Israeli government in shock over Trump comment that 'Iran can do what it wants' in Syria
Donald Trump shocked at least one Israeli official when he said at a press conference that Iran "can do what they want" in Syria. The president may have been referring to the possibility that Iran will withdraw its troops from Syria, but given the Iranian drive to establish a permanent military presence in Syria that threatens Israel, Jerusalem appears worried.
"It is sad that he is not attentive to intelligence materials," the unnamed Israeli source said, according to a Thursday report by the Ynet news website.
"I am quite simply in shock," the source continued. "Trump simply does not know what is happening in Syria and the Iranian entrenchment there."
Trump's comments came two weeks after he rattled Jerusalem by announcing that he would pull all American troops out of Syria. US soldiers had been leading the coalition against the Islamic State terror group, while also helping to thwart the establishment of permanent Iranian military infrastructure in Syria.
Israel has repeatedly warned in recent years that Iran is seeking to establish a military presence in Syria, where it is fighting alongside its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah and Russia to restore the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
I honestly don't know what anyone should be shocked about in this comment. We should all know by now that Trump will speak his mind, regardless of the effect of his words on friend and foe alike.
In this case, Trump was speaking a simple truth: whatever Iran wants to do in Syria, the U.S. can't stop it, and Israel won't stop it – unless it presents a direct threat to the Jewish state. While that's entirely possible in the future, for now, the Israelis have been holding the Iranians in check.
Should Trump have advertised our weakness like this? It goes against tradition and common sense, but when did that ever stop the president? Then again, Trump didn't say anything that Iran, Russia, and Syria don't already know, so the reaction of the Israeli official hardly matters.