Just a month after another brief public flirtation with the idea of withdrawing from Syria, President Trump once again said he wants US troops out of Syria, promising “big decisions” very soon. His first talk of a pullout was scrapped days later. This time, he backtracked almost instantly.
With French President Emmanuel Macron in tow, Trump told reporters that he and his allies are taking a long-term approach to Syria, and that this would involve leaving “a strong and lasting footprint” within Syria. He said talk of the long-term issues in Syria was “a very big part” of his discussions with Macron.
The idea that Macron is driving Trump’s decision-making was a big issue last week. Macron claimed credit for Trump agreeing to stay in Syria, but quickly reversed course, and insisted the two had always agreed on the issue.
Trump’s public position on Syria has varied wildly over the last several weeks. US policy, however, has not changed at all, with US troops on the ground continuing to build bases to house US troops in the long-term, and showing no sign that withdrawal is a serious possibility.
Whether or not this is simply a reflection of the difference between the Pentagon’s position on Syria and Trump’s own is unclear. Trump shows no signs of trying to extricate the US from Syria, however, beyond just giving lip-service to the notion.