UPDATE: President Donald Trump told his advisers on Friday that he wants the United States to recall all of its troops from Syria once the last group of militants from the Islamic State group is defeated.
While he has told them that that is his goal, no plans have yet been drawn.
The Hill reports that this decision would continue to put the president at odds with his own officials inside the Pentagon and the State Department who believe the U.S. must remain in the country.
President Donald Trump just told officials in Ohio that the United States is pulling out of Syria in the near future, contradicting the Pentagon and even his own pick to head the State Department, the hawkish Mike Pompeo.
On Thursday, Pentagon officials said that the U.S. presence in Syria is essential “to ensure the lasting defeat [of] these violent extremists [the Islamic State group].” The State Department agreed. According to spokeswoman Heather Nauert, the department is not aware of any plans to pull the U.S. out of the region.
But earlier in the week, the president told officials in Ohio that “[w]e’re knocking the hell out of [the Islamic State]. We’ll be coming out of Syria, like, very soon.”
He then added: “Let the other people take care of it now. Very, very soon we’re coming out.”
In January, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called for “continued involvement” in the region.
“We understand that some Americans are skeptical of continued involvement in Syria and question the benefits of maintaining a presence in such a troubled country,” Tillerson said then. “However, it is vital for the United States to remain engaged in Syria.”
Trump’s new pick for head of the State Department, Pompeo, once said that it is important to remain in Syria for as long as possible. Not because of the Islamic State, he added, but because he believes the U.S. must act in Syria the same way it did in Iraq. In other words, he wants to further destabilize the region.
“It is difficult to imagine a stable Syria that still has Assad in power,” Pompeo declared in July 2017. “He is a puppet of the Iranians and therefore it seems an unlikely situation where Assad will be sitting on the throne and America's interests will be well served.”
While Trump appeared confident that the U.S. can withdraw from the region “soon,” it’s clear that the very people he picked to do the job aren’t so certain. This makes us wonder whether the president was ever serious when he criticized President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama concerning both Iraq and Syria.
If he was, indeed, set on bringing the troops home and putting an end to the U.S. serving as the world police, then he would pick people for the job who actually follow that line of thinking. Instead, he keeps choosing hawks and neoconservatives to run his administration.
So what is it, Trump? Should we ever trust what you say?