President Donald Trump’s sudden announcement in December that the U.S. would withdraw troops from Syria came at a time when Washington seemed to finally be developing a strategy to tackle the Syrian conflict that went beyond prioritizing fighting ISIS. It was not Syria that was the focus of this new strategy; it was Iran. While former President Barack Obama had pursued a softer approach to Iran that used the nuclear deal as a means of warding off potential Iranian threat to Israel and to nudge Iran towards playing by international rules, Trump views Iran as a destabilizing source in the Middle East.
Until he made the announcement about the US withdrawal from Syria, Trump had cast Syria as one of Iran’s venues for regional destabilization. His appointment of Ambassador James Jeffrey — who under George W. Bush had served as deputy national security advisor with a special focus on Iran — in August...Read more