USA will still lead fight against Islamic State despite withdrawal: Pompeo

07 February, 2019, 04:37 | Author: Clarence Schmidt
  • Pentagon: ISIS will regain ground in Syria when US troops leave and will play troop withdrawal as a 'victory'

"Not only did Judah narrowly escape death last fall - more than seven decades ago, he narrowly survived the Nazi concentration camps", Trump said. "They have the ability of coming back together if we don't", General Joseph Votel, head of the United States military's Central Command, told a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing hours before the president's public address. Those are seen as efforts to reassure allies anxious about shifts in US policy, including Trump's Syria plan.

Trump's decision to withdraw USA forces from Syria has prompted some criticism at home from Republican and Democratic lawmakers, who fear Islamic State could regain its strength.

However, a senior USA government researcher on Iran said sanctions have done little to limit Iran's support for armed groups in the Middle East.

"I don't think it is particularly useful in monitoring Iranian activists outside of Iraq or Syria", said David Witty, a retired colonel in the US Army Special Forces.

The October 2018 shooting, in which 11 people died, was the worst attack on Jews in American history.

Trump recalled that as a candidate for president in 2016, he pledged to withdraw American troops from those regions because "great nations do not fight endless wars".

With the Pentagon-backed, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces closing in on just a handful of villages under ISIS control there, Trump said that it "should be formally announced sometime probably next week that we will have 100 percent of the caliphate". The president later declared that he would also be pulling some 7,000 US troops out of Afghanistan, where his administration is involved in peace talks with the Taliban-something that also got a shoutout in tonight's speech.

"The target was already on United States forces in the region", said Phillip Smyth, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy who tracks Iranian proxy groups.

"President Trump honored Americans who have displayed resilience, courage, and love of freedom", an RJC statement read.

"My administration has acted decisively to confront the world's leading state sponsor of terror: the radical regime in Iran", he said.


When the USA pulled out of the multilateral nuclear accord, Trump's administration touted that sanctions would put pressure on Iran to curb its missile programme and regional activities.

If the SDF strikes a deal with Damascus following the USA withdrawal, Shoebridge said, "the Syrian government could fill that vacuum, and continue with their very successful campaign against ISIS themselves".

"While we followed the agreement to the letter, Russian Federation repeatedly violated its terms".

Trump suggested in his speech Tuesday the possibility of negotiating a new agreement that would add other nuclear powers such as China.

"Perhaps we can't - in which case, we will outspend and out-innovate all others by far", he warned.

Meanwhile, South Korea applauded Trump's announcement during his speech that he will attend a second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam later this month. President Maduro has accused Guaido and his allies of staging a coup.

Halie Soifer, executive director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, said: "Tonight was a missed opportunity for the president to lead and unify the country after a painful period of obstruction and a 35-day government shutdown".

The bill received bipartisan support, although it caused a rift among Democrats as 25 voted in favor of the bill and 22 voted against it. The president has hinted at plans to declare a national emergency if the wall goes unfunded. "I will get it built", he declared.

'Now, you're always going to have people, they'll be around, ' he said. Several senators running for president in 2020 were also in the audience and they too maintained an uneasy silence.

Trump's December order had caused a rare revolt in the GOP, whose members were particularly shaken when former defense secretary Jim Mattis made a decision to resign in the wake of Trump's announcement.

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