In a policy reversal, the U.S. government will now maintain a presence of 1,000 military service members in Syria, after having previously announced a plan to withdraw the U.S. military from the country.
The shift represents a victory for forces within Congress and the executive branch that waged an influence campaign to reverse President Trump’s pledge to return the troops home. Neoconservative Senator Lindsey Graham had admitted to seeking to convince the President to drop the popular policy.
White House National Security Advisor John Bolton also had sought to maintain the military deployment.
Former Secretary of Defense James Mattis had even gone to the lengths of resigning his post in the administration in protest of the America First foreign policy realignment.
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Now, with a enduring U.S. troop presence in Syria, it appears his exit from the administration was arranged on erroneous grounds.
The military will continue to assist Kurdish-led forces in securing territory from the Islamic State, the once-formidable terrorist group now said to be on its deathbed and holding a last stand in a few small towns in eastern Syria.
Bolton has pushed for U.S. forces to serve as a deterrent of sorts to Iranian influence in the country. It’s unclear how the bellicose National Security Advisor plans to use the troops to counteract Iran in Syria, considering that Syria’s government is closely tied to the Iranians.
Theoretically, Bolton may seek a soft regime change push in the country, even as the nation’s nearly decade long civil war appears to be coming to a close.
The continuing military deployment in the Middle Eastern country comes as a disappointment to the President’s supporters who hoped he’d be more intent on enacting the America First foreign policy vision he campaigned on in 2016.