December 21, 2018

Trump & Syria

President Trump’s announcement on withdrawing US troops from Syria seems to have taken everyone by surprise, not least General Jim Mattis who is resigning as his Secretary of Defence.
The simple explanation is that it’s simply another election promise he wants to deliver, at the end of an impressive ticked list unmatched by any president in living memory – let alone just halfway through his first term. But to bring back troops from harm’s way and cut America’s losses in blood and treasure one would have expected the first priority would have been Afghanistan, a total basket-case of a campaign where, after 17 years of American engagement, the Taliban still hold more territory than when it all started. Syria has much more strategic value, which is why Russia, Iran and Turkey are so heavily invested there.
OK, so Trump has fired from the hip as usual, the optics are poor and the signalling to Russia, Iran and what’s left of ISIS is bad … but what’s good about this decision?
Well, for one thing it reduces the chance of World War III blowing up on Israel’s doorstep. It’s been terribly worrying to see US, Russian and Israeli warplanes whizzing about in such a cramped airspace, with the most sophisticated S300 antiaircraft missiles deployed on hair-triggers down on the ground where Iranian fanatics pray three times a day for the apocalypse which will usher in the messiah of their ‘Hidden Imam’. The whole scenario looked like a prologue for Armageddon.
Then there is the reality that the existence of 2,000 US servicemen in Syria was only ever symbolic and would never have made much difference on the battlefield. Israel has never wanted American soldiers to die on its behalf – all we ever wanted was America to give us whatever planes and other weaponry and spare parts we needed to defend ourselves, and the all-important QME (qualitative military edge).
I can still remember quite vividly the desperate figure of Golda Meir begging President Nixon for an arms airlift during the heat of the Yom Kippur War and how not one single European country allowed those transport planes to refuel on their territory.
Then there is the Trump ‘deal of the century’ peace plan. It has been said that he would exact a high price for his embassy move to Jerusalem. Well, with this withdrawal – which will be seen by many as abandoning Israel to its fate with Putin and Khomeini on the northern border – the deal calculus may change.
Lastly, I look at Russia and Iran. Putin always wanted a warm water port for his navy and now has it on the Syrian coast at Tartus. This is next to Latakia, on which he’s established a Russian air base. No force of 2,000 or even 200,000 American troops was ever going to dislodge Putin from these prized bases. As for Iran, it’s clear to me that the most effective way to dislodge them from Syria as well as Yemen, Lebanon and Gaza, is to bankrupt the evil regime at home. And the best means of achieving that is through Trump’s crippling sanctions.
The irony is that those European countries which in 1973 refused landing rights to US planes resupplying Israel in her desperate hour of need are the same as those now protecting Iran from Trump’s sanctions. Britain, France and Germany should hang their heads in shame for the Faustian deal they’ve done with the devils in Tehran.
Trump’s knee-jerk decisions may be questionable, but Europe’s considered policies are truly shameful.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Add to Technorati Favorites Tweets by @ZalmiU