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Trump Pulls Troops Out of Syria in Desperate Attempt to Save His Presidency, Causing Geopolitical Earthquake

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Written by Federico Pieraccini; Originally appeared on strategic-culture.org

On December 19, Donald Trump announced in a Twitter message: “Our boys, our young women, our men, they’re all coming back and they’re coming back now. We won”. Shortly thereafter, Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said in a statement: “We have started the process of returning US troops home from Syria as we transition to the next phase of the campaign”.

The reasons for Donald Trump’s move are many, but they are mainly driven by US domestic concerns. The temperature is heating up for Trump following the midterms, as the Democrats prepare to take command of the House of Representatives in January, something that Trump had always hoped to avert. He surrounded himself with generals, in the forlorn hope that this would somehow protect him. If the last two years of his presidency were constantly under the cloud of Mueller’s investigation, or insinuations of being an agent of Putin, from January 2019 the situation is going to get much more complicated. The Democratic electoral base is baying for the President’s impeachment, the party already in full pre-primary mode, with more than 20 candidates competing, with the incumbent of the White House offering the rallying cry.

Trump Pulls Troops Out of Syria in Desperate Attempt to Save His Presidency, Causing Geopolitical Earthquake

The combination of these factors has forced Trump to change gears, considering that the military-industrial-intelligence-media-complex has always been ready to get rid of Trump, even in favor of a President Pence. The only option available for Trump in order to have a chance of reelection in 2020 is to undertake a self-promotion tour, a practice in which he has few peers, and which will involve him repeating his mantra of “Promises Made, Promises Kept”. He will list how he has fought against the fake-news media, suffered internal sabotage, as well as other efforts (from the Fed, the FBI, and Mueller himself) to hamper his efforts to “Make America Great Again”.

Trump has perhaps understood that in order to be re-elected, he must pursue a simple media strategy that will have a direct impact on his base. Withdrawing US troops from Syria, and partly from Afghanistan, serves this purpose. It is an easy way to win with his constituents, while it is a heavy blow to his fiercest critics in Washington who are against this decision. Given that 70% of Americans think that the war in Afghanistan was a mistake, the more that the mainstream media attacks Trump for his decision to withdraw, the more they direct votes to Trump. In this sense, Trump’s move seems to be directed at a domestic rather than an international audience.

The decision to get out of Syria is timed to coincide with another move that will also very much please Trump’s base. The government shutdown is a result of the Democrats refusing to fund Trump’s campaign promise to build a wall on the Mexican border. It is not difficult to understand that the average citizen is fed up with the useless wars in the Middle East, and Trump’s words on immigration resonate with his voters. The more the media, the Democrats and the deep state criticize Trump on the wall, on the Syria pull out and on shutting down the government, the more they are campaigning for him.

This is why in order to understand the withdrawal of the United States from Syria it is necessary to see things from Trump’s perspective, even as frustrating, confusing and incomprehensible that may seem at times.

The difference this time around was that the decision to withdraw US troops from Syria was Trump’s alone, not something imposed on him by the generals that surround him. The choice to announce to his base, via Twitter, a victory against ISIS and the immediate withdrawal of US troops was a smart election move with an eye on the 2020 election.

It is possible that Trump, as is his wont, also wanted to send a message to his alleged French and British allies present in the northeast of Syria alongside the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and US soldiers. Trump may be now taunting: “Let’s see what you can do without the US!”

It is as if Trump is admonishing these countries in a more concrete way for not lifting their weight in terms of military spending. Trump is vindictive and is not averse, after taking advantage of his opponent, to kicking him once he is down. Trump could be correct in this regard, and maybe French and British forces will be forced to withdraw their small group of 400 to 500 illegal occupiers of Syrian territory. Macron has for now reacted angrily at Trump’s decision, intensifying the division between the two, and is adamant that the French military presence in Syria will continue.

There is also a more refined reason to justify the US withdrawal, even if Trump is probably unaware of it. The problem in these cases is always trying to peer through the fog of war and propaganda in order to discern the clear, unadulterated truth.

