US President Donald Trump has said that his primary mission is to defeat the ISIS and once that is done, he would like to bring the troops back from Syria. “As far Syria is concerned, our primary mission in terms of that was getting rid of the ISIS. We’ve almost completed that task, and we’ll be making a decision very quickly, in coordination with others in the area, as to what we’ll do,” Trump told reporters at a White House joint news conference with Baltic leaders. He was responding to questions on news reports that Pentagon leaders want him to stay in Syria. Trump said Saudi Arabia is very interested in his decision. “Well, you know, you want us to stay, maybe you’re going to have to pay,” Trump said referring to his conversation with Saudi leaders in this regard. Keeping troops in the Middle East, he said, is very costly for the US. “It helps other countries a hell of a lot more than it helps us,” he said. “So we’re going to be making a decision. We’ve had a tremendous military success against ISIS, as you know. It’s close to 100 per cent. And we’ll be making a decision as to what we do in the very near future. We’ll be consulting also with groups of our people and groups of our allies,” he said.
Trump said he wants to get the troops out from Syria. “I want to bring our troops back home. I want to start rebuilding our nation. We will have, as of three months ago, USD 7 trillion in the Middle East over the last 17 years. We get nothing out of it,” he said. “In civilian life, for years, I said, “Keep the oil.” I was always saying, “Keep the oil.” We didn’t keep the oil. Who got the oil? … ISIS got the oil, a lot of it. That’s what funded their campaigns. They took a lot of the oil, and it was largely responsible for funding. We should have kept the oil then. We didn’t keep the oil. So I want to get back — I want to rebuild our nation,” he said. “Think of it: USD 7 trillion over a 17-year period. We have nothing, nothing except death and destruction. It’s a horrible thing. So it’s time. We were very successful against the ISIS. We’ll be successful against anybody militarily. But sometimes it’s time to come back home, and we’re thinking about that very seriously,” Trump said.
According to the White House, Trump in a telephonic call with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia discussed joint efforts to ensure the enduring defeat of ISIS and counter Iranian efforts to exploit the Syrian conflict to pursue its destabilising regional ambitions. “Trump emphasised the importance of resolving the Gulf dispute and restoring a united Gulf Cooperation Council to counter Iranian malign influence and defeat terrorists and extremists,” the White House said.
During the call, Trump expressed solidarity with Saudi Arabia following the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)-enabled Houthi ballistic missile attacks against civilian targets in Saudi Arabia on March 25. “The leaders discussed a range of regional issues, including the importance of achieving a comprehensive peace between Israelis and Palestinians and opportunities to strengthen the American-Saudi strategic partnership. The leaders agreed on the significance of reinvigorating a political process to end the war in Yemen,” the White House said.
Trump also spoke today with Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani of Qatar, during which he thanked him for Qatar’s continued commitment to counter terrorist financing and extremism. They discussed Iran’s increasingly “reckless” behaviour in the region and the threat it poses to regional stability. “The President and the Emir discussed the obstacles to restoring unity in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC),” the White House said.
Trump thanked the Emir for his commitment to help restore GCC unity and emphasised that it is critical to end the Gulf dispute. The President and the Emir agreed on the importance of regional unity to address security threats and to ensure the prosperity of the people in the region, it said.