Friday, July 21, 2017

What You Need to Know About Trump's Ending Covert Aid to Some Syrian Rebels

Observers should not take the recent move by President Trump to halt covert aid to some Syrian rebels as some sort of move by the President to shrink the U.S. footprint overseas on principled grounds.

It was likely done based on the facts on the ground. The New York Times explains:
 Mr. Assad, secure in his support from Moscow and Tehran, no longer sees a fundamental threat to his ability to remain in power. And Mr. Trump’s decisions amounted to an acknowledgment that no escalation of the program, which began in 2013 in concert with the C.I.A.’s counterparts in Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Jordan, was likely to yield a different result...
The program became less relevant as the Russians increased their presence in Syria, targeting and badly weakening the C.I.A.-backed rebels, who were the most capable of the opposition fighters. That helped the Assad government claw back and consolidate territorial gains...
When the history of the effort is written — and the documents surrounding it are declassified — historians will doubtless seek to learn why the rebels lost ground for years, to Syrian government forces and their Russian and Iranian allies, and to extremists.
After the rebels’ expulsion from the eastern half of the city of Aleppo last year, it became clear that they no longer posed a serious threat to Mr. Assad’s rule.
Bottom line, the program was a colossal failure but here is the kicker buried in the last paragraph of the Times story, just in case you think Trump has gotten "end foreign entanglements" religion:
But stopping the covert program, which mainly helped rebels near the Turkish border in northwestern Syrian and along the Jordanian border in the south, will not affect the fight against the jihadists of the Islamic State in the east. A different program there run by the Pentagon is supporting a Kurdish-Arab militia known as the Syrian Democratic Forces.

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