The White House has issued a statement this week calling on Congress to grant President Trump unilateral legal authority to open new military bases in both Iraq and Syria, as well as to renovate existing facilities. Officials say the bases would be purely temporary in nature.
What “temporary” actually means however is unclear, particularly in Iraq where the Pentagon has been very public about the idea that they intend to keep US ground troops in Iraq more or less forever. Those bases, then, are going to be open-ended facilities for an open-ended mission.
The White House says that the current lack of unilateral authority is limiting “maneuverability” as they continue their military buildup in the region, Though the statement was initially aimed at getting the authority included in the NDAA, it does not appear that the House version made any such revisions.
The establishment of bases, particularly in Syria, could be risky, since the US doesn’t have any permission from the Syrian government to be there in the first place, and the appearance of the Pentagon laying down roots, however temporary they claim them to do, could be very provocative to Syria, and its allies like Russia.
The limits were initially put in place in 2008’s NDAA, and Congress has reaffirmed those limits repeatedly since then, aiming to limit the amount the US was spending on nation-building in Iraq.