Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 19, 2018

Report: U.S. To Leave Syria Immediately - Updated

Updated below

The Wall Street Journal just reported that U.S. troops prepare to leave northeast Syria:

WASHINGTON—In an abrupt reversal, the U.S. military is preparing to withdraw its forces from northeastern Syria, people familiar with the matter said Wednesday, a move that throws the American strategy in the Middle East into turmoil.

U.S. officials began informing partners in northeastern Syria of their plans to begin immediately pulling American forces out of the region where they have been trying to wrap up the campaign against Islamic State, the people said.

The move follows a call last week between President Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has threatened to launch an assault on America’s Kurdish partners in Syria.

Turkey had threatened over several week to invade and occupy an at least 10 miles deep strip of northeast Syria. The Turkish army brought heavy weapons to its adjacent borders areas. Some 15,000 foreign and Syrian 'rebels', paid by Turkey, are supposed to be on the forefront of the invasion. These were over the last month transferred from Idleb and other Turkish controlled areas of northwest Syria to the Turkish side of the eastern border.


The U.S. military and the neoconservatives elements in Trump's administration wanted to hold onto the northeast of Syria for an unlimited time. They planned to establish a Kurdish entity and finance it with the Syrian oil fields they occupied. They had plans to arm and train some 40,000 Kurdish troops.

For over a year the U.S. claimed to fight the Islamic State remands which still holds some grounds on the northern side of the Euphrates near the Iraqi border. But the front lines moved little. Only during the last week did the U.S. supported troops finally take the town of Hajin.

For Turkey the perspective of 40,000 armed and U.S. protected YPK Kurds on its border, while the YPG's sister organization PKK is fighting a separatist guerilla war against the Turkish army north of it, was a real and existential threat.

It seems that Erdogan made a deal with Trump, which is now turned into practical moves. Yesterday Turkey was suddenly offered to buy advanced Patriot missile defense systems. It had earlier decided to buy the Russian S-400 system. Now we learn the U.S. troops move out. What other surprises are in this deal? What does Trump get out of it? How does this change Turkey's relation with Russia?

And what about the U.S. occupied border station al-Tanf between Iraq and Syria. Will those troops leave too?



With the U.S. moving out there will be a race to take those parts of Syria that the U.S. leaves. Turkey is likely to stick to its invasion plan. The Syrian government must now race to take back the Raqqa dam, the rich agricultural land north of the Euphrates and, most important, the oil and gas field near the Iraqi border which are needed to finance the country.

It must also move parts of its army to the northeast Euphrates area to isolate and finally defeat the rest of ISIS that the U.S. seemingly leaves behind.

Update 14:45 utc

The New York Times(and Trump) confirm the move:

President Trump is considering pulling 2,000 United States ground troops out of Syria in a move that would seek to describe the four-year American-led war against the Islamic State as largely won, officials said Wednesday.

“We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency,” the president said in a Twitter post on Wednesday morning. He offered no details on his plans for the military mission in Syria.

A formal withdrawal announcement could come as early as Wednesday, administration officials said. But Pentagon officials were still trying to talk the president out of it, arguing that such a move would betray Kurdish allies who have fought alongside American troops in Syria and who could find themselves under attack in a military offensive now threatened by Turkey.

That the U.S. betrays the Kurds is almost a tradition. The Kurds had been warned about this over and over again. But they did not listen. Like in Afrin canton, which Turkey occupied after the Kurds rejected to come back under Syrian government control, they will now likely have to pay a huge price.

Mattis and the neocons want Trump to stay in Syria but it seems that for once Trump is not falling for their stupid plans.

Posted by b on December 19, 2018 at 09:21 AM | Permalink

« previous page


Trump said he would find another way to fund the wall.

Note he has not ground govt funding bill to a halt, as he previously threatened.

Where will he find money for the wall?

Well, how much does an illegal foreign incursion into someone elses country cost?

Enough to build a security wall on your own border, as promised?

Posted by: Loz | Dec 19, 2018 4:28:13 PM | 101

michael72 @95--

Yes, RT did provide a bit of an answer to mine @76. I thought this the best citation:

"One satirical news site perhaps put it best, 'reporting' that both the left and the right were taking aim at Trump for 'breaking with the longstanding American tradition of remaining in Middle Eastern countries indefinitely.'"

As the Outlaw US Empire continues its retreat from its self-appointed role as Global Policeman, we'll see an escalation is disillusioned comments like those of the Atlantic Council idiot. The Era of US Imperial Diktat has begun its deserved decline into nothingness. Imagine the screeches when Afghanistan's "abandoned."

Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 19, 2018 4:34:58 PM | 102

Following my Posted by: Laguerre | Dec 19, 2018 4:28:02 PM | 99, Turkey won't invade Rojava, as long as it accepts its subordinate status.

Posted by: Laguerre | Dec 19, 2018 4:41:02 PM | 103

Hm,..I am skeptical, a complete US troop withdrawal, no mention about the dozen or so US bases recently constructed east of the Euphrates river, are contractors/mercenaries staying.? I ques we'll have to wait and see.

Posted by: Hannibal | Dec 19, 2018 4:42:19 PM | 104

>>>>: michaelj72 | Dec 19, 2018 4:16:28 PM | 95

Jake Tapper says, "Responding to this, a Pentagon official asks me: “so when does Russia announce their victory?”

