German press lays out the opposition to Trump’s withdrawal from Syria
Our view: Huge test case: does the US actually have civilian control of the military?
We translate the account from Der Spiegel:
US troop withdrawal from Syria: Trump defends his course – and is heavily criticized.
The US President is withdrawing the troops from Syria, he has apparently left out close associates. Contradiction comes from London and Trump’s own party.
Meanwhile, Interpol warns of a new IS terrorist wave. Britain disagrees with the US President’s assessment that the terrorist militia “Islamic State” (IS) has been defeated in Syria. IS continues to be a threat, even without territory, according to a statement by the British Foreign Ministry. There is still a lot to do in the fight against IS, “and we must not lose sight of the danger it poses.”
Previously, the US government had surprisingly announced the withdrawal of troops from Syria. It has already begun to withdraw soldiers from the country, said the White House on Wednesday. The US has defeated the “territorial caliphate” of the terrorist militia.
That does not mean that the global coalition in the fight against IS or its campaign have come to an end. Now the next phase of this mission begins.
Late Wednesday night, President Donald Trump defended the move again. In a video message on Twitter, he said, “We won against IS, and now it’s time for our soldiers to come home.” They are heroes. [We add to this account that President Trump included his sorrow in writing to the families of US soldiers killed in this war.]
CNN reported that Trump did not include Foreign Minister Mike Pompeo or Secretary of Defense James Mattis in his decision. Republican Senator Bob Corker is quoted as saying the decision was a shock to the government team.
The New York Times wrote that representatives of the Pentagon have until recently tried in vain to dissuade Trump from his decision. Government officials responded to demands from journalists that the timetable for the withdrawal was still being worked out. Other questions about details they also left unanswered.
The US is at the head of an international coalition that is fighting IS in Syria. There are about 2,000 US soldiers (officially acknowledged) in Syria to train and advise the Syrian opposition forces.
Criticism from the USA – praise from Russia
Criticism and misunderstanding of Trump’s decision also comes from his own party. The IS has by no means been defeated, writes South Carolina’s Republican Senator Lindsey Graham – generally a defender of Trump. A withdrawal of the US troops is a big “Obama-scale error” and helps the IS in its efforts to re-expand in the region.
The Republican Senator from Florida, Marco Rubio, spoke of a hasty departure as a terrible mistake that will haunt the country for years to come. The decision was against the military’s advice and will have serious consequences for the United States.
Colorado’s Republican senator Cory Gardner called on Trump to abandon his decision. Six Republican senators, including Graham and Rubio, addressed Trump directly in a letter urging him to rethink his decision.
Republicans in the House of Representatives also expressed concern and irritation. Nancy Pelosi, the front-line Democrat in the Chamber, said it was premature to announce a victory over ISIS and withdraw US forces from Syria.
Several security experts also spoke of it as an ill-considered and daredevil step in the hands of the still-not defeated IS – as well as the government of the Syrian ruler Bashar al-Assad, Iran and Russia. On the other hand, praise for Trump’s decision came from Moscow. A spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry said to the media that now, there is a real perspective for a political agreement. The American troops were in Syria without any request from the Syrian government and without a UN mandate.
Interpol General Secretary warns of second IS terrorist wave
Meanwhile, Secretary-General of the international police organization Interpol, Jürgen Stock, said on Wednesday in Paris that many countries worldwide could face a second wave of Islamist terror. “You could call that also Isis 2.0,” he said, using “Isis” an English abbreviation for the terrorist militia. The reason is that many convicted terrorist supporters in Europe got only relatively short prison sentences because they were not convicted of a specific attack. “This generation of early supporters will be released in a few years.”
“Many would hopefully integrate into society, said Stock. But prisons are still – as recently seen in the Strasbourg terrorist attack – an essential incubator for radical ideologies. The alleged assassin of Strasbourg, Chérif Chekatt, noted that he had radicalized himself while in jail. If the IS was defeated geographically, these people would either try to move to other areas like Southeast Asia or Africa, Stock said. It is also possible that they would stay in Europe to carry out attacks.