President Donald Trump has grown frustrated by the United States’ ongoing involvement in the Syrian civil war. Reports from Washington say that he became even more irate on Tuesday, during a meeting with his top military advisors, when they informed him that there would be no immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from the region.
Pulling out of Syria wouldn’t be prudent, they informed him. They were also unable to provide him with a time table for a future withdrawal.
“In a sometimes-tense meeting of his national security team,” CNN reports, “Trump complained at length about the amount of American money being spent in the region, which he said had produced nothing for the US in return, according to senior administration officials.”
While Trump was frustrated that the U.S. is, again, carrying the brunt of the load, he was also upset that other Gulf countries hadn’t stepped up their involvement.
And he continued to question why other countries in the region — particularly the wealthy Gulf nations — haven’t stepped in.
“It’s a scenario that has played out repeatedly since Trump entered office last year,” CNN writes. “He’s clashed with advisers over the Iran nuclear deal, Afghanistan strategy and tariffs, particularly when he believes his campaign promises aren’t being upheld. As he transitions to a new national security team, Trump has made clear he wants advisers who agree in principle with his core beliefs.”
John Bolton, Trump’s pick for national security advisor, was not at the meeting. That may have left Trump without an ally on the proposed pull-out. Though Bolton hasn’t commented on Syria lately, Trump believes that Bolton supports his position on the matter.
Military officials, though, disagree. “During the meeting with his national security council at the White House, Trump was told by top advisers such as Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, that leaving Syria now would provide an opening for Russia, Turkey and Iran to advance their own interests in the country, which run counter to the United States’.”
As if to prove these intentions, Iran, Turkey, and Russia are meeting now to discuss their sharing of power in the region.
Trump’s vision had been a complete withdrawal within 6 months. Everyone at the table is reported to have shot down that idea, even secretary of defense Mattis. Trump, irritated that he was being told no, reportedly told those gathered to “make it happen.”
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders spoke of the issue Wednesday. “We want to focus on transitioning to local enforcement and do that over this process to make sure there is no reemergence of ISIS in a way that takes away some of the progress we have made,” she said during a briefing at the White House.
“As the President has maintained from the beginning, he’s not going to put an arbitrary timeline. He is measuring it in actually winning the battle, not just putting some random number out there.”