Syria withdrawal dilemma: Trump's Mideast strategy is as confused as ever

'Netanyahu, Trump clash over Syria early withdrawal plan'

'Netanyahu, Trump clash over Syria early withdrawal plan'

The US military policy toward fighting Islamic State militants in Syria remains the same following discussions with President Donald Trump this week and the military has not been given a timeline for withdrawing troops, the Pentagon said on Thursday.

It wasn't the result top national security aides wanted. And, despite the White House's insistence that the group is "almost completely defeated", a string of renewed IS attacks in recent weeks has raised fears about a resurgence.

"Of course there is a military role in this, certainly in the stabilization phase", said General Joseph Votel, the commander of U.S. troops in the Middle East.

American diplomacy failed largely because the United States lacked leverage on the ground and so could not force other parties to bargain honestly or respect agreements.

"I'm not like other administrations, where they say we're going to do this in four weeks and that". And in the longer run, he should be working to separate the Sunni population from al-Qaeda by cultivating Sunni partners in Syria who are allied with the United States against the Salafi-jihadist cause, as well as the growing Iranian-Russian-Assad-Hezbollah alliance. But the speech, while formally approved by the White House, angered Trump, officials said, and the president fired Tillerson last month. So why is Trump now threatening to repeat Obama's mistakes by withdrawing US forces from Syria?

Trump, however, has signaled to his advisers that ideally, he wants all troops out within six months, according to three USA officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss what transpired in a meeting with the president. The Saudi Embassy in Washington did not immediately comment. Obama announced that a 30,000-troop surge in Afghanistan would be followed by a withdrawal in 2011, and followed his predecessor's plan for removing troops from Iraq by the end of that year.

Supporters Greet President Trump at Greenbrier Valley Airport
Ultimately, it will be up to the four border-state governors to finalize the numbers and precise timing. Trump has seized on news reports that the migrant group was traveling toward the U.S.

A top USA general Thursday emphasized that Trump had not set a deadline for withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria, despite his statement to that effect at a campaign rally last week, several tweets, and his comments to the press Tuesday during an appearance with visiting leaders of the three Baltic states.

Russian Federation has been propping up Syrian President Bashar Assad for years, with increasing help from Iranian-backed Shiite militias such as Hezbollah - to the dismay of US allies such as Israel.

Saudi officials have indicated they want the U.S.to stay, Trump said, adding he has told them they may have to foot the bill for the continued operations. The Trump administration drove the Islamic State from its strongholds by working with Kurdish proxies despised by Turkey.

With ISIS at bay, USA efforts among the 2,000 troops in northern and eastern Syria have concentrated on various missions to stabilize areas that were previously under militant control.

Nor is it clear that the USA has capable local partners lined up to handle basic security and prevent a total collapse following a precipitous U.S. pullout - a prospect that offers unsettling echoes of the 2011 United States withdrawal from Iraq.

"In contrast, the security bureaucracies want to hold Syrian territory captured from the Islamic State, use it as a bargaining chip in any peace negotiations, and train Syrian groups to "stabilize" it", he said. And there will be no vigorous administration participation in multilateral diplomacy that is needed to prevent Syria from becoming any more of a cauldron of worldwide conflict than it already is. The Pentagon has warned that the distraction could give IS the reprieve it needs to regroup after four years of being pummeled.

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