Trump is repeating in Syria Obama's mistakes in the Middle East

With a few keystrokes this past Wednesday, President Donald Trump laid the groundwork for an abrupt withdrawal of the 2,000 US troops stationed in Syria, effectively abandoning anti-Islamic State allies on the ground and potentially sealing the fate of more than 50,000 Syrian refugees dependent on the United States for protection.

Mr Trump's announcement, which took even his most senior advisers by surprise, will reduce American influence at a critical stage in the Syria conflict and render unattainable his administration's stated goals: an "enduring" defeat of ISIS, a change in the behaviour of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad and a reduced Iranian presence in Syria.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 25, 2018, with the headline 'Trump is repeating in Syria Obama's mistakes in the Middle East'. Print Edition | Subscribe