Former US National Security Adviser John Bolton’s book “The Room Where It Happened,” is stirring some controversy, regarding US President Donald Trump’s views and conduct in regard to Syria.
In the book, Bolton describes himself as a sort of “fireman” who puts out fires caused by an erratic and irrational president in the lead up to the withdrawal of US troops from northeast Syria in October 2019.
“It is difﬁcult beyond description to pursue a complex policy in a contentious part of the world when the policy is subject to instant modiﬁcation based on the boss’s perception of how inaccurate and often-already-outdated information is reported by writers who don’t have the Administration’s best interests at heart in the ﬁrst place,” Bolton describes in chapter seven. “It was like making and executing policy inside a pinball machine, not the West Wing of the White House.”
In Bolton’s own story, he is the architect of a policy strategy that tried, and ultimately failed, to maintain the US as a key player in Syria.
Bolton, for his own part, also viewed the US alliance with the SDF as a “strategic partnership” and little more.
“Why we were affiliated with one terrorist group in order to destroy another stemmed from Obama’s failure to see Iran was a much more serious threat, now and in the future. Many parties to this conflict opposed ISIS […] Tehran, however, unlike Obama, was also focusing on the next way, the one after ISIS was defeated,” he wrote.
“It was complicated, but what was not complicated was the strong sense of loyalty to Kurds who had fought with us against ISIS, and fear that abandoning them was not only disloyal but would have severely adverse consequences for any future effort to recruit allies who might later be seen as expendable,” Bolton added.
Notably, Bolton explained that former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, a “warrior-scholar” was quite poor at debates, and in negotiations between Trump and his aides he had little success.
“All these negotiations about our role in Syria were complicated by Trump’s constant desire to call Assad on US hostages, which Pompeo and I thought undesirable. Fortunately, Syria saved Trump from himself, refusing even to talk to Pompeo about them.”
And when US President Donald Trump was told this by Pompeo, he angrily retorted:
“You tell [them] he will get hit hard if they don’t give us our hostages back, so fucking hard. You tell him that. We want them back within one week of today, or they will never forget how hard we’ll hit them.”
That, fortunately, according to Bolton took the Trump-Assad call off the table, but no actions on striking Syria regarding these hostages were ever carried out.
There’s very little information about US hostages in Syria, some of them were being held by ISIS, back around 2014.
The 2014 rescue mission in Syria was an American led effort to locate and rescue hostages being held by ISIS forces.
Plans to rescue the hostages were accelerated after the execution of journalist James Foley, Steven Sotloff, and Kayla Mueller by ISIS militants. A total of 14 hostages were held hostage by the ISIS at an undisclosed location. No soldiers were killed, and none of the hostages were found.
Currently, as of May 2020, the CIA pledged to ramp up efforts to learn where Austin Tice, a former Marine is located, allegedly somewhere in Syria.
Back in 2019, the Washington Post also reported that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must release all US hostages.
“There are “around half a dozen” American citizens missing in Syria and suspected to be held by the Assad regime, according to a senior administration official, who requested anonymity to discuss sensitive matters. One is journalist Austin Tice, missing since 2012; the U.S. government has said publicly it believes the Assad regime is holding Tice. The other known cases are Syrian Americans, none of whom the regime has acknowledged detaining, the official said.”
“There are a number of Syrian American dual citizens that went missing in regime-held areas that the U.S. government is tracking and we are engaging with diplomatic partners in an effort to secure their safe return from Syria,” the official said.”
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