We should begin by listing the winners and losers of the Syrian conflict. Damascus, Moscow, Tehran and Hezbollah have won the war against aggression. Riyadh, Doha, Paris, London, Tel Aviv and Washington, with their al Qaeda, Daesh and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist proxies, failed to destroy Syria, and following seven years of effort, are forced to scurry away in defeat.

Those who are walking a tightrope between war and defeat are Ankara and the so-called SDF. The withdrawal of the United States has confirmed the balance on the ledger of winners and losers, with the clock counting down for Erdogan and the SDF to make their next determinative move.

The enemies of Syria survive thanks to repeated bluffs. The Americans of the military-industrial-intelligence apparatus maintain the pretence that they still have an influence in Syria, what with troops on the ground, attacking Trump for withdrawing. In fact, since the Russians have imposed a no-fly-zone across the country, with the S-300 systems and other sophisticated equipment that integrate the Syrian air-defenses into the Russian air defenses, US coalition planes are for all intents and purposes grounded, and the same goes for the Israelis.

Of course the French and British in Syria are infected with the same delusional disease, choosing to believe that they can count for something without the US presence. We will see in the near future whether they also withdraw their illegal presence from Syria.

The biggest bluff of all probably comes from Erdogan, who for months threatened to invade Syria to fight ISIS, the Kurds, or any other plausible excuse to invade a sovereign country for the purposes of advancing his dreams of expanding Turkish territory as far as Idlib (which Erdogan considers a province of Turkey). Such an invasion, however, is unlikely to happen, as it would unite the SDF, Damascus and her allies to reject the Turkish advance on Syrian territory.

The Kurds in turn seem to have only one option left, namely, a forced negotiation with Damascus to give back to the Syrian people, in exchange for protection, the control of their territory that is rich in oil and gas.

Erdogan wants to eliminate the SDF, and until now, the only thing that stood in his way was the US military presence. He even threatened to attack several times, even in spite of the presence of US troops. Ankara has long been on a collision course with NATO countries on account of this. By removing US troops, Trump imagines, relations between Turkey and the US may also improve. This of course is of little interest to the US deep state, since Erdogan, like Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), is considered unsuitable, and is accordingly branded a “dictator”.

Trump probably believes that with this move, as with his defense of MBS concerning Khashoggi, that he can try and establish a strong personal friendship with Erdogan. There are even talks about the sale of Patriot systems to the Turks and the extradition of Gulen.

When Will They Leave, and Cui Prodest?

It remains to be confirmed when and to what extent US troops will leave Syria. If the US had no voice in the future in Syria, with 2,000 men on the ground, now it has even less. Leaving behind 200 to 300 special forces and CIA operatives, together with another 400 to 500 French and British personnel, will, once they are captured with their Daesh and al Qaeda friends, be an excellent bargaining chip for Damascus, as they were in Aleppo.

The military-industrial-intelligence-media complex considers Trump’s decision the worst of of all possible moves. Mattis even resigned on account of this. The presence of US troops in Syria allowed the foreign-policy establishment to continue to formulate plans (and spend money to pay a lot of people in Washington) based on the delusion that they are doing something in Syria to change the course of events. For Israel, it is a double disaster, with Netanyahu desperate to survive, seeking to factor in expected elections in a now-or-never political move. Trump probably understands that Bibi is done for, and that at this point, the withdrawal of troops, fulfilling a fundamental electoral promise, counts more than Israeli money and his friendship to Bibi.

Erdogan has two options before him. On the one hand, he can act against the Kurds. On the other hand, he can sit down at the negotiating table with Damascus and the SDF, in an Astana format, guided by Iran and Russia. Putin and Rouhani are certainly pushing for this solution. Trump, on the other hand, would like to see Turkey enter Syria in the place of US forces, to demonstrate he concluded a win-win deal for everyone, beating the deep-state at their own game.

Erdogan does not really have the military force necessary to enter Syria, which is the big secret. He would be against both the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and the SDF, though the two not necessarily in an alliance.

