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U.S. Exit Strategy for Syria Involves Establishing an Arab Force

[additional-authors]
April 17, 2018
People ride a horse along a damaged street at the city of Douma in Damascus, Syria April 16, 2018. REUTERS/Ali Hashisho

Despite launching airstrikes against Syria over the weekend, the Trump administration is looking for a clean exit out of the country. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that their plan involves establishing an Arab force to fill the vacuum left by the United States’ exit.

The Trump administration has asked the Arab Gulf nations to provide troops and financial support to help Syria recover after the U.S. finishes off the remnants of ISIS. The Arab force would serve as a buffer against the Iran and Russia from controlling the region and help prevent ISIS from mounting a comeback.

However, skeptics of the plan note that it may be difficult to get key Arab nations to participate in the U.S.’s plan, as Egypt is currently preoccupied with exterminating ISIS nearby the Sinai Peninsula while Saudi Arabia and the UAE are tangled in Yemen’s civil war.

“There is just no precedent or established basis for this shaping into a successful strategy,” Middle East Institute Senior Fellow Charles Lister told the Journal.

Those who support the plan, such as Conservative Review’s Jordan Schachtel, acknowledge that while establishing such a force is “a stern challenge,” it is “a shot worth taking.”

“During president Trump’s short tenure thus far, the White House already demonstrated that it has been able to move the Arab world toward dramatic reform and prioritizing counter-terrorism,” Schachtel wrote. “Will President Trump succeed in rallying the Arab world around the cause of countering the Iranian regime’s malignant expansion in Syria?”

The U.S. currently has 2,000 troops in Syria; it is believed that around 5,000-12,000 ISIS terrorists remain in the country.

Prior to the airstrikes, President Trump had announced that the U.S. would be withdrawing troops from Syria. The April 13 airstrikes hit three chemical weapons facilities in response to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad reportedly using weapons against his own people.

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