The resignation of US defence secretary James Mattis was triggered by a phone conversation between Donald Trump and the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in which Trump abruptly decided to upend previous US policy and withdraw troops from Syria, according to new accounts of the call.
Mattis went to see the president on Thursday afternoon in a last-ditch attempt to change the president’s mind, and argue for standing by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which have take the lead role in ejecting the Islamic State from its Syrian strongholds.
Trump rebuffed Mattis’s arguments over the course of a 45-minute meeting. Trump had already recorded a video in the White House garden, announcing he was bringing the troops home, and it had been shown to Mattis.
At the end of the meeting Mattis took Trump by surprise by presenting his resignation letter. According to the New York Times, Mattis ordered 50 copies to be made and circulated around the Pentagon on his return to his office.
Accounts in the US and Turkish press of the Friday call between Trump and Erdoğan show the volatile US president complying with the Turkish leader’s demands and taking his own advisers by surprise.
It is the latest example of a pattern in which Trump tends to side with authoritarian foreign leaders, over the advice of US officials.
read more at UK Guardian