There is a triple bluff going on, and this is what is complicating the situation so much. On the one hand, the SDF is bluffing in not wanting help from Damascus in case Erdogan sends in his forces; on the other hand, Erdogan is bluffing in suggesting he is able to conquer the territory held by the SDF; and finally, the French and British are bluffing by telling the SDF they will be able to help them against both Erdogan and/or Assad.

Iran, Russia, Syria are the only ones who do not need to bluff, because they occupy the best position – the commanding heights. They view Trump’s decisions and his allies with distrust. They know very well that these are mostly moves for internal consumption by the enemies of Syria.

If the US withdraws, there is so much to be gained. The priority then becomes the west of Syria, sealing the borders with Jordan, removing the pockets of terrorists from the east, and securing the al-Tanf crossing. If the SDF will request protection from Damascus and will be willing to participate in the liberation of the country and its reconstruction, Erdogan will be done for, and this could lead to the total liberation of Idlib. It would be the best possible outcome, an important national reconciliation between two important parts of the population. It would give Damascus new economic impetus and prepare the Syrian people to expel the remaining invaders (ISIS and the FSA/ Turkish Armed Forces) from the country, both in Idlib and in the northeast in Afrin.

Russia is aware of the risk that Erdogan is running with the choices he will take in the coming days. Perhaps the reason why Putin chose diplomacy over war with Turkey after the downing of a Russian Su-24 in 2015 was in order to arrive at this precise moment, with as many elements as possible present to convince Erdogan to stick with Russia and Iran instead of embracing Trump’s strategy and putting himself on an open collision course with Damascus, Moscow and Tehran.

Putin has always been five moves ahead. He is aware that the US could not stay long in Syria. He knows that France and the UK cannot support the SDF, and that the SDF cannot hold territory it holds in Syria without an agreement with Damascus. He is also conscious that Turkey does not have the strength to enter Syria and hold the territory if it did. It would only be able justify an advance on Idlib with the support of the Russian Air Force.

Putin has certainly made it clear to Erdogan that if he made such a move to attack the SDF and enter Syria, Russia in turn would militarily support the SAA with its air force to free Idlib; and in case of incidents with Turkey, the Russian armed forces would respond with all the interest earned from the unrequited downing of the Su-24 in 2015.

Erdogan has no choice. He must find an agreement with Damascus, and this is why he found himself commenting on Trump’s words the following day, criticizing US sanctions on Iran in the presence of Iranian president Rouhani. The SDF know that they are between a rock and a hard place, and have already sent a delegation to start negotiations with Damascus.

Trump’s move was driven by US domestic politics and aimed at the 2020 elections. But in doing so, Trump inevitably called out once and for all the bluffs built by Syria’s enemies, infuriating in the process the neoliberal imperialist establishment, revealing how each of these factions has no more cards to play and is in actual fact destined for defeat.

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  • RichardD

    There haven’t been any reports of the S-300s having been used. The question that needs to be asked is why? The Russian plane was taken down over 3 months ago. And the S-300s were deployed soon after. So Russia and Syria have had 3 months to prepare for an attack like this. The Jews clearly set this up to denigrate Russia and the Syrian government coalition. With the result of making Russia’s much publicized upgrade of Syria’s air defense capabilities look completely ineffective with the IAF planes that carried out this attack getting away completely unscathed. And it isn’t the first time. There was a similar attack recently.

    This inability of Russian equipment to deal effectively with the IAF is going to give a big boast to Trump’s criminally insane Jew neocon masters. If this isn’t corrected. They’re only to become more aggressive against Russia and China elsewhere. This failure of Russian strategy and equipment to negate the IAF is a national security threat for Russia, China and anyone else using Russian equipment for national security.

