All the Trump-Haters, and not a few Trump supporters, have gone completely hysterical over President Trump’s decision to have American forces retreat from Northern Syria. In reality, Pres. Trump’s Syria withdrawal, and its likely concomitant redeployment to western Iraq, is a genius-level strategic move that will, in the short to medium term, stabilize Syria, and present Iran with great difficulties.
In the maelstrom of Trump-hatred, the pundits have focused on the 2% negative and ignored the 98% positive effects of Trump’s withdrawal. In the big picture of Syria, however, one has to take three steps back and realize that in Syria we are only in Act 2 of a 5 act play and there is no question that Trump’s move has achieved a major win for America in the entire Syrian drama.
The mother of all the Syrian myths is that Trump has allowed “Assad to win.” It was President Obama who almost ensured an Assad "win” in the medium term when he reneged on his “red line” and openly invited Putin and Russia into Syria. Once America had sanctioned Russia's protection of Assad, how was America going to then get rid of Assad without starting a war with Russia? And once Putin became the protector of Assad, Putin became the protector of the genocidal murderer of hundreds of thousands of Sunni Arabs.
And exactly who else does America want to see the “winner” in Syria other than Russia? Iran?
The second myth is that Trump "handed Russia a win.” As I have repeatedly said, Syria will ultimately be Vladimir Putin’s “Afghanistan,” and will result in Russia having a weakened global strategic footprint. There are several reasons for this. Russia’s support for Assad’s hold on Syria is still tenuous. Assad only has the support of about 5 million Syrians out of about 24 million people, and the populations and country itself are in terrible shape and need billions of dollars immediately. Putin has absolutely no money to support any Syrian reconstruction, so even if Putin seems to win, he has only “won” a booby-trapped prize that will blow up in his face. Any monetary support obtained from either China or Iran will come with strings attached that will, in the end, steal Putin’s victory.
And exactly who else does America want to see the “winner” in Syria other than Russia? Iran? America had no real business remaining in Syria because Congress hadn’t authorized (and was never going to authorize) a Syrian “use of force” war power resolution, and Assad demanded that the US get out. Trump had a choice of either handing over American-occupied areas to Russia or to Iran. While that’s a no-brainer, it only goes to show that Putin’s Syria “prize” is an albatross of another type as well - in that now Putin is left to contend alone with Iran’s malignant activities in Syria.
When it comes to the Kurds, America was never going to sanction and protect a newly formed Kurdish Nation out of Northern Syria, but having the Kurds move away from the Turkish border is a stroke of genius that might work. All that happened as a result of Trump’s retreat is that Assad has assumed the Kurdish protector role. If not for the Russia-phobia hysteria that has consumed Washington, Trump could have solved the American hand-over to the Russian/Syrian forces easily, quickly - and bloodlessly. The fact that Trump had to unilaterally up-and-leave, and any deaths as a result of that abruptness, is the fault of the Democrats. The Democrats, and only the Democrats, have Kurdish blood on their hands, not Trump.
The third Syrian withdrawal myth is the “Trump gave Iran a victory.” Trump left Russia the Syrian oil wells that Iran wants, and now Russia and Iran can fight each other and possibly Turkey over Syria. Trump forcing Iran, all by itself, into the Syrian boxing ring with Vladimir Putin is not a victory.
The pundits who mindlessly parrot anti-Trump talking points should give this idea its proper burial. In fact, Iran is already suffering from another Pyrrhic victory, enslaving the 25 million Iraqi Shiite Arabs in Iraq. It’s not going to take long for the Sunni and Shiite Arabs of Mesopotamia to see that Iran is its one and only colonializing Safavidic Persian enemy, stealing their oil wealth and bleeding them dry.
Despite the noise, we can expect great results from President Trump’s brilliant unilateral gambit to extract America from a war it has no business being in from the start.