This has been a hard week for President Trump. After his abrupt decision to pull U.S. forces out of Syria, many began questioning who was advising him on the current state of the fight against ISIS. When Secretary of Defense Mattis resigned, many feared others would follow. And now another key advisor is stepping down.
“Brett McGurk, special presidential envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, had been planning to exit his post in February 2019,” CBS writes. “But sources tell CBS News that he informed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that he will accelerate his departure due to a strong disagreement with President Trump’s snap decision to withdraw 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria, effectively abandoning U.S. allies in the region.”
McGurk submitted his letter of resignation Friday. His decision comes on the heels of Secretary Mattis’s announcement.
“The special envoy was publicly left in the lurch by the president’s sudden declaration on Wednesday that he was pulling U.S. forces out of Syria, against the advice of his top national security advisers and without consulting U.S. allies,” CBS writes.
McGurk felt the brunt of that. His job was to lead the U.S. effort to combat ISIS. McGurk had been in meetings with Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani when Trump announced his decision to pull out of Syria.
What that decision means for the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) remains to be seen. Many believe that group will now come under fire from Turkey, who views the Kurds as a terrorist group.
“Just days earlier, McGurk had stood at the State Department podium to guarantee an ongoing U.S. commitment to the fight. He told reporters that ISIS inhabited just one percent of the territory they once held thanks to the success of the U.S.-led campaign but still maintained a dangerous level of influence,” CBS notes.
“I think it’s fair to say Americans will remain on the ground after the physical defeat of the caliphate, until we have the pieces in place to ensure that that defeat is enduring,” he said.
“It would be reckless if we were just to say, well, the physical caliphate is defeated, so we can just leave now. I think anyone who’s looked at a conflict like this would agree with that.”
McGurk will officially step down from his post on December 31.