European powers condemn Trump’s withdrawal from Syria


European powers condemn Trump’s withdrawal from Syria

Johannes Stern

24 December 2018

The withdrawal of US troops from Syria announced by US President Donald Trump and the subsequent resignation of his defence secretary, James Mattis, have provoked a fierce response from European leaders. After the initial shock, the European ruling elites reacted overwhelmingly with calls for a more independent European foreign and defence policy. In Germany, in particular, leading politicians and the media are outdoing one another with demands for an even faster rearmament of the German army (Bundeswehr) and the establishment of a European military force.

Trump’s decision evidently came as a complete surprise to European governments. In their official statements they condemn the move and urge a continuation of the war against the so-called Islamic State (IS) in Syria. “The decision of the White House is cause for concern,” reads an official statement of the German defence ministry. IS was “territorially under control, but by no means defeated.” One hopes that “the Americans will not withdraw in an overly hasty manner, but are aware of their responsibilities, not only to their own troops but also to others.”

A similar response came from Germany’s foreign minister, Heiko Maas (Social Democratic Party), who campaigned for greater military and economic intervention by Germany in Arab countries during his visit to Iraq last week. “The abrupt change of course of the American side was surprising” and not only for Germany. There was “the danger that the consequences of this decision will harm the fight against IS and jeopardise the achievements made.” The fight against the IS will be decided “in the long run—militarily and also with civil means: Bringing about…

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