On December 14, in a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, U.S. President Donald Trump abruptly announced that he would order U.S. forces to withdraw from Syria, taking his Turkish counterpart—and much of his own national security staff—by surprise.
The sudden decision to pull out the remaining 2,000 U.S. forces stationed in northeast Syria was trademark Trump. For years, the president has promised to reduce the U.S. footprint in the region and argued that American allies and partners should do more to shoulder the burden of regional security.
But the United States does not operate in a vacuum. Trump’s precipitous announcement came without any prior attempt to extract concessions or guarantees from the other actors involved in the conflict. Now several of those players are poised to shape the situation on the ground in their favor—and to the detriment of the United