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article imageOp-Ed: US officials claim US will not leave Syria any time soon

By Ken Hanly     Dec 12, 2019 in Politics
Mark Esper, US Secretary of Defenses and General Mark Milley testified to the US House Armed Services Committee that the US will continue to have troops in Syria for many years. They claimed it was hard to foresee all US forces withdrawing anytime soon.
US troops needed to combat ISIS
Both officials claimed that the US troops were needed to combat the threat of iSIS, the Islamic State. They claimed that it would be a long time before regional forces in Syria would be able to fight ISIS on their own. ISIS seems mostly defeated. The two did not specify what regional forces they are referring to but presumably it is the Kurds. The US withdrew from parts of Syria near the Turkish border giving the green light in effect for Turkey to occupy the safe zone along the border. The US troops are becoming more and more centered in a diminishing area.
Trump claims he moved troops to guard oil area
The Pentagon and other officials conflict with Trump's narrative about why US troops are staying in Syria. An article on November 13 reports: " President Donald Trump declared Wednesday that the U.S. mission in Syria is focused solely on protecting oil fields, which appears to contradict the Pentagon's contention that fighting ISIS is the priority."We're keeping the oil, we have the oil, the oil is secure, we left troops behind only for the oil," Trump told reporters during a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdo─čan at the White House."
Neither Esper nor the general mention oil only the threat of ISIS. Trump has long insisted that ISIS has been defeated, However Pentagon officials insist that ISIS is a continuing threat.
In contrast as a recent article points out: "President Trump now insists that the US war in Syria is exclusively about oil, and the only reason US troops are in Syria is to take Syrian oil with the help of US oil companies to be named later. President Trump has repeatedly reiterated this stance, despite military officials trying to make the war about something else."
Perhaps the time has come for complete withdrawal
As the Wall Street Journal notes, Trump made a campaign promise during his campaign for president that he would withdraw troops from Syria. However, many military officials are against this. Trump has given in but at the same time is providing an alternative justification for staying that is not sitting well with many officials.
It seems that the Pentagon narrative of the great danger of an ISIS comeback is not that convincing. No evidence is provided for it. On the other hand, Trump's rationale makes the US look very bad and there seems no legal basis for the US claiming Syrian oil. No large oil company has jumped at the opportunity Trump appears to be offering them. No doubt they think the legal risks are too great, Perhaps it is time for Trump to finally fully carry out his campaign promise to withdraw all US troops from Syria,
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about US Syrian relations, Mark Esper, Donald trump
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