The Real Story On Syria

President Trump announced a U.S. pullout from Syria, and the media promptly labeled it akin to treason. Here’s the real story on Syria and why it was a brilliant move.

The reason the usual suspects gave for bashing Trump over this were pregnant with irony. He was ‘pulling out and leaving Syria to the Russians,’ he was ‘sacrificing the Kurds,’ it was ‘a disgraceful  retreat that would leave Syria to Iran and Hezbollah,’ he was ‘abandoning Israel,’ it was ‘collusion with Russia,’ you name it.

This nonsense is coming from the same politicians, pundits and talking heads who crucified Bush Jr. for staying in Iraq and Afghanistan and as politicians, did their very best to sabotage our efforts there . The same people  were perfectly OK with Obama’s illegal war in Libya which dismantled the existing peace and led to violent war and terrorism in much of the Middle East and North Africa. And who happily supported Obama’s Iran deal…talk about abandoning Israel!

So let’s examine what really happened, the real story on Syria.

ISIS still exists, but their territory has all been recovered…something President Obama said would take years but that President Trump accomplished in record time, just as he promised he would.  So the 2,000 troops we had there had accomplished their mission, and the $20 million or so per year it took to maintain them in Syria can be spent in more useful ways.

So let’s look at the arguments against the U.S. leaving, shall we?

Are we really abandoning Israel and the Kurds? Not a bit. For one thing, the Israelis have always operated independently, and even the IDF Chief of Staff said publicly that the Israelis can handle what they need to. In fact, they can even handle it better than before, since they can now operate without having to consider the impact of IDF operations on U.S. forces. They also have stated that they will not allow Iran or Hezbollah to maintain a presence in Syria, something they’ve backed up repeatedly by taking out weapons shipments, bases and Iranian and Hezbollah personnel.

As I’ve written before, The Israelis and Putin have an understanding about such matter, as well as a hotline hookup between the Kremlin and Israel’s equivalent of the Pentagon. The Russian’s chief concern is avoiding Russian casualties, and so far they haven’t had any complaints about Israel targeting Hezbollah or Iranian assets.

And the Kurds? I had a conversation with a long time friend and correspondent over this one. His view was that Turkey’s new Sultan Erdogan would promptly send his troops into Kurdish territory and start massacring our Kurdish allies. My response was I was certain Trump was clear to Erdogan about exactly where he could and couldn’t go and what he could and couldn’t do.

Aside from our troops who are S_L_O_W_L_Y being withdrawn from Syria and out troops in Jordan. Trump has an additional cookie to bribe the Mad Sultan.Turkey’s economy sucks just now, and Trump mentioned a possible trade deal to him he needs badly…with the unspoken proviso by Trump being, “If you behave.”

As it turns out, I was right on the money. No less than National security Advisor  John Bolton revealed today that our pull out from Syria was conditional on the Turks making a firm commitment not to target the U.S.’s Kurdish allies. Since Erdogan badly needs that trade deal Trump is dangling in front of him, I’d be very surprised if he decided to go after the Kurds just now…especially since it would bring the U.S. back into Syria with a vengeance and force the Turks to retreat…

“Timetables or the timing of the withdrawal occurs as a result of the fulfillment of the conditions and the establishment of the circumstances that we want to see,” he said. “It’s not the establishment of an arbitrary point for the withdrawal to take place as President Obama did in the Afghan situation…the timetable flows from the policy decisions that we need to implement.”

On Saturday, Mr. Bolton said the U.S. won’t hesitate to retaliate against the Assad regime in Syria if it uses chemical weapons against civilians. “Any use of chemical weapons will be met by [a] very strong response, as we have done twice before.”

Mr. Bolton plans to travel to Ankara, the Turkish capital, on Monday as part of a regional tour aimed at laying the groundwork for the withdrawal.

U.S. support for the main Syrian Kurdish militia, the YPG, has been a source of tension with Turkey. Turkey considers the YPG to be an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which Ankara and Washington classify as a terrorist group.

Mr. Erdogan said in December that he would launch a military intervention in northeastern Syria to combat Kurdish rebels it regards as terrorists, drawing a stern warning from the Pentagon. Jim Jeffrey, the State Department envoy, has been seeking to forge an arrangement with the Turks that would allow them to enter northern Syria while avoiding largely Kurdish areas, people familiar with the discussions said.

So much for abandoning the Kurds. If Erdogan is stupid enough to attack our Kurdish allies, not only do we still have troops in Syria who are being withdrawn slowly, but additional forces in Jordan.  And America’s Mideast strategic reserve in Israel, with lots of toys to equip fresh troops should we need to return, as well as the IDF. They’ve always had close relations with the Kurds going back to the Saddam Hussein days in Iraq, when they armed and trained the Kurdish Persh Merga fighters.

Oh, and Russia?

Syria has never been worth much.The Seleucids, the Arabs and the Ottomans never made much out of it. It has a couple of warm water ports, some agriculture that’s now in ruins and that’s about it. The caravans don’t stop at Damascus anymore like they used to back when Mo was working the route.

The real story on Syria is that it would take  billions to rebuild its infrastructure. And even then it wouldn’t amount to much. It’s a disaster.

Putin’s probably smart enough to avoid Bushie’s mistake of putting billions of dollars into Iraq when it comes to Syria. Their chief interest is those warm water ports at Tarshish and Latakia for their navy. And Erdogan doesn’t have the cash to do so even if he wants to. The Arabs and Turks don’t get on so well anyway.

The real story on Syria is that it’s a mess the U.S. is much better out of. Especially since we can easily return to if we need to. Rather than a ‘retreat,’ it’s a smart conditional withdrawal that still maintains our presence.

 UPDATE: According to CNN Erdogan has rejected leaving the Kurds alone.

OK…first, let’s remember that this is CNN, home of fake news. If somebody hit a dog with their car and didn’t stop, they’d have a headline story that it was Trump, complete with the same kind of anonymous sources this story has.

Second,while Erdogan might have said this or something like it, CNN’s attempts to paint Bolton (who they also hate) as going beyond the president’s wishes are ridiculous. Bolton is not only smart, but experienced. He and President Trump went over all this before he left for the ME.

Third, so what? This was an extremely stupid thing for the would be Sultan to say. Here’s what it means, unless Erdogan walks it back….

1) No trade deal for Turkey, and probably sanctions in the near future.

2) We will probably leave our base at Inserlik, ending a profitable lease payment to Turkey. It could easily be moved to Greece, who could use the money.

3) Instead of removing heavy weapons from the Kurds, we will probably give them more…as well as air cover.

4) Our troops will remain as a presence in Syria. Also, the Assad regime and the Russians seem to be willing to protect the Kurds as well.

In short, Erdogan’s little rah rah to his pet sheep gained him nothing and will cost him quite a lot.

Rob Miller







Rob Miller writes for Joshuapundit. His articles have appeared in The Jerusalem Post, The Washington Examiner, American Thinker, The Los Angeles Times, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The San Francisco Chronicle, Real Clear Politics, The Times Of Israel, Breitbart.Com, Yediot and other publications.

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