- The Washington Times - Monday, October 21, 2019

President Trump’s former special envoy to the fight against Islamic State warned on Monday that the situation in northern Syria is “going to get worse” following the withdrawal of U.S. forces from the region and a burgeoning clash between NATO ally Turkey and U.S.-allied Kurds.

Brett McGurk, who served in both the Bush and Obama administrations, made headlines at the start of the year when he resigned from his post as special representative stemming from opposition to the president’s announcement to pull U.S. troops out of the region. He said the hastily announced U.S. pullback this time could prove a boon to an ISIS movement that had been on the run.

“Maybe Trump should have thought about this before he basically made a decision that unraveled the tapestry that had been working pretty well,” said Mr. McGurk at an event hosted by the Foundation for Defense of Democracy.

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Mr. Trump says he withdrew troops to fulfill his campaign pledge of bringing troops home from foreign entanglements, yet the soldiers are being reassigned to new places in the region.

Mr. McGurk’s comments came as Mr. Trump insisted that the cease-fire along the Turkey-Syria border is “holding” and hinted at a potential deal with oil companies or some other kind of “cash flow” to safeguard oil resources inside Syria.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper suggested Monday that a small U.S. force may stay behind to guard oil fields in the region, the bulk of the 1,000 American troops are now exiting Syria and heading to Iraq.

Mr. McGurk hit back at the notion that the U.S. could employ a company to “exploit” the region’s oil resources “unless we want to be oil smugglers, and that’s not something the United States of America is into.”

“Our ability to affect the course of events in Syria, particularly now, are extremely limited,” Mr. McGurk added. “And trying to do more I think, we’re going to dig the hole even deeper.”

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