According to The Wall Street Journal, the Trump administration is communicating with friendly Arab nations about creating an Arab force to replace the U.S. military contingent in Syria. National Security Advisor John Bolton has reportedly spoken to Abbas Kamel, Egypt’s acting intelligence chief about Egypt being a linchpin in that effort. One administration official stated, “Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the U.A.E. have all been approached with respect to financial support and more broadly to contribute.”
The Trump Administration has asked Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates for billions of dollars to heal northern Syria now that Islamic State has been driven out of the region.
When President Trump announced last Friday’s missile strikes on Syria from the United States, Great Britain and France, he added, “We have asked our partners to take greater responsibility for securing their home region, including contributing larger amounts of money.”
That message was consistent with Trump’s statements earlier this month when he spoke of a speedy withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria. Trump apparently wants to avoid the mistake the Obama Administration made when his withdrawal from Iraq provided a vacuum that led to the ascendancy of Islamic State.
What has slowed President Trump’s efforts to bring American troops home is that with the rout of Islamic State U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish fighters rushed toward the city of Afrin and other areas where Turkish troops have launched attacks.
The Journal writes, “5,000 to 12,000 Islamic State fighters are believed to remain in eastern Syria, a U.S. official said. The militants are operating in two locations in a pocket south of the Syrian town of Al-Hasakah and in a 25-mile stretch along the Euphrates near the town of Abu Kamal, the official said. They have been trying to regroup and even forage for oil to sell.”
On Monday, Erik Prince, who founded Blackwater USA and who has helped the U.A.E. and Somalia create security forces, said Arab officials had contacted him regarding the creation of a force in Syria but he preferred to wait until Trump made a decision.
Egypt sent over 30,000 soldiers to join the coalition fighting Iraq in the 1991 Gulf War, but has eschewed such massive involvement since.