Jake Tapper is an twat. Why would the Russians need to "announce their victory" when it's so fucking obvious to everyone except the usual FUKUS wankers. Only losers need to propagandize about their "victories".

Posted by: Ghost Ship | Dec 19, 2018 4:50:46 PM | 105


I thought Mexico was going to pay for the wall. Oops.


You are right to be skeptical. Maybe Erik Prince got another contract or Turkey agreed to occupy the area on the US behalf after dealing with the US supported Kurds. Maybe US returns when the dust settles or maybe they never leave and just call troops observers

Posted by: Pft | Dec 19, 2018 4:51:11 PM | 106

It's definitely real, though whose to say that Trump won't 'change his mind' but the Russians believe it:

Constitutional committee has good chances after US pullout from Syria — diplomat

US may act in Syria through allies after troop pullout, says Russian senator

US troops’ withdrawal from Syria to create prospects for political solution, says diplomat

Reuters: US to pull out all troops from Syria in 60-100 days

Of course this just be Russian wishful thinking, though I'm sure they're asking 'what's the catch?'

Posted by: William Bowles | Dec 19, 2018 4:51:59 PM | 107

Erdogan is the best salesman in the entire bazaar and Netanyahu needs a war. Moving some US troops around is a tactical move, the strategic objectives remain unchanged.

Posted by: Symen Danziger | Dec 19, 2018 4:52:40 PM | 108

Victory over ISIS? Ha! The U.S. was supporting ISIS and various Al Qaeda affiliates in Syria in an effort to overthrow Assad. Will this fact be mentioned by Big Media at some point? Don't hold your breath waiting for it to happen.

Posted by: Rob | Dec 19, 2018 5:06:48 PM | 109

I find the discussion about the Outlaw US Empire's War Department's audit failure a related topic as it's as stupendous a crime as the entire War OF Terror. IMO, it's time we began our own narrative dealing with this massive crime and cover-up as it's like the waging of aggressive war--it contains all the other related crimes within it and is thus the penultimate crime.

Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 19, 2018 5:09:12 PM | 110

those boyz and girls are hero they beat isis they stopped animal assad doing a ghadaffi and killing his own people.
those guys and girls make usa usa proud.

it is time for them to leave this base and gets some r and r in israel,jordan and saudi arabia once rested they can redpoy to the new usa bases in israel.if jeruaalem is to be the capital of the world if hezbollah are to be taken down then heroic team america fighters are needed

Posted by: henry | Dec 19, 2018 5:13:55 PM | 111

When all 14 bases are empty of US military and PMCs, then you can believe the US military has left Syria.

It flies in the face of US-Israeli strategy against Iran.

It weakens any hope of controlling Hezbollah being armed with the best Iran weapons sent by land route and air into Damascus.

It endangers US presence in Iraq.

It abandons the proxy fighters in SDF, ISIS and al Nusra/AQ.

It basically abandons any pressure on Russia in the East Mediterranean.

It creates more military pressure on Israel, Jordan and abandons any hope of the US influencing Lebanon.

If you believe all the above is the new neo-con and Pentagon and Israeli strategy, then you can assume the US government has fallen into the hands of the Kremlin and Tehran.

As for Turkey getting everything it wants (no sanctions for buying the S-400s, F-35s delivered to it, the US doesn't protect the Kurds and Gulen extradited to Istanbul), what is it that the US gets? It's totally an Erdogan wet dream.

What a Christmas present for Assad, Putin, Tehran, Erdogan, Nasrallah, Soleimani and Peace on Earth.

Little Johnny gets a sleigh-load of presents from Santa Trump. End of fairy tale story.

Now go to sleep, kids and dream sweet dreams. Santa is on his way.

Posted by: Red Ryder | Dec 19, 2018 5:20:15 PM | 112

What's going to happen to the US base at al-Tanf? Are they pulling out?

Posted by: Bluto | Dec 19, 2018 5:22:11 PM | 113

I did try to comment before but the comment seems to have got lost.

In case it doesn't resurrect, I surmised before that if the joint Syrian-Russian-Iranian offensive in Idlib goes ahead this month or next, the takfiris there need to go somewhere else before they're ready to go back to Xinjiang, Central Asia or wherever they originally came from.

From a Turkish point of view, moving them to NE Syria to fight the Kurdish forces there would seem the right short-term strategy, so that US, French and other foreign forces can be freed up and sent to eastern Ukraine, Poland or the Baltic chihuahua states.

Posted by: Jen | Dec 19, 2018 5:23:40 PM | 114

Just kidding. We meant the small town of Syria in southern Indiana

Posted by: Robert McMaster | Dec 19, 2018 5:42:22 PM | 115

Could it be a trick that Trump is playing on the Democrats to get them to critize him for pulling out of Syria and thus making the Democratic party look like the war party. Will the Democrats fall for Trump's trap?

Posted by: QuietRebel | Dec 19, 2018 5:57:31 PM | 116

Just read UST announced lifting on sanctions on Oligarch Derispakas Rusal company. Derispaka as you know was linked to Manafort in the Ukraine. Anyways, given CNN ‘s Trump-Russia hysteria I go over to their web site to see their take. Nada, at least its not very visible if they reported on it. Certainly not headline news although Syria news is.

