Since its establishment in 2013, the Russians have long wanted the American program arming rebels fighting Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad to end, and President Donald Trump just granted their wish.
From The Washington Post:
The program was a central plank of a policy begun by the Obama administration … to put pressure on Assad to step aside, but even its backers have questioned its efficacy since Russia deployed forces in Syria two years later.
Officials said the phasing out of the secret program reflects Trump’s interest in finding ways to work with Russia, which saw the anti-Assad program as an assault on its interests. The shuttering of the program is also an acknowledgment of Washington’s limited leverage and desire to remove Assad from power.
The president’s defenders say that this is simply an olive-branch to stabilize the cease-fire agreement President Trump and Vladimir Putin worked out during their meetings at the G20 summit last week.
This cease-fire, officials say, is the benefit of having a “good working relationship” with Russa, according to The Post.
The agreement focuses mainly on the area of operations near the Jordanian border, which is where many of the U.S.-backed rebel forces operate from along with select U.S. special operators.
Ironically, while undoing this arrangement, the Trump administration has escalated direct conflicts between Assad’s forces and the U.S. to protect these rebels from Assad’s military.
In June, the U.S. Navy shot down a Syrian plane after it attacked U.S.-backed forces in the region, as we reported. In May, an airstrike took out a Syrian Army convoy simply because it posed a threat to these rebels.
Also, in April, the Trump administration launched a 59-missile strong strike against a Syrian airfield, that was both seemingly ineffective and described as “after-dinner” entertainment for the Chinese president.
While it’s unclear how entertained Chinese President Xi Jinping was, the coverage of the strike in the Chinese press was essentially bald-faced mockery.
Finally, the war monitoring group Airwars reported that in just six months, the US-led coalition has seen the deaths of almost as many civilians as President Obama saw for his entire tenure leading this war effort.
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