  • RichardD

    It shouldn’t be surprising that an evil pedophile mass cult like Judaism reportedly used civilian airliners as human shields on Christmas day to carry out attacks. Which is a war crime from the sounds of it. It’s unfortunate that all of these IAF planes got away without interdiction. But it’s understandable that there was a delayed reaction to avoid a friendly fire tragedy. Under the circumstances intercepting 14 out of 16 bombs saved a lot of casualties and destruction.

    But the IAF planes could have been targeted once they were clear of the friendlies, and from some reports it looks like they were. Why they weren’t hit isn’t clear. Upgrading the Syrian air force would provide additional options beyond S-300s, so would upgrading Syria’s Buk Mk IIs and importing Buk Mk IIIs which are said to have capabilities between the S-300 and S-400 systems.

    Now that the rules of engagement have changed. Managing the IAF threat outside of Syrian airspace needs to be brought to a higher level of effectiveness to mitigate it more successfully so that it can be fully suppressed. Because right now, little has changed with the end result being not much different from before the SADF upgrade and expansion of the rules of engagement to include areas outside of Syrian territory. Which looks bad for Russia and Russian equipment.

    Granted, the baby rapers violated international law from the sounds of it. But it should be clear by now that that’s a possibility given their long record of similar behavior. At best this was a draw with almost all of their ordnance being destroyed before hitting it’s target. But many people are going to look at this as a Russian failure with the Jews thumbing their noses at the Syrian government coalition and Russian military capabilities on their way to raping some more children at their blood sucking rituals.

  • RichardD

    I agree with the article. The problem is that the Jews just mitigated much of the effect of the US withdrawal by their underhanded sneak attack on Christmas day. And it’s effect of showing the world that Russian equipment is powerless against the IAF. And that the much vaunted Russian upgrade of Syrian air defense capabilities had zero effect on the IAF being able to attack Syria with impunity. And that Russian equipment is useless against their Jew world order NATO equipment.

    If this isn’t corrected and either IAF planes start falling from the sky, or the baby rapers stop attacking completely. Not only is NATO likely to get more aggressive on Russia’s, China’s and anyone else’s borders who use Russian equipment now that Russian conventional equipment is shown to be incapable of defending Russia against NATO equipment. But it also risks derailing the US withdrawal from Syria. Which would be a double loss for the Syrian government coalition.

    • jorge

      Richard, your idea of “now that Russian conventional equipment is shown to be incapable of defending Russia against NATO equipment”, don’t correspond with the facts, unless you will defend that the use as cover of civil airplanes are now the great Nato’s strategical arm…against S200 and old thigs like that…

      About the article, I also agree with the it.

      • RichardD

        “SouthFront reported that Syrian air defenses downed unidentified aerial objects south of Damascus – Russian-supplied S-300s not used. They’re not expected to be operational until around end of December.”

        – Syria Thwarts Israeli Air Attacks? –

        http://www.pravdareport.com/news/hotspots/06-12-2018/142086-syria_thwarts_israel-0/

        “Russia has blamed Israel for the incident and, in response, improved Syria’s air defense network and shipped newer S-300 systems reportedly set to become operational in the hands of the Syrian military by January.”

        – RUSSIA’S AIR DEFENSE ‘WILL INCREASE THE THREAT’ TO U.S. FORCES IN SYRIA, LEADING GENERAL SAYS –

        https://www.newsweek.com/russia-air-defense-threat-us-syria-leading-general-1245651

      • RichardD

        It looks to me like the modernized S-300, with 2,000 launchers, is still the back bone of the Russian surface to air missile force:

        “Russia – All variations. (1900 (S-300PT/PS/PMU, 200 S-300V/S-300V1 in 2010 year)),[121] 2000 in total launchers.[122] All production in 1994 (actually 1990) or older, all the complexes S-300PM have been repairing and upgrading (Favorite-S).[123] S-300P/PT have been retired before 2008, some S-300PS in service, but were to be retired in 2012–2013.
        Modernization of all units of the version S-300P to the version S-300PM1 was to end in 2014. Resource of each taken increased by 5 years. PM 1 continued to version PM 2.[124] By 2015 S-300V4 was to have been delivered. Modernization of all S-300V to the version S-300V4 was to end in 2012.”

