During his visit to Israel, National Security Adviser John Bolton was openly contradicting President Trump on the withdrawal from Syria, and suggested that there would be no withdrawal at all until multiple conditions were met.
Bolton said that pockets of ISIS are undefeated and that the US would have to wipe those out before a pullout. He further said that there must be guarantees of safety for the Kurds, as well as for Israel.
On top of this, another unnamed “senior” official said that US troops might stay in al-Tanf, in southeastern Syria, even after the pullout. This official suggested that the US would consult with Jordan and Israel before doing anything.
All of this stands in contrast to very explicit Trump positions assuring that the battle is won, that Israel would be fine, and that the US has no interest in staying in Syria. Whether Bolton’s statement marks another shift in policy remains to be seen.
It may well be that this statement is intended to be vague reassurance to Israel, where officials were upset by the US pullout. Since the whole process has slowed down and exact details aren’t clear, anything that provides reassurance can probably be justified after the fact, whether true or not.
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