Trump tweets about Mattis, Syria withdrawal and McGurk exit

By some estimates Afghanistan has overtaken Syria as the world's deadliest conflict zone this year

By some estimates Afghanistan has overtaken Syria as the world's deadliest conflict zone this year

"While the idea is not laid out in the open, the general's resignation letter contains hints that he wasn't satisfied with the supposed lack of respect to US" allies, of which he notably mentions North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the anti-Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) coalition. US officials, however, said that the reaction to his decision to leave - including the shock and dismay expressed on Capitol Hill - annoyed Trump and likely led to Mattis leaving earlier than planned.

Mr Trump expedited Mr Mattis' departure by tweeting on Sunday. "They won't be wrong about that".

Mattis hand-delivered a scathing resignation letter to the president on Thursday in protest over Trump's decision to withdraw us troops from Syria.

Mattis announced his resignation last Thursday with a letter saying his views were not aligned with Trump, who said Mattis would retire at the end of February. There's not a word of praise for Trump in the entire thing, and Mattis speaks bluntly about "showing respect to.allies" and "being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors". "General Mattis did not see this as a problem". Mattis' leadership helped to continue and strengthen those alliances. Mattis' resignation is a small victory for the Trump vision, but it is far from decisive.

Mattis said the USA must be "unambiguous" with nations like Russian Federation and China, and it was his core belief that the U.S. needed to show its allies respect and stand up to "malign actors".

Trump described his relationship with Mattis as "interesting" but reminded him that he fully funded the military during his time as Secretary of Defense.

"No one nation can, on its own, change the global order", he said in remarks after the summit. The editorial board of Israel's Haaretz newspaper called Trump's decision a "slap in the face to Benjamin Netanyahu" and said that USA involvement was "an important counterweight to the Russians in establishing the rules of the game in the region".

How do US allies feel about Mattis' resignation?

Trump was initially surrounded by generals, including now outgoing chief of staff John Kelly and his first two national security advisers, Michael Flynn, who resigned, and HR McMaster, who was forced out.

Obama removed Mattis as head of U.S. Central Command in 2013 because of what officials at the time said were perceived to be his hawkish views on Iran.

Suicide attacks like this one on a wedding hall in Kabul have added to a year of record bloodshed in Kabul
Suicide attacks like this one on a wedding hall in Kabul have added to a year of record bloodshed in Kabul

He could decide to withdraw troops from South Korea to win concessions from North Korea, or cut U.S. forces in Japan, as a cost cutting measure.

What does Trump's Cabinet look like without Mattis?

"At the end of the day, the American people elected one person to be the commander-in-chief", she said.

"US foreign policy has often found itself at the mercy of American domestic politics of late", said Govella.

That is, if President Trump doesn't beat them to the punch.

The increasing antagonism between the globe's two largest economies is widely expected to impact economic and defence policy in Asia. "The decisions to pull United States troops out of Syria, and reportedly out of Afghanistan next, are politically motivated, based on campaign promises to his political base, and have no relation to U.S. national strategic interests", Brooks said.

A spokesperson for Shanahan said he will accept the appointment as acting secretary.

Mr Shanahan will take over the role on 1 January.

Australian Senator Jim Molan told local media that Mattis' departure showed the need for Australia to be self-reliant in defence.

UAE to reopen embassy in Damascus
The UAE reopened its embassy in Damascus on Thursday to normalise ties and prevent the danger of "regional interference". A Syrian passenger flight flew to Tunisia on Thursday for the first time in almost eight years.

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