Donald Trump, the elected President of the United States of America, is going to keep a campaign promise. Maybe.
Three years after winning office, largely on his “no more pointless wars” platform, Trump is going to pull (the totally illegal occupying) US forces out of Syria. He’s finally keeping his word. Maybe.
….almost 3 years, but it is time for us to get out of these ridiculous Endless Wars, many of them tribal, and bring our soldiers home. WE WILL FIGHT WHERE IT IS TO OUR BENEFIT, AND ONLY FIGHT TO WIN. Turkey, Europe, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Russia and the Kurds will now have to…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 7, 2019
It is, frankly, a dark sign of the dystopian times in which we live that this is somehow considered a shock.
Of course, it’s probably not actually going to happen.
This is not the first time Trump has announced: “we’re pulling out of Syria”.
Last December, just before Christmas, Trump announced the US military was leaving Syria, nothing much ever came of it. Except for a fresh surge of “liberal” media pundits claiming this was evidence Donald was a Putin puppet.
That was his second attempt.
The first time, in April 2018, there was a “chemical weapons attack” within a week. America was “forced”, not only to stay, but to escalate the conflict by striking at Assad’s airfields.
Look out for another Syrian “war crime” to pull Trump back in before Halloween (maybe on Halloween, the US Deep State love theatricality).
Whether the US stay or go, the situation on the ground is unlikely to change. While the US can “officially” pull out of Syria, it has many other avenues open to continue its (pointless and bloody) campaign.
First, there’s Turkey. Already active in Northern Syria, and a member of NATO. The US Deep State can easily (attempt to) strike a deal with Erdogan where he carries on America’s fine legacy in the Middle East. If they have to hang the Kurds out to dry to do this, well that’s life.
However, Turkey are not necessarily to be trusted. They have their own agenda, and Erdogan has never forgiven the US for the attempted military coup in 2016 (which is pretty understandable when you think about it).
The Kremlin has made many overtures to Turkey, most recently with the sale of the S400 air defence system. Erdogan is obviously aware of his leverage, and will doubtless be playing both sides (although given how that ended for Yanukovych, he’d best be careful).
No, Turkey isn’t reliable enough, which just leaves the second option – Stay.
Not “stay” as in be US army personnel fighting for US interests under a US flag. That kind of direct, overt action makes up only a fraction of the USA’s military interventions since WWII.
No, there are other ways of staying.
They can stay as “advisors” to the Kurds, or Israel in the Golan, or Turkey. “Advisors” are great because they’re vague enough to be almost meaningless…but nevertheless, confirms there ARE US citizens on the ground. This means Iran/Syria/Russia have to be VERY careful. One dead American and all hell could break loose.
Alternatively, they can stay as “mercenaries”. Blackwatch or Dark Water or whatever cheesy name some PR focus group thought sounded cool. They’ll be “sub-contracted” to Israeli or Turkish “private security firms” or “rebel militias”. That’s a trick as old as the hills. It maintains plausible deniability.
Failing that, they’ll just bring ISIS back into the picture.
When the media or ex-generals or politicians say “The US pulling out could lead to a resurgence of ISIS” they’re not lying. They’re telling an absolute truth, but they’re talking about diverting funding and recruitment drives, nothing more.
It’s not a warning, it’s a threat.
ISIS, the leaderless, rudderless bad guys who rove the desert chanting “death to America” and yet somehow only ever end up killing Syrian soldiers. (Unless they hit the IDF by accident, in which case they apologise).
They carry on the fine tradition of “Islamic extremists” who suddenly turn up whenever America needs a proxy war.
One way or another, the Powers that Be are not done with Assad or Syria. Not for any strategic value anymore. At this point it’s just psychopathic bloody-mindedness. (Assad was meant to have been Gaddafi-ed by now).
With the US embedded so deeply in Syria, and the general powerlessness of the POTUS in terms of foreign policy, this move makes far more sense as a domestic stunt than anything else.
The Ukraine/Biden/impeachment mess is a lifeless piece of political theatre, unlikely to go anywhere, but it’s also a sticky talking point for Trump who needs a win to up his numbers.
Domestically, with 2020 looming, this is a pretty canny move.
First, it’s a fairly transparent effort to win back a lot of his anti-war libertarian voters who have probably become disillusioned with Trump in his three years of barely-altered status quo. Having promised to “drain the swamp” Trump has shown he’s more than happy to just live in it, with all the other snakes.
He needs to win back his “underdog rebel” tag, and this is a step that could do that.
It paints the line-up of democratic candidates into a corner – they can’t criticise the move without endorsing illegal interventions and handing Trump the anti-war position. But if they endorse it, they’ve likewise handed Trump the anti-war position. (Incidentally, prepare for Tulsi Gabbard to praise this move, only to be attacked as “soft on Trump” by her fellow democrats).
Joe Biden has already released a statement which pretty much sets-out what the establishment line will be on this, here.
Note there’s no question of aggression or war. No discussion of obeying international law or respecting Syria’s sovereignty. These are words American politicians barely understand. No, the key phrase is here is “abandoning our allies”.
It’s a sentiment echoed by peerless war-hawk Lindsey Graham in his tweets on the matter:
* Ensures ISIS comeback.
* Forces Kurds to align with Assad and Iran.
* Destroys Turkey’s relationship with U.S. Congress.
* Will be a stain on America’s honor for abandoning the Kurds.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) October 7, 2019
The media (and collected punditry) will likely play the “poor little Kurds” card a lot in the next few days.
How much, and how hard, will determine how much of a genuine threat to the establishment agenda this “withdrawal” really is.
- Will this change anything in Syria?
- Will there be another chemical attack (or similar) which “forces” the US to remain after all?
- Will there be a resurgence of ISIS?
- Will Turkey step into the void?
- How will Biden/Warren et al react?
- Will Trump’s anti-war base be suckered a second time?
As always, discuss below.