Maybe Syria is just a distraction to hide the fact Trump now caving on sanctions on Russia like he did on tarrifs with China and sanctions on Iran. Well, at least oil prices are lower but then the US is the worlds biggest of oil producer so thats a mixed bag

Posted by: Pft | Dec 19, 2018 6:17:58 PM | 117

Trump didn't throw the "Syrian Kurds" under the bus, he just hurled the PKK leadership under a freight-train.

The Syria Kurds will take this opportunity to rid themselves of the PKK who took over their populist movement by force. Most of the Kurds have no idea who these guys are or what their cause is or any of the other nonsense we hear in the news. It's a long story but the PKK is essentially only in control right now because they have the most weapons.

The PKK has ethnically cleansed areas as well. They ran the Sunni's out of their towns and into refugee camps inside Turkey and won't let them return. That tells you right there what a sham their so called democratic, whatever the hell it's supposed to be, is.

They have "offices" in towns all through the region but they are not open to anyone. They do make sure taxes are collected and that type of thing but there are no actual elections and nobody to talk to if anyone has a problem. They also enforce the draft, including the forced inscription of young women, no strike that, some of them are actually girls, not just young women at all.

All those pictures you see all over of the brave Kurdish hotties? BS from top to bottom. It's all run by a bunch of men close to the imprisoned cult leader who is waging a civil war inside of Turkey (And yes that war is still going on despite zero coverage in the news). It's not some democratic situation between the current PKK leadership and the kurds either. Most of the Kurds don't want anything to do with the PKK and would be glad to see them gone. Whatever it was they promised the Kurds they have long since gone back on it and are now just another bunch of authoritarian cultists who keep control with their guns.

How long do you think these guys, who forced girls to join their ranks, will last after the Sunni's come home from Turkey and join back up with the Kurds who refused to fight for the PKK? I'd say they will last until about three seconds after the money and weapons deals from the US run out. After that any bets are off on to who gets them first, Turkey, the Syrian Kurds themselves or the Sunni, but without US money their days are numbered.

Posted by: Brad Smith | Dec 19, 2018 6:18:48 PM | 118

Did the Kashoggi affair have that much blackmail weigth?

Posted by: Lozion | Dec 19, 2018 6:19:12 PM | 119

i think it might have Lozion but i don't put it past them to do a bait and switch. somethings up, i am not trusting we're just up and leaving.

Posted by: annie | Dec 19, 2018 6:27:43 PM | 120

"When all 14 bases are empty of US military and PMCs, then you can believe the US military has left Syria..."

it is always best to recognise that the primary purpose of all US spending on Defence, and base construction in particular, is to provide profitable jobs for contractors.
When the US abandons a base, recently built, the odds are that it will never be properly inspected and the bills will be enormously inflated. I would not be surprised if one of Trump's friends in the construction business had made a killing here.
War is a racket, we've been told. And this war, with IS's looting of Syrian oilfields, under the benign observation of the US military, is no exception.

Posted by: bevin | Dec 19, 2018 6:27:46 PM | 121

bevin, he could also plan on privatizing the war. remember erik prince's plan for afghanistan? replacing troops with private military contractors?

Posted by: annie | Dec 19, 2018 6:33:30 PM | 122

Has no one pondered that this may be more payment to erdogan for not releasing information implicating MBS in the kashloggi incident? He has wanted the us or anyone to stop supporting the Kurds and he would eradicate them if given the chance. The plan as I've seen it was to divide Syria anyway and this may give erdogan the chance. If a false flag is implemented I believe it will be an attack on turks to justify thier invason as a NATO member state. That could lead to some interesting treaty and Ally issues between us and Russia.

Posted by: Danon | Dec 19, 2018 6:37:56 PM | 123

The "Bring Troops Home For Christmas" meme is a great PR strategy.

Trump is a PR man if he is anything.

Though he may be nothing but an empty bloated man in a suit with a fat ass, tiny hands, tiny mushroom and an appetite for young girls who resemble his daughter.

Posted by: fast freddy | Dec 19, 2018 6:40:41 PM | 124

Special operations forces do not withdraw, and the troops to be leaving will be replaced by private military contractors....

Thus, not a withdrawal, but most probably the prelude of a more dirty, if possible, way of conducting themselves in Syria, with the possibility of a more plausible denial, in case they are planning something really big and dirty...

In conclusion, he is not fulfilling any electoral promise, as the Trump groupies at SST are claiming enraptured, but he continues to feed the MIC while most probably pavlnning one of his already usual dirty tricks....

Posted by: Sasha | Dec 19, 2018 6:48:12 PM | 125

Unmentioned so far is what about the activities of the USAF/USN/USMC aircraft over Syria. It is only when they stop that the US will have actually moved out.

Posted by: JohninMK | Dec 19, 2018 6:54:59 PM | 126

@117 Great post. I get fed up with hearing about 'the Kurds' as if they were one homogeneous block. I'm sure most of them would be glad to see the back of the PKK and the Rojava militants. That said who will be collecting the taxes if they don't?

Posted by: dh | Dec 19, 2018 7:00:10 PM | 127

Thank you Trump

Posted by: Toxik | Dec 19, 2018 7:04:57 PM | 128

Let me guess ... the United States "pulls out" of Syria (not Al Tanf, I see) and then the Syrians and Russians help the Kurds defend themselves against the Turks and, since Turkey is NATO, the U.S. has to come back in on the side of their NATO ally. The U.S is yanked around by Israel, Israel wants us there to fight the Iranians, we're not going anywhere permanently.

