I have been studying the balance of power in the Middle East since 1967. That being said, I believe I have some perspective as to what is in play in the region and how it affects American national security. Trump’s decision by tweet yesterday can only be seen as based on total ignorance(he probably thinks Lebanon is the city in Pennsylvania) and one has to wonder how the Directorate of Dictatorship, Putin, Assad, and Erdogan factor into the move. To say Trump is Putin’s “poodle” goes without saying, but to abandon our Kurdish allies who have fought and died to defeat ISIS is sad and extremely consequential. Historically, we have “screwed/abandoned” the Kurds before be it in dealing with Saddam Hussein or other parties, but because the Turks hate the PKK we have to kowtow to our supposed NATO ally. If any evidence is needed to see how Trump feels about his Turkish bro just look at how General Flynn tried to gain the extradition of Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, who Erdogan blames for the coup against him, to Ankara.
Maybe I am reading too much into this. Perhaps it is Trump being Trump as he tries to remove the Russia probe, the disbanding of his foundation by the state of New York, and the parade of his former associates before the legal system and flipping from the headlines. By pulling troops out of Syria he somewhat removes his domestic legal problems from newspaper bylines as Pentagon officials, foreign policy experts, and even Republicans speak out against his inability to comprehend the needs of US national security. Trump can send two thousand troops to the southern border to meet the non-existent caravans of “drug runners and rapists” (by the way we don’t hear much about this since the midterm elections except when a seven year old girl dies), but we cannot maintain our presence in Syria to prevent a resurgence of ISIS. Trump has declared victory, I seem to remember another American president did the same thing on an air craft carrier a number of years ago.
Who is the winner here – very simple; The Directorate of Dictatorship, and by the way I believe the Iranians are having a chuckle. Who are the losers? American allies, the Kurdish people, and in the long run the American people.
MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin praised President Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, describing the American presence there as illegitimate and the Islamic State as largely defeated on the ground.
Putin told journalists at his annual year-end news conference that the Islamic State has suffered “serious blows” in Syria.
“On this, Donald is right. I agree with him,” Putin said.
Trump said Wednesday that the Islamic State has been defeated in Syria, although analysts say the militant group remains a deadly force. Russia — Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s most powerful ally — turned the tide in the civil war in Assad’s favor and has maintained its military presence there.
Moments after Putin’s statement, Trump tweeted about his decision to withdraw troops. He noted the presence of Russian, Iranian and Syrian forces, also enemies of the Islamic State, and said the United States was doing their work for them.
“Time for others to finally fight,” he said in a follow up tweet.
Putin said the U.S. troop deployment to Syria, by contrast, was illegitimate because neither Assad’s government nor the United Nations had approved the U.S. mission.
“If the United States decided to withdraw its force, then this would be proper,” Putin said.
Russia has been negotiating a political settlement to the civil war in Syria with Assad, neighboring Turkey and Russia’s ally Iran. The presence of U.S. troops was not helpful for achieving such a settlement, Putin said.
He cautioned, however, that Russia was not yet seeing signs of a U.S. troop withdrawal.
“The United States has been in Afghanistan already for 17 years, and almost every year they say they’re withdrawing their troops,” Putin said.
Putin also — again — took Trump’s side in defending his 2016 election victory, which critics say was tainted by Russian interference (which Russia denies). He drew a parallel to Britain, where politicians are in a bitter fight over how to implement the referendum vote in 2016 to exit the European Union.
The result, Putin suggested, was a crisis of democracy across the West. Western officials say that fomenting such a crisis is in fact the goal of Russian propaganda and influence efforts in Europe and the United States.
“People don’t want to acknowledge this victory — isn’t that disrespect for the voters?” Putin said of Trump’s success in the 2016 election. “Or in Britain, Brexit passed and no one wants to implement it. They’re not accepting the results of elections. Democratic procedures are being weakened, they’re being destroyed.”
Putin was tougher on Trump on the issue of arms control. He said there are currently no negotiations with the United States on extending a soon-to-expire nuclear arms control treaty, raising the risk of a situation that would be “very bad for humanity.”
The New START treaty limits the numbers of nuclear warheads deployed by Russia and the United States, and it is set to expire in 2021.
“There are no negotiations on extending it,” Putin said at the wide-ranging news conference. “It’s not interesting or not needed — fine then.”
Putin has long sought to bring the United States to the table on nuclear arms control talks. Analysts say that is in part because it is one of the only international issues on which Moscow and Washington can face each other as equals.
But Trump and his national security adviser, John Bolton, have expressed skepticism of the existing arms control architecture. Trump has already announced plans to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which bans the United States and Russia from having missiles with a range between 300 and 3,500 miles.
With the likely demise of the INF Treaty, New START would be the last major agreement limiting the world’s two biggest nuclear arsenals. If New START expires, “we will ensure our security,” Putin said. “We know how to do it. But this is very bad for humanity because it leads us to a very dangerous line.”