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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Syria: Trump’s angry petulant idiotic decisions have consequences (Updated)


Related Photo Update: Another consequence, Gen. Mattis quits. More about Mattis in bottom of page


From The New York Times:

Kurdish Fighters Discuss Releasing Almost 3,200 ISIS Prisoners

BEIRUT, Lebanon — America’s Kurdish allies in Syria are discussing the release of 3,200 Islamic State prisoners, a prominent monitoring group and a Western official of the anti-Islamic State coalition said on Thursday, a day after President Trump ordered the withdrawal of all American troops from the country.

Top officials of the Syrian Democratic Forces, the Kurdish-led and American-supported militia fighting the Islamic State in eastern Syria, met on Wednesday to discuss the option of releasing about 1,100 Islamic State fighters and 2,080 relatives of the group’s members, according to Rami Abdul Rahman, the head of the Syrian Observatory on Human Rights.

Mostapha Bali, the spokesman for the Syrian Democratic Forces, or S.D.F., denied that there had been any discussion of releasing prisoners from the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. “Any news coming from such sources is not reliable and is not coming from us,” he said.

But a Western official from the United States-led coalition fighting in Syria, which includes more than a dozen countries, confirmed that such discussions had taken place.

Even Fox and Friends has been critical of Trump’s decision to announce, without Pentagon consultation, that he was ging to withdraw American troops from Syria. According to The Washington Post:

Ordinarily, “Fox and Friends” may be a political haven for President Trump, but on Thursday co-host Brian Kilmeade took an unusual double-barrel shot at him.

After news broke that Trump defied his advisers and decided to pull 2,000 U.S. troops out of Syria — arguing on Twitter that “we have defeated ISIS” in that country — Kilmeade slammed the president’s actions, calling them “totally irresponsible.”

The co-host said that “in a stunning and, I think, irresponsible move” Trump has “blindsided” Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and national security adviser John Bolton, as well as the State Department, which he said is now “packing their bags.”

“Why have advisers?” he said, throwing up his hands.

This is how Daily Beast describes Trump’s and Putin’s responses to the criticism being leveled about his decision:

At around the same time, Donald Trump was characteristically blaming the press for claims that Russia would be pleased by the U.S. exit from Syria in an early morning tweet. “Russia, Iran, Syria & many others are not happy about the U.S. leaving, despite what the Fake News says, because now they will have to fight ISIS and others, who they hate, without us. I am building by far the most powerful military in the world. ISIS hits us they are doomed!”

Putin appeared to disagree. He went on to say that Russian and American military “specialists” have managed to overcome the differences between the two countries and work together on anti-terrorism efforts with success.

This looks like partly like an inside deal Trump made to please Pres. Hafez al-Assad:

Turkey’s defense minister said Thursday that Kurdish forces in Syria would be “buried” in their trenches in any Turkish operation to rout the fighters from the border, just one day after President Trump announced a withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country.

Speaking from the Qatari capital, Doha, Hulusi Akar said Turkey was preparing “intensely” for a military offensive east of the Euphrates River in Syria, where Kurdish-led forces have battled the Islamic State militant group.

The fighters have dug trenches and tunnels in the area in anticipation of the operation, Akar said, according to Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency.

“But whatever they dig . . . when the time comes they will be buried in the trenches,” he said. “Of this there should no doubt.”

and his pal Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin who is happy with the decision:

MOSCOW — President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Thursday hailed the decision by President Trump to withdraw United States forces from Syria, calling it “correct” because the American troops were not needed.

NY Times

According to the Times “Putin’s response came during his annual news conference, a marathon, four-hour affair during which he suggested several times that Mr. Trump was being thwarted by those who did not accept his victory as president.”

Trump operates on an impulsive basis rarely thinking about, let alone caring about, the untoward consequences of his actions. My hunch is that whoever he got the idea from, he announced it (via Tweet) because he feels besieged and wanted to divert attention to something he could brag about as fulfilling a campaign promise. I understands or cares who the Kurds are, why we have been helping them, or why it is immoral to abandon them.

I can’t put it better than the editorial board of the New York Times did today:

It’s hard not to wonder whether Mr. Trump is once again announcing a dramatic step as a way of deflecting attention from bad news, in this case a torrent of legal judgments that are tightening the legal noose around him.

That would be the worst rationale for a commander in chief sworn to protect the nation and to honor the men and women who serve in uniform.

Hopefully this sell-out of the Kurds will come back sooner rather than later to bite him, hard, and in a part of him (his ego) where it will hurt.

This Kurd’s reaction shows that they can play the same game as Trump.

Tit for tat,

this for that,

take that you rat.

as the expression goes.

UPDATE: Excerpts from Daily Beast article

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis Announces Resignation in Brutal Letter to Trump

“The most decorated Marine & thought leader on the military basically just said, ‘fuck this,’” a source close to Mattis said.

  • “The most decorated Marine & thought leader on the military basically just said, ‘fuck this,’” a source close to Mattis said.
  • Mattis, Pompeo, and National Security Adviser John Bolton have all reportedly advocated against the sudden Syria drawdown, an announcement that has worried prominent American neoconservatives but delighted the Kremlin.
  • “I think Mattis is reading the tea leaves here,” a former senior Defense official told The Daily Beast. “He’s leaving in part because he knows what’s coming and he wants to be able to work after this craziness ends.”
  • That a sitting secretary of defense would publicly declare his intent to resign over political differences with the commander in chief is unprecedented, and in the words of one U.S. senator, amounts to a “national security crisis.”
  • In a high-decibel appearance on CNN shortly after Mattis’ resignation was announced, White House adviser Stephen Miller called the resignation an opportunity for the nomination of a secretary of defense “who will be aligned with the president on these critical issues. Are we supposed to stay in Syria, generation after generation?” Miller shouted. “Let us not spill American blood to fight the enemies of other countries.”


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