US President Donald Trump on Wednesday ordered pulling out of US troops from Syria as he announced that the Islamic State (IS) group has been defeated.
He announced the same and tweeted shortly after that “We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency.” His momentous decision to take out American ground forces from the war-scarred nation stunned his aides and international allies. Reuters quoted a US official stating that the entire process of pulling out all the US forces would take around 60 to 100 days.
Currently there are about 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria, most of who are on a train-and-advise mission to support local forces to fight against IS. It is believed that US withdrawal would have extraordinary geopolitical complications as it would leave the state with an uncertain fate. Thousands of Ankara’s Islamic State jihadists are still believed to remain in Syria. It is highly speculated that this announcement would embolden IS to strengthen its hold over the state.
The main idea to station US forces in Syria was not only to defeat the Islamic State, but also to help the state and train US-backed Kurdish fighters to attain political stability and solution for its riotous political order.
Trump’s decision attracted lot of criticism from national and international avenues. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a Trump ally, called it an unwise decision of putting Kurds at risk. Democratic Senator Jack Reed said it was tantamount to a “betrayal” of the Kurds. He added that it exhibited President Trump’s inability to act as a world leader.
Both the UK and France have also sent their troops to Syria. UK’s junior defence minister Tobias Ellwood expressed strong disagreement towards Trump’s claim and mentioned that ISIS threat hasn’t reduced but only morphed into other forms of extremism.
Jennifer Cafarella, a Syria expert at the Institute for the Study of War said, “The bottom line is that the American withdrawal from eastern Syria will create a power vacuum that will lead to a new phase of international conflict in Syria.”
Though Trump’s decision fulfilled his long-standing goal of bringing troops home from Syria, military leaders argue that the IS group remains a threat and accelerator in the long-running Syrian civil war.