Blackwater Founder May Train Arab Forces To Dominate Syria
While Trump and his advisors say they want to withdraw the 2,000 or so US troops in Syria as soon as possible, according to the Wall Street Journal, Trump’s new neocon National Security Advisor John Bolton has discussed the possibility of contributing troops with Egypt’s top intelligence official – allegedly one of the most influential figures in Egypt’s military-led regime.
Pentagon officials say that while ISIS has lost around 90% of their foothold in Syria, it still remains strong in pockets along the border with Iraq and others – home to an estimated 5,000 – 12,000 ISIS fighters.
Thomas Joscelyn, senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told VICE News that while it made sense for the U.S. to ask Arab partners to do more, “this nascent plan is likely to run into a number of problems.”
None of the proposed partners had taken the lead in fighting ISIS in Syria so far, with that role occupied by the Kurds — a group who Joscelyn noted “are not natural allies for any of the regional states mentioned.” –VICE
Jocelyn notes that the Gulf states have provided support for Sunni extremist groups – making them an “unnatural fit” for the fight against ISIS. Meanwhile, while Egypt hasn’t officially picked a side in the Syrian conflict, it has made occasional pro-Assad statements.
“Moreover, Egypt has its hands full battling an ISIS insurgency in the Sinai and hasn’t played a leadership role in fighting ISIS outside of its own turf,” said Joscelyn.
“In essence, the Trump administration wants to build a new anti-ISIS alliance in Syria that has not previously existed on the ground and which would bring with it all sorts of competing interests that don’t necessarily align with America’s.”
An Arab coalition of Sunni-dominated governments exists to combat ISIS and other terrorist groups. The 41 member Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition was formed in December 2015, though it wouldn’t hold its first meeting until nearly two years later. It’s mandate is to fight terrorism in Shia-dominated Iraq, Libya, Egypt and Afghanistan – along with Syria. In November 2017, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 31, announced that he would use the coalition to “wipe terrorists from earth.”