Tag Archives: ‘Pullout

Iraq Sunni leaders spooked by possible US troop pullout

Iraq Sunni leaders spooked by possible US troop pulloutSunni Iraqi leaders who spearheaded a bloody insurgency against the 2003 US-led invasion are now the most nervous about a possible withdrawal of American troops, considered a counterweight to Iran. Tensions between Washington and Tehran have boiled over onto Iraqi soil this month, with the US killing top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad and Iran striking back at an Iraqi base hosting American soldiers. Furious at the US hit, Iraq’s parliament held a vote on January 5 to oust all foreign troops, including some 5,200 American soldiers deployed alongside local forces.



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'We could be blind': Syria pullout may result in loss of intelligence from the Kurds

'We could be blind': Syria pullout may result in loss of intelligence from the KurdsA U.S. withdrawal from Syria will strain the links that the U.S. intelligence community has painstakingly built with both Iraqi and Syrian Kurdish forces, according to current and former government officials with long experience in the Middle East.



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Turkey urges US to use 'leverage' to ensure Kurdish force pullout: AFP interview 

Turkey urges US to use 'leverage' to ensure Kurdish force pullout: AFP interview Turkey on Saturday urged the United States to use its “leverage” over Syrian Kurdish forces to ensure an orderly pullout under an agreement reached with Washington, the presidency spokesman said. “We are committed to this agreement: Within five days they are supposed to leave and we have told our American colleagues to use their leverage, their connections to make sure that they leave without any incidents,” spokesman Ibrahim Kalin told AFP in an interview in Istanbul. Turkey and Kurdish forces on Saturday traded accusations of breaching the truce deal in northeastern Syria which is aimed at halting a Turkish-led offensive on condition that the militants retreat from a “safe zone” along the border.



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Russia is openly taunting America over Trump's Syria pullout

Russia is openly taunting America over Trump's Syria pulloutSince President Trump decided a week ago, after a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria's Kurdish-held border with Turkey, Turkey invaded Syria, Islamic State prisoners previously guarded by the embattled Kurds started escaping, America's erstwhile Kurdish allies joined forces with Syria's Russian-backed government, many of Trump's Republican and Fox News allies are horrified, current and former U.S. military personnel are seething, the NATO alliance is teetering, and on Tuesday, Russian troops "moved to fill the void left by the United States," The Associated Press reports.Trump's decision to effectively abandon the Kurds, in other words, doesn't seem very strategically sound at this point. At least not for the United States.Russia, meanwhile, is "quickly moving to entrench its de facto power broker role," AP says, and that includes sending Russian troops in to keep the Turkish and Syrian armies from directly clashing. Using its troops as human shields may not seem like a winning position for Moscow, but Russia was "gloating on their global television propaganda network" as U.S. forces left the area, Defense One executive editor Kevin Baron captioned this video posted by RT.> Syrian Army meet US troops on a highway as American forces move out from Kobani. Wondering if they waved to each other… pic.twitter.com/iNvBy0By0w> > — RT (@RT_com) October 14, 2019Russian journalists are also documenting cheerful Russian soldiers apparently moving into deserted U.S. military outposts.> A Russian PMC inside the American base at Manbij after it was evacuated by US special ForcesSyria Russia Turkey pic.twitter.com/sup4taecJ3> > — CNW (@ConflictsW) October 15, 2019> Video scenes from Manbij Syria this morning. US troops out of base, Russia comes in. > > Putin & Assad making most gains out of US withdrawal & Turkey operation: pic.twitter.com/PyjYbdVfwa> > — Joyce Karam (@Joyce_Karam) October 15, 2019"It's all in working order!" translated Telegraph foreign correspondent Roland Oliphant, who added: "The Russians are having fun around playing around in this abandoned U.S. military base in Syria."



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Mattis: Trump's troop pullout will lead to 'disarray' in Syria and Isis resurgence

