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National Security Advisor John Bolton Vows US Will Not Abandon Allies in Syria Withdrawal

National Security Advisor John Bolton Vows US Will Not Abandon Allies in Syria Withdrawal Read Transcript


- 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.

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