US Withdrawal Announcement Continues to Reverberate in the Middle East

Brett McGurk left at the Pentagon in May 2017

The announcement of US President Donald Trump to withdraw his troops from Syria at the instigation of Turkish Present Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has rattled global allies, and runs the risk of further empowering an autocrat that already has an outsized influence on the Balkan region.

A top U.S. envoy leading a global coalition fighting Islamic State has quit over President Donald Trump's decision this week to pull USA troops out of Syria, a source familiar with the matter said on Saturday (Dec 22).

US President Donald Trump stunned the US political establishment, US allies, and the world last week when he chose to pull 2,000 troops from Syria just days after his Turkish counterpart warned Ankara would soon launch a new operation in the country's north.

The two leaders reportedly agree to coordinate to prevent an authority vacuum from developing as the withdrawal process begins.

"We have asked our partners to take greater responsibility for securing their home region, including contributing large amounts of money for the resources, equipment, and all of the anti-[IS] effort", Trump said in April after ordering military strikes against Syrian government targets.

TRT said the additional troops and military vehicles were sent to reinforce areas that were already in Turkey's sphere of influence thanks to a previous military operation called the Euphrates Shield.

Jarabulus and Al-Bab were areas captured from IS during Ankara's first military operation in August 2016 which lasted until March 2017.

Lindsey Graham, one of several top Republicans who panned Trump's move, the official said critics were entitled to their opinions.

"Saudi Arabia has now agreed to spend the necessary money needed to help rebuild Syria, instead of the United States", Trump said via Twitter.

Amid open concern about the Syria pullout from allies including France and Germany, Trump tweeted in all capital letters: "AMERICA IS RESPECTED AGAIN!"

On American ABC television, Mulvaney said Mattis and Trump "just could never get on the same page" on Syria, adding that Trump would not change his mind.

He added the troop withdrawal endangers Kurdish fighters, who were instrumental in the US-led coalition's fight against Isil militants. "An ally should be reliable, co-ordinate with other allies".

Turkey has long criticized the USA for training and arming the YPG, which it says is linked to domestic terrorists it has fought for more than three decades.

Turkey's official Anadolu news agency reported that a Turkish military convoy with howitzers and artillery batteries as well as different units of armed forces has been deployed to the border district of Elbeyli in the south-central Turkish province of Kilis on Monday. In recent weeks Turkey had said the US was dragging its feet in implementing the deal and had vowed to launch a new offensive against the Kurds.

In turn, Trump explained his decision by saying that the mission in the country has been accomplished and the Daesh terrorist group has been defeated.

Hammoud said there is "no alternative" except Turkish forces and allied Syrian fighters.


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