The illegal U.S. military presence isn’t ending anytime soon:
President Donald Trump said US troops in Syria will be coming home, but also that he wanted to leave ‘strong and lasting footprint’ in the country.
Trump can’t have things both ways on this question, but he keeps trying. If the U.S. leaves a “strong and lasting footprint” in Syria, that implies that there will be some U.S. forces there indefinitely. The reason for keeping them there seems to be thwarting Iran and nothing else. Trump gave a longer answer about Iran and Syria during one of his appearances with Macron:
With that being said, Emmanuel and myself have discussed the fact that we don’t want to give Iran open season to the Mediterranean, especially since we really control it to a large extent. We really have controlled it, and we’ve set control on it.
So we’ll see what happens. But we’re going to be coming home relatively soon. We finished, at least almost, our work with respect to ISIS in Syria, ISIS in Iraq. And we have done a job that nobody has been able to do. With that being said, I do want to come home, but I want to come home also with having accomplished what we have to accomplish.
Trump says that “we don’t want to give Iran open season to the Mediterranean,” which seems to mean that he thinks that the U.S. and its allies should deny Iran access to the territory of its own ally. That would be a major undertaking that would require a much larger military commitment than the U.S. has made in Syria so far, and it would inevitably put the U.S. on a collision course with Iran, Syria, and presumably Russia as well. It remains to be seen exactly what Trump thinks “what we have to accomplish” in Syria is, but it seems to be extremely ambitious and potentially very costly.
It goes without saying at this point that a continued U.S. military presence in Syria is completely illegal and serves no discernible American security interests. Spiting Iran and waging illegal war have become two of the main characteristics of Trump’s policies in the region, so it was just a matter of time before they were joined together.