        – Operators –

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S-300_missile_system#Operators_and_other_versions

        What the Jews are saying with their attacks, is that Russia’s integrated air defense is in large part a feckless paper tiger that is easily violated. Whether that’s the case or not, won’t be known until the S-300s miss their targets. But Russia saying that they’re capable of protecting Syria, and then failing to do that is a big problem for Russia, it’s military, allies and defense contractors.

    • Brother Ma

      I agree. It looks bad that the Russian upgrades did not bring down a plane or two. I don’t care if they hid in Lebanon or not. The Sams should have brought down some Israeli planes in Lebanon if needs be. I don’t think Lebanon would be too worried actually.

      • RichardD

        As long as no civilians were hit, they’d probably welcome it. And there’s nothing preventing them from targeting the returning IAF planes in Israeli airspace. Which kills two birds with one stone. It doesn’t jeopardize Lebanese civilians and infrastructure, but punishes the Jews from misusing it anyways.

        • Brother Ma

          Yes. SyroRussians should have brought them down returning over Israeli airspace. Did not Syrorussians say “an airport for an airport”?

          • RichardD

            Exactly.

            As long as one gets hit, the airport can wait a little without damaging credibility to much. But when taken in conjunction with the non use of the S-300s or anything else that could have gotten the job done. It’s a serious problem that is going to fuel the anti Russian campaign in the US and elsewhere. And risks the US withdrawal being rescinded.

    • Jamie9260

      I would bet all the money in your pocket that the Israelis clearly contacted the Russian military using their hotline before any attack the Syrian 3-300 is not running in addition attacks like this more for the home audience since their military value is almost ZERO!, Also regarding the Russians, what I see the big difference between the Russians and the US is that the Russians are a little smarter and think thinks out a little more and tend to not out their foot in their mouth as the US does often: case in point Trumps statements that they defeated ISIS with out mentioning namely Russia who clearly out a much larger hurt on them and changed the whole game!

  • Snowglobe

    “It is possible that Trump, as is his wont, also wanted to send a message to his alleged French and British allies present in the northeast of Syria alongside the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and US soldiers. Trump may be now taunting: “Let’s see what you can do without the US!””

    This seems entirely possible. It was never a secret that he intended to withdraw the US troops out of Syria. He had other countries telling him what he should do, he had the military and the MIC telling him what to do, and in the end, he did exactly what he said that he would do. He will be withdrawing the troops.

    He also made it clear before he was elected, that he would not be like Obama and tell his plans days in advance so that his enemies could be ready. Now we are watching them scurrying around. He is doing exactly what they should have known he was going to do. They just did not know when.

    • bonami

      I agree, Trump won, probably to his surprise. If you watch his election headquarters victory speech the sound track playing initially is, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” And the look of consternation on his face and his wife’s is palatable. So he didn’t have a true team in place when he arrived at the WH and his enemies knew it. The attacks against him escalated and have continued 24/7 since then.

      He turned running the military over to the Generals remember? He gave them more money and free reign. Results? Nothing, no wins, no strategies, nothing. So he stepped in and is shutting down two operations; Iran and Afghanistan. Promise made, promise kept.

      As for his domestic policies they are bearing real fruit, why the Fed has upped rates 7 times in two years is questionable especially as they raised rates once during Obama’s 8 years, keeping the rate at 0 for most of it. That raise and probable market manipulation for remember the Fed tanks the stock market every ten years have hurt his results, and he is right to criticize them.

      But they can’t destroy the fact that he reduced taxes, increased employment, brought back some industry, exited the Global Warming fiasco, renegotiated NAFTA, and is doit is necessary to see things from Trump’s perspective, even as
      frustrating, confusing and incomprehensible that may seem at times.ing his damnest to build a wall. Again, promises made, promises kept.

