Mission Accomplished in Syria? ✋

Jawad al Rifai / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

Jawad al Rifai / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

Syrian conflict recap

The Syrian Civil War began on March 15th, 2011 and is a conflict between the Ba’ath government of President Bashar al-Assad and factions of opposition. The war is as much a religious conflict (Assad’s supporters are Shia Muslims while the opposition is largely Sunni) as it is a proxy war for several major powers: the US & Turkey support the opposition while Russia and Iran support Assad.

ISIS, Syria & Trump

President Trump tweeted in December 2018 that the remaining American troops in Syria would be withdrawn soon, tweeting: “We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency.” The President's colleagues in the Senate voted 68-23 last Thursday for an amendment opposing the withdrawal of troops from Syria.


LEANING LEFT:

Politico: ‘Unconscionable’: GOP Senate Homeland Security chair torches Trump’s Syria policy

NPR: GOP-Led Senate Rebukes President Trump Over Syria Policy

The left uses strong language in its headlines, such as “unconscionable” and “rebuke” to show divisions between Trump and the Republican-led Senate. In doing so, the left shifts the focus of the story away from the policy question of American Middle-Eastern strategy and towards perceived political infighting.

LEANING RIGHT:

Washington Times: Trump, Senate Republicans divided over Syria troop withdrawal

Fox News: Trump shouldn't pull out of Syria right now – Our president first needs a tougher anti-Iran strategy

The right’s headlines acknowledge the divisions between Trump and the Senate leadership, but are much more muted in their choice of words, such as “divided.” The right’s approach is to challenge the merits of the troop withdrawal without directly challenging Trump’s stance.


Tragedy without an end in sight

According to UN estimates, over 400,000 have died in the conflict and another 13.5 million Syrians require humanitarian assistance. US involvement in the conflict has always been lukewarm (compared with Iraq and Afghanistan) and there doesn’t seem to be a victory condition on the horizon. 

Somehow this meme is still relevant

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