In a Pentagon briefing in May 2017, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was flanked by perhaps the most important US officials coordinating the fight against the Islamic State.
One was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Joseph F. Dunford.
The other was Brett McGurk, a State Department official whom Mattis introduced to the coalition as "Special Envoy of President Trump."
McGurk's mission was to coordinate the international efforts of NATO allies to militia groups to counter militant Islamists.
But in the midst of his resignation to protest Trump's sudden decision to withdraw some 2,000 troops from Syria, McGurk himself was somehow overlooked by Trump, the president said.
ett McGurk, whom I do not know, was appointed by President Obama in 2015, "said Trump on Saturday on Twitter. "Actually, he should go in February, but he just retired before he left. Grand Stander? The fake news is making such a big deal regarding this nothing event!
It is not clear if Trump meant he had never met McGurk or was otherwise unknown to him. McGurk was due to leave in February to symbolize his immediate resignation.
But Trump's claim raised the question of whether he promises the intricate policy of one of his cornerstones – his interest – the defeat of the Islamic state in which McGurk stands played a pivotal role in Washington, Baghdad, and elsewhere.
"It's almost certainly true that President Brett McGurk has actually met," a former high-ranking defense official who worked closely with McGurk told the Washington Post. After this had not happened, the former official said, "would be an indictment of the president himself if he had not met with the coordinator of the international coalition against the Islamic State."
The White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders, did not answer. He asks if and when Trump himself was informed by McGurk or if Trump had received reports or briefings prepared by the envoy.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded to a request for comment with the news that the press office was working in a "reduced status" because of the government arrest.
The effects of McGurk's withdrawal and the withdrawal of Syria brought the former officials and some Conservatives violently. "Why do not you know the man who has done more than any civilian to downgrade ISIS?" Susan E. Rice, Obama's National Security Advisor and UN Ambassador, wrote on Twitter .
McGurk had been tirelessly engaged by current and former officials and respected by militia commanders alike, and his controlling expertise was sought and deferred within the US government. His high-level involvement in government and diplomatic circles has signaled a trusting presence in the coalition since his appointment as an envoy by Obama.
His work in the Middle East began under President George W. Bush and included three administrations. This experience may be unparalleled, said Derek Chollet, a former US Secretary of Defense of the Obama administration, to The Post: "George W. Bush and Barack Obama knew and respected Brett and considered him one of their key advisers," said Chollet, Trump Having shown evidence of policy withdrawal and disregard of expertise, he said, "And it is very significant that Donald Trump has claimed to have never heard of him."
McGurk was Chief architect of Bush's troop increase in Iraq and had a senior role in the negotiations for the US withdrawal from Iraq in 2011 for Obama Out with the Iraqi leaders, Chollet said, which has led to several offices that eventually led to the appointment of the ambassador.
In the Syrian campaign he was the driving force in the creation of the Syrian Democratic Forces. His persistence and personal touch in building relationships were good for the efforts of the counter-Islamic state, colleagues told The Post.
McGurk met with SDF Kurdish and Arab executives and was constantly present in Baghdad and Irbil. the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq, which became a time when an Islamic state threatened both capitals.
Apart from Mattis' resignation was the most important factor in McGurk's decision. It was an inability to reconcile the president's decision with his experience as a US diplomat who "spent time with the boys on the ground who fought and died ", including Kurdish militants in Syria, said an official familiar with his views. "To suddenly have to tell them in a fraction of a second that the United States was leaving," it's hard to meet them. "
Robert Ford, former ambassador to Syria, who works closely with McGurk, told the Post that he agrees with Trump. However, the decision said the National Security Council had done a "bad job" to articulate Trump's will To leave Syria after the Islamic state had been largely eradicated, although fighters remained.
Earlier this month, McGurk said in a briefing that it was just a victory over the physical caliphate phase of a "much longer campaign."
That's how McGurk came before Trump, said Ford, who is now a Fellow at the Middle East Institute and Yale University.
"I think there's a problem if Brett does not understand what the president's warnings and political preferences are," Ford said.
It's unclear how the United States will extend its military presence in Syria in the coming weeks and months will cope or whether Special Operational Ion troops will play a greater role in eradicating the remaining pockets of militants.
The US military may continue to deliver SDF troops and trigger air strikes against fighters of the Islamic State's efforts that any party would be hampered by a reduced American presence. "
" Our commitment is only as good as the president's next tweet, "the ex-official said.
] John Hudson, Ellen Nakashima and Karen DeYoung contributed to this report.
Patrick Shanahan, Trump's Deputy Secretary of Defense, joins Mattis'
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