On December 21, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis resigned from his position citing differences with President Donald Trump, who claimed that the former United States Marine Corps general has opted to “retire.”
“Because you have a right to a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position,” Mattis said in his resignation letter, which was released by the Pentagon.
Meanwhile Trump said on Twitter: “General Jim Mattis will be retiring, with distinction, at the end of February, after having served my Administration as Secretary of Defense for the past two years.”
In his resignation letter, Mattis stressed the importance of “treating allies with respect” and “being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors.” The former general also said that the U.S. should do everything to maintain an international order that is most conducive to its security, prosperity and values.
Mattis’ words about “treating allies with respect” were seen by many observers as a hint to the recent decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria and abandon the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Several source had reported that the decision was taken against resistance from Mattis.
Mattis is set to leave office on February 28 of 2019. According to Trump, the new Defense Secretary will be named “shortly.”
While the resignation of Mattis will increase the internal pressure on Trump, it will likely also give him more freedom of action on several issues, including the Syrian crisis.