Mattis: Trump's troop pullout will lead to 'disarray' in Syria and Isis resurgence* Ex-defense secretary calls resurgence of Isis ‘a given’ * Kurds say 785 Isis affiliates escape camp after Turkish shellingJames Mattis declined the opportunity to directly criticise his former boss, Donald Trump. Photograph: Leah Millis/ReutersThe former defense secretary James Mattis has said Donald Trump’s abrupt withdrawal of US troops from the Syria-Turkey border has increased the chances of a resurgence of Islamic State. But the retired general passed up an opportunity to directly criticise the president.“If we don’t keep the pressure on,” Mattis told NBC’s Meet the Press, “then Isis will resurge. It’s absolutely a given that they will come back.”After Mattis’s remarks were released, the Kurdish-led administration in northern Syria said 785 foreign individuals affiliated with Isis had escaped the camp where they were being held, following heavy Turkish shelling.Trump announced the US withdrawal on Monday after a call with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The surprise announcement prompted widespread accusations of a betrayal of Kurds allied to the US in war-torn Syria. Turkey, which regards some Kurdish groups as terrorists, swiftly attacked. The president also said Erdoğan would visit the White House.Trump faced stringent attacks from both sides of the aisle. In Washington on Saturday night he held his ground, telling the conservative Values Voter Summit he was “an island of one”.“We have to bring our great heroes, our great soldiers, we have to bring them home,” he insisted. “It’s time. It’s time.”> If we don’t keep the pressure on, then Isis will resurge. It’s absolutely a given that they will come back> > James MattisOn Sunday morning, Trump warmed to his theme. The president said it was “very smart not to be involved in the intense fighting along the Turkish border, for a change”, amid a stream of tweets that included a startling statement: “Others may want to come in and fight for one side or the other. Let them!”In more measured tones, defense secretary Mike Esper told CBS’ Face the Nation “it’s a very terrible situation over there” but insisted roughly 1,000 US troops would be evacuated in a “deliberate withdrawal”.US forces are not yet out of harm’s way. The Washington Post reported that Turkish forces which shelled an area where US special forces troops remained on Friday had known for months they were there.Brett McGurk, the former US envoy to the global coalition against Isis who resigned over Trump’s attempts to withdraw from Syria, told the Post: “Turkey wants us off the entire border region to a depth of 30km [20 miles]. Based on all the facts available, these were warning fires on a known location, not inadvertent rounds.”Turkey is facing threats of US sanctions – reiterated by Trump in his speech on Saturday night – unless it calls off the incursion. Two of its Nato allies, Germany and France, have said they are halting weapons exports and the Arab League has denounced the operation.But airstrikes and shelling continue in Kurdish areas and harrowing scenes among panicked and grieving refugees are being reported worldwide. More than 130,000 people have been displaced from rural areas around Tel Abyad and Ras al Ain as a result of the fighting, the United Nations said. Turkish forces and their Syrian allies seized large parts of the town of Suluk, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Sunday, the fifth day of the offensive.On Saturday, CNN reported that earlier this week Gen Mazloum Kobani Abdi, head of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, told a senior US diplomat: “You have given up on us. You are leaving us to be slaughtered.”Also on Saturday, another SDF commander told a press conference: “The protection of Isis prisons will not remain our priority. The defence of our soil will be prioritised if [the] Turkish military continues its attacks.”On Sunday, the Kurds said some Isis prisoners had escaped. In an apparent reference to Turkish-backed Syrian insurgents, the Kurds said mercenaries attacked a camp where Isis “elements” attacked guards and opened the gates.“The brutal military assault led by Turkey and its mercenaries is now taking place near a camp in Ain Issa, where there are thousands from families of Isis,” the Kurds said, adding “some were able to escape after bombardments that targeted” the camp.Mattis discussed the threat of an Isis resurgence on NBC’s Meet the Press with Chuck Todd, in an interview to be broadcast in full on Sunday.“It’s in a situation of disarray right now,” he said in excerpts released by the broadcaster. “Obviously, the Kurds are adapting to the Turkish attacks. And we’ll have to see if they’re able to maintain the fight against Isis. It’s going to have an impact. The question is, how much?”Asked if the US would regret Trump’s decision, Mattis said: “We have got to keep the pressure on Isis so they don’t recover.“We may want a war over. We may even declare it over. You can pull your troops out as President Obama learned the hard way out of Iraq, but the ‘enemy gets the vote’, we say in the military. And in this case, if we don’t keep the pressure on, then Isis will resurge. It’s absolutely a given that they will come back.”Trump said this week any militant prisoners escaping from camps guarded by Kurds “will be escaping to Europe”. He also said the Kurds “didn’t help us in the second world war, they didn’t help us in Normandy, for example”.Mattis’s apparent disinclination to directly criticise the president, even as Syria spirals into ever worse chaos as a result of US actions, is in keeping with his approach since resigning in December 2018.The retired US Marine Corps general has said he has a “duty of silence” regarding the president he served. That commitment has held despite Mattis having resigned, like McGurk, in response to an earlier attempt by Trump to pull US troops from Syria and in protest at his treatment of America’s allies.In September, Mattis published a memoir, Call Sign Chaos. The book skirted his service to Trump, focusing instead on his career in the US armed forces.



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Syria's Kurds look to Assad for protection after US pullout

Syria's Kurds look to Assad for protection after US pulloutSyria’s Kurds said Syrian government forces agreed Sunday to help them fend off Turkey’s invasion — a major shift in alliances that came after President Donald Trump ordered all U.S. troops withdrawn from the northern border area amid the rapidly deepening chaos. The shift could lead to clashes between Turkey and Syria and raises the specter of a resurgent Islamic State group as the U.S. relinquishes any remaining influence in northern Syria to President Bashar Assad and his chief backer, Russia.



