President Trump Has Drawn Down Thousands of Troops from Land Wars in the Middle East

US soldiers and Afghan security personnel investigate the site of a car bomb attack that targeted a NATO coalition convoy in Kabul on September 24, 2017. A suicide bomber targeting a NATO convoy wounded three Afghan civilians in Kabul on September 24 without causing casualties among Danish troops on board, …
WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP via Getty Images

President Donald Trump will have withdrawn about 8,000 U.S. troops from land wars in the Middle East and South Asia by the end of November, as part of his efforts to end the U.S.’s participation in foreign wars.

In Afghanistan, Trump is slated to bring home approximately 4,000 U.S. troops from America’s longest war. When he first entered office in January 2017, there were approximately 8,600 forces there. That number will be 4,500 by the end of November.

Trump wants to bring down forces in Afghanistan even further, to 2,500 by early next year, and pull out all forces by the middle of 2021.

In Iraq, Trump has ordered the number reduced to 3,000, down from 5,200 when he first came in. The Obama administration pulled out all U.S. forces in 2011, but put troops back into Iraq and into Syria after the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) appeared poised to take Baghdad.

In Syria, Trump has reduced the U.S. presence from approximately 2,000 to 500.

The bulk of the troop withdrawals in Afghanistan have come after the U.S. helped initiate negotiations in Afghanistan between the U.S.-backed Afghan government and the Taliban.

In Iraq, the withdrawals came after the U.S. military-led anti-ISIS coalition and Iraqi forces took back all the territory that ISIS had seized in 2019, and killed the head of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

Trump touted his administration’s foreign policy achievements during a rally in Allentown, Pennsylvania, on Monday.

“Exactly one year ago today, we killed the leader of ISIS, al-Baghdadi. And we took out the world’s number one terrorist, Soleimani is dead. And we took 100 percent of the ISIS caliphate, you know that, 100 percent,” he said.

Trump also listed ending the Iran nuclear deal, which he called “one of the worst, stupidest deals,” and floated the potential of talks with Iran on a better agreement if he wins a second term.

“The first call I get when we win will be from the head of Iran, ‘Let’s make a deal.’ Their economy is crashing, is crashing,” he said.

Trump also listed the moving of the official U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, formally recognizing the city as Israel’s capital. Since then, several Middle East nations have formalized relations with Israel.

“Instead of never-ending wars, we are forging peace in the Middle East,” Trump said.

“No blood in the sand, much less expensive,” he said. “They’re tired of fighting all the time. They’re tired. We’re bringing our soldiers back from Afghanistan, all coming back.”

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