Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Russia advances while America withdraws - some observations on America's fractured foreign policy

The Washington Post reports that Russian military units patrol northeastern Syria in agreement with Turkey.

"Big success on the Turkey/Syria Border. Safe Zone created!” President Trump wrote brayed Wednesday on Twitter.

“Ceasefire has held and combat missions have ended. Kurds are safe and have worked very nicely with us,” he said.

But even as Trump declared success in Syria, U.S. policy appeared to be in disarray.

There are three angles here. One is that in the headline. Russians have moved in as we have moved out. That’s part of a larger pattern of American decline in the age of Trump. But that “big picture” is another story for another day.

The second is that, while Trump ordered all troops out of Syria and back home, SecDef Mark Esper just moved them, to Western Iraq to keep fighting ISIS. Angle 2a highlights the rift between POTUS and SecDef. Scriber is betting on another departure from the Effing Moron’s cabinet. It’s a good bet. Said Moron referred to SecDef Mark Esper as Mark Esperanto.

Angle 2b is that, ironically, Trump’s command, bringing our troops home, might well be realized because of resistance from Iraq.

Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper was in the Iraqi capital to discuss the redeployment of hundreds of U.S. troops, after Iraq’s military announced its opposition to allowing American forces to stay in the country.

Iraqi Defense Minister Najah al-Shammari told the Associated Press on Wednesday that U.S. forces were only “transiting” through Iraqi territory and would depart within four weeks.

The Pentagon chief had said earlier this week that U.S. troops departing Syria would redeploy to western Iraq to continue fighting the Islamic State, also known as ISIS.

Well, maybe not if Iraq orders them out.

Angle #3: Trump lays claim to Syrian oil field. At least, that’s Scriber’s take on what was motivating some of Trump’s tweets.

[The Post again:] Also this week, Trump announced an apparent U.S. plan to secure lucrative oil fields in northern and eastern Syria. Esper told reporters Monday that a force of about 200 U.S. troops would be stationed near the oil fields “to deny access, specifically revenue to ISIS and any other groups that may want to seek that revenue to enable their own malign activities.”

Any other groups? Like Turkey and Russia and Syrian government?

The Hill, among other sources, reported that Trump brayed “We have secured the Oil. Bringing soldiers home!’ ”It’s unclear what Trump meant by his oil comment and a similar claim last week that resulted in some confusion among the foreign policy community."

But on Wednesday, [wapo reported] Russia’s Foreign Ministry said the Syrian government should retain control of all of the oil facilities in northeastern Syria, Reuters reported, quoting Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency.

Like everything else in Trump world, this is a story still being written. Stay tuned.

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