National Security Advisor John Bolton Vows US Will Not Abandon Allies in Syria Withdrawal
- Well, I wish I couldgive you a definite answer.
The President has alreadycome back on Twitter
saying that reports of what Bolton said
are inaccurate, that any change
has been exaggerated, I think the best way
to solve this problemis the President himself
give a full speech, not justa brief remarks on the web
and really explain theentirety of the policy
and what he has in mind.
Well, I mean we can always getthose troops out, ultimately.
Part of it is the overallstrategic challenge
that they have been playinga very important role
in completing the defeatof the Islamic State
which is still active,which according to Pentagon
estimates still has tens of thousands
of fighters that are affiliated with it.
They're still inflictinga lot of casualties
on our Kurdish partners in Syria,
so we would be movingout while there was still
ongoing fighting and the question is
what would we be leavingbehind to help take care of
the continuing Islamic Statethreat and part of that
revolves around diplomacy in Syria,
in Turkey this week whereUS senior officials are.
You know, the number thePresident often cites
is that around 99% ofthe territory controlled
by ISIS has been taken, and that is true,
that's a very important move forward
and the Administrationdeserves credit for that
but one of the lessons we haveis that when an insurgency
stops controlling muchterritory, it can still exist
as a fairly potent guerrilla organization
and if it's given breathingroom, it can come right back
the way that extremists did after the US
withdrawal from Iraq under Barack Obama,
so we could probably, within a year,
get to a situation where ISIS is sort of
tamped down, I think it would be hard
to get to a situation where we don't need
any troops left in place tokeep it from coming back.
I think they might justbe confused at the moment.
I mean, its very hard even for a lot of US
government officials to figure out
what the policy is, we've seen several
different timelines cited by the President
and his advisors and that creates
a lot of lack of clarity about what
our ultimate goals, Ithink for good reason
the Israelis have reasons to be concerned.
One of the reasons thatSyria is such a big issue
is that is what Iran isusing to ship weapons
to Hezbollah, to its Syrian partners,
which ultimately could beused and in some respects
already have been used against Israel
and those could beincreasingly precise weapons
that target Israeli military facilities
and civilians, and ofcourse our Kurdish partners
within Syria have shed atremendous amount of blood
fighting Islamic State right by our side
and if we leave withoutmaking a clear path
for them to survive andco-exist with hostile parties,
they could be in a lot of trouble.