Reactions to US withdrawal day 3: Mattis steps down, ISIS attacks, Germany, France express concern

On December 21, three days after the US decided to withdraw from Syria, the reactions continued to reverberate throughout the world. US Defense Secretary James Mattis decided to resign and it appears US President Donald Trump may also withdraw some forces from Afghanistan.

Diliman Abdulkader: Kurds do the dirty fighting for the rest of the world and get left in the dust. While Arab states, Turks and Iran all aid or benefited from ISIS yet the West still supports them.

Carolyn Pierce: If the USA abandons the Kurds yet again, the Kurds will lose all respect and trust for the US.

Mahmoud Shikh Ibrahiim (responding to Carolyn): This is the reality which all Kurds know, even the old, illiterate Kurdish women know about that Kirkuk memories are still fresh other than Algeria deal 1975.

Mike Doran: The decision lays the groundwork for a rebuilding of an effective US-Turkish partnership, which has frayed in recent years due to the short-sighted alliance that Obama made with the YPG, which is the PKK.

Jonathan Schanzer: There s no rebuilding an effective US-Turkish partnership while Erdogan backs Jihadis, gives shelter to Hamas, evaded sanctions for Iran and holds Americans hostage

Mark Dubowitz: There’s no effective Iran strategy based on economic pressure alone. It requires all instruments of national power including the credible threat of force. Presence of a strong signal of deterrence and reassurance. Trump severely undermined that…Trump’s “decision to withdraw from Syria abruptly scrambled geopolitics of Middle East, clearing way for Iran to expand influence across region, leaving Israel virtually alone to stop it & raising prospect thousands of ISIS prisoners could be set free.”

Dan Shapiro: Who will persuade Trump not to withdraw from NATO? Really scary possibility no longer theoretical.

Within Syria Blog: In order to confront the Turkish threats to northeastern Syria and to counter any attack from ISIS positions in eastern Euphrates or the Homs desert, the Tiger Forces are being redeployed from Hama to the western bank of the Euphrates River.

Macer Gifford: You haven’t finished ISIS! Why cut and run now. Get the US military to destroy ISIS in Syria or thee American people will have to endure terrorism at home.

Reuters on Israel: Israel to escalate fight against Iran in Syria after US exit

Rick Francona: Any action against the Syrian Kurds (and no, I don’t buy Turkey’s rhetoric that YPG=PKK) will cause the SDF to redeploy forces away from the objective.

Cenk Uygur: Serious question – is there a single person on television who is supporting the withdrawal from Syria? It’s amazing how much the military industrial complex has a lock down on TV. Huge percentage of country wants to withdraw, both left and right. Anyone represent them on TV?

AP story on how it went down: Caught off guard, Erdogan cautioned Trump against a hasty withdrawal, according to 1 official. While Turkey has made past incursions into Syria it does not have the necessary forces mobilized on the border to move in and hold the large swathes in NE Syria where US troops are. Trump took Erdogan’s advice to withdraw US troops from Syria “without consulting his national security team or allies, and over strong objections from virtually everyone involved in the fight against ISIS.”

State Department official: “I don’t want to say it … but today is a good day for Qassem Soleimani,”

Gayle Lemmon: Northeast Syria is full of challenge. It’s also full of shopkeepers, moms, dads pushing forward. One hair salon owner I met in April saved up enough money to open her own salon this month. Told me last week how thrilled she was to be on her own — and how all she wants is stability….Every loss of US life is a tragedy. And as policy is under discussion, a look at the cemeteries filled with those Syrians in the US-backed partner force who gave their young lives to the fight against ISIS.

Dr. Mahmoud Othman sudden decision to withdraw from Syria, is an immoral & shameful decision which betrays US allies in the region. An expected move however the timing is dangerous as ISIS remains a threat & also strengthens Erdogan’s plan to attack Kurds in the region. Rojava

GermanForeign Minister Heiko Maas: ISIS has been pushed back, but the threat remains. There is a risk that the consequences of this decision will harm the fight against IS and endanger the achievements that have been made.

