Christmas conspiracy

President Donald Trump addresses the Project Safe Neighborhoods National Conference on December 07, 2018 in Kansas City, Missouri. Jamie Squire/Getty Images/AFP

Christmas has come early for Damascus this year, with Trump’s precious strategic gift to Russia, Turkey, Iran and Syria.

His unilateral, premature declaration of victory over Daesh (ISIS) and withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria comes against the advice of U.S. allies like the U.K., Germany and France, who insist that the threat of Daesh is still real.

And as one expert has put it, “Trump will be leaving an enormous chasm that Russia and Iran will now rush with glee to fill.”

Indeed. Russia has already welcomed the move. Iran has vowed to continue working with Turkey and Russia on Syria’s future. Turkey too is elated - just days ago it announced it was planning a new offensive against Kurdish fighters in Syria.

Trump’s “time for others to finally fight” forgets the “others” who are already fighting - local forces seeking freedom and democracy in Syria, including the Kurds. A U.S. pullout means those groups must confront, with their meager resources, the vulturous Russia, Iran, Turkey and the Syrian dictatorship, as well as Daesh.

But Trump’s abrupt withdrawal should not come as a surprise. If we look back at U.S. decisions in this region alone since the 1950s, we are faced with the dirty truth.

It happened in early ’50s, when the U.S. restored the regime of the shah of Iran, and then abandoned him in 1979 and gave the area over to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The expansionist designs of Iran soon became apparent, and the region is still suffering from the fallout.

It happened in 1982, when the U.S. decided to leave Lebanon to its fate after an operation against the Marines. Over 50,000 people were killed in the fighting that took place from then until 1990.

And it happened again in 2003, when the U.S. announced victory in Iraq and offered the country on a silver platter to Iran.

Trump’s decision makes it clear that U.S. declarations about fighting terrorism and opposing dictatorships are worthless.

For Syria’s occupiers and the regime, it is Christmas glory. But the season definitely has no cheer for the Kurds and U.S. allies.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on December 21, 2018, on page 1.




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