Jewish proverb “If your daughter is Jewish, there is no need to ask you about your ethnicity”. It is common knowledge that Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka chose to undergone the special Giyur process and became a 100% Jew before marrying Jared Kushner, who happens to be the President’s senior advisor. Hence, it is not necessary to ask the current US head of state about his policy towards Israel, as everything is crystal clear as it is.
In Turkey, John Bolton had a more difficult mission, because the two sides hold diametrically opposing views on the events in Syria. President Tayyip Erdoğan said Turkey could not go along with recent comments, made by the National Security Advisor to the US President, about Ankara having to protect Washington’s Kurdish allies in Syria. During a speech, made by the Turkish President in front of members of his party in parliament, he said that John Bolton had made a “serious mistake” when he called for this new pre-condition to withdrawal of American troops from Syria, and that Turkey would never compromise on the issue of Kurdish forces. Turkey views the Kurdish units, which the United States supported in their fight against ISIS in Syria, as a terrorist organization and part of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, banned by Ankara.
It is also worth mentioning that during fighting in Syria, there were proven instances of insurgents using US made weapons. In addition, forces of the so-called moderate opposition, whose fighters had been trained by American military personnel at US bases, have, on a number of occasions, been exposed for having ties with terrorist organizations. The United States military troops also openly supported terrorists by evacuating them. Earlier, President Bashar al-Assad publicly stated that the USA and the international coalition it heads acted with the sole purpose of escalating aggression of forces that opposed the government. Still, the Syrian leader is convinced that the US military personnel had unequivocally lost the war in Syria, and are now trying to somehow justify the withdrawal of its forces from SAR.
Besides, Bashar al-Assad has on more than one occasion reminded the public about the illegitimacy of the US military personnel’s actions in Syria. Because the official SAR authorities had not granted the United States a right to intervene, as opposed to the situation with the Russian Federation troops, who were conducting military operations in the republic’s territory at an invitation from SAR’s President. And most of the work in connection with fighting terrorist units was done by the Syrian Arab Armed Forces with support from the Russian Aerospace Forces.
In this sense, it is impossible not to agree with a view of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin casting doubt that the plan to withdraw American troops from Syria would be actually implemented. “The United States has had a presence in, for instance, Afghanistan for how many years? Seventeen, and almost every year, they talk about withdrawing their forces. But they are still there… We haven’t seen any signs yet that the US is planning to remove its troops, but admittedly this could happen. Especially since we’ve embarked on a path towards a political resolution. And at present, establishing a constitutional committee is the next item on our agenda.”
Viktor Mikhin, corresponding member of RANS, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”