Spotlight: Trump says Saudi Arabia to help rebuild Syria, defends forcing Mattis out

Source: Xinhua| 2018-12-25 04:14:41|Editor: ZX
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 24 (Xinhua) -- While defending his decision to force Defense Secretary James Mattis out ahead of schedule, U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday said that Saudi Arabia has agreed to replace the United States in helping rebuild Syria.

In a slew of tweets sent at the White House, Trump said that "Saudi Arabia has now agreed to spend the necessary money needed to help rebuild Syria, instead of the United States."

"See? Isn't it nice when immensely wealthy countries help rebuild their neighbors rather than a Great Country, the U.S., that is 5000 miles away," he noted. "Thanks to Saudi A!"

The Trump administration has spared no efforts in saving ties with Saudi Arabia, despite the Congress leaders' repeated calls for reviewing it in a bid to punish Riyadh over its reported involvement in the murder of a Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, in October.

Trump also defended his decision to let Mattis leave earlier than the latter's scheduled departure. The U.S. military veteran has resigned on Thursday due to unbridgeable differences with the White House host on relations with allies and the withdrawal from Syria, among others.

"To those few Senators who think I don't like or appreciate being allied with other countries, they are wrong, I DO," Trump said. "What I don't like, however, is when many of these same countries take advantage of their friendship with the United States, both in Military Protection and Trade."

"We are substantially subsidizing the Militaries of many VERY rich countries all over the world, while at the same time these countries take total advantage of the U.S., and our TAXPAYERS, on Trade," he noted. "General Mattis did not see this as a problem. I DO, and it is being fixed!"

This was not the first time he has complained about the media coverage of his decisions to leave Syria and let Mattis go ever after the latter's announced resignation.

He tweeted one day ago that "If anybody but your favorite President, Donald J. Trump, announced that, after decimating ISIS in Syria, we were going to bring our troops back home (happy & healthy), that person would be the most popular hero in America."

"With me, hit hard instead by the Fake News Media. Crazy!" he said.

Via tweets on Monday, Trump also lashed out at Brett McGurk, the U.S. envoy for the global coalition to defeat the Islamic State (IS), who resigned on Friday following Mattis' announcement to leave.

"For all of the sympathizers out there of Brett McGurk remember, he was the Obama appointee who was responsible for loading up airplanes with 1.8 Billion Dollars in CASH & sending it to Iran as part of the horrific Iran Nuclear Deal (now terminated) approved by Little Bob Corker," Trump said.

The past week has seen a series of the Trump administration's dramatic announcements in terms of military overseas and government leadership change.

The White House said on Wednesday that it has started returning U.S. troops home from Syria after claiming a victory in the fight against the IS.

On Thursday, U.S. media reported that the Trump administration considers to cut half of the U.S. troops in Afghanistan down to some 7,000 servicemen.

Trump tweeted also on Thursday that Mattis will retire "with distinction" at the end of February, an announcement the Pentagon later confirmed by publishing its chief's resignation letter, implying entrenched divergences with Trump.

One day later, McGurk was confirmed to have resigned, in the latest sign of U.S. senior official's growing objection to Trump's decision to withdraw troops from Syria.

Enraged by frequent negative news coverage of his withdrawal decision and the two officials' announcements to leave, Trump said on Sunday that he has picked Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan as the acting Pentagon chief, forcing outgoing Mattis to step down two months earlier than planned.

The reshuffle at the Pentagon also came as the U.S. federal government has been partially shut down over a budget impasse, triggering an increasing sense of uncertainty in Washington over the U.S. foreign policy direction over the next year.

Trump, for his part, has never been a fan of sending U.S. troops out for battles overseas. Ever since his campaign, he has urged to bring "boys" back home, while senior national security officials, including Mattis, have advocated a longer-term military deployment to secure anti-terrorism victory and national security.