Posted by: rcentros | Dec 19, 2018 7:08:47 PM | 129

Great news. Turkey will occupy half of Syria and bring peace. Syria needs peace.

Posted by: GrandVizier | Dec 19, 2018 7:14:53 PM | 130

The great Sultan Erdoghan Khan will make Kurdish to pay. I can see a new Ottoman Empire on the horizon.

Posted by: GrandVizier | Dec 19, 2018 7:17:56 PM | 131

@128 By 'fight the Iranians' I assume you mean bombing. The US doesn't need troops in Syria to do that.

As JohninMK says @125 it is only when USAF/USN/USMC aircraft leave that the US will actually have moved out.

Posted by: dh | Dec 19, 2018 7:19:57 PM | 132

There is clearly more to this story than what we are reading. Whatever happened between Erdogan and the US? Did Erdogan threaten to release video of the Khashoggi killing, maybe audio of MBS ordering the kill? Maybe he just threatened to attack US troops or close incirik? All of the above? Whatever it was, it seems Erdogan is at the center of it. It does not appear that Russia played a part in this but who knows.

Posted by: Alaric | Dec 19, 2018 7:38:06 PM | 133

@5 Russ

"Pentagon officials were still trying to talk the president out of it"

The record's been that Trump backpedals once "talked to". I'll believe this withdrawal when it actually happens.

(One of the main threads of fake news seems to be headlines which proclaim something is about to happen, and it never happens.)

My sentiments as well.

Actions speak louder than words, talk - action = 0, don’t count your chickens until they’ve hatched etc.

Posted by: Daniel | Dec 19, 2018 8:26:48 PM | 134


“Has no one pondered that this may be more payment to erdogan for not releasing information implicating MBS in the kashloggi incident? “

The Khashoggi event was likely a Deep State operation (a faction of the Saudis, US, Turkey) to reign in MBS and control him (see how oil prices dropped as soon as Khashoggi hit the news) and keep the Saudis from controlling the vast oil fields in North Yemen after doing the bulk of the heavy lifting against the Houthis.

Erdogans reward for their role including the hyping of Khashoggi news in the media despite offering no real evidence, as well as Bransons release before midterms and now today we learn of Turkey planning to buy 3.4 billion in missile defense equipment from US seems to be Northern Syria, and maybe even Gulen and a halt on the attack on their currency (which has strengthened since September when it looked as if it would collapse).

Posted by: Pft | Dec 19, 2018 8:51:52 PM | 135

If this happens, and there is no false flag chemical attack, or war against Iran, I will gladly eat crow on my previous Trump comments.

Posted by: Schmoe | Dec 19, 2018 8:54:58 PM | 136

The US was never going to stay indefinitely at these locations
These parts of Syria are for Turkey to occupy as part of the partition plan. Turkey will likely deploy their US Patriot Missile Systems deep into this part of Syria.
There will also be no fight between Turkey and the Kurds either.
The plan for the Kurds is to vacate the North East and move into the next area of interest for their partition plan. That will be the area they control indefinitely.
Last will be Israel expanding their occupation of the Golan Heights further to the East along the southern border of Syria. This was the plan all along and it's moving forward accordingly.

Posted by: martin | Dec 19, 2018 8:57:00 PM | 137

Clearing out US troops to make way for the use of tactical nukes?

Posted by: Qualtrough | Dec 19, 2018 9:31:36 PM | 138

it is a funny thing about moa comment section... you have maybe 3 or 4 relatively serious suggestions to be considered, repeated by all the posters who never bother to actually read the same suggestions stated by others from the beginning of the thread... sure would be nice if other posters read others comments before stating the same thing over and over again...

Posted by: james | Dec 19, 2018 9:35:27 PM | 139

In one small way I believe my vote for Trump has finally been realized. We all know that Obama and Hillary pushed for war against Syria -- Regime change their slogan. Now that it is clear that the US cannot determine that outcome without full scale US military ground troop involvement it seems Trump may be willing to simple give it up. Now that is US leadership that I have to agree with.

Posted by: ToivoS | Dec 19, 2018 10:00:20 PM | 140

@117 Brad Smith

I hope everything you're saying is true - I don't know enough to judge so I defer to your scenario, gladly. The PKK by some accounts has slaughtered up to 40,000 people in its war against Turkey. If this means the end of PKK control, then it's an excellent outcome for the world and certainly Turkey - and actually, as you illustrate, for the Kurds themselves.


It doesn't seem that the Khashoggi affair could have enough weight to cause all these things to happen, simply on its own. And yet Erdogan seems likely to have been a strong player in the changes. So, to the extent that this thing does happen, we are obviously watching a geo-political shift of significant proportions happening. I don't think we have all the back story yet.

Trump stands his ground while war-mongers in both the US and the UK declaim against POTUS policy? It will be interesting to see who holds the longest knives in this scrimmage.


If the US troops are actually withdrawing, I can't see that they will be be replaced with anything. Mercenaries will not carry the US brand the same way that soldiers would, and will be slaughtered by the Syrian forces and allies. And the Pentagon is very concerned about crossing Russia's red lines, so if the troops go, nothing US is coming back, in my opinion.

