Trump’s statements arrive after the years-long presence of United States’ troops in Syria, which began in late 2015. At that time, American troops landed in Syria with a small contingent of Special Operations forces, with the intent of trying to form alliances with local militias and rebel groups that could help in the fight against the self-proclaimed Islamic State’s forces before starting the actual ground-war phase.
Years after, nearly all the territory that ISIS militias had captured, throughout eastern Syria and northern Iraq, has been recaptured by local forces, many of whom were helped by American or other foreign troops. This is probably what has led President Trump to come up with the plan of the withdrawal of over 2,000 US troops that are still deployed in Syria.
Trump’s decision caused strong reactions around the globe, starting from his own party and ending in Defense Secretary James Mattis’ resignation, which came a day after Trump’s decision, through a letter that was hand-delivered to the Commander in Chief, on December the 20th.
Amongst the variety of reactions that Trump’s latter choice in foreign policy received, there was also a decent amount of praises. In fact, Kremlin’s leader Vladimir Putin, despite his obvious skepticism about the actual intentions of the U.S. to step back from Syrian grounds, has backed up the decision of the American president to weigh down its presence.
In contrast with Putin’s praises, American allies were definitely not as positive about the whole situation. Even though U.K. is yet to make a clear statement about it, on the other end France has made clear its position on the issue, stating that its forces will remain in Syria.
About the actual effectiveness of Trump’s withdrawal from Syria, many have criticized its hastiness, since the mere fact that most physical space has been recaptured by US troops and their allies doesn’t necessarily mean that Daesh’s forces have been permanently defeated. On the contrary, what could truly guarantee a long-lasting supremacy on Daesh would be: “staying on Syrian grounds as long as needed to maintain the stability in these areas”, according to Brett McGurk, Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
The many doubts regarding the whole situation don’t seem to particularly bother President Donald Trump since, in the last hours, he seems to have advanced the possibility of a withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan’s grounds as well, announcing that more than 7,000 American troops (half of the total of 14,000) will begin to return home from Afghanistan in the coming weeks. A move that has been firmly criticized by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who stated on the issue: “The conditions in Afghanistan – at the present moment – make American troop withdrawals a high risk strategy. If we continue on our present course we are setting in motion the loss of all our gains and paving the way toward a second 9/11”.
All that seems to be left to do now is to wait and see how Trump’s decisions will impact the international assessment and, more in general, how they will affect US involvement in the fight against terrorism.
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