On Friday, Brett McGurk, the Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, resigned.
According to sources cited by CBS News, McGurk had originally planned to resign in February of 2019, but in the wake of President Trump’s decision to pull American forces out of Syria, McGurk has opted to take an early exit.
On Wednesday, President Trump announced that he would be withdrawing troops from Syria in the near future, tweeting the following video:
After historic victories against ISIS, it’s time to bring our great young people home! pic.twitter.com/xoNjFzQFTp
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 19, 2018
Eight days earlier, on December 11, McGurk stood before the media and provided an update on the campaign to defeat ISIS, stating in part:
Even as the end of the physical caliphate is clearly now coming into sight, the end of ISIS will be a much more long-term initiative. We’ve talked about that many times. Nobody working on these issues day to day is complacent. Nobody is declaring a mission accomplished. Defeating a physical caliphate is one phase of a much longer-term campaign. …
So with that, we’re down to really the last 1 percent here in the