My best guess is that if they leave, they actually go and are gone forever, and it's because Erdogan said that if they didn't he couldn't guarantee their safety, and everyone knows what that means. I actually think that Turkey could kill US troops and get away with it, causing much less of a rumpus than if Russia or SAA did it.

The Yanquis will still be close by in Iraq for a time longer yet, until the Iraqis finally muscle them out in a way that the US can report back home as "victory".

Posted by: Grieved | Dec 19, 2018 10:02:00 PM | 141

If all U.S. troops are out including at al-tanf then that's great news, but color me skeptical. I don't trust this. Hello, Trump hired Pompeo and Bolton for a reason. He tore up the Iran deal for a reason. He's Netayahoo's best buddy for a reason. Hope we're not about to be blindsighted by what's really in the works. This is an excerpt from the official WH statement.:

We have started returning United States troops home as we transition to the next phase of this campaign.

NEXT PHASE? What does that mean?

Didn't I say Trump needs a wag-the-dog just about now? I did. Ask me if I'm happy about this in a month or two. Forgive my cynicism, but I just don't trust this. I want to see what Trump means by next phase.

Posted by: Circe | Dec 19, 2018 10:03:28 PM | 142

As I continue to think about this it came to me that perhaps the 24 hour withdrawal of State Dept. folks is a tell.

I think that Trump has more "control" over the State Dept. than the military complex at this time. It is possible that he is forcing the situation by texting about it and then pulling out the State Dept. in 24 hours.

And to support the Circe and other commenters bandwagon...just what is the next phase of this campaign?

Do we have dueling "wag the dog" producers behind the curtain? I posit that we do and hence the circus we see. How will the not-Trump producer respond to this?

Posted by: psychohistorian | Dec 19, 2018 10:39:07 PM | 143

I'm in good skeptical company.:

Maria Zakharova, said.

"The United States has said that it had switched to a new phase, an unknown phase. There are no details but it allegedly includes the withdrawal of troops ... Of course, we would like to understand what this new phase and the new stage of the Syria campaign entails. ..."

Posted by: Circe | Dec 19, 2018 10:42:01 PM | 144

That is not to say that there is not one wag the dog producer to rule them all......which I think there is.

What we get is 11-dimension kabuki that can cover lots of evolving externalities.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Dec 19, 2018 10:42:46 PM | 145

I would love to believe the US is leaving Syria; but, I'm skeptical "all" the troops will leave.
A lot of folks are furious with Trump for this move. And he's well known for going 180° on decisions; we'll see...

Posted by: V | Dec 19, 2018 11:03:50 PM | 146

To all of those talking about looming false flags in Ukraine or Syria......

I am utterly sick of the pre-prog declarations of an incoming false flag from either the Atlanticist media or the Eurasianist media. Both the Wall Street Journal and Haaretz in the former camp and RT and MintPressNews in the latter camp have repeatedly claimed that Assad/White Helmets/ISIS/Ukrainians/Russians or whoever are about to stage an attack, and yet every single attack, false flag or no (including the recent one in Damascus) have notably NOT been preceded by this kind of crap. It discredits the media on both sides and contributes to a paranoid and hair-trigger atmosphere. I am not doubting at all the likelihood that the Douma attack and others were false flags or manufactured in some way but perhaps it's best to wait for something to actually happen before making any judgements. Otherwise, we're just like Trump, Macron and May when they rush to judgement, NATO guns ablazing

Posted by: Blooming Barricade | Dec 19, 2018 11:23:05 PM | 147

@140 Circe

You can’t say, “We retreat, you win,” if you are the US. Sorry, that kind of talk is bad for even his base.

So that leaves, “This isn’t a retreat. We promise.”

Sure it isn’t.


Ru and Syria have been steps ahead of the Empire all this time.

They will continue to play the long game even with the US leaving.

Posted by: NemesisCalling | Dec 19, 2018 11:40:40 PM | 148

With the Turkey+Iran+Russia push to reform Syria’s constitution and marshaling the SAG into elections, coupled with the lack of any achievable military objectives, Trump probably sees this as a good time to declare victory and throw the albatross overboard.

I wonder if this could be related to some policy shift signaled by the withdrawal from the INF and the escalation of tensions with China and the Ukrainian Grand Guignol, to shift to a higher level of strategy focusing on super powered peers instead of small fish that turned out to be too hard to ingest.

Internal issues are heating up in the US - looking at the malfeasance of Fakebook enabling the dissemination of personal data, the catastrophic effect of the opioid scourge, the dysfunctional politics, usw.

Maybe it’s as simple as a clearing the deck in anticipation of 2020 elections.

Posted by: Stumpy | Dec 20, 2018 12:04:50 AM | 149

And where the hell did a Japan find 245 $B to buy 105 F-35s?

Posted by: Stumpy | Dec 20, 2018 12:09:10 AM | 150

Perhaps this is a tactical withdrawal rather than strategic? Our (US) troops are too exposed in Syria. If, say, something big starts up in Ukraine, the Strait of Hormuz or elsewhere, having troops badly exposed in Syria is a liability.

Just wondering worrying.

Good news about Syria makes me edgy.

