The special presidential envoy to the coalition fighting the Islamic State was already set to retire in February, but thanks to Donald Trump’s ill-advised decision to immediately remove all U.S. troops from Syria, Brett McGurk instead tendered his resignation on Friday, according to senior officials in the administration.
According to an email he sent his staff, he decided to move forward his departure after Mr. Trump did not heed his own commanders and blindsided America’s allies in the region by abruptly ordering the withdrawal of the 2,000 troops stationed in Syria.
Earlier this week, before Trump’s announcement, McGurk had vowed that the U.S. armed forces would use common sense when executing their inevitable withdrawal.
“We want to stay on the ground and make sure that stability can be maintained in these areas,” he had said.
He went on to say: “It would be reckless if we were just to say, well, the physical caliphate is defeated, so we can just leave now. I think anyone who’s looked at a conflict like this would agree with that.”
Of course, “anyone who’s looked at a conflict like this” is not necessarily the correct way to describe the current occupant of the White House. Coming just a day after Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ resignation in protest, McGurk’s accelerated departure from his position as “the glue holding together the sprawling, American-led coalition fighting the terrorist group” is yet another indicator that the supposed “adults in the room” are NOT happy with Trump’s reckless decision.
One of just a handful of holdovers from the Obama administration, McGurk has led U.S. efforts against ISIS in “Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and beyond” since 2015.
In his email to staff, McGurk, unlike Mattis, leaves no doubt about his reasons for leaving.
“The recent decision by the president came as a shock and was a complete reversal of policy that was articulated to us. It left our coalition partners confused and our fighting partners bewildered.
“I worked this week to help manage some of the fallout but — as many of you heard in my meetings and phone calls — I ultimately concluded that I could not carry out these new instructions and maintain my integrity.”
McGurk’s resignation is effective December 31.