Donald Trump has simply done in Syria what a long list of his predecessors has done elsewhere in the past: declare victory and get the hell out. Debate in the US over Trump’s December 19 announcement to withdraw the 2,000 American troops from Syria has ranged from hysterical (among the Washington warlords) to congratulatory messages from the largely ill-informed left. Lost in much of this verbal war is the fact that US troops were in Syria illegally and that they were about to suffer a humiliating defeat had they stayed much longer.
We will refrain from discussing the pros and cons of Trump’s withdrawal announcement. Instead, we will consider what led to this development because in the West there is a tendency to belittle others’ successes and only talk up America’s “victory” or magnanimity in withdrawing!
Did the US really achieve “historical victories” against Da‘ish terrorists, as Trump has claimed? Da‘ish is an American creation whose purpose was to achieve regime change in Syria. Financing and logistical support came from US allies Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan, Israel and others. This diabolical plot was defeated, thanks to the resilience of the Syrian army and state, as well as help provided by such Syrian allies as Hizbullah, Islamic Iran, and Russia.
Trump realized this and saw little point in keeping 2,000 troops in Syria when the US already has more than 50,000 troops in the region spread across some 42 military bases. Besides, American forces were in a region supporting Kurdish separatists, much to the chagrin of NATO member Turkey. Ankara would not allow the emergence of an autonomous Kurdish state on its border. Trump had a choice: support the Kurds or keep Turkey in NATO. Even a moron like Trump could understand this simple math.
Not so the warmongers in Washington for whom perpetual war and bloodshed is the road to riches, hence their loud protests at this “sudden withdrawal” that would cause harm to “American interests.” The war dogs are everywhere: in Congress, the military, Trump White House as well as the media. Let us name some: Senator Lindsey Graham, Trump’s National Security Advisor John Bolton, and Secretary of Defense James “mad dog” Mattis all decried the announcement. The latter resigned in protest. Good riddance. Trump’s special representative on Syria, the lunatic James Jeffrey and Brett McGurk, the special presidential envoy for the global coalition to “defeat Da‘ish,” were also vehemently opposed. They wanted to create a Kurdish ruled proxy state in northeast Syria. This was meant to weaken Syria by partitioning it so that Zionist Israel would emerge even stronger.
Bolton, Jeffrey, and his lieutenant, Joel Rayburn, the deputy assistant secretary of state for the Levant, have argued publicly that US forces would not leave Syria until all Iranian forces had left. If these people have any self-respect, they would resign but they won’t. They are not men of honor; their overriding interest is shedding the blood of innocent people to make money for their bosses, the weapons manufacturers.
The other major reason for the US withdrawl is money for the dealmaker-in-chief. On Dec. 18, the US State Department cleared Ankara to purchase a package of Patriot systems, with an estimated price tag of $3.5 billion. Turkey has twice passed over the Patriot — in 2013 when it chose a Chinese system that it later dropped out of, and in 2017 when it said it finalized the S-400 deal. In both cases, Turkey insisted on a transfer of missile technology regarding the Patriot before it would consider the system, something the US had declined to do. Trump and Erdogan obviously struck a deal: Turkey would buy the Patriot system instead of the Russian S-400, the quid pro quo being that the US withdraw from Syria so that Turkey can go after the US-backed Kurdish forces on its border. Trump gets to crow about the billions for US WMD proliferators and Erdogan gets a free hand with the Kurds.
Let us return to the question of the resistance front that has achieved a singular victory by not only preventing the criminal regime change plot in Syria but also forcing the US to withdraw. Last July when Trump threatened Iran and claimed it would suffer unspecified consequences, General Qassem Solaimani, head of Iran’s Quds Force responded, “You may start the war but we will finish it.” The general also reminded Trump to check with his intelligence and military chiefs before making any foolish moves. “Seventeen years ago, you invaded Afghanistan and attacked the Taliban. Today you are begging them for negotiations,” General Solaimani told Trump. If the US cannot defeat the ragtag bands of Taliban, what chance does its pleasure-loving soldiers have against battle-hardened Iran’s revolutionary guards and troops?
This has been starkly demonstrated in Syria where the US is cutting its losses and getting the hell out. What this also shows is that where the leadership is sincere and determined, it can achieve remarkable results. Despite incredible loss of life and blood, the resistance front has shown that so-called superpowers and their meddlesome allies can be defeated. This is an important lesson that all people struggling for justice and peace need to internalize.