Trump withdraws US troops from Syria, Afghanistan

December 21, The Iran Project – In a sudden announcement, US President Donald Trump stunned the world and declared Wednesday (Dec. 19) that US troops had defeated Daesh terrorists in Syria and he sought to pull some 2,000 US troops out of Syria, and shortly a day after the first withdrawal move, he made the second one and ordered to exit half of its 14,000 troops from Afghanistan.

Trump’s abrupt decisions to pull US troops out of Syria and Afghanistan startled US lawmakers and allies, as well as Afghan officials who say they have not been briefed on the plans.

About Syria, US officials said many details of the troop withdrawal were yet to be finalized, but emphasized that American forces would be back home by mid-January.

ُُThe US and a number of its allies have been conducting airstrikes against what are said to be Daesh targets inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate.

On Afghanistan, the official who spoke to Reuters on the condition of anonymity said timelines were being discussed but it could happen in weeks or months.

If American troop levels drop to around 7,000, they will be at their lowest since March 2002, when the largest ground assault of the war at that time began during Operation Anaconda.

Senator Lindsey Graham, a close ally, warned the troop pullout from Afghanistan could ultimately lead to another attack on America similar to the one on Sept. 11, 2001.

US pullout of its troop from the two Middle Eastern countries would upend a central pillar of American policy in the conflict-torn region.

Russia welcomes US decision

Moscow welcomed US pullout from Syria and a spokeswoman from the Russian Foreign Ministry said Washington’s decision might signal hope for political stability in the war-hit country.

Maria Zakharova stated that Washington has apparently finally realized that it is only doing itself a disservice by impeding the joint efforts of Russia, Turkey and Iran, to resolve the conflict in Syria.

Some Russian officials remained skeptical, however, suggesting that the pullout is designed to untie the hands of Washington’s militant proxies on the ground. Aleksandr Sherin, the deputy head of the Russian State Duma’s Defense Committee, told RIA Novosti that Washington could be aiming for plausible deniability in future provocations by anti-Assad forces.

Lawmakers also suggested Washington might be planning to get concessions from Moscow.

Turkey welcomes US decision

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu welcomed the United States’ decision to withdraw its troops from Syria, and said it should coordinate with Ankara on the pullout.

“Victory for Syrian People”

France’s ex-transport minister and former member of the National Assembly, Thierry Mariani, has termed President Trump’s decision a victory for the Syrian people, army and their allies, including Russia and Iran.

According to Mariani, it is still too early to talk about the consequences of the US decision to withdraw its troops. The former minister noted that the situation of Idlib, the last insurgency stronghold in Syria, remained unresolved, stressing the need for peaceful solution.

Moreover, Arab political analysts have described Washington’s decision as a complete fiasco for Turkey, Israel and US-sponsored militants.

Iran urges all illegal forces to exit from Syria

Iran’s Chargé d’affaires to the United Nations in a statement urged all illegal forces to quit Syria.

“All foreign forces whose presence is not permitted by the Syrian Government should leave the country,” Eshagh Al Habib said in an address to the United Nations Security Council meeting on the Middle East, Syria – Political on Friday (Dec. 21).

Mattis resignation in rebuke of Trump moves

The exit from Syria and Afghanistan prompted US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis to finally announce his resignation to allow Trump to have a defense chief whose views are more aligned with the US president, he said in his parting letter on Thursday (Dec. 20).

Officials said Mr. Mattis went to the White House with his resignation letter already written, but nonetheless made a last attempt at persuading the president to reverse his decision about Syria.

Mr. Mattis, a retired four-star Marine general, was rebuffed. Returning to the Pentagon, he asked aides to print out 50 copies of his resignation letter and distribute them around the building.

Israel sees Iran moving closer

Now, it seems that it’s getting more difficult for Israel to keep Iran away from its borders.Trump’s snap decision to withdraw US troops from Syria has left Israel feeling more vulnerable to threats from its arch-enemy Iran.

“The Americans were in the middle,” said Eyal Zisser, a political scientist at Tel Aviv University. “Now that they’re out, it will be much easier for Iran to have this open corridor from Tehran, through Baghdad — you can just take a car and in several hours you’re in Beirut.”