In an interview with ABC’s This Week host George Stephanopoulos, Trump’s Secretary of State Rex Tillerson conceded that the bombing of Syria was just a diversion to shift the public’s attention away from other important issues.
Trump Had No Intention of Targeting Assad
Tillerson said that the president’s intention was not to harm Assad forces or to remove the Syrian leader from power. When the ABC anchor asked him about the latter issue, Tillerson replied that the U.S. needs to “eliminate the battle against ISIS” first. The next step is to reach ceasefire deals between the Syrian government and the opposition.
Tillerson added that the U.S. would seek the Russians’ help to strike those cease-fire agreements, as Moscow has a considerable influence in the region.
We believe the Syrian people will ultimately be able to decide the fate of Bashar al-Assad,
When Stephanopoulos asked him whether the peace process would need more military intervention, Tillerson replied that the military situation there is “quite complex.” He added that several engagements are in the making.
However, the U.S. will focus on fighting the ISIS for the moment. He unveiled that there are many “battle plans” which involve the U.S., Turkey, a part of the Syrian opposition, “and others.” This fight is “being coordinated somewhat” with the Russian military and Assad’s forces, Tillerson said. The efforts are meant to put pressure on ISIS and drive them out of the country.
In short, since he is willing to cooperate with Assad and Russia on eliminating the ISIS in the region, Trump had no intention of removing Assad when he attacked Syria. The strike was a charade designed to save his ever-sinking approval ratings maybe and intimidate China ahead of China president’s visit to Mar-a-Lago.
In 2012, Trump suggested that ‘desperate’ Obama would resort to a similar strike on Libya or Iran to salvage his “poll numbers.”
Now that Obama’s poll numbers are in tailspin – watch for him to launch a strike in Libya or Iran. He is desperate.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 9, 2012
Tillerson’s Diplomatic Mishaps
It comes as no surprise that Tillerson spilled the beans on his boss’s true intentions as he has zero experience in diplomacy as former CEO of a gas and oil giant. In a separate interview, however, Tillerson criticized Russia for allowing Assad to use chemical weapons in Syria and for trying to influence the election in Europe like they did in the U.S.
On Sunday, the Secretary of State called Moscow “incompetent” using a rhetoric far more aggressive than any of Trump’s public remarks. Tillerson’s hard line on Russia may suggest Washington-Moscow relationship is going back to the norm: a relationship of distrust marked by efforts aimed at undermining each other.
Experts noted that Trump is the lone voice with his let’s be friends approach, as Russia has not changed its ways. Moscow is still sparing no effort to gain a foothold in the Middle East and Europe, which “undermines any hope of improving relations” with the U.S.
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