SEVERE WX : Flood Warning View Alerts

Trump administration attempts to soothe allies' worries over Syria troop withdrawal

The State Department, Department of Defense and national security adviser John Bolton all issued public stat...

Posted: Dec 31, 2018 10:37 AM
Updated: Dec 31, 2018 10:37 AM

The State Department, Department of Defense and national security adviser John Bolton all issued public statements Friday that collectively outlined a road map for implementing President Donald Trump's decision to pull US troops out of Syria, a move the President has adamantly defended after more than a week of criticism and signs of conflict within the administration's highest levels.

Over the course of just a few hours, both agencies and the White House national security adviser all released individual statements suggesting the administration is taking steps to initiate the complete withdrawal of 2,000 US troops from Syria despite a whirlwind of controversy. Trump's announcement more than a week ago blindsided allies in the region and sparked a controversy that culminated in the resignation of Defense Secretary James Mattis.

Armed forces

Continents and regions

Defense departments

Donald Trump

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices

Government departments and authorities

International relations and national security

John Bolton

Middle East

Middle East and North Africa

Military

Military operations

National security

North America

Political Figures - US

Politics

Syria

Syria conflict

The Americas

United States

Unrest, conflicts and war

US federal government

White House

ISIS

Minority and ethnic groups

Misc organizations

Society

The Kurds

Israel

Government organizations - US

US Department of State

US federal departments and agencies

While there is little evidence to suggest that the statements were coordinated, the flurry of activity amounted to a public push by the administration to present the image of a unified front amid indications that Trump ignored the advice of his top military and national security officials.

The wave of public comments also came as the power dynamic on the ground in Syria appears to already be changing as US-backed groups in the region brace for the impact of a US withdrawal, a decision Trump has justified by citing the destruction of ISIS -- a claim that US officials have repeatedly seemed to contradict.

Earlier Friday, a US-backed Syrian Kurdish militia issued a statement inviting the Syrian government to retake control of an area in northern Syria from which they have withdrawn to protect it against what they described as a future "Turkish invasion."

In what amounts to a case of "my enemy's enemy is my friend" or one could say, a case of the lesser evil, the Kurdish militia's move to engage with the Syrian regime after years of fighting reflects a major shift in strategic priorities set off by Trump's announcement.

Responding to the news, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham warned that the Kurdish militia's alignment with the Syrian regime is a "disaster in the making" as "new conflicts between regional powers" takes the pressure off ISIS.

"Nightmare for Turkey and eventually Israel. Big winners are Russia, Iran/Assad and ISIS," he tweeted.

CNN has previously reported that Trump's decision caught allies in the region off guard, but Friday's statements from State, Defense and Bolton insisted that the administration is already working with key partners to coordinate a safe withdrawal of US troops and an effective hand off of security responsibilities.

Hours after the statement from the Kurdish militia surfaced, Bolton tweeted that he plans to travel to Israel and Turkey in next month to address the "next phase of the fight against ISIS, as the US begins to bring troops home from Syria," an announcement that was seemingly intended to reassure critics like Graham.

"Looking forward to visiting Israel & Turkey in January. We will discuss our continued work confronting security challenges facing allies & partners in the region, including the next phase of the fight against ISIS, as the US begins to bring troops home from Syria," Bolton wrote.

Shortly after Bolton posted his message, the State Department released its own statement reaffirming US support for Israel's right to defend itself "against Iranian regional actions that endanger Israeli national security and the safety of the Israeli people."

While the statement did not explicitly mention threats originating within Syria, it includes repeated warnings directed toward Iran, a country that is widely viewed within Israel as one of the major beneficiaries of Trump's decision to withdraw US troops.

Senior political and military figures in Israel have also sharply criticized Trump's announcement of a military withdrawal from Syria and some have derided the move as an American surrender. Critics have also blasted the US for deserting its Kurdish partners who have assisted in fighting ISIS.

French President Emmanuel Macron likewise criticized Trump's decision.

