Sent: Monday, October 21, 2019 1:34 PM
Subject: Pool Report #15 — Full quote on limited troops in Syria
Washington Blade: Will you leave a limited number of troops in Syria?
POTUS: I don't think it's going to be necessary. I don't want to leave any troops there. That's very dangerous territory. You know, we have 28 troops as it turned out. They said 50, it was 28. And you have an army on both sides of those troops. Those troops would have been wiped out.
I don't think it's necessary other than we secure the oil. It's a little different section, but we need to secure the oil.
And the other region where we've been asked by Israel and Jordan to leave a small number of troops is a totally different section of Syria, near Jordan, and close to Israel. And that's a totally different section. That's a totally different mindset. So we have a small group there, and we secured the oil. Other than that, there's no reason for it, in our opinion.
And again, the Kurds we're going to be watching. We're working with the Kurds. Good relationship with the Kurds, but we never agreed to protect the Kurds. We supported them for three-and-a-half, four years. We never agreed to protect the Kurds for the rest of their lives. Remember this: When Iraq was fighting the Kurds, everybody thought we were going to fight with the Kurds. I said, "Well, it's a little strange that we're going to fight for the Kurds when just spent $4 trillion on Iraq, and now we're going to be fighting Iraq." So what I did is I said, "We're not going to take a position. Let them fight themselves. I thought the Kurds would do very well, I thought the Kurds would do very well." Iraq moved in and the Kurds left.
They didn't fight because they didn't have us to fight with them. A lot of people are good when they fight with us, you know, when you have $10 billion worth of airplanes shooting 10 miles in front of your line, it's much easier to fight.
But with that, they were a good help, but we were a great help to them, too. They were fighting ISIS. You know, they hated ISIS. So they were fighting ISIS. But we never agreed — Where's the agreement that said we have to say in the Middle East for the rest of humanity, for the rest of civilization to protect the Kurds. We never said that.
And we have protected them. We've taken very good care of them. And I hope they're going to watch over ISIS because again, most of it's not in the safe zone as we call. Some places call it a demilitarized zone. In the old days, we'd call it a demilitarized zone. And our relationship with the Kurds is good. And they're going to be safe.
And I will say this: If shooting didn't start in a couple of days, I don't think the Kurds would have moved, I don't think, frankly, we would have been able to make a very easy deal with Turkey. I think when it started for a few days, it was so nasty, that when we went to Turkey and we went to the Kurds, they agreed to do things they would've never done before the shooting started. If they didn't go through two-and-a-half days of Hell, I don't think they would have done it. I think you couldn't have made a deal, and people have been trying to make this deal for years. But we're close to making it. We'll see what happens. Again, they've been fighting for 300 years that we know of. Three hundred years.
So why should we put our soldiers in the midst of two large groups, hundreds of thousands, potentially, of people, and they're fighting? I don't think so.
Chief Political & White House Reporter
Follow me on Twitter: