US President Donald Trump has triggered a shitstorm in the mainstream media with a series of statements on a possible US troops withdrawal from Syria.
On April 3, Trump said that Saudi Arabia might have to pay if it wants continuing US troops presence in Syria.
“We’ve almost completed that task [of defeating ISIL] and we’ll be making a determination very quickly, in coordination with others in the area, as to what we’ll do,” the US president said during a White House press conference with leaders from three Baltic nations. The president also underlined: “Saudi Arabia is very interested in our decision, and I said, ‘Well, you know, you want us to stay, maybe you’re going to have to pay”.
On April 2, Trump spoke by the phone with the King of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. The leaders discussed a range of regional issues, including a peace plan between Israelis and Palestinians and opportunities of strengthening the strategic partnership between the USA and Saudi Arabia.
However, the White House statement on April 2 didn’t mark any discussion about Saudi Arabia’s boosting funding for US military efforts in Syria.
Additionally, a White House readout on March 20 of Trump meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman didn’t mention US military efforts in the region.
Trump’s claims contradict the rhetoric on Syria from other US top officials. The Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and then Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have repeatedly assured an enduring presence in Syria.
Furthermore on April 3, Army Gen. Joseph Votel, the US Central Command chief who oversees military operations in the Middle East, and Brett McGurk, the State Department’s envoy to the anti-ISIS coalition, made remarks in support ot the US military presence saying that much work remained for US forces in the war-torn country.
But Trump reasserted his willing to end US presence in the region, after he made similar statements in Ohio on March 29:
“I want to get out. I want to bring our troops back home. I want to start rebuilding our nation.”
“We do a lot of things in this country, we do them for a lot of reasons, but it is very costly for our country, and it helps other countries a hell of a lot more than it helps us.”
At the same day, the US president also stated against ongoing US intervention in the Middle East and its increasing value:
“Think of it, $7 trillion over a 17-year period. We have nothing. Nothing except death and destruction. It’s a horrible thing. So it is time. It is time.”
“We were very successful against ISIL. We’ll be successful against anybody militarily. But sometimes it is time to come back home. And we’re thinking about that very seriously.”
On April 4, the Washington Post reported citing a senior administration official that Trump had allegedly instructed military leaders to prepare to withdraw US troops from Syria, but had set no date for them to do so.
“In a meeting with top national security officials Tuesday, Trump stressed that U.S. troops can be involved in current training tasks for local forces to ensure security in areas liberated from the Islamic State, the official said.
But the president said that the U.S. mission would not extend beyond the destruction of the Islamic State, and that he expects other countries, particularly wealthy Arab states in the region, to pick up the task of paying for reconstruction of stabilized areas, including sending their own troops, if necessary,” the Washington Post’s article reads.
The uncertainty over the troops withdrawal issue shows the present-day chaos in Washington when the president, administration and defense officials as well as other key figures often act on their own and have no shared stance and strategy on the key issues of the US internal and foreign policies.