by Nick Hermosilla ‘19
The recent decision for the Pentagon to withdraw troops from Syria is a massive blow to American counterterrorism operations against ISIS and Al Qaeda and American influence in the region. Withdrawing from Syria when the fight against ISIS is almost done will embolden the terror group to continue external attacks against the U.S. and its allies. Additionally we will be throwing the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), our closest partners in Syria, to the mercy of the Assad regime and Turkish forces, who have made clear, after operations earlier this year in northern Syria, they have no problem with conducting ethnic cleansing against the local Kurdish population.
While hurts our allies in the region, it’s a gift to both Russia and Iran. Without American presence to contain these rogue nations, Russia will continue its expansionism and threatening of our Arab allies while Iran will have an easy way to continue supporting it’s terrorist proxies like Hezbollah. Not only is this completely abnormal for American policy, its a reversal from the administration’s own National Defense Strategy from 2018. The only way to fix this would be a complete reversal of Trump’s decision. National security advisor John Bolton’s statement on January 7 that U.S. withdrawal hinges on ISIS’s defeat and the safety of the SDF is a good start.