WASHINGTON DC (Kurdistan 24) - US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, speaking on the talk show “Fox News Sunday” reaffirmed a US commitment to remain in Syria until its most important political goals are met.
“We’re not going to leave Syria until we’ve accomplished them,” she told Fox News host, Chris Wallace.
Haley defined the key US aims in Syria as preventing the use of weapons of mass destruction, including chemical weapons, “in any way that could harm American national interests.”
The complete defeat of the Islamic State (IS) is a second crucial goal, and keeping an eye on Iran is the third.
President Donald Trump wants “to make sure that we have good grounds to watch what Iran is doing and ensure that they are not making a lot of aggressive headway,” Haley said.
On March 29, while speaking at a rally in Ohio, Trump said that he wanted to leave Syria “very soon.” That surprised virtually all his senior national security advisers, who persuaded Trump to allow US forces to remain in Syria for another six months.
Haley’s statement seemed to reflect a willingness to stay even longer than that.
After Haley made her remarks, French President Emmanuel Macron, also speaking on Sunday, explained to French media that in advance of Saturday’s coordinated US, French, and British strikes on Syria’s chemical weapons facilities, he had persuaded Trump that the US should remain in Syria.
“We convinced him that it was necessary to stay,” Macron said, “for the long-term.”
However, hours later, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders responded, “The US mission has not changed—the president has been clear that he wants US forces to come home as quickly as possible.”
“We are determined to completely crush [IS] and create the conditions that will prevent its return,” Sanders continued, as she echoed Haley.
Sanders’ statement concluded, “We expect our regional allies and partners to take greater responsibility, both militarily and financially for securing the region”—a point that Haley also made.
The biggest difference between the statements of the two senior US officials is that Haley spoke about Iran, while Sanders said nothing about that country.
Haley also appeared on another Sunday talk show, CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
On that program, she revealed that the US would impose more sanctions on Russia for its support of Syria—which has included blocking six Security Council resolutions dealing with that country’s use of chemical weapons.
The new sanctions will target Russian companies that have provided equipment and any other support for Syria’s chemical weapons program.
Before becoming UN ambassador, Haley was governor of South Carolina. She was South Carolina’s first female governor.
Although she was born in South Carolina, Haley is the daughter of immigrants from India. She is the second Indian-American to serve as governor of a US state, the other being fellow Republican, Bobby Jindal, who was governor of Louisiana, another southern state, between 2008 and 2016.
Editing by Nadia Riva