During a visit to N'Djamena, Chad, last Sunday, Macron said, "Being allies means fighting shoulder to shoulder, and so an ally must be reliable and coordinate with other allies."

"Concerning our American allies, I deeply regret the decision taken in Syria," he said.

The State Department on Friday sought to publicly reiterate its support for Israel after days of backlash, saying in a statement that "the commitment of the Trump Administration and the American people to ensuring Israel's security is both enduring and unshakable."

Shortly after the State Department released its statement, the Defense Department posted a tweet defending the withdrawal of troops from Syria as "deliberate, well thought-out, mutually supportive."

"The next phase of US support to the #Coalition's operation in #Syria is a deliberate, well thought-out, mutually supportive, and controlled withdrawal of forces while taking all measures possible to ensure our troops' safety and protection. #DefeatISIS," a tweet from the department's official Twitter account read.

It was a message that stands in stark contrast to the drama that unfolded at the Pentagon just more than a week ago when Mattis resigned after the Syria troop decision, writing in a departure letter that the President deserved a military chief more aligned with his worldview.

His replacement, a former Boeing executive, has scant foreign policy or military experience.

On Wednesday, Trump defended his decision to pull troops from Syria by again citing the destruction of ISIS during a holiday visit to troops in Iraq, his first visit to a war zone since becoming President.

"They said again, recently, 'Can we have more time?' " the President recalled during a roundtable discussion with military and civilian leaders. "I said, 'Nope. You can't have any more time. You've had enough time.' We've knocked them out. We've knocked them silly."

"A lot of people are going to come around to my way of thinking," Trump predicted.

West Lafayette
Cloudy
47° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 47°
Kokomo
Cloudy
43° wxIcon
Hi: 56° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 38°
Rensselaer
Mostly Cloudy
37° wxIcon
Hi: 54° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 34°
Fowler
Cloudy
47° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 47°
Williamsport
Cloudy
45° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 45°
Crawfordsville
Cloudy
45° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 41°
Frankfort
Cloudy
45° wxIcon
Hi: 56° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 41°
Delphi
Cloudy
42° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 38°
Monticello
Cloudy
42° wxIcon
Hi: 55° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 38°
Logansport
Cloudy
41° wxIcon
Hi: 56° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 36°
River flooding, some showers/t'showers, frost, fog & then heat, humidity & severe weather in one highly-varied forecast!
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 729716

Reported Deaths: 13418
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion998331740
Lake53638968
Allen40585676
St. Joseph35651550
Hamilton35569408
Elkhart28514442
Tippecanoe22386219
Vanderburgh22300397
Porter18725308
Johnson17933379
Hendricks17209315
Clark12951191
Madison12649339
Vigo12440246
LaPorte11890211
Monroe11883170
Delaware10676186
Howard9908216
Kosciusko9401117
Hancock8275141
Bartholomew8061155
Warrick7778155
Floyd7657178
Wayne7042199
Grant7041174
Boone6690101
Morgan6563139
Dubois6153117
Marshall6039111
Dearborn580478
Cass5803105
Henry5713103
Noble560383
Jackson501673
Shelby490796
Lawrence4531120
Harrison435472
Gibson435092
DeKalb427885
Clinton427153
Montgomery423888
Whitley395639
Huntington390680
Steuben387057
Miami381566
Knox371990
Jasper364947
Putnam359960
Wabash353679
Adams341254
Ripley339570
Jefferson330681
White313854
Daviess296799
Wells291481
Decatur284892
Fayette280462
Greene278585
Posey271433
LaGrange266170
Scott265653
Clay259747
Washington240632
Randolph240281
Spencer232131
Jennings229949
Starke216353
Fountain212246
Sullivan211542
Owen199256
Fulton195440
Jay194730
Carroll188520
Orange182954
Perry182837
Rush173125
Vermillion169243
Franklin168035
Tipton162845
Parke146216
Blackford134732
Pike133834
Pulaski116745
Newton107734
Brown102041
Crawford99714
Benton98614
Martin88615
Warren82015
Switzerland7898
Union71010
Ohio56811
Unassigned0415

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events