US withdraws from Syria

Just weeks after the regime led by Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, backed by Russia and Iranian militias, had taken control of the Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta, and within a few days of the Turks, thanks to an understanding with Russia, seizing control of the northern city of Afrin, US President Donald Trump declared that the US would withdraw its forces from Syria and let “others” deal with the situation.

His announcement on 28 March gave the impression that Washington has decided not only to abandon the Syrian opposition to the combined forces of the Syrian regime, Russia and Iran, but that it has also decided to abandon its own strategic interests in the Middle East.

Much of the US government seemed as confused as everyone else by the announcement. The US State Department acknowledged that it had had no prior knowledge of what Trump had said. His remarks also came only a few weeks after former US secretary of State Rex Tillerson had unveiled the US’s new strategy for Syria, in which US forces figured prominently for the foreseeable future.

The confusing and contradictory messages from Washington came a few hours after the Russian Defence Ministry had affirmed that the Pentagon had deployed heavy military hardware at the Al-Tanf military base in southeastern Syria. Trump’s announcement was also only days after the US had brought together representatives of key states in the region for an urgent meeting on Syria in Jordan.

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Source: Al Ahram Weekly

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