Last week, President Trump stunned many with the announcement that he’d be withdrawing all of US forces from Syria. Many, if not most, in Trump’s national security establishment were taken by complete surprise and both Secretary James Mattis and Brett McGurk, the US envoy to the anti-ISIS coalition, abruptly resigned. However, word is out that the US might have just as recently established two new bases in western Iraq. As described in the Globalsecurity.org article, one of these bases appears to be somewhat east of the strategic base currently occupied at Al-Tanf. Another looks to be about 150 kilometers east, southeast of Al-Tanf. If these are indeed, two new bases, Trump could be simply taking a page out of President Reagan’s play book when he deployed the Marines to Beirut. After the 1983 bombing, Reagan indicated that he was simply redeploying the Marines off shore.
A redeployment of US forces to western Iraq would still sit astride the land-bridge that Iran looks to establish from Tehran to Lebanon–which is crucial from a strategic perspective. However, I’m not exactly sure how secure this redeployment would be for our Kurdish allies–I’m guessing not too secure as the Kurds do not occupy any part of western Iraq. As such, the Kurds in northern Syria would still need to fend for themselves, which remains a very poor showing of support for the best ally we have had in the region in the fight against ISIS. Yes, Turkey is a a key ally of ours but the ones who did much of the crucial fighting against ISIS, especially in eastern Syria, were the Kurds. Even a redeployment, if this is indeed what it is, leaves them in the lurch.