On Wednesday morning, Donald Trump took to his Twitter to announce that the United States had proven victorious over the terrorist group ISIS. This followed reports that U.S. ground troops in Syria were being withdrawn at a rapid pace. According to Business Insider, this move could prove a major benefit for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Trump’s Twitter post stated that the only reason the United States has remained in Syria was to fight the terrorist organization. Now that he’s determined it is defeated, there’s no reason for American troops to continue to stay in the country. However, it looks like this decision goes directly against policies laid down by the Pentagon and the State Department.
Just four days before the announcement, Pentagon officials released a statement about the fight against ISIS, and how America was committed to seeing the battle through to the end.
“We remain committed to working with our partners on the ground to ensure an enduring defeat of ISIS. Any reports indicating a change in the U.S. position with respect to these efforts is false and designed to sow confusion and chaos.”
The Pentagon has warned Trump repeatedly that removing American troops from Syria too early could prove disastrous for the region — and a powerful advantage to Putin. Without America’s presence in Syria, the country will be vulnerable to influence from Iran and Russia.
We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 19, 2018
Iran stands accused by numerous countries of attempting to form an alliance with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. This move would potentially allow Iranian agents to gain freedom of movement throughout the country — which would then give them the ability to engage in an arms transfer to Lebanon, where the militant party Hezbollah resides. This move could potentially lead to a strike against Israel, which has long been a target of the group.
Putin would perhaps benefit significantly from removing U.S. troops as well. The Russian president has long had a close relationship with President al-Assad. Back in 2015, Putin sent warplanes to Syria to help Assad win the war. Their close ties are only expected to grow stronger once America has left the region.
With the United States out of the picture in Syria, Russia will stand as the dominant military power in the area. This may go a long way in maintaining Assad’s power over the region, and could grant Putin additional influence over Syria.
There are no reports yet as to how long the withdrawal from Syria will take, or when it is expected to be completed.