Ever since Donald Trump astounded the world by announcing the withdrawal of US troops from Syria, commentators have been trying to work out the significance of this decision.
Among those conservatives who believe America should make alliances against the enemies of the West and then stand by those allies, there has been shock and consternation. A number of Israeli analysts have expressed similar dismay.
The cause of the concern is obvious. By withdrawing the 2,000 or so US troops stationed in the border area between Iraq, Syria, and Jordan, Trump seems be removing a buffer against Iran’s aim to establish a land bridge from Iran to Syria and Lebanon, via Iraq.
Critics say that not only will this strengthen Iran but also Russia, which will move into the vacuum. It also makes a perverse ally of Turkey’s Islamist president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a baleful enemy of the West. It exposes Israel to greater threat from Syria. And it abandons the Kurds, the West’s brave and natural allies who now face possible slaughter at Turkish hands.