Conflict, Trade Feature in Trump's State of the Union Foreign Policy

Larry Hoffman
February 7, 2019

On Israel, Trump reiterated his administration's decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, which drew global condemnation.

"The president vowed during his State of the Union address on Tuesday to "destroy the remnants" of the Islamic State (ISIS)".

While delivering his State of the Union address before members of Congress on Tuesday night, Trump called Iran "the world's leading state sponsor of terror" and pledged to continue to confront its "radical regime".

Although he would later slow down the timetable for the troop withdrawal, the president still wants USA troops to leave Syria. "They do bad, bad things".

Underlying the safety fears, the Pentagon appears increasingly anxious that sectarianism is hampering Iraq's ability to get its government and security forces in order following IS' defeat. He allowed, though, that America would still retain forces in Iraq who would be ready to strike a resurgent ISIS in Syria or Iraq - something that military commanders have reportedly been pressing for as a hedge against ISIS's resurgence. Pro-Iran Iraqi lawmakers have proposed nominating Falih Fayyad, the leader of the Shiite-dominated Popular Mobilization Units, which Baghdad has struggled to control, for the Interior Ministry post.

While the amendment is a nonbinding provision without the force of law, it sent a clear message to the White House that any plans to immediately pull troops out of war zones could jeopardize the fight against groups like the so-called Islamic State, leave Kurdish allies on the ground defenseless, and embolden USA adversaries like Russian Federation and Iran.

"Certainly it is a very significant humanitarian disaster in Yemen but I do believe departing from our partners there removes the leverage that we have to continue to influence them, which I think we have used in a positive manner and I think it further endangers Americans in the region", Votel said.

The amendment also includes provisions supported by both Republicans and Democrats to impose new sanctions on Syria and guarantee security assistance to Israel and Jordan. If U.S. troops are not on the ground in Syria, counter-terrorism analysts fear Americans access to those intelligence streams may dry up.

"It is well positioned, but an observatory post is likely insufficient to thwart Tehran's land bridge", said Behnam Ben Taleblu, a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

"This is a key task that we are looking at right now, and that is the protection of people who have fought valiantly with us, and ensuring that they remain safe as our diplomats, the United States and others pursue a diplomatic solution", Votel replied.

Last year, Trump withdrew the United States from the agreement formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

"This is the next battle for our democracy, one where all eligible citizens can have their say about the vision we want for our country", Abrams said.

Kurdish lawmaker Sarkawt Shams tweeted that the mission of USA troops in Iraq was "to help Iraqi security forces against terrorism, not "watching" others".

However, Trump's sudden announcement in December that he would withdraw US forces from Syria alarmed allies and many current and former USA officials, who worry that Islamic State militants remain a threat.

Votel said he had "low to medium confidence" in those estimates.

Iraq and Syria need hundreds of millions of dollars in aid, according to administration officials.

"The relationship is strong enough to survive something like this", said Ollivant, the former NSC Iraq director.

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