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What does the US withdrawal from Syria mean?

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US President Donald Trump’s statements that the countries of the region should “step up” and “pay for what’s happening” with regards to the costs of fighting Daesh, as well as saying that Saudi Arabia should pay $4 billion in return for US troops remaining in eastern Syria, have prompted speculation about the participation of Arab forces in Syria instead of the Americans. Trump first announced that his troops must be withdrawn, before saying that they will be there for no more than six more months.

CIA Director Michael Pompeo [Gage Skidmore/Wikipedia]

America’s new Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, was sent to Saudi Arabia to discuss this issue, and Pompeo also called his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shukri, about it. Riyadh responded by saying that it was ready to send Arab troops to Syria as part of the international coalition. Foreign Minister Adil Al-Jubeir said repeatedly that his country had offered to send Saudi troops to Syria twice during President Obama’s term in office and is now repeating the same offer. “We are still considering the mechanism to send these forces to Syria with cover from the international coalition,” he explained. Shukri said simply that his country was studying the issue.

The idea of forming a joint Arab force goes back decades within the Arab League, but ongoing political differences meant that it went no further. There were so-called Arab Forces in Lebanon in 1976, but most of them were Syrians aiming to end the Lebanese civil war; they stayed there until they were removed by mass protests following the assassination of........

© Middle East Monitor