US to Keep Troops in East Syria to Control Syria’s Oil. 200 US troops would have ‘dual-purpose’ mission
(October 20, 2019) — In puzzling comments earlier in the day, President Trump appeared to be declaring Syria a war about oil, and declaring victory, Tweeting “We have secured the Oil. Bringing soldiers home!”
The context wasn’t readily apparent, and it wasn’t true anyhow since comments from Defense Secretary Mark Esper made clear US troops are not coming home. Now, it turns out some US troops aren’t even leaving Eastern Syria, and the reason is the oil.
Sunday night’s report say Trump is now leaning toward a scheme to keep around 200 ground troops in eastern Syria, based on a plan the generals have sold him on. The 200 troops would have a”dual purpose” mission to fight ISIS and to keep Syria’s government from controlling Syria’s oil production facilities.
This seems a profoundly tall order for 200 US troops, and it’s not clear by what right the US would even claim its military is entitled to prevent Syria from controlling Syria’s own oil.
It makes more sense that this is a US goal, however, or at least a talking point, given Trump’s bragging about having “secured the oil” in Syria. Whether they can actually do this is another matter.
Where the US troops will be positioned is unclear, as the Pentagon is refusing to comment. at all on the matter. But for those who viewed going from Syria to Iraq as a big disappointment when with Trump talking about “bringing soldiers home,” having hundreds not even leaving Syria at all is an even bigger letdown.
If this turns out to be the case, this will be the second time in the past year that Trump has announced a military withdrawal from Syria, defended that plan in the face of criticism, and then ultimately bailed on it to keep troops in place with more military goals added all the time.
Trump Misspells His Defense Secretary’s Name in Rambling Rant about Securing Oil in Syria
Zamira Rahim /The Independent
The US president tried to quote Mark Esper in a tweet, but instead he referred to him as “Mark Esperanto”. He wrote: “Mark Esperanto, Secretary of Defense, “The ceasefire is holding up very nicely. There are some minor skirmishes that have ended quickly.”
In a rambling conclusion the president added “USA soldiers are not in combat or ceasefire zones. We have secured the Oil. Bringing soldiers home!”
Mr Esper was sworn into the role in July 2019, after the defence secretary post remained vacant for seven months. He replaced Jim Mattis as defence secretary, after the general clashed with the president over withdrawing US troops from Syria.
Mr Esper is now at the heart of one of Mr Trump’s most controversial foreign policy decisions.
Earlier this month the US president abruptly announced that troops would leave northern Syria. Days later, Turkey began to invade the area and started an offensive against Kurdish fighters – who had previously led the struggle against Isis, alongside members of the US military.
American vice president Mike Pence was subsequently forced to broker a ceasefire in the region. But Both side have since accused the other of breaching this truce.
Mr Trump has been also criticised by members of his own Republican party over the decision to withdraw troops.
“Withdrawing US forces from Syria is a grave strategic mistake. It will leave the American people and homeland less safe, embolden our enemies, and weaken important alliances,” Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell wrote in a Washington Postopinion column.
The controversy came as Mr Trump struggles with an impeachment inquiry and plummeting approval ratings.
Trump Leaning Toward Keeping a Couple Hundred Troops in Eastern Syria: Report
John Bowden / The Hill
(October 20, 2019) — The New York Times reported Sunday that Trump is considering a plan floated by top generals that would leave a remainder force behind in Syria with a dual-purpose mission: to prevent the resurgence of ISIS following Turkey’s invasion in the region and to prevent Syrian government forces and their Russian allies from seizing control of oil production facilities in the region.
A senior administration official told the Times that Trump favors the plan, which he has been considering for roughly a week, and feels that it would be sufficient to prevent the reversal of US gains against ISIS and allow Kurdish forces in the region to maintain control of oil fields in the area.
The Department of Defense declined to comment Sunday to the Times on the senior official’s comments.
Trump faced sharp criticism from both Democrats and some of his closest Republican allies on Capitol Hill after his announcement last week that the US would withdraw forces from northeastern Syria ahead of Turkish military actions against Kurdish forces in the region, which many lawmakers said amounted to a betrayal of a US ally.
The president has defended his actions in the media and on Twitter by pointing to his campaign promise to pull the US out of “endless wars” in the Middle East.
“After defeating 100% of the ISIS Caliphate, I largely moved our troops out of Syria. Let Syria and Assad protect the Kurds and fight Turkey for their own land. I said to my Generals, why should we be fighting for Syria and Assad to protect the land of our enemy?” Trump tweeted last week.
The Hill has reached out to the White House for comment.
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