      The article says, “…it is necessary to see things from Trump’s perspective, even as
      frustrating, confusing and incomprehensible that may seem at times.” I agree it is necessary to see things from his perspective, but I disagree with the rest of the statement. His actions are not confusing and incomprehensible, they are the actions of a man under extraordinary attacks by all areas of govt and media and he is fighting back as best he can with the resources at hand.

      Comes the hour, comes the man. He is the right man for the job of moving the US into a relatively sane political and economic position as the world transitions from unipolar to multipolar and I wish him well. And yes, as the article notes he is a master of the political road show and given the lunacy of the Dems and despite the Dems rigging of the vote, he will win again.

      • Snowglobe

        It is very interesting times that we are living in. Trump has now left Iraq and is on his way to an undisclosed location in Germany.

        Many are guessing that things may be getting interesting in Washington.

  • Dušan Mirić

    He’s hesitation to act according “to his instinct” (Jeffrey Sachs) endangered his presidency. It took too long before it comes to his mind he’s the chief in command, he was elected not some military man or civil servant.

  • Ishyrion Av

    The article is incomplete and inconsistent. While the domestic argument of US retreat from Syria is true and probably well explained, the Syrian theater is much more complex and Trump is not as stupid as it looks (for some people).
    Trump must realized that US cannot win the war in Syria this way. All the facts are showing that in fact this way US is loosing the war. So there is a strategy change.
    Leaving Syria, they leave a power void behind and local actors will fight for filling it. The alliance between Iran and Russia on the one side and Turkey on the other side is tactical only and will be greatly tested when Turkey will have the opportunity to invade eastern Syria under the kurd problem pretext and problem. Pretext because this rich oil region is enormous tempting and problem because Erdogan is afraid of kurds and what they might cause not in Syria but in Turkey (afterall, they are 20% of the population).
    Two things can happen (maybe more, of course).
    First, Erdogan invades Syria (yes, he can) and push the kurds back till he occupy whatever kurds will posses at that time. He can. Kurds will strike a deal with Damascus, but until then, many territories will be lost. And Erdogan will probably start its offensive in the rich oil part, not in Mambij. If he is really smart.
    This will put Turkey on a direct war with Syria and Russia + Iran will have to assist Damascus against Turkey.
    The war will start again in Syria and not only in the east, because while the ex allies will be busy fighting each other, Israel will export terrorism from the western border. And will assist them.
    Depending on many factors this could either be end of Syria or a flame of paper bag, easily extinguished. Turkey is the key here as US and MSM will support officially all its moves. The ability of Russa and Syria and Iran to counter the Turkey without a hot war is another key point.
    Likely, US and Israel are planning for this scenario.
    Second thing that can happen is, under Turkey threat, Damascus will take back all or most of its eastern territory back from kurds, without war. This is unlikely, as kurds are being fooled by US and Israel that they will be supported after the US retreat and that they can fight Turkey. And truth is they cant and they will lose. We already saw this.

    • JanBrzezinski

      Sir Ishyrion, you nailed it!
      At least thats what i think too….

      I believe luring Turkey into a war ist the plan for the ultimate destabilisation of the middle east (the world?) and the destruction of Syria. It will be a hot war and the losers will be all the countries that will join the war (Turkey,Syria,Russia,Iran) and the winners unfortunely the US and the country occuping Palestine.

      • Ishyrion Av

        If the events will move into this direction, as it is highly probable, Russia might be forced to directly attack Turkey to solve the problem. But this is already the start of the ultimate war…

  • Joao Alfaiate

    There is a faulty assumption here and that is that the US public can find Syria on the map and care what happens there. Sure the liberal interventionists, neocons and pro israel folks (much cross over amongst these groups) went crazy when Trump announced withdrawal from Syria, but I doubt removing 2000 guys from Syria moved the political needle very much. Now if Trump were to get out of Iraq and Afghanistan that would be a major boost. I think the public here are sick of endless wars that are perpetuated by lies claiming that success is just around the corner. We’ve been hearing that rubbish about US interventions in the Middle East since 2002 and I’m beginning to wonder if even the MSM and politicians still believe their own lies.