Rex Tillerson confirmed today that U.S. forces are staying in Syria indefinitely. The reason he gave for keeping them there makes no sense:
American troops will remain in Syria long after their fight against the Islamic State to ensure that neither Iran nor President Bashar al-Assad of Syria take over areas that have been newly liberated with help from the United States, Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson said on Wednesday.
According to Tillerson, U.S. forces will remain in Syria on an open-ended mission to ensure that the recognized government of the country does not establish control over its own territory. To call this policy deranged would be too generous. The U.S. has no business in having a military presence in another country without its government’s permission, and it has no right to maintain that presence for the explicit purpose of preventing that government from exercising control inside its own internationally recognized borders. If another state did what the U.S. is now doing in Syria, Washington would condemn it as an egregious violation of international law and would probably impose sanctions on the government in question.
U.S. forces are in Syria without authorization from Congress and they have no international mandate to be there. A continued U.S. presence in Syria is both illegal and unwarranted, and it exposes American soldiers to unnecessary risks for the sake of spiting the Iranian and Syrian governments. This obviously has nothing to do with defending the U.S. or its treaty allies, and it serves no discernible American security interest.