Secretary of Defense James Mattis is resigning, reportedly because the president refused to heed his warnings on withdrawing US troops from Syria.
Mattis went to the White House Thursday “in a last attempt to convince” President Trump “to keep US troops in Syria,” The New York Times wrote Thursday, citing officials. “He was rebuffed, and told the president that he was resigning as a result.”
Defense officials told CNN that Mattis was “livid” after reading reports that the Turkish defense minister threatened to kill the Kurds — US partners in the fight against ISIS. He was reportedly incensed at what he considered a betrayal of an ally.
A few hours later, Mattis submitted his resignation letter, which stressed that the president needs a defense secretary who shares his view of the world, particularly when it comes to the preservation of an international order best suited to the advancement of US national interests, the treatment of allies and partners, and the handling of American adversaries.
The letter, which repeatedly stressed the importance of alliances, was a sharp rebuke of Trump’s policies.
Trump has time and time again overruled or contradicted Mattis, and it appears that this time was the last straw for the embattled secretary.
The president, proudly saying ISIS has been defeated, announced Wednesday that US troops will be withdrawing from Syria, a move that many of the president’s advisers have warned against.
“Getting rid of the caliphate doesn’t mean you then blindly say okay, we got rid of it, march out, and then wonder why the caliphate comes back,” Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon in late September. His views were reflected by the American-led coalition in Syria.
“We cannot walk away, we must stay and work with our partners to develop their capabilities and capacity and ensure they can prevent this enemy from ever threatening Iraq, Syria, and any other country around the world,” coalition spokesman Col. Sean Ryan told reporters at the Pentagon late last month.