President Trump made a surprising statement in his speech about Syria before a group of listeners at an Ohio Union training site.
Pres. Trump: "We'll be coming out of Syria very soon. Let the other people take care of it now…We're going to have 100% of the caliphate, as they call it —sometimes referred to as land. We're taking it all back." pic.twitter.com/N9cPYkS6pk
— Evan McMurry (@evanmcmurry) March 29, 2018
“We’re there for one reason: to get ISIS and get rid of ISIS, and to go home… We’re not there for any other reason and we’ve largely accomplished our goal.”
If we can take these remarks at their word, it suggests that President Trump has his own mind about what to do in Syria and that, despite the American foreign policy stance that has been hammered for years, maybe this president is not going to allow American forces to get bogged down in something that just is not going to fly.
As of December of 2017, some 1800 US troops are serving in Syrian territory. They are there in contravention of international law, and were never invited by the Syrian regime. Only forces of the Russian Federation are invited to help support the Assad government and to defeat ISIS in the region.
Trump’s remarks with the Australian PM still featured a rather severe criticism of the handling of the humanitarian matters in Syria, and he pointed blame at Russia and Iran for this, but again, he was very clear that the US business in Syria is ISIS, and when that is over, he plans to remove the American forces.
This is an interesting situation because the positions taken by both former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and US Envoy to the UN Nikki Haley have both made pointed reference to the removal of Bashir al-Assad as Syria’s leader, by fair means (Tillerson) or by any presumable means (Haley).
Since Mr. Tillerson is gone, and since some of the reason for that was in several incidents of very different points of view on issues like this, it may be that we are seeing a more confident President Trump, who is subtly changing the narrative as he is able. He is the Commander-in-Chief, so in an ideal world, he can set priorities for the military forces of the nation, (even though war declarations, per se, come through Congress.)
It is early to assume that there really is a policy change in the air, but this has happened twice, so it is worth note.