Removal of U.S. Troops from Syria
Updated: Aug 24, 2020
After a four-year long dominating presence in Syria, President Trump has decided to move troops out of the country. Most of the troops are located in the north and northeast portions of the country where Syrian-backed Kurdish forces reside. He was criticized of rapidly removing troops out of the country, but he addressed the critics by stating that he will slowly end military activity.
The decision to do so has caused a split between legislators and Presidential advisers.
The Obama and Trump administrations have fought profusely for over four years to combat terrorism and end the civil war in Syria. The rise of ISIS and its threat to the western world caused military involvement from different countries to take part. The United States, backed by Turkey, support the Syrian rebels. Iran, although not taking any particular side, has been fighting against the rebels. However, Russia has been an integral ally for Assad, the President of Syria, to ensure the war turns in his own favor. Russia has consistently bombed civilians in order for Assad to increase greater government control of his country.
Donald Trump’s key campaign promises were to defeat ISIS and bring home troops from Syria. Once in office, President Trump deregulated certain military activities to further the power of U.S. forces in Syria and defeat the Islamic State.
President Trump, in his own terms, believes that the war with ISIS has ended. With the Islamic state only occupying 2% of the middle east, Trump vowed that troops will begin coming home. He believes that any further military activity would cost too much money along with the physical well-being of soldiers. Around 2000 troops are planned to be sent back home over the coming weeks. Trump and his senior advisers have stated that Turkish troops will combat what is left of the Islamic state. Turkey bought a $3.5 billion worth of American Patriot missile defense systems for this purpose.
Although the President does not want to offer a specific timeline for the course of actions over the upcoming months, it is clear that overall, troops and military activity will be decreasing. However, there are reports from the Pentagon stating that some U.S. troops may stay in Syria for extended amounts of time to ensure that the defeat of ISIS endures.
Along with the removal, however, are split opinions ranging from Trump’s personal advisers all the way to Capitol Hill.
General Joe Dunford, chairman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff is amongst a critic of Trump’s plan. He states that there is no plan for stabilization of peace in the area. He elaborates by saying that there is a long way to go before there is enough security to ensure that the Islamic state has no chance to rise again. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis resigned over the misalignment in views with himself and Trump when it came to Syria.
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is also a critic of Trump’s plan. He sees ties between Trump’s decision and Obama’s decision to remove troops from Iraq and Syria years ago which ultimately fueled ISIS to come about. Senator Graham says that although ISIS is neutralized, there is a chance of them emerging again if U.S. troops are to move out of the area. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) find the troops removals alarming because it gives leeway for Russia and Assad to further exert military forces on innocent civilians.
On the other side of the spectrum is Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) who find the decision to be a declaration of victory and the end of a long-time war. Other of those who approved were military generals with whom Trump discussed the removal of troops on his Christmas visit to Iraq.