In puzzling comments earlier in the day, President Trump appeared to be declaring Syria a war about oil, and declaring victory, Tweeting “We have secured the Oil. Bringing soldiers home!”
The context wasn’t readily apparent, and it wasn’t true anyhow since comments from Defense Secretary Mark Esper made clear US troops are not coming home. Now, it turns out some US troops aren’t even leaving Eastern Syria, and the reason is the oil.
Sunday night’s report say Trump is now leaning toward a scheme to keep around 200 ground troops in eastern Syria, based on a plan the generals have sold him on. The 200 troops would have a”dual purpose” mission to fight ISIS and to keep Syria’s government from controlling Syria’s oil production facilities.
This seems a profoundly tall order for 200 US troops, and it’s not clear by what right the US would even claim its military is entitled to prevent Syria from controlling Syria’s own oil.
It makes more sense that this is a US goal, however, or at least a talking point, given Trump’s bragging about having “secured the oil” in Syria. Whether they can actually do this is another matter.