When Sen. Lindsay Graham said Monday, Dec. 31: “I think we are slowing things [exit from Syria] down in a smart way,” he confirmed DEBKAfile’s Dec. 22 report: “US troops will leave eastern and northern Syria, but America is not deserting this part of the country and will continue to maintain a presence after the pullout.” On Monday, the Republican Senator, who sharply criticized President Donald Trump for the troop withdrawal as a “huge Obama-like mistake,” stated: “The president assured me he is going to make sure he gets the job done.”
Our sources can now reveal the nature of that presence and the process afoot for the gradual US withdrawal. In the last few days, Egyptian and UAE military officers visited the contested north Syrian town of Manbij. They toured the town and its outskirts, checked out the locations of US and Kurdish YPG militia positions, and took notes on how to deploy their own troops as replacements. On the diplomatic side, the White House is in continuous conversation with the UAE Crown Prince Sheikh Muhammed Bin Ziyad (MbZ) and Egyptian President Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi.
The deal Trump is offering, is that they take over US positions in Manbij, where the Kurds have sought protection against a Turkish invasion, and American air cover will be assured against Russian, Syrian or Turkish attack.