America's Mideast retreat

Paul Salem looks at how the region will fare if Trump carries out his threatened withdrawal from Syria and Afghanistan

The World Today Published 8 February 2019 Updated 9 November 2020 4 minute READ

Paul Salem

President, Middle East Institute in Washington DC

At the end of last year, President Donald Trump shocked US allies by declaring his intention to withdraw all US troops from Syria and to reduce by half the US military presence in Afghanistan. With Trump one can never tell if he will follow through on his promises or change course, and this policy has already been slowed down by his advisers.

Nevertheless, this bald statement of the president’s ambition to end US military entanglements in the Middle East – and the subsequent resignation in protest of Defence Secretary James Mattis – raised questions about the US commitment to the troubled region. So how have the political dynamics of the Middle East changed, and what can be expected in 2019?

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