The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

American Troops Kept in Syria

Nov 25, 2019

Translated from Lutte Ouvrière (Workers’ Struggle), the newspaper of the revolutionary workers’ group active in France.

Trump confirmed U.S. troops remain in Syria, near the Iraqi border. He said this during his meeting with President Erdogan of Turkey in Washington earlier this month. “We left troops behind only for the oil,” Trump said.

His statement set off a new arms race ... between Trump and the Pentagon. A military official preferred a more diplomatic formula: “I would be cautious with saying that ‘the mission [is] to secure the oil fields.’ The mission is the defeat of ISIS. The securing of the oil fields is a subordinate task to that mission.” Trump talks like a hired gun, and senior officers are forced to spin the story to make it look right for U.S. soldiers to be sent wherever U.S. imperialism demands.

Around 600 U.S. soldiers, some coming from Iraq with armored vehicles, were stationed around oil and gas fields in Syria. At the same time, U.S. special forces were abandoning the YPG Kurdish militias. While the Kurds faced an offensive by the Turkish army, and Syrian dictator al-Assad had the opportunity to strengthen his positions in northern Syria, there was no question of the United States withdrawing entirely from Syria. In fact, the U.S. military presence was even strengthened.

Apart from air operations against ISIS, U.S. troops have already carried out large-scale actions in Syria. In February 2018, U.S. aviation and artillery crushed a column of Syrian soldiers and Russian mercenaries attempting to seize a gas field, killing 200 Russians.

Absorbed in his re-election campaign, Trump has suggested many times that U.S. soldiers would leave Syria. But the military presence on the ground allows the U.S. to continue to bear influence in this strategic region and particularly to defend the interests of U.S. oil companies. With his characteristic cynicism, Trump perfectly represents the politics of imperialism.