Listen: Isis, Syria, United States discussed on Jim Bohannon
"Jimbotalks. Our US department of defense official says planning is underway for a full and rapid withdrawal of US troops from Syria. But the DOD is also saying that the campaign against ISIS is not over cubby labor now explains and has the latest reaction from Washington. The department of defense announced it has started the process to remove all U S troops from Syria on Capitol Hill. Some are applauding the move for the first time in my lifetime. We have a president with the courage to declare victory and bring the troops. Home. Others are concerned. Isis is not yet fully defeated the decision to withdraw an American presence in Syria is a clause in my mind mistake, gray there, that's going to have significant. Repercussions in the years and months to come. I have not found one person national security wise who believes us a good idea to remove the twenty two hundred troops. It's also unclear what the Russian and Iranian backed forces will do a worry for some Republicans. Now that the US is going to withdraw from Syria. We have basically turn the country over to Russia and turn even greater extent, Iran. It's that fear of an unchecked Iran, which is Israel worried as to have periodically sparked the US keep troops in Iraq with the capability of launching strikes into Syria. But despite President Trump's tweet that ISIS is defeated. A defense department inspector general report says the number of ISIS members in Syria anti-iraq could be as high as thirty thousand in Washington and Comey Lubber now, so let's talk about that tonight in the company of senior fellow and defense scholar at the defense priorities dot org. Benjamin Friedman a good evening. Good evening. Jim. Thanks for having me on. Absolutely glad to have you on tonight. We'll look at the political ramifications in a ball, but a split in the ranks of the Republican party at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue. Your thoughts on the decision was a typically chaotic decision typical for this president. But be it's the it's the correct decision. A good decision. Even if the process mcdonagh's there was hard to understand. There are a lot of bad arguments. Keep it US troops in Syria. And I hope we talk about them. But the main thing is it is true that we accomplish the major goal that gotta their dot US troops, deployed to Syria, which is the defeat of ISIS. You can't perfectly. Eliminate them. Eliminate the threat of terrorism. But the fact is there is gone. They don't have any territory except for maybe a couple specks of dirt the corner of Syria. So having accomplish that goal. I think it is appropriate. We would leave Syria the president of the US troops. Twenty two hundred was the figures cited by Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. How many of those were actually ever involved in fighting ISIS as opposed to trading may be calling in airstrikes, and this sort of thing? How many were involved in the good old as we've said in in the army, eleven Bravo. That is to say the military occupational specialty of the infantry going out there and trading bullets with ISIS. Well, the funny thing is we really don't know the reason we don't know is because the United States Congress who are in large parts complaining about this, particularly Republican senators never bothered to authorize the war or hold proper oversight hearings asking questions public about what we were doing which I think the US public deserves to know. So that we could answer simple questions. Like, even how many exactly how we choose. We have there. We have these reports about that. But it's actually a secret things like that. So it's hard to say could be getting multiple firefights with Russian forces. There are reports that we did we don't know. So all those kinds of questions, I think would be answered if congress job do oversight by. The twenty two hundred or so troops. They're mostly special operations forces that and it's the Syrian forces the Kurds in the Syrian democratic forced it has done the paternity of the ground fighting. It was always my understanding that it was a a support element. And a lot of ways. I'm not sure the extent to which we have been successful in our training. I'm sure we must have improved some of the forces that were fighting ISIS, but on the other hand without the infrastructure of of the United States, and frankly, some of the the basic if you will discipline and and attitudes of the US military. I'm not sure how much you can really teach people in that regard in the what is kind of an ad hoc situations, not like we had massive basis like Ford or or fort Leonard wood or Fort Benning around. So again with a limited set of of availabilities. It would it would seem that I suppose much of what we have done could be done from neighboring Iraq in terms of say air support the sort of thing. Yes. Yeah. Certainly your support doesn't require having all those people on the ground. I think what we found unsurprisingly. I think. Are are training wasn't very effective when he tried to build forces from the ground up was essentially what we tried with the free Syrian army, which is a sort of a hodgepodge rebel group that we helped put together, but it was the Kurds in the form of the democratic forces who were effective in fighting ISIS, and I don't think that was primarily due to US training. I think it was because they were already ineffective Alicia. G prior to that. So we can help them. We could do training that helps people learn how to use particular technologies to coordinate better with surveillance assets. And so forth. By you'd have. I think some basic raw materials to get results from this sort of training. We're doing in a relatively short amount of time. A quite frankly to what extent were the ISIS troops defeated by Iranian-backed forces. Well. Dirani didn't have a big ground presence there. The these glaciers who were affiliated with them. They had the sort of elite troops who were there doing training and logistics and things like that. Iran. Yeah. In the militias, the Shiite militias were active in both Iraq against ISIS and Syria, although they weren't necessarily the mainline forces contributed. I think the fight in as the the military forces of a bunch of different countries have been our European allies help. So I think one of the benefits of having ISIS as an enemy was that. They were very good at getting a lot of people interested in killing them based on their tactics of cutting people's heads off on television, and that sort of they sort of assembled a coalition against themselves and going back to the Kurds for a moment. Did we have did we have trouble with the Turks in in terms of just eighty the Kurds doing anything because of course, Turkey has a a major Kurdish population group in their country. The Kurds have been desire. Of their own nation state for quite a while. They have I guess virtual autonomy now in the northern portion of Iraq. Anyway, this as if we didn't have enough sore spots with our fellow NATO ally Turkey, I think the the the Kurds in our support for them has been yet. Another source pot. A sore a point has as it not. Yes. Absolutely. That's been an ongoing problem going back to the end of the Obama administration. It was one of the things that Michael flayed when when he was briefly national security advisor was potentially in trouble for was that he was giving me he'd been an unregistered agent for Turkey. And then he was pushing to sort of do business with Turkey, and and undercut the Kurds in Syria, which is sort of what we ultimately did here, but Turkey, Ben interested in attacking the Kurds for some time has done so repeatedly are they don't want a Kurdish autonomous mini-state if you will on their order. They eat out as threat and the United States is worse than cajoled them into limiting their attacks. But it's not clear that will give it to doing that. It it seems that the Kurds in Syria are going to have to find a way. To cut a deal with the Assad regime, which who they've been talking to negotiating with to work something out where they can function are allowed to live without being attacked by Turkey at one of the point. Is we go to a break here? And that would be the extent to which Syria is a functioning nation state at all. Not right now in the sense of territorial unity. You have at the moment, the Assad regime has reconquered most of the countries that are closer to being a function basis that they were, but they've managed to push a lot of the rebels up into the northeast corner of the country by Turkey as you have this other pocket the northwest corner of the country that you have this other pocket in the east where the Kurds are where the US forces had been as well, that's also not answerable to the Assad regime. So there's still to at least topic areas of the country that are not unified under Assads control. But things have been moving in that direction corks restored national tower of the Assad regime still with us. More to come at one eight six six five O, JIMBO one eight six six five zero five four six two six Benjamin Friedman. Our guests senior fellow defense scholar at defense, priorities dot ORG. He is also an adjunct lecturer at George Washington University's school of international affairs, and as worked as a defense analyst at the Cato."