When President Trump announced a withdrawal from Syria of our 2,000 troops, he caught grief from the right and the left, but former Ambassador to Syria Robert S. Ford says it was the right thing to do.
The land that we are holding is a mixture of deserts and dried up oil fields, hardly giving us any kind of leverage over Syria, Iran and Russia. And with ISIS down to just 5,000 terrorists and Bashar Assad controlling 2/3 of Syria, we could offer very little protection for the Kurdish fighters, unless we were willing to commit many more troops and a fortune in maintaining them.
Critics of Trump’s decision announced on Dec. 19 by White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, are calling it a “huge Obama-like mistake,” win for America’s enemies and betrayal of our allies.
But Ford, who served as U.S. ambassador to Syria under President Barack Obama from 2011-2014, debunked the reasons for critique and added that the president needs to develop a national security team that can better relay and implement his foreign policy objectives.
“[T]he president should view the hullabaloo that erupted after he announced the Syrian pullout as an opportunity to take a number of steps to make the most of his essentially correct, but widely unpopular, move,” Ford wrote Thursday in The Washington Post.
Ford pointed out that many opponents fear the pullout will lend a victory to Russia, Iran and Syria, but the former ambassador called this fear “absurd,” noting that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime already controls roughly two-thirds of Syria. The regions that the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) control are largely deserts and drought-prone oil fields with low-value crude.
“In sum, holding northeastern Syria would not have enabled Washington to leverage any important concessions from Damascus, Tehran or Moscow,” Ford wrote.