President Trump’s announcement to withdraw remaining US troops from Syria has been a surprise to all sides. Israeli PM Netanyahu says that the “withdrawal will not affect Israel”.
“I spoke with US President Donald Trump [on Monday] and yesterday with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who told me that it was the president’s intention to withdraw their forces from Syria and made it clear that they had other ways to express their influence in the arena,” Netanyahu said in a statement.
“This is, of course, America’s decision,” he added. “We will study the timetable, the mode of operation, and of course the implications for us. In any case, we will take care to protect Israel’s security and to protect ourselves from that arena.”
Netanyahu added “The US decision to remove 2,000 US soldiers from Syria will not change our conistent policy of stopping Iran from strengthening its presence in Syria. And if necessary we will take even more action against Iran in Syria. I want to calm all those who are worried. Cooperation between us and the USA continues in many areas.”
Many are saying that this pullout is bad for a number of reasons. First of all, it endangers the Kurds in Syria who were the best allies of the US in the fight against ISIS.
With the removal of US troops, Turkey will send in troops to destroy the Kurdish enclave and endanger their lives. Another reason people say this policy is bathatcause it hands over all of Syria to Russia and Iran, strengthening their hold on the Middle East even more.
US troops in Syria also were a security blanket for Israel against Iran and Russia, however, as Prime Minister Netanyahu has said, Israel will always do what is necessary to protect itself. Israel has never relied on, and will never rely on, foreign powers to defend itself.
Caroline Glick explains that this US pullout from Syria actually has some upsides for Israel. Glick points out that when Obama placed US troops in Syria it was with a specific mandate to fight ISIS, but not touch Iranian forces, or Iranian proxy forces. As Obama’s deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes told an audience of pro-Obama activists at the time, Obama viewed his embrace of Iran through nuclear talks as the central policy of his second term.
Since Sunni ISIS was perceived as hostile to Shi’ite Iran, by fighting ISIS, Obama was achieving two goals: He was helping Iran by getting rid of a powerful adversary in Iraq and Syria, and he was selling the idea to the American public that Iran was their ally in a common war against ISIS.
By leaving Syria, Glick says that the US, under President Trump, is abandoning Obama’s pro-Iranian policy once and for all. This also means the possibility that the US will finally be leaving the policy of supporting the Lebanese army, which Israel views today as a partner with Iran and Hizbullah.
A final upside. Some Americans use the American military presence in Syria or the Middle East as a way to create animosity towards Israel. They claim that US soldiers are in the region to help Israel, and when US soldiers die, it is Israel’s fault. So the removal of US troops will remove this false anti-Israel claim from the discourse.
The jury is still out about the consequences, but if handled correctly, this pullout can definitely have some upsides.
We just hope that without US forces, there will be forces out there to help protect the Kurds from the Turkey and Erdogan, who want to destroy them and any chance for the establishment of Kurdistan.