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syria_meltdown_bp_DELIL SOULEIMANAFPviaGettyImagesGettyImages1176181709 DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP via Getty Images

Trump’s Middle East Meltdown

By abruptly ordering the withdrawal of US troops from northern Syria, President Donald Trump’s impulsive approach to foreign policy has triggered a broader unraveling in the Middle East. Worse, by trying to remove America from the regional equation, Trump has left the US less able to safeguard its interests.

In this Big Picture, Richard Haass of the Council on Foreign Relations tallies the far-reaching costs of Trump’s decision to abandon Syria and America’s Kurdish allies. Those costs were foreseen this summer, when Georgetown’s Charles A. Kupchan and Sinan Ülgen of EDAM argued presciently that a US withdrawal would trigger precisely the type of power shift that is now unfolding.

Meanwhile, former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt concludes that, whatever the costs, it is time for all countries with a stake in Syria to start discussing a political resolution to the conflict. And former Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami describes how Trump’s latest actions fit into a broader pattern of perfidiousness in the region, including his unilateral withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement.

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