Posted by: librul | Dec 20, 2018 12:32:16 AM | 151

Looks like Republicans found an issue they can use against Trump to abandon ship. What disgusts me is that Democrat supporters who like to think of themselves as liberal and left are also critical of this sudden Syria exit. This really exposes how hypocritical they are, and of course the Republicans are their usual hawkish selves. Ugh! There's no hope on either side! They don't even bother hiding it. Warmongers, the lot of them!

Look, if Trump isn't cooking up some wag-the-dog scheme as a next phase or move; I'll give him credit for this, but he's just too much of an opportunist, he's got Bolton and Pompeo chomping at the bit, and his Republican brothers are up in arms about this (with the exception of Rand Paul) and so I just can't trust this. Trump must have expected this reaction ergo he may have something planned. The next phase? We'll see where this leads.

Posted by: Circe | Dec 20, 2018 12:53:13 AM | 152

And where the hell did a Japan find 245 $B to buy 105 F-35s?

Posted by: Stumpy | Dec 20, 2018 12:09:10 AM | 148

I'm certainly not an expert on economics, but I suspect this may be related:

Posted by: flayer | Dec 20, 2018 1:59:27 AM | 153

BBC is coming out hard against the withdrawal. Blaming a private deal between Trump and the sultan of Turkey. We will see...

Posted by: the pessimist | Dec 20, 2018 2:18:27 AM | 154

What the hell, MSM, politicians from left to right slam Trump's withdrawal?! What kind of sickos are these people!?

Posted by: Zanon | Dec 20, 2018 3:57:40 AM | 155

Is the BBC one, sick fucking organisation or what?

This from today's BBC 'news':

A US-backed alliance in Syria says President Donald Trump's surprise decision to withdraw US troops will allow the Islamic State (IS) group to recover.

A statement from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) warned of a military vacuum that would leave the alliance trapped between hostile parties.

Mr Trump made the announcement on Wednesday, saying IS had been defeated.

However, major allies have disputed the claim.

Note that of course to advocate this insane position the BBC has to ignore the fact that it was Syrian/Russian forces that broke the back of the proxy force ISIS! This is the true face of the UK and its mouthpiece, the BBC!

Posted by: William Bowles | Dec 20, 2018 4:56:49 AM | 156

@ Red Ryder 112


@ fast freddy 124


@ james 139

So true.

Okay, I'll stop expressing my opinion on the many other excellent comments.

>> for once Trump is not falling for their stupid plans.

To nitpick, I doubt Trump has been "falling" for much of anything. Although Trump campaigned mostly on dovish comments to market himself to Americans tired of senseless wars, Trump also spoke of stealing oil, hired John Bolton, signed every piece of hawkish legislation, and passed hawkish executive orders.

Posted by: dumbass | Dec 20, 2018 5:46:12 AM | 157


My take as well -- the most plausible.

Posted by: bjd | Dec 20, 2018 5:51:05 AM | 158

I wonder if Putin thought it might be worth losing a defense system sale in order to get the Americans out of the way and perhaps encourages Erdogan to cut a deal? It seems like Russia will be able to wind down their military activity in Syria a lot faster without the Americans building military bases, enabling drone swarms, bombing the SAA and training and arming 'moderate rebels'.

Posted by: CD Waller | Dec 20, 2018 6:05:12 AM | 159

Sorry to add a bit of cold water to a promising event.
This link is to Consortium News and mentions that the real US action will be to re-align to Raqqa. However, it also mentions that the problem is that Trumps ideas - are overridden each time by the "whatever"-state (Pentagon, Deep, CIA, Zionist, financial or neocon)

A possible answer to why Trump made the statement and the interpretations/conditions it has created is that now - ALL the world will see that he is not responsible for further warfare or hostilities. As it must be the "controllers" who (will) decide not to leave. I see this as preventive action to avoid taking the blame when the whole situation backfires.

Note that the Northern part of East Syria may well be left to Turkey under a previous discrete arrangement. But, the Russians have stated that they are now embedded in ALL the SAA troops holdings, and have built a base controlling the north Damascus-Beirut road through Al-Tanf. So the situation is going to get worse if the US tries to make a "no-fly" zone over Syria East of the Euphrates. (The part that has the major Oil fields). As the Russians are not in a "subservient" mood.

Posted by: stonebird | Dec 20, 2018 6:53:08 AM | 160

Heed b's earlier warning, we havent seen US leave Syria yet. No reason to believe that that will occur before it already in fact have - if it will.

Posted by: Zanon | Dec 20, 2018 7:34:42 AM | 161

Maybe the real importance of this announcement is that ISIS has been defeated.

Could it be that the US is bowing to the reality of 1) Assad-Russian win in Syria, and 2) Iraq's closeness with Iran?

Might Eastern Syria + Western Iraq declare independence? That would likely draw quick recognition from a couple of dozen UN members.

Such an occurrence would legalize US troops there block travel/transit between Iraq/Iran and Syria. It is consistent with the strategy to economically strangle Syria.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Dec 20, 2018 7:58:43 AM | 162

Posted by: stonebird | Dec 20, 2018 6:53:08 AM | 160

Actually, US long term strategy is quite consistent - even if stupid.

After 1990 they planned to take down the regimes of the former Soviet Middle Eastern sphere of influence - Iraq, Libya, Syria, Iran, Somalia, you know Wesley Clark's list. Until a larger power would arise. Similar policy in Europe with Yugoslavia and EU expansion, Germany tasked with the soft power.

The US signalled this in such a way Syria and Iran knew what was coming, both countries therefore made sure the US would get bogged down in Iran.

Obama tried to finish the plan before the US would turn to the Pacific by "being more intelligent" trying to win hearts and minds via the Arab spring and the Muslim brotherhood. Much to the disgust of the Egyptian military and Israel.

Obama also politely told Europeans, Saudis and Israelis that in the future they will have to look after themselves "leading from behind". Refusing to get involved in Syria.

Not according to plan, the US are now faced by a militarily modernised "repatriotized" Russia plus China.

Trump very bluntly told Europeans that they will have to look after themselves. Presumably he also told Israelis that they would have to fight themselves covering this up for donors by recognizing Jerusalem.

Israel's importance is within the frame of a cold war only, and there are invested interests in this cold war. As are in Britain. Israel has hedged its bets by trying to keep good relations with Russia (and Russia played along which will now bear fruit). Part of British politicians saw the solution in leaving Europe and joining the US. The outcome of this has not been decided yet. Britain's geopolitical importance without its part in the Cold Hot War in the Middle East and beyond is nil.

I doubt Trump's decision is taken against advice from the US military. After all they were the ones who kept the deconflicting line open in Syria.

I suspect the decision now has to do with Israel's strategic indefensibility against rockets from Gaza or Lebanon.

Netanyahu - to his merit - refused to go to war in recent months twice - against Gaza or Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Posted by: somebody | Dec 20, 2018 8:06:22 AM | 163

Might be Trump way to support the YJ movement. I can imagine Macron having to save an EU-sponsored "Syrian policy" (puke) that needs discussions with... GB and Russia, or Qatar and KSA!

Posted by: Mina | Dec 20, 2018 8:25:56 AM | 164

Just saving face?

France say Islamic state not defeated troops to remain in Syria

Posted by: somebody | Dec 20, 2018 8:56:58 AM | 165


... quite consistent - even if stupid.
I'd say "unenlightened", not stupid. They nearly won in Syria - twice. And NATO has expanded to beyond the borders of the former USSR.

As I have said before: the big failure was continuing to help China to rise after the end of the Cold WAr (1990) without first isolating it by bringing Russia into the Western orbit. Greed prevailed over good sense.

Obama ... win hearts and minds ... "leading from behind"
Obama's peaceful demeanor was a psyop. Why is that so hard for some to see?

Obama turned a no-fly zone into a bombing campaign in Libya and was ready to bomb Syria as well. And he bragged about his drone targeting ability.

In the vernacular, he was a d*ck.

Israel's importance is within the frame of a cold war only ...
I'll believe this when AIPAC registers as a foreign agent.

Part of British politicians saw the solution in leaving Europe and joining the US.
Really? AFAICT, the British establishment is solidly against Brexit.

US military... were the ones who kept the deconflicting line open in Syria.
I really don't see how keeping deconfliction lines open plays into this decision at all.

Netanyahu - to his merit - refused to go to war ...
He's smart enough to not fight wars he can't win.

"Merit" is not a word I would associate with Netanyahu.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Dec 20, 2018 8:59:14 AM | 166

Until events demonstrate otherwise, I'm assuming that this was Trump's way of 'thanking' the Neocons for spoiling his dinner party with Xi. They 'forgot' to warn him about the plot to task Canada with the job of kidnapping a Chinese hostage. We know that 'they' knew about this plot in plenty of time to discuss it with him. Trump, imo, has correctly assumed that the timing was intended to embarrass him and now it's payback time. I'm 100% certain that he knows about the Yinon plan, hence the decision to give the Yinonites a good kick in the daydreams.
A day or two ago Niqnaq had a link to some scuttlebutt about Russia approving retaliation against targets inside "Israel" the next time "Israel" attacks targets inside Syria.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Dec 20, 2018 9:00:59 AM | 167

166 jackrabbit

"I'd say "unenlightened", not stupid. They nearly won in Syria - twice. And NATO has expanded to beyond the borders of the former USSR."

Sure, but to what end? As Trump correctly notes people are not grateful and the US got nothing out of it. Except the war profiteers who always win in all countries.

The US "won" in Libya. Just a quick look.

Libya’s National Oil Company NOC has once again shocked the oil market by officially declaring force majeure on its operations at the El Sharara oilfield, the largest oilfield in the country. After months of continued optimism in the media and political statements coming out of Paris and Rome about a possible peace deal between the two competing governments, led by Libyan general Haftar and his counterpart El Serraj, the situation on the ground is looking even worse than before. The eagerly awaited oil production increase from Libya, which could supposedly mitigate the effects of falling production from Iran and Venezuela, now seems unlikely to happen.

Posted by: somebody | Dec 20, 2018 9:16:18 AM | 168

"Obama ... win hearts and minds ... "leading from behind"
Obama's peaceful demeanor was a psyop. Why is that so hard for some to see?

Obama turned a no-fly zone into a bombing campaign in Libya and was ready to bomb Syria as well. And he bragged about his drone targeting ability.

In the vernacular, he was a d*ck.

I agree. Sorry if it did not come across.

Israel's importance is within the frame of a cold war only ...
I'll believe this when AIPAC registers as a foreign agent.

