A former U.S. ambassador to Syria during the Obama administration has publicly acknowledged that President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw all American troops from that war-torn country isn’t popular among the Washington establishment but is nonetheless the correct strategy.
â€œ[T]he president should view the hullabaloo that erupted after he announcedÂ theÂ Syrian pullout as an opportunity to take a number of steps to make the most ofÂ hisÂ essentially correct, but widely unpopular, move,â€ Robert S. Ford, who served as America’s top Syria envoy from 2011 to 2014, wrote Thursday inÂ The Washington Post.
POTUS Trump’s decision has been widely criticized in official circles in Washington, with friend and ally Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., even calling the pullout “an Obama-like mistake.”
Others have said the pullout is a victory for Russia, Syria, and Iran, as well as the Islamic State.
But Ford argued there is no strategic U.S. interest served by keeping American troops in Syria. He also noted that Syrian forces already control two-thirds of the country and that the portion where U.S. forces occupy is largely desert.
As for claims the U.S. is abandoning the Kurds who strive for their own autonomously-governed enclave, Ford said the U.S. could not impose that solution on Syria, but that it would have to be negotiated between Damascus, Turkey, and Russia.
â€œIn sum, holding northeastern Syria would not have enabled Washington to leverage any important concessions from Damascus, Tehran or Moscow,â€ Ford wrote, adding that it is in Washington’s interest to create â€œstability, not a deeply embattled Syrian Kurdish autonomous zone” inside Syria.
Ford also discounted concerns that the U.S. pullout would create a security problem for Israel.
The Jewish state, he wrote,Â â€œis more than capableâ€ of defending itself against Iran and â€œthe U.S. withdrawal [will not] be a game changer for Israeli security.”
â€œAlready, Yaakov Amidror, a former chief of Israeli military intelligence, noted that the U.S. troopsâ€™ contribution against the Iranian forces in Syria was â€˜marginal to zero,'” he said.
As for ISIS reforming,Â â€œThis is possible, although in western Syria, which is under the control of the Syrian government and its allies, there is little visible Islamic State activity,â€ the former ambassador wrote. â€œIn any case, U.S.Â troops canâ€™t destroy the Islamic State ideology.â€
Ford also gave POTUS Trump some advice: Use the pullout as an opportunity.
â€œThe president would benefit politically and, more importantly, U.S. national security would benefit from a more effective foreign policy team,â€ Ford concluded.
He said the president needs a national security team that can more effectively carry out his policy objectives.
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