John Bolton Lays Conditions Preventing Immediate Troop Withdrawal from Syria

John Bolton

National Security Adviser John Bolton contradicted President Donald Trump’s decision of pulling out the American troops in Syria, laying out conditions that forbid a rapid and immediate withdrawal of the US military.

On Sunday, Bolton visited Israel to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, where the National Security Adviser said that the pulling out of the US troops from northeastern Syria is dependent on factors like removing the remnants of ISIS, and Turkey’s assurance about the safety of US-allied Kurdish fighters.

To the reporters in Jerusalem, John Bolton said, “There are objectives that we want to accomplish that condition the withdrawal,” adding: “The timetable flows from the policy decisions that we need to implement.”

The Security Adviser also said that the pullout would be done in a way that assured the ISIS “is defeated and is not able to revive itself and become a threat again.”

Post Bolton’s comments, Trump also stated that there is no specific timeline for the exit. “We’re pulling out of Syria,” he said Sunday at the White House. “But we’re doing it and we won’t be finally pulled out until ISIS is gone.”

In mid-December, the President announced to call all 2,000 American troops in Syria back home, causing intense dissent among the Republican senators and the Pentagon officials. The havoc escalated to a level, where James Mattis resigned from his position of defense secretary.

The implementation of Trump’s decision would have meant an abrupt end of the American influence in the eastern part of Syria — rich in oil, gas and fertile land — where Iran and Russia are growing a strong military foothold.

Besides, a risk of revival of the Islamic State group, the eradication of which was the major mission of America, was also the biggest concern of most of the lawmakers and defense officials.

Apart from the United States, the Syrian government and Israel were also startled for different reasons. While the Syrian government feared the risk of regrouping of Jihadists, Israel dreaded the risk of war with Iran.

However, the Sunday statement of John Bolton was allayed multiple fears raised by Trump’s sudden decision. His statements mark the first public affirmation that the downsizing has been slowed down.

Speaking alongside Netanyahu, John Bolton reassured the Israeli leaders that US intends to guard it from the Iranian violence even after the US troops in Syria are pulled out. He also warned that any country intending offensive against Israel should “think again,” which was seen as an implicit message to Iran.  

The comments from John Bolton came as a major relief to chaos caused by the President. Trump’s decision of withdrawing the troops stationed in Syria, which was taken under the influence of the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, prompted intense opposition from the allies and the administration alike. However, the National Security Adviser calmed the diplomatic storm, aroused after Trump’s abrupt decision of Syria withdrawal.

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