The successful U.S. mission targeting Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the founder and leader of ISIS, relied heavily on strong alliances and trust in U.S. intelligence agencies. It created a degree of irony to the circumstances: Donald Trump has made little effort to hide his disdain for strong alliances and trusting U.S. intelligence agencies.
But digging a little deeper, a more serious contradiction emerges. The New York Times spoke to intelligence, military, and counterterrorism officials yesterday who emphasized that U.S. forces were “zeroing in on” on the ISIS leader when the American president ordered the withdrawal of American troops from northern Syria. The Times explained that Trump’s policy shift changed the nature of the operation, and not for the better.
… Mr. Trump’s abrupt withdrawal order three weeks ago disrupted the meticulous planning underway and forced Pentagon officials to speed up the plan for the risky night raid before their ability to control troops, spies and reconnaissance aircraft disappeared with the pullout, the officials said.
Mr. al-Baghdadi’s death in the raid on Saturday, they said, occurred largely in spite of, and not because of, Mr. Trump’s actions.
This reporting has not been independently verified by MSNBC or NBC News.
The same article noted that it was the Kurds who “provided more intelligence for the raid than any single country,” adding that the Kurds “continued to provide information to the C.I.A. on Mr. al-Baghdadi’s location even after Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw the American troops left the Syrian Kurds to confront a Turkish offensive alone.”
In other words, Trump abandoned our allies, who nevertheless continued to help us – including providing information that led to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s demise.
Oddly enough, Trump said all sorts of things in his announcement yesterday, including sensitive operational details, but he didn’t explain how and why the mission succeeded “largely in spite of” his own decisions.