February 24, 2018
President Donald Trump appeared to dash the hopes of interventionists and contradict his own administration officials, by declaring that US troops’ mission in Syria is limited to defeating ISIS and doesn’t include regime change.
We’re there for one reason: to get ISIS and get rid of ISIS, and to go home,”Trump said on Friday, during a joint press conference with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at the White House. “We’re not there for any other reason and we’ve largely accomplished our goal.”
While Trump did not hesitate to call the Syrian government “a humanitarian disgrace,” criticizing Russia and Iran for their involvement, his comments implied the US military also had no business in Syria beyond the ‘ultimate’ goal of defeating Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).
Trump on U.S. policy in Middle East:
“What Russia and what Iran and what Syria have done recently is a humanitarian disgrace … We’re there for one reason. We’re there to get ISIS and get rid of ISIS and go home … And we’ve largely accomplished that goal” pic.twitter.com/sO4eUiXgI4
— NBC Politics (@NBCPolitics) February 23, 2018
“Ultimately, there has to be a political settlement,” said Turnbull, noting that Australian troops in the region have been focused on training the Iraqi military and not so much on Syria.
The two leaders were answering a question from a US reporter who wondered what they intended to do about the East Ghouta crisis. The suburb of Damascus is held by Al-Qaeda-affiliated militants and has seen heavy fighting over the past two weeks.
Trump’s position might be news to his Cabinet officials, however. US envoy to the UN, Nikki Haley, who has been an outspoken advocate of regime change in Syria, is currently championing a Security Council resolution proposing an emergency ceasefire in the area, following the militants’ claims of…