Tyler Durden writes:
As part of his blitz of latest executive orders, which as reported yesterday would institute sweeping changes to U.S. refugee and immigration policies including a ban on people from countries in the Middle East and North Africa deemed as a "terror risk", a separate order also lays the groundwork for an escalation of U.S. military involvement in Syria by directing the Pentagon and the State Department to craft a plan to create safe zones for civilians fleeing the conflict there.
Trump said on Wednesday he "will absolutely do safe zones in Syria" for refugees fleeing violence. According to a document seen by Reuters, Trump is expected to order the Pentagon and the State Department in the coming days to come up with a plan for the zones.
Such safe zones could provide an alternative to admitting refugees to the U.S. according to Trump, but would also force greater US military deployment to the region.
According to the WSJ, the safe-zone proposal represents a significant policy reversal from the administration of Barack Obama, who long resisted pressure for such an approach from Congress and U.S. allies in the Middle East because he believed it would draw the U.S. too deeply into another war.
Establishing safe zones in Syria would mark an escalation in America’s military involvement there. In addition to the initial military buildup that likely would be needed to create the zones, ground troops and additional air power will be needed to protect them, military officials have said. Such zones would also put U.S.-allied forces in dangerous proximity to foreign troops, including forces from Russia and the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Confirming that Trump's proposal plays into the hands of the party that has been mostly responsible for the relentless proxy war in Syria over the past 6 years, Qatar, a backer of rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, welcomed Trump's pledge to order safe zones in Syria, a foreign ministry official was quoted as saying by state news agency QNA on Thursday.
Qatar's foreign ministry director of information, Ahmed al-Rumaihi, said in a statement that Qatar welcomed Trump's comments on Wednesday and "emphasized the need to provide safe havens in Syria and to impose no-fly zones to ensure the safety of civilians." Rumaihi said Qatar hoped recent negotiations in Kazakhstan would help maintain a shaky truce between Syria's warring parties and that an effective monitoring mechanism would be needed to create conditions for proposed peace talks in Geneva.
As a reminder, gas-rich Qatar works alongside Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Western nations to back Syrian rebels in a military aid program overseen by the CIA that provides moderate groups with arms and training.