Bolton in Israel, Pompeo visiting Israel’s Arab Neighbors: Will these Middle East Visits Cancel Trump’s Syrian Withdrawal?

Published on January 7, 2019

In the shadow of President Donald Trump’s announced withdrawal from Syria, and the subsequent sharp criticism from both sides of the aisle, National Security Advisor John Bolton is in Israel and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is set to visit Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and five other Arab countries.

This intense flurry of diplomatic activity comes in the aftermath of sharp criticism hurled at this president from both sides of the political aisle, as well as genuine concern from Mideast allies, such as Israel and the Kurds. The Bolton-Pompeo visits appear to be clearly designed to allay those concerns, but is there more to this than meets the eye? Reports from the Bolton-Netanyahu meetings have revealed that the discussions have included the multi-front danger from Iran and the joint attempt to confront the hostile Shiite Muslim regime after the American withdrawal happens. Another topic has been the strategic Golan Heights on Israel’s border with Syria and Israel’s desire for recognition of its control and sovereignty over this plateau. Recaptured in the Six Day War in June of 1967 after the Galilee had been bombarded by Syria attacks from above, Israel considers the Golan to be vital to its survival, and with good reason.

The Pompeo talks will complete the circle of intrigue, as he meets with Arab nations, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Bahrain, all countries that have become allied with the United States in confronting Iran’s hegemonic intentions in the Middle East and indeed, the world. As I have explained in my book, “Trump and the Jews”, the cooperation, both economic and strategic, between the currently less radical Sunni Muslim nations and Israel has been happening covertly for years. It’s only since Trump came to office that the cooperation has come out of the closet and blossomed into a near-alliance. Pompeo’s tour is designed to strengthen that cooperation into a strong American sphere of influence in the Middle East, and that can grow, even if, and when, American troops are no longer on the ground in Syria.

Let us be clear: The American withdrawal from Syria is destined to happen, but it doesn’t have to hurt American interests in the region. A clear and firm American warning to Turkey not to invade Syria to attack the pro-American Kurds should be sufficient to prevent the slaughter that many people are concerned about. Trump has shown that, unlike his predecessor, his warnings carry weight. Just ask the fighters of ISIS as well as Bashar Assad, who learned that American warnings against the use of chemical weapons mean something.

Put simply: Predictions of the Trump Syria withdrawal not happening are very premature. And as for the Dem and GOP politicians and the pundits who were too quick to pounce on Trump’s Syria withdrawal announcement, take this to heart: President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu have a comprehensive plan for Syria, Israel, and the entire region, which Netanyahu and Bolton are coordinating, so no sense losing sleep over a very methodical, coordinated effort by these two seasoned negotiators and communicators. Likewise, Pompeo’s calm, step-by-step approach to confronting political crises, from North Korea to the Khashoggi affair, fits in nicely with the Trump doctrine in the Middle East. As he visits the kings and emirs of the previously hostile, anti-Israel Arab world, expect him to make significant progress in making sure that America and Israel’s newfound Arab strategic allies are all on the same page with the Trump administration. That coordination does not require American boots on the ground for an indefinite period of time. And that’s a central element of the Trump doctrine – Fight hard, win quickly, and do everything needed to accomplish your defined military goals. Then get out, leaving in place well-supported allies, infrastructure, and firm political/military backing, so that allies like Israel can continue to attack Iran in Syria and win.

David Rubin, former Mayor of Shiloh Israel, is a Columnist at Grit Daily. He is the author of the new book, “Trump and the Jews”. Rubin is the founder and president of Shiloh Israel Children’s Fund, established after he and his then three-year-old son were wounded in a terror attack. He can be found at or at

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