Trump Announces Removal of Troops from Syria and Mattis Resigns

Trump, Pence, and Mattis

In one of the most tumultuous weeks in Presidential history, President Trump announced the immediate withdrawal of American troops from Syria and a significant drawdown of forces in Afghanistan. As a result, Sec of Defense James Norman Mattis resigned. The week ended with a partial government shut down after Trump demanded money for a wall on the Southern border which Congress refused to provide.

On Friday, December 14th President Trump had a telephone conversation of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the purpose of the call was supposed to warn the Turkish President not to go ahead with his threat of attacking Kurdish forces that were under the protection of American troops in Syria. Instead in the course of the conversation, Trump decided to remove all US troops from Syria. He announced the removal in a tweet on Wednesday morning December 12th, to the surprise of much of the world and his Republican supporters in Congress. His justification was that the troops were there to The national security team including Secretary of Defense Mattis opposed the move. When he was unable to convince the President to change his mind, he tendered his resignation. In his letter, Mattis wrote :" My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held and informed by over four decades of immersion in these issues. We must do everything possible to advance an international order that is most conducive to our security, prosperity, and values, and we are strengthened in this effort by the solidarity of our alliances.
Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position."

The resignation of Mattis sent shock waves through Washington and much of the rest of the world. Mattis was considered the last of the experienced leaders that had been surrounding Trump and is known to have tempered a number of decisions of Trump.

With Congress scheduled to end its session and having failed to pass some funding bills, it was necessary to pass a continuing resolution. President Trump had demanded that a border will be funded as part of the continuing resolution. The Democrats whose votes were required refused having earlier offered to fund the wall in return for providing a permanent solution for the Dreamers ( children of illegal immigrants who came with parents under the age of 16). At first, the President said he was willing to accept a continuing resolution that did not include the wall, however at the last moment after the Senate had passed a two-month resolution the President said he would not sign a resolution that did not include the wall. The House then passed a resolution that included funding for the Wall, but there was no chance that it would pass in the House. At midnight on December 21, 2018, the parts fo the US government that had not been funded. 380,000 Federal workers were sent home, and another 420,000 will be working without pay until the stalemate ends.

On Saturday, December 22nd Brett McGurk, U.S. special envoy for the global coalition to defeat ISIS resigned as a result of the decision to remove US forces abruptly from Syria. He wrote to his staff:

"I worked this week to help manage some of the fallout but — as many of you heard in my meetings and phone calls — I ultimately concluded that I could not carry out these new instructions and maintain my integrity,”