AIPACs lack of power was shown in the Congress vote on Syria.

Posted by: somebody | Dec 20, 2018 9:19:51 AM | 169

166 jackrabbit

Part of British politicians saw the solution in leaving Europe and joining the US. Really? AFAICT, the British establishment is solidly against Brexit.

Tory Brexiteers

not exactly working class.

And - of course, deconflicting means cooperation.

Posted by: somebody | Dec 20, 2018 9:25:39 AM | 170

Here's the scuttlebutt referred to in...
Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Dec 20, 2018 9:00:59 AM | 167

SAA Is Set To Respond To Any Future IOF Attacks
South Front, Dec 17 2018

The SAA will respond by force to any Israeli attack on its bases as a part of new policy, which was adopted by the Syrian leadership following the incident with the Russian Il-20 plane last September, the Kuwaiti al-Ra’i newspaper reported on Dec 15, citing a high-ranked Syrian boxtop who said:

"This means that a strike on an airport in Syria will be met with a strike on an airport in Israel, and so on.
etc etc

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Dec 20, 2018 9:35:40 AM | 171

Russian humour:

Vladimir Putin warns against second Brexit referendum and throws weight behind May

Posted by: somebody | Dec 20, 2018 9:42:14 AM | 172


Where do I start? That's some pretty wacky, wild speculation from the both of you's. Awh, why bother getting bogged down in it.

Posted by: Circe | Dec 20, 2018 9:43:38 AM | 173

somebody | Dec 20, 2018 9:42:14 AM | 172

It's not exactly an endorsement, he just reiterates the same mantra we've been listening to since the referendum, 'it's the will of the people'.

“The referendum happened. What can she do? She should fulfil the will of her nation, as expressed at the referendum. Or it isn’t a referendum.”

And he's correct, assuming of course that everybody voted based on a full understanding and supplied with the correct fscts in order to make a reasoned decision, something we know didn't happen.

Posted by: William Bowles | Dec 20, 2018 10:19:36 AM | 174

The exit from Syria, the push to build the wall (which I believe he will accomplish using the Army and the help of Mexico via the State dept funding (10.6 billion)) and he is up to something in Israel as well (not sure how successful it will be but it could be a peace initiative), so what is he up to?
IMO he is setting the stage for his 2020 run and if the Dems are blind enough to put in Biden the campaign will be truly historical in the annuals of political theatre:)

Posted by: frances | Dec 20, 2018 10:24:38 AM | 175

This from South Front:

….Russia, Iran, Syria & many others are not happy about the U.S. leaving, despite what the Fake News says, because now they will have to fight ISIS and others, who they hate, without us. I am building by far the most powerful military in the world. ISIS hits us they are doomed!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 20, 2018

It seems that Trump accidentally forgot that the US had ‘defeated ISIS’ a day ago.

We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 19, 2018

Whatever he says it's rubbish! I think our guide should be, actions speak louder than words, the guy's a lying bastard!

Posted by: William Bowles | Dec 20, 2018 10:32:38 AM | 176

Folks might to check out this lengthy piece on the 'Institute':

Posted by: William Bowles | Dec 20, 2018 12:26:55 PM | 177

I think Trump will really do it. His Twitter video is largely directed at military families: we won, now I'm bringing home the lads for Christmas. Going back on it would be a massive betrayal of his bade, not going to happen, middle east realpolitik be damned.
An interesting tactic, intentionally limiting his own options so the power brokers can't force him to reverse himself. (yet again) And of course sets up liberals to reveal their interventionalist colours - as if it's their kids bleeding in the sand.

Posted by: Iguanabowtie | Dec 20, 2018 1:17:47 PM | 178

james @139: It would be nice if you actually came up with something original yourself. If you have nothing to add, why post?

Posted by: nox | Dec 20, 2018 1:32:23 PM | 179

@ 179 nox.. try reading the post again and see if you can't find something else to wine about... you are very predictable fwiw!

Posted by: james | Dec 20, 2018 3:10:30 PM | 180

Another 'Institute' story, this time a slightly different take than the one above @177 but dealing with the same location, the Temple in central London, a veritable hive of solicitors and obviously, Spooks. It identifies the guy who is the alleged head of the 'Institute', Dan Lafayeedney, he is based at St, Antony's College, Oxford. Interestingly, Oxford is where the 'analysis' of alleged Russian 'fake news' originates from; Oxford University’s Computational Propaganda Research Project. Whst's the bet that Lafayeedney is connected to it somehow.

Institute for Statecraft slams door in Labour MP’s face

Posted by: William Bowles | Dec 20, 2018 3:33:54 PM | 181

And this from Consortium News by Patrick Lawrence on Trump's 'withdrawal':

[T]he U.S. is not closing down its military presence in Syria. It is digging in for an indefinite period, making Raqqa the equivalent of the Green Zone in Baghdad. By the official count, there are 503 U.S. troops stationed in the Islamic State’s former capital. Unofficially, according to The Washington Post and other press reports, the figure is closer to 4,000—twice the number that is supposed to represent a “full withdrawal” from Syrian soil.

My thoughts entirely!

Posted by: William Bowles | Dec 20, 2018 3:38:52 PM | 182

Correction to No, 182, wrong url. Apologies

Posted by: William Bowles | Dec 20, 2018 5:08:36 PM | 183

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