US President Donald Trump’s order this week to withdraw American troops from Syria is long overdue. American forces have been in the Arab country for at least four years. They have been there illegally, present without any international mandate. Not with the permission of the Syrian government, nor with the sanction of the UN Security Council.
American troops in Syria are therefore an illegal occupying force, violating the sovereignty of Syria and international law. Washington claims its soldiers and air force are in the country to combat jihadist terror groups. That claim is risible given the ample evidence that Washington has been covertly supporting the same jihadist groups it is supposed to be fighting. Thousands of Syrian civilians have been killed by American forces in what amounts to countless war crimes.
President Trump declared “an historic defeat” of the terror groups was the reason for his order to withdraw US troops. Trump with his typical braggadocio is claiming a “victory”. That is so utterly misplaced. His self-righteous words are a travesty and an insult to international norms of law and morality.
The military forces that really brought an end to the terror groups were those of the Syrian army, Russia and Syria’s others allies, Iran and Hezbollah. Trump’s self-congratulations are grotesquely way off the mark. The terror proxies that wreaked havoc and horror in Syria for nearly eight years were enabled, armed and directed by the US and its NATO and regional client regimes.
Still, it is to be cautiously welcomed that Trump has called it a day for American forces in Syria. With American withdrawal, there is now more chance of a political settlement being found for the war-torn country. But Washington deserves no thanks for its belated troop withdrawal. In a sane world, Washington should one day face justice for its barbaric crimes in Syria.
Whether US troops actually do vacate Syria remains to be seen. Media reports say the Pentagon plans to pull out nearly 2,000 US troops within the next month.
Russian President Vladimir Putin in his annual international press conference this week gave a cautious welcome to Trump’s announcement. Putin noted, however, that Trump has made a similar call earlier this year only for that to be overturned by the Pentagon. Putin also noted that Washington has been talking about removing troops from Afghanistan, yet the Central Asian country continues to be occupied by US troops more than 17 years after Trump’s predecessor GW Bush ordered an invasion in 2001.
So, it remains to be seen if Trump’s announcement this week regarding Syria is just a political stunt to placate his domestic base. During his 2016 election campaign, Trump promised to bring the troops home. His withdrawal plan this week could therefore be a disingenuous Christmas “good news story” for his political base, which in the coming weeks may be quietly abandoned.
There are sound reasons to be skeptical about Trump’s withdrawal plan from Syria. Only a few months ago, his national security advisor, John Bolton, was saying that US forces would stay in Syria for as long as Iranian troops were present there. Notwithstanding that Iran forces are present in Syria legally at the request of President Bashar al Assad’s government, as are Russian forces.
It’s not clear if Trump is just acting on his own whim or if there is a significant strategic decision in Washington to retreat from its regime-change machinations in Syria.
One thing seems clear though. Washington’s would-be withdrawal from Syria has nothing to do with its supposed defeat of terror groups. How could that be when Washington has for eight years worked assiduously and covertly to foment these same terror entities for regime change?
Washington’s putative withdrawal from Syria, if anything, is due to its realization of defeat for its regime-change operation. The Syrian army, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah deserve the laurels for heroically defeating the terrorist jihadist proxies whom Washington deployed to Syria for regime change. Salute too to the brave Syrian people for their amazing steadfastness in the face of horrific assault.
It is laughably ironic that US politicians, Britain and France are criticizing Trump this week, saying that “the terrorists are not yet defeated”. When it was these powers, plus Saudi Arabia, other Gulf states, Israel and Turkey which created, armed and supported the terror groups for the purpose of destroying Syria.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova is correct in saying that US military pullout from Syria is potentially a positive move towards political settlement to the war in that country.
Russia, Iran and Turkey (belatedly) have been working diplomatically to bring about such a political settlement. Logically, with one less military player in Syria – the US – that lends towards a possible resolution of conflict. If, that is, Trump’s order is actually carried through. That’s a big “if”.
There is, however, concern that US withdrawal might spur Turkey to intensify its military involvement in Syria against Kurdish militants which the US has been protecting up to now. We may expect that Russia and Iran will act to prevent any such adventurism by Ankara.
All in all, US planned withdrawal from Syria is viewed as a good thing. It’s about time that Washington removed its illegal presence in the Arab country, and thereby permitting the country to restore the peace that it was so criminally denied for the past eight years.
Yes, Trump’s decision this week is to be welcomed, but it’s long overdue. Criminally long overdue.
Trump’s typical bravado about “winning the war” is contemptible. In reality, Syria stands as an historic defeat for US imperialism.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.