US envoy Brett McGurk quits over Trump Syria pullout

Vastavam web: A top U.S. envoy leading a global coalition fighting Islamic State has quit over President Donald Trump’s decision this week to pull U.S. troops out of Syria, a source familiar with the matter said on Saturday. Brett McGurk, U.S. special presidential envoy for the global coalition to defeat the militant group, submitted his resignation effective Dec. 31 to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday, a State Department official said.

In an abrupt policy shift, Trump announced on Wednesday that Washington would withdraw the roughly 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria, upending a pillar of American policy in the Middle East and alarming U.S. allies. McGurk, who was slated to leave his post in February 2019, objected to Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, a person familiar with the matter said, and added that Mattis’ departure had a “significant impact” on McGurk’s resignation.

Trump, for his part, tweeted late Saturday that McGurk had simply moved up the date of his resignation and added: “Grandstander?” A senior administration official referred to McGurk as “an architect of Obama’s failed Iran deal.” Trump earlier this year abandoned a 2015 landmark deal former President Barack Obama reached with Iran to curb its nuclear program. McGurk was appointed by Obama in 2015 and has been instrumental in shaping Washington’s policy in northern Syria, particularly its backing of Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militia that have been fighting Islamic State with U.S. support for three years.

“It would be reckless if we were just to say, well, the physical caliphate is defeated, so we can just leave now,” McGurk told reporters in a Dec. 11 briefing at the State Department. “Nobody is declaring a mission accomplished.” Trump’s declaration of triumph has alarmed key NATO allies such as France and Germany, who said the change of course on Syria risks damaging the fight against Islamic State, which has now been squeezed to a sliver of Syrian territory.