Trump says he’ll order ‘safe zones’ for Syria, regrets not ‘taking’ oil out of Iraq


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US President Donald Trump said he’ll establish “safe zones’ within Syria for people fleeing terrorism, risking becoming even more involved in the crisis. He also believes the US should have “taken the oil” from Iraq as it pulled its troops out in 2011.

I’ll absolutely do safe zones in Syria for the people,” he said in a lengthy interview with ABC, his first since taking office. The president did not specify details, but explained his intention with a nod towards Europe, which he said made a mistake by letting in asylum seekers from the Middle East.

I think that Europe has made a tremendous mistake by allowing these millions of people to go into Germany and various other countries. And all you have to do is take a look. It’s… it’s a disaster what’s happening over there. I don’t want that to happen here,” he said. He noted that his predecessor Barack Obama also allowed thousands of refugees into the United States, which made possible incidents like the tragedy in San Bernardino in 2015, in which 14 people were killed and 22 others were injured in a terrorist attack carried out by a radicalized couple of Pakistani origin. Trump vowed not to repeat those mistakes.

Trump accused the Obama administration of having been unable to properly check immigrants entering the US from Syria and other crisis-stricken states to make sure they had no links to terrorism.

President Obama and [former Secretaries of State] Hillary Clinton… and [John] Kerry have allowed tens of thousands of people into our country. The FBI is now investigating more people than ever before having to do with terror […] and it’s from the group of people that came in.

“I’m gonna be the president of a safe country. We have enough problems,” Trump said.

Moscow was quick to react to Trump’s plans, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov suggesting the US should calculate all the possible consequences.

It’s important to make sure that this does not further aggravate the situation with refugees,” Peskov told a conference call with reporters.

Yet, according to a document reportedly seen by Reuters, Trump is expected to order the Pentagon and the State Department to compile a plan for setting up the “safe zones” which he proposed.

The Secretary of State, in conjunction with the Secretary of Defense, is directed within 90 days of the date of this order to produce a plan to provide safe areas in Syria and in the surrounding region in which Syrian nationals displaced from their homeland can await firm settlement, such as repatriation or potential third-country resettlement,” the draft order said, as cited by Reuters.

The move will mean the current US military involvement in Syria’s civil war will be expanded, which may escalate the situation taking into account that American troops and the US-led coalition were not invited to take part in the conflict by the Syrian government in the first place.

The US-governed creation of safe zones would potentially mean an increase in the presence of US or allied air power to cover the zones from air, as well as boots on the ground to protect civilians in these areas. However, according to Reuters, the draft order provides no details on what the safe zones would require in terms of defense or where they might be located.

The draft order provided a notion of setting up the safe zones in neighboring countries, but Syria’s neighbors, including Jordan and Turkey, already have migrant camps of their own hosting millions of Syrian refugees.

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