CREDIT: 130401-A-MX357-061 by US Army Program Executive Officer Soldier, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0/Original.
Sgt. Joshua J. Clark, from Elkhart, Ind., with the 591st Engineer Company (Sappers), provides over watch security for Air Force Explosive Ordinance Disposal personnel outside an Afghan Border Police checkpoint near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border April 1 in Spin Boldak district, Kandahar province, Afghanistan. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Shane Hamann, 102nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.)

One of the hallmark successes of the Trump Administration is the eradication of ISIS in much of Iraq and Syria, where it had been on the move in the power vacuum created by the Obama administration, and the stabilization of eastern Syria under the control of a military force that not only seems moderately competent, fairly humane, and opposed to the control of the area by Syria’s Assad and the ethnic cleansing and colonization project of Turkey’s Erdogan. In fact, the Administration has hit a sweet spot that is not only bleeding Russia (or at least the couple of hundred Russian mercenaries we mauled), Russia, and Iran, while increasing US prestige and influence and with fewer annual casualties than are generated by a typical Chicago Saturday night. That seems to be over:

(Sort of laughed at this. The military doesn’t do anything like this where the words “full” or “rapid” can be used.)

If true, this does not look good. At all.

First, it looks like Erdogan’s information operation on the killed Muslim Brotherhood apostle and WaPo opinion writer, Jamal Khashoggi, had its desired effect. You’ll note that no one is talking about this beacon of press freedom in the past week.

Second, this is a huge win for Iran, for Bashar Assad, and for Vladimir Putin. They have gone from being on their heels strategically to having turfed us out of Syria without lifting a finger.

Iran, now effectively allied with both Turkey and Russia, will be unhindered in its quest to create the so-called Shia Crescent that terminates on the Mediterranean.

Regional partners will see that we are not a reliable ally, particularly when their every existence is at stake. Not only will Erdogan be free to continue with the Turkish policy of ethnic cleansing and re-peopling the area with Turks, it will put Erdogan’s boot on the throat of the cause of Kurdish self-determination. Other people are going to notice.

Russia goes from participating in a conflict that generates enough dead Russians that the Russian government has to hid the funerals to being seen as the regional kingmaker.

The only saving grace is that this has the marks of a leak designed to stop the action from taking place. My guess would be the source of this leak is someone who lost the policy battle and now is trying to generate public debate over the decision before the policy can be implemented.

UPDATE: It looks real.

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