Donald Trump asks SAUDI ARABIA and others to establish ‘Arab ARMY’ to replace US in Syria

DONALD Trump is looking to end US engagement in Syria by forming an Arab military force to replace the US presence in the region and to help stabilise the north-eastern part of the country following the defeat of so-called Islamic State, it has been reported.

The US administration has asked Arab countries including the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar to contribute billions of dollars and a large number of troops to help reestablish stability in the war-torn country, and in particular in northern regions.Expressing his growing concern surrounding the cost and duration of the military intervention in Syria, President Trump said: “We have asked our partners to take greater responsibility for securing their home region, including contributing larger amounts of money.”

A US administration official confirmed this statement, saying: “Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the U.A.E. have all been approached with respect to financial support and more broadly to contribute.”Trump’s new National Security Adviser, John Bolton, also reportedly contacted Egypt’s intelligence chief Abbas Kamel to determine whether the North African nation would contribute to the effort.

Certain US officials have been quick to highlight the large obstacles that the US faces in establishing an Arab coalition force in Syria.Michael O’Hanlon, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, warned of external intervention, saying: “A new force has to be strong enough to face down Assad or Iran if either seeks to reclaim territory, perhaps with Russia’s help.”And Charles Lister, a Senior Fellow at the Middle East Institute, cast doubt over the project, saying: “There is just no precedent or established basis for this shaping into a successful strategy.”He also noted that Arab countries such as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia would be reluctant to enter into new military action, as they are currently involved militarily in Yemen.

This would be exacerbated by the uncertain role that the US would play in the project, with questions remaining surrounding whether the US would continue to provide training, support and air cover for troops.

US military officials however signalled in January that they were hoping to end their military campaign in Syria in a matter of months, but maintain a certain number of troops in the region to ensure the ongoing stability of key Islamic State locations such as Raqqa.Mr Trump also said in early April that he desired a speedy withdrawal of the 2,000 US troops currently positioned in Syria.

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