Skip to main content

Conditioning American withdrawal from Syria

Now that President Donald Trump has announced US forces will be soon leaving Syria, the administration must rethink its previously stated conditions for withdrawal.
A member of U.S forces rides on a military vehicle in the town of Darbasiya next to the Turkish border, Syria April 28, 2017. REUTERS/Rodi Said - RC1FBF066A10

Back in January, then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that American objectives in Syria were to suppress any Islamic State (IS) resurgence, oust Bashar al-Assad from power, reduce Iranian influence, continue to back a Kurdish-dominated enclave and reassure our Turkish allies. This speech has now disappeared from the State Department website, along with all the former secretary of state's other pronouncements. And this week, President Donald Trump announced that American forces will soon be withdrawn from Syria, while the State Department put a hold on further stabilization assistance to areas liberated from IS.

Tillerson’s announced objectives were mutually incompatible and largely unachievable, even were the United States to sustain its modest level of military and economic engagement in Syria. Trump’s announcement, therefore, makes some sense, but only if conditioned on a more modest set of conditions for withdrawal.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.