Richard Kemp (responding to the above): [Germany] has consistently refused to actually fight against the Islamic State in Syria. Rather than whining about the Americans maybe you can take up the fight now. But you won’t. Nor will you even come close to meeting the minimum 2% GDP spend on defense required by NATO.

Heshmat Alavi: France will replace the U.S. in northern Syria The French Foreign Ministry confirms that following talks with U.S. officials, its forces will replace U.S. forces in northern Syria to help maintain security in the region. Kurdish officials Riyadh Derar & Elham Ahmed have gone to Elysee Palace for talks. This decision will any disrupt the plans of Bashar Assad to take over oil fields in this area & Turkey’s plans to launch cross-border operations into northern Syria.

Editor of The Region: Would be nice to see a Kurdish person on television talking about the developing situation in Syria, and not another DC ‘policy expert’ who thinks the US selling 2 million civilians to Turkey for an arms deal is some 8th-dimensional chess game.

Mustafa Bali: ISIS is launching huge attack, heavy clashes are taking place there. only 35% percent from Hajin is liberated by our forces. we think that ISIS will keep launching attacks in the future. everybody should be aware that ISIS is still strong

Mohammed Salih: Khashogji did in fact see something beautiful enough in the Turkish occupation & ethnic cleansing of Afrin to be emulated elsewhere in Syria. As tragic and despicable as his death was, his worldview was quite warped and deplorable.

Hassan Hassan: As things calm a bit, folks will begin to realize that the worst thing about pulling out of Syria this way won’t be just ISIS resurgence. The Syrian conflict will unravel & Iraq will be affected.

Jake Tapper: Senior administration official tells me Mattis was “vehemently opposed” to Syria decision and possible Afghanistan troop withdrawal

Richard Schneider: With Matthis’ resignation and US troops withdrawal from Syria, I can’t help but being afraid we may witness a terrible war in 2019. has no “adult” in the cabinet anymore. It’s really scary. Let’s see where we’ll be standing in a year from now. If we still can.

US Senator Jeane Shaheen: The President’s foreign policy, which is so often announced by tweets, is undermining our nation’s standing in the world. The course we are on is unsustainable.

US forces still patrolling Manbij:

US Senator Tim Kaine: “Withdrawal from Syria is done despite Pentagon and as senators they were not informed about it. This decision leaves Kurds, who fought side by side us against ISIS and get wiped down…”

General Anthony Tata, author, Dark Winter. I think the President is making the exact right move in Syria. All the geniuses who are protesting the withdrawal of troops from Syria are the same geniuses who cooked the books on ISIS intelligence and gave rise to ISIS.”

Julia MacFarlane: Timely reminder that the Kurds are holding more than 3,000 ISIS fighters in jail in Hasakah as a favour to the U.S.

Ro Khanna: Instead of criticizing withdrawal from the illegal war in Syria, Dems would have more credibility calling for pressure on Erdogan to have a cease fire, collaboration with allies, and a short timeline for removing troops. Critique the tactics, not the strategy of less intervention

Elijah Magnier: During the last meetings between Damascus representatives and Kurds from al-Hasaka, the Kurds no longer requested a federation but centralised governorship. This means the differences are not significant and can be solved, particularly with the US withdrawal & Turkish threat.

Erdogan: Turkey will “wait a little longer…[to launch operation].Obviously, this is not an open-ended waiting period.”

Jennifer Rubin: withdraw from Syria clears the way for Iran to expand its influence across the region, leaving Israel virtually alone to stop it, raising the prospect thousands of Islamic State prisoners could be set free…why does Trump hate Israel?

Stephanie McCrummen: In the Syrian town of Kobane, where the US alliance with Kurds began in 2014, thousands of Kurds marched in anger and dismay toward a U.S. base, many clutching photographs of their children killed fighting ISIS alongside U.S. forces.

Joyce Karam: Several Aid NGOs in Syria who operate where US is, were told to FREEZE any new humanitarian projects after Trump announced withdrawal.

Jack Keane, a candidate to replace Mattis: “This is a huge strategic mistake that I hope the President will reconsider and if he does not, I believe with some degree of confidence that he will come to regret this decision.”

