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Why is the US pulling out of Syria?

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US President Donald Trump's sudden decision to withdraw US forces from Syria is a reminder that this is not an ordinary time in Washington.

The political establishment and Congress have been forcing the president's hand on key foreign policy challenges, from Russia to Saudi Arabia, but Trump had a trick up his sleeve on Syria. He has reasserted his executive power at home by effectively moving to limit US power abroad.

Now 2,000 US troops are scheduled to withdraw from northern Syria within the next 100 days, leaving behind much uncertainty for both allies and foes.

There is no simple explanation for the timing and rationale of this decision. Some argue that Trump is using it as a distraction from his legal troubles in the US or that he has been influenced by his phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last Friday. Others assert that a grand deal in Syria is in the making and the US sold out its Kurdish partners.

Speculations aside, Trump has been talking about withdrawal for a while now as he does not see any financial or strategic value in keeping US forces in Syria. Last March, the president casually announced during a rally that US forces will "be coming out of Syria, like, very soon".

The Pentagon and the State Department then coalesced their efforts to convince the commander-in-chief that the US must stay, but in April he gave the military six months to finish the job against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS). Earlier this month, the US-backed Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) captured the town of Hajin, the last........

© Al Jazeera