On November 12, 2020, Jim Jeffrey, the United States’ outgoing Special Representative to Syria, announced that he and other leading officials in the Trump administration constantly misled President Donald Trump on the number of troops present in the Middle East.
Jeffrey told Defense One that he was able to convince Trump to keep between 200 to 400 troops in the region in 2019 to “secure” oil fields that U.S. allies held in addition to other key positions. This runs counter to President Trump’s goal of completely withdrawing from the Middle East.
“We were always playing shell games to not make clear to our leadership how many troops we had there,” he remarked. “When the situation in northeast Syria had been fairly stable after we defeated ISIS, [Trump] was inclined to pull out. In each case, we then decided to come up with five better arguments for why we needed to stay. And we succeeded both times. That’s the story.”
Jim Sciutto, CNN’s national security correspondent, revealed on Twitter that senior Defense Department officials shared similar stories with him when he interviewed them for his book, “The Madman Theory.”
“If you look at his tweets, they were definitive about leaving,” Sciutto said on November 13, referencing a passage from the book. “And then we didn’t leave. And now we haven’t left, we’re still there, and that’s a good thing.”…