WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump took to Twitter to defend his surprise decision to withdraw American troops from Syria, saying the move should not be a surprise.
Getting out of Syria was no surprise. I’ve been campaigning on it for years, and six months ago, when I very publicly wanted to do it, I agreed to stay longer. Russia, Iran, Syria & others are the local enemy of ISIS. We were doing there work. Time to come home & rebuild. #MAGA
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 20, 2018
The sudden announcement that the U.S. would begin withdrawing its forces in Syria sent Republican allies scrambling. Thus causing some in the U.S. to wonder whether the decision was an attempt to distract from recent threats to shut down parts of the federal government over funding for his border wall.
While President Trump claims the decision should not be a surprise, many of his national security officials were caught off guard. Pentagon Press Secretary Dana White released a statement saying
“The Coalition has liberated the ISIS-held territory, but the campaign against ISIS is not over. We have started the process of returning U.S. troops home from Syria as we transition to the next phase of the campaign.”
Advisors say do not leave Syria
Trump advisors had been working at convincing Trump to keep troops in Syria. Defense Secretary James Mattis said last week that “there’s more work to be done” in Syria. Military planners at CENTCOM and the Pentagon had been planning to withdraw U.S. troops since March.
Some key Republicans drew parallels from Trump’s sudden announcement to former President Barack Obama’s decision to drastically scale back troop levels in Iraq. Obama’s decision to withdrawn from Iraq is often cited in explaining how ISIS managed to flourish in the country.
President Trump insisted Thursday morning that the withdrawal from Syria would keep the U.S. from becoming mired in another long-term conflict in the Middle East. A video the White House released on Wednesday emphases that ISIS has been beaten badly, losing control of the land it previously occupied.
President Trump says American forces will be returning as “heroes of the world” for standing up to a terrorist group.
Trump spent Thursday sending out tweets to Republicans who supported his decision including Senators Rand Paul and Mike Lee. Now we must wait and see how what will happen between the lingering ISIS elements in Syria and the exit of U.S. forces.
This could also have a lingering effect on President Trump’s reelection campaign in 2020.