U.S. President Donald Trump’s surprise announcement that U.S. troops would be withdrawn from Syria came with many visible costs. The benefits the anti-Islamic State (ISIS) campaign has delivered to Syrian President Bashar Assad, Iran, and Russia were made permanent. There is also more space for ISIS and greater instability in northeast Syria as Turkey confronts Syrian Kurdish forces. And there is the political cost to the United States of leaving its Kurdish anti-ISIS partner to face Turkey and the pro-Assad coalition alone.
The one notable opportunity of Trump’s policy—a chance to heal the rift between the United States and Turkey—now seems to be slipping away, allowing Russia to continue exploiting the fissures within NATO to secure Assad’s and Iran’s victory in Syria.
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