Many of us, actually most of us, were pleased with candidate Trump’s declared intent to end our involvement in endless foreign interventions. He would put America first and refrain from sending our troops where they don’t belong. Once elected, his record was mixed. We launched an ineffective volley of cruise missiles at a Syrian airbase in response to a trumped up gas attack, but we never sought to establish a no fly zone and risk war with Russia. For a while we were well on our way to establish an enduring client state in east Syria. We assumed this was all the doing of the cabal of manipulating neocons that Trump surrounded himself with. His call for immediate withdrawal of troops from Syria surely proved this true. Finally Trump was allowed to be Trump. He was even seeking a way out of Afghanistan, after a literal lifetime of war in that godforsaken land.
The neocons are fighting back bigly. The pace of withdrawal from Syria was slowed and there is no indication we would ever give up our outpost on the Baghdad-Damascus highway at Tanf. Why? I think Trump laid out HIS thoughts on the matter during the traditional pre-super bowl presidential interview.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We have to protect Israel. We have to protect other things that we have…
MARGARET BRENNAN: But you want to keep troops there [Iraq] now?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: [W]e spent a fortune on building this incredible base. We might as well keep it. And one of the reasons I want to keep it is because I want to be looking a little bit at Iran because Iran is a real problem.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Whoa, that's news. You're keeping troops in Iraq because you want to be able to strike in Iran?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: No, because I want to be able to watch Iran. All I want to do is be able to watch. We have an unbelievable and expensive military base built in Iraq. It's perfectly situated for looking at all over different parts of the troubled Middle East rather than pulling up. And this is what a lot of people don't understand. We're going to keep watching and we're going to keep seeing and if there's trouble, if somebody is looking to do nuclear weapons or other things, we're going to know it before they do.
So, We are staying in Iraq to keep an eye on Iran and we are doing this to protect Israel. It was not any of the neocons who said this. It was Trump himself. So much for America first. There also appears to be an effort to keep the Rojava Kurds as a proxy force after our troops withdraw to Iraq. We continue sending combat and engineering equipment into Rojava and fully intend to continue providing air support to the YPG. We just can’t let it go.
However, Baghdad has thrown a monkey wrench into this developing Trump doctrine. Iraqi President Barham Salih has told Trump to slow his roll.
BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iraqi President Barham Salih said on Monday that President Donald Trump did not ask Iraq’s permission for U.S. troops stationed there to “watch Iran.”
Speaking at a forum in Baghdad, Salih was responding to a question about Trump’s comments to CBS about how he would ask troops stationed in Iraq to “watch” Iran. U.S. troops in Iraq are there as part of an agreement between the two countries with a specific mission of combating terrorism, Salih said, and that they should stick to that. (Reuters)
I see a confrontation in our future, especially with all the Iraqi PMS units in western Iraq.