The irresponsible diplomacy of Donald Trump

Editorial. The US President announced Monday, October 7, the withdrawal of US troops north of Syria, before retropedal against the outcry provoked by this decision. But the damage is done.

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Donald Trump, Defense Secretary Mark Esper (left) and Mark Milley (left), US Army Chief of Staff, White House, Washington, DC, Monday, October 7, 2019. Carolyn Kaster / AP

Editorial of the "World". Since his arrival at the White House, Donald Trump has often acted on impulse, has multiplied sudden turnarounds and decisions cookie cutter. But the confusion he has sown about the withdrawal of US forces from parts of northern Syria coveted by Turkey is unheard of and unprecedented. Stimulating not only the US allies, his own administration, but also, once is not customary, his own political camp, the US president has weakened the word of the world's leading power.

"It's time for us to get out of these ridiculous and endless wars, many of which are tribal," launched Monday, October 7, Donald Trump. Shortly before, a White House statement announced that the United States will leave the field open in Ankara, thus abandoning to their fate the Kurdish forces, who have assumed most of the battle against the Islamic State (IS) organization. .

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Once again, one can imagine that this decision, with far-reaching consequences in the region, was taken from considerations of American domestic policy. Donald Trump is campaigning for his second term and wants to show his constituents that he is keeping his promises. It is also a diversion, as the US president is threatened with impeachment proceedings for blackmailing the Ukrainian president to investigate the son of Joe Biden, his rival in the House race. white.

The embarrassment of Paris

The outcry provoked by the announcement of this precipitous withdrawal was such that Donald Trump was forced to backpedal, adding confusion to ineptitude. Even if the president, later in the day, spoke only of the departure of a few dozen members of the special forces, the damage is done diplomatically. The sequence forced the Pentagon to assert that it does not endorse the Turkish intervention in northern Syria, citing a "Destabilizing consequences" for the region. This reminder to the defense ministry of its president says a lot about the chaos caused in Washington.

This mess is a bit more damaging to the Kurds' confidence in those who made the commitment to protect them. "An ally must be reliable," thundered Emmanuel Macron in December, when Donald Trump had first announced his intention to withdraw US forces from northeastern Syria. The French president, helped by the Pentagon and the CIA, had then convinced his American counterpart to renounce this withdrawal, which would have also involved that of the French special forces, which, insufficient in number and lack of resources, could not remain alone.

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The embarrassment of Paris, the western capital most committed alongside the Kurds, is all the more obvious. In April, Emmanuel Macron had received at the Elysee a delegation of leaders from Rojava, the Kurdish autonomous region of Syria, guaranteeing them the full support of Paris. It may be just words now. France is thus measuring its benches in the Syrian conflict, where it depends on an unpredictable and unreliable American ally.

Beyond the failure to speak, the signs of American disengagement only favor the resurgence of IS on the backdrop of chaos in the region. "The biggest lie of this administration is that IS was defeated"says Lindsey Graham, one of the pillars of the Republican majority in the Senate. One more, but this one could have immeasurable consequences.

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