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Global Intelligence Report - 4th January 2019

Geopolitical Notebook

Sources

- Former government official in Burkina Faso
- Turkish private intelligence operative with a Western firm
- Turkish investigative journalist

The Syria Withdrawal

Talk of a U.S. withdrawal from Syria sparked rumors—first surfacing from a question posed by former NATO commander General Wesley Clark—as to whether Turkey had blackmailed Trump into a pullout. A Turkish private intelligence source on the ground in Istanbul describes Clark’s claim as baseless for three reasons: 1) Turkish officials were as shocked as the rest of the world at news of a U.S. withdrawal; 2) Turkey doesn’t actually want the U.S. to pull out of Syria because that would harm its own interests in multiple ways; 3) Although likely unintentional, the withdrawal announcement serves several U.S. interests, which Turkey does not share. Namely, it stalls and controls the upcoming Turkish operation, leaving the military burden of fighting ISIS on Turkey’s shoulders and the economic burden on Saudi Arabia’s, paving the way for rapprochement between these two hostile countries, while also removing a pillar of Turkey’s politics on the balance of power between Moscow and Washington. The withdrawal (which will just be replaced with air strikes on ISIS positions when necessary) makes sense for the United States, whose only point in being there was to counter Russian and Iranian influence, at which they have failed.…




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