Trump says ‘nothing happened’ after U.S. troops left Syria
The United States should never have gotten involved in “endless wars” in the Middle East to “act as policemen”, and the decision to withdraw American troops from northern Syria has not resulted in the disaster opponents believed it would, U.S. President Donald Trump said in a press conference on Wednesday.
“I brought our soldiers back home. I got them out, and guess what? Nothing’s happened,” Trump said. “They’ve been fighting like they have been for a thousand years okay? Nothing’s happened.”
An estimated 180,000 people, including 80,000 children, were displaced in the aftermath of Turkey’s incursion into Kurdish-held territories in northeast Syria, following Trump’s announcement to withdraw of U.S. troops in early October last year. Some estimates for the number of displaced people go as high as 300,000.
Turkey’s plans to establish a buffer zone between itself and U.S.-backed Kurdish groups along the border in Syria have come into partial fruition, but the schemes to resettle in the zone some of the 3.6 million Syrian refugees it hosts have not.
Clashes continue in many areas in northern Syria, particularly in the rebel-held Idlib province under control of Turkish-backed Islamist groups.
Much of the remaining U.S. troops have been positioned near oil fields around Syria’s eastern Deir al-Zor province, and a base where U.S. troops were stationed in the area was targeted by small-scale rockets earlier in the week, London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported on Wednesday. The base is used by the U.S.-led coalition in its fight against the Islamic State, a militant group that once held swathes of Syria and Iraq as part of a so-called caliphate.
“Why do we have our soldiers between Syria and Turkey? Turkey can definitely take care of itself,” Trump said.
Trump said he expected Saudi Arabia to join the newly-forged agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, who have “made a great advance in peace in the Middle East”.
“Ultimately Iran will come in too,” Trump said. “There’ll be peace in the Middle East. That’ll be nice.”
The UAE’s interest in purchasing F-35 stealth fighter jets is under review, Trump said.
The United States had been considering bids from countries like Japan to join the F-35 programme, following Turkey’s expulsion last year over its purchase of Russian-made S-400 missile defence systems.
The UAE has “definitely got the money to pay for it. It’s nice”, Trump said. Other countries “never pay because they don’t have the money”, he added.