Bolton After Visit to Israel: U.S. Won't Leave Syria Until Certain 'Objectives' Achieved

Chris Menahan
Jan. 07, 2019

Ambassador John Bolton took a trip to Israel over the weekend and met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu only to announce Sunday that the US will not be pulling out of Syria until certain "objectives" are achieved.

From Antiwar:
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.
From The Washington Post:
Speaking during a visit to Israel, Bolton said that certain "objectives" must be achieved before a pullout could take place. "The timetable flows from the policy decisions that we need to implement."

[...]"It's also very important that as we discuss with members of the coalition, (and) other countries that have an interest, like Israel and Turkey, that we expect that those who have fought with us in Syria . . . particularly the Kurds," not be put in "jeopardy" by the withdrawal, said Bolton, who plans to travel Tuesday to Ankara.
Here's from Bolton's Twitter:

President Trump told The Washington Post in late November -- in an interview the Post themselves buried -- that he wants to pull out of the Middle East entirely but Israel is "one reason" to remain.

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