President Biden falsely claimed that the US does not have a military presence in Syria when defending his decision to pull out of Afghanistan. In an interview with ABC on Wednesday night, Biden pointed to the so-called “threats” in Syria and Africa.
“There’s a significantly greater threat to the United States from Syria. There’s a significantly greater threat from East Africa. There’s significant greater threat to other places in the world than it is from the mountains of Afghanistan.” he said. “We don’t have military in Syria to make sure that we’re gonna be protected.”
There has been a presence of US troops in Syria since the Obama administration. There are currently about 900 US soldiers in the country’s northeast. On paper, the US presence is about supporting the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) against ISIS. But the occupation is also a part of Washington’s economic war against Damascus.
The region of Syria where US troops are deployed is where most of the country’s oil fields are located. By occupying the area, the US is keeping the vital resource out of the Syrian government’s hands. The US also maintains crippling sanctions on Syria that specifically target the energy and construction sectors, making it difficult for the country to rebuild after 10 years of war.
The Biden administration has no plans to pull out of Syria, and Biden’s comments suggest the US might be preparing to send more troops. The US recently announced it is ending its “combat” mission in Iraq, but troops will remain in an advisory role indefinitely. Part of the reason the US doesn’t want to give up its bases in Iraq is that they support the occupation of Syria.
Biden recently escalated airstrikes against al-Shabaab in Somalia, another region he claims there are threats facing the US. At the end of July and early August, the US bombed Somalia three times after a long pause in drone strikes in the country.
US officials claim al-Shabaab is a threat to the US homeland due to their al-Qaeda affiliation. But the reality is, al-Shabaab is a local group that only pledged loyalty to al-Qaeda after years of fighting the US and its proxies, including a US-backed Ethiopian invasion of Somalia. The first attack al-Shabaab took credit for was in 2007 against Ethiopian soldiers in Mogadishu. It wasn’t until 2012 that the group pledged loyalty to al-Qaeda.
The US is also expanding special forces operations across the African continent. Earlier this week, the president of the Democratic Republic of Congo said he authorized the deployment of US special operations forces to his country.