President Trump’s abrupt decision to withdraw two thousand American troops from Syria upends several key US foreign policy objectives which have not been met. These include defeating ISIS, combatting mushrooming Iranian and Russian influence in the Middle East, and shepherding a diplomatic process that would bring the war in Syria to an end. While Iran, Russia, and Turkey benefit from the change in policy, the US has damaged its credibility with regional allies who, until now, had been lobbying for the eviction of Iranian, rather than American, troops from Syria. While there is a domestic angle to the president’s decision, the key moment seems to have come during a phone call between the president and Turkish president Erdogan. Erdogan, who is facing an election in the spring, has been pressing for the withdrawal of American forces from Syria in order to deal with the Kurdish issue. President Erdogan helped President Trump by releasing a US evangelical preacher prior to last November’s election and it seems that Trump, who also campaigned on drawing down US forces in the Middle East, returned the favor.

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