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WSJ: US Seeks Arab Force Replacing its Troops and Funding for Syria

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In the context of US President Donald Trump's suggesting to withdraw American troops from Syria, Michael R. Gordon wrote for the Wall Street Journal that "Arab troops would replace American military and help secure Syria's north."

US troops

In further details, the Trump administration is seeking to assemble an Arab force to replace the US military contingent in Syria, US officials said.

Meanwhile, John Bolton, Trump's new national security adviser, recently called Abbas Kamel, Egypt's acting intelligence chief, to see if Cairo would contribute to the effort, officials said.

The initiative comes as the administration has asked Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to contribute billions of dollars to help restore northern Syria. It wants Arab nations to send troops as well, officials said.

"Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE have all been approached with respect to financial support and more broadly to contribute," an administration official said.

Charles Lister, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute, said that assembling a new force would be a challenge because Saudi Arabia and the UAE are involved militarily in Yemen, and Egypt would be reluctant.

In early January, US military officials were hoping to wind up their campaign in Syria in a matter of months.

The mission of the regional force would be to work with the local Kurdish and Arab fighters the US has been supporting, US officials say.

Meanwhile, Egypt's willingness to support a new effort in Syria is far from clear. With one of the largest armies in the Middle East, Egypt is preoccupied with a fight against the local branch of Daesh [the Arabic acronym for terrorist ‘ISIS/ISIL' group] in the Sinai Peninsula and with securing the country's vast desert border with Libya, which is ruled by a patchwork of militias.

Egypt rarely has deployed troops abroad since the country sent more than 30,000 soldiers to join the American-led coalition fighting Iraq in the 1991 Gulf War, and its government sometimes has made statements supporting the authorities in Damascus, though it says it hasn't taken sides in the conflict.

If Egypt didn't want to send troops, it could help in other ways, such as by "training Syrian fighters outside of their country and with logistics," some experts suggest.

US administration officials are calculating Arab nations will respond more favorably to a request from Trump, who already has asked Saudi Arabia to contribute $4 billion.

Source: WSJ, Edited by website team