French Diplomat: If this turns out to be as bad as it sounds, then it’s a serious problem for us and the British because operationally the coalition doesn’t work without the U.S.,” France indicates it may stay.

Mutlu Civiroglu: Talked to some SDF commanders in Syria who say ISIS encouraged by recent statements, launched an attack against them in Dereizor yesterday and today. From Iraqi border to Hajin in an area of 30km tough fighting continues. Some SDF fighters were killed in action

Josh Rogin: 50,000 Syrian refugees have been living under the protection of U.S. military forces for three years. They just found out they have been abandoned.

Gabriel Chaim: My new footage embedded with SDF YPG on the frontlines against Daesh in Syria. Mr Trump you’re wrong…the war is far From over.

Matthew Van Dyke: With only 2,000 soldiers the US controls 30% of Syria. It is among the most successful special forces operations in history. Low cost with tremendous benefits in power projection,, leverage over adversaries, intel gathering and more. No reason to abandon it t

U.S. military officer who has served in the anti-ISIS campaign: “Mattis is a marine, a man of his word. He made promises to the SDF, he broke them. I think that was the issue.”

Richard Engel: A sr military official told me US special forces troops distraught, upset, morally disturbed by having to tell their kurdish allies in Syria that, because of orders, their promises of defense won’t be kept.

Ryan Browne: Defense officials tell me Mattis went to the White House to discuss Syria & that he was livid after reading reports that Turkey’s Defense Minister threatened to kill US-backed Kurds & put them in ditches once the US withdrew. He was incensed at this notion of betrayal of an ally

Graham on Mattis: “it was not the time was not right to leave (Syria),” and that “ISIS has been hurt badly, that the change in strategy to be more aggressive has paid off but they’re not defeated, and that a replay of Iraq was very likely.”

Ilham Ahmed also says France as a NATO member has a moral obligation to prevent Turkey from attacking Kurds. Ahmed was in Paris on Friday as part of a delegation for talks on the planned U.S. military withdrawal from Syria as well as Turkey’s threats to launch a military operation against Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria.

Adam Lucente: I find the moral argument to stay in Syria more convincing than the national security of the U.S. one. Kurds may very well be faced with war and ethnic cleansing after the U.S. leaves. See Afrin. And countries have obligations to their allies.

Kevin Knodell: Had a phone conversation with an “anti-war” activist on Wednesday who gleefully told me he didn’t care what happens and that to him the withdrawal is victory. Upfront acknowledged thousands will die and millions will be displaced as a consequence, which he called “irrelevant”

Angela Korras, responding: Of course. Those anti war morons don’t ever care about the population on the ground. That always side with the dictator of that country we well.

Michael Weiss: “The only progressive antiwar position is to want all the wars to be fought by Russia, Iran, Turkey and ISIS.”

Lindsey Graham: America’s worst nightmare is to have reliable allies — like the Kurds who have fought so bravely against ISIS — abandoned and destroyed.

Noah Shachtman: Erdogan owned Trump so quickly and so completely that even the Turkish president was taken aback.

Ilhan Tanir: We are not in 2003 and talking about Iraq invasion & Sunni vs. Shia’s “long fighting history”. No? This interview is astounding and just came out: — “Too much history” – Pompeo avoids question on Turkish operation against Syrian Kurdish forces

Tulsi Gabbard: The hysterical reaction to the decision to withdraw troops from Syria is astonishing & shows just how attached to war some are. Lindsey Graham & others want us to continue our regime change war in Syria and to go to war with Iran. That’s why they’re so upset…We need to get our troops out of Syria ASAP, but it must be done responsibly. Turkey will see this as an invitation to invade northern Syria, decimate our Kurdish allies, & strengthen jihadists like AQ/ISIS/etc, undermining our national security and causing more suffering.

Britt Hume: Stationing American troops in foreign lands is not a policy of “endless war,” as our experience for decades in Europe and South Korea attest. It is often a way to support and protect allies and deter enemies. It can be costly and risky but it’s sloppy to call it “endless war.”

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