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US troops start pullout from along Turkey's border in Syria

US troops start pullout from along Turkey's border in SyriaSyria’s Kurds accused the U.S. of turning its back on its allies and risking gains made in the fight against the Islamic State group as American troops began pulling back on Monday from positions in northeastern Syria ahead of an expected Turkish assault. Syrian Kurdish fighters warned that Washington’s abrupt decision to stand aside — announced by the White House late Sunday — will overturn years of achievements in the battle against IS militants. There was no immediate confirmation from the White House of U.S. troops clearing positions in areas in northern Syria.



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Full U.S. pullout from Afghanistan could ignite 'total civil war': ex-U.S. envoys

Full U.S. pullout from Afghanistan could ignite 'total civil war': ex-U.S. envoysNine former U.S. ambassadors on Tuesday warned that Afghanistan could collapse in a “total civil war” if President Donald Trump withdraws all U.S. forces before the Kabul government and the Taliban conclude a peace settlement. The nine, including five former ambassadors to Kabul, a former special envoy to Afghanistan and a former deputy secretary of State, issued their warning a day after U.S. chief negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad announced a draft accord with the Taliban for an initial drawdown of nearly 5,000 U.S. troops.



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Taliban Says Deal on U.S. Troop Pullout From Afghanistan Is Near

Taliban Says Deal on U.S. Troop Pullout From Afghanistan Is Near(Bloomberg) — The Taliban said it’s nearing a peace deal with the U.S. to bring an end to the foreign military presence in Afghanistan, though it ruled out a halt to hostilities for now.“We are getting close,” Mohammad Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman for the Taliban’s Doha-based political office, said by phone on Thursday. If the U.S. makes “a reasonable and convincing proposal, the peace agreement will be concluded soon.”The fundamentalist Islamic movement and the U.S. are due to resume negotiations soon in the Qatari capital after adjourning their seventh round of meetings earlier this month. U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani agreed Wednesday in a phone call that “now is the time to accelerate efforts to reach a negotiated end to the war,” according to a State Department statement.Pompeo said in a Fox News interview late Thursday that he expects “real progress” in reaching agreement by September on “a complete reduction in the scope of the conflict,” allowing for inter-Afghan peace talks to begin followed by the start of a withdrawal of U.S. and allied forces.The Taliban controls or contests about half of territory in Afghanistan. That’s more than at any time since it was ousted from power in 2001 by an American-led invasion after the al-Qaeda group based in the country carried out the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the U.S. The Taliban refuses to hold talks with the authorities in Kabul until it first reaches a binding deal with the Trump administration on withdrawing foreign forces.While it wants the 14,000 U.S. troops and allied NATO forces to leave Afghanistan, the Taliban is showing some signs of flexibility over the timetable, dropping its previous insistence that the withdrawal happen within months.“We hope the Americans come up with a reasonable timeline and that we can agree to,” said Shaheen, who declined to say how soon the foreign forces should go.Troop LossesAfter losing more than 2,400 soldiers and spending more than $ 900 billion in Afghanistan since 2001, critics say the U.S. risks losing hard-won gains. President Donald Trump on Monday called the nearly 18-year campaign “ridiculous” and said he could win the conflict in a week but “I don’t want to kill 10 million people.” Ghani’s office responded that Afghanistan “will never allow any foreign power to determine its fate.” U.S. envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad described the latest round of talks that paused July 9 as the “most productive” ever. Among U.S. demands is a commitment by the Taliban to stop terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and Islamic State from continuing to use Afghanistan as a base of operations.Despite its conciliatory language, the Taliban insists it won’t accept a single foreign soldier remaining on Afghan soil, fanning fears in Kabul that the U.S. will leave the government at the mercy of its armed opponents.“The Afghan people see it as occupation, whether it is 1,000 or 100 soldiers,” Shaheen said. “So we want this to end.”The Taliban won’t consider a halt to violence until they thrash out a settlement with other Afghans after the U.S. commits to pull out its forces, Shaheen said. The U.S. maintains that no deal can take effect until the Taliban talks directly with the Afghan government, something the militant group has resisted.The Taliban will join negotiations that involve all of Afghanistan’s political forces and not just the administration in Kabul, Shaheen said. It also refuses to recognize the result of the Afghan presidential election planned for Sept. 28, irrespective of the outcome of the talks with the U.S.“This election is not a remedy to the problem of Afghanistan,” said Shaheen. “It only prolongs the war.”To contact the reporters on this story: Henry Meyer in Moscow at hmeyer4@bloomberg.net;Eltaf Najafizada in Kabul at enajafizada1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Gregory L. White at gwhite64@bloomberg.net, Tony HalpinFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.



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Russia-Israel team to eye foreign forces' pullout from Syria

Russia-Israel team to eye foreign forces' pullout from SyriaPrime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that Israel and Russia are to form a joint team to examine the withdrawal of foreign forces from Syria. Israel is seeking the removal of Iranian forces and has vowed to keep its main enemy from entrenching itself militarily in the neighbouring country. Netanyahu met Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday in Moscow to discuss Iran’s presence in Syria.



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