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If Trump Wants to Get Out of Syria, He Should Strike a Deal With Russia

Making the Best of a Bad Idea

U.S. troops patrol near Turkish border in Hasakah, Syria, November 4, 2018. Rodi Said / REUTERS

U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw American forces from Syria is a mistake. But if he insists on going ahead with it, the best option for the United States is to do what it can to ensure that Moscow—not Ankara or Tehran—ultimately replaces it and negotiates a political settlement that prevents a new conflict in eastern Syria. The two of us have long argued for greater U.S. engagement in Syria, so we find this approach unpleasant. But given Trump’s decision, it is the best way to avert further conflict, prevent the Islamic State (ISIS) from reemerging, and limit Iran’s influence in eastern Syria.

THE RISKS OF RETREAT

The withdrawal of U.S. forces from eastern Syria has the potential to create a security vacuum in which ISIS could regenerate, especially if fighting flares up again. The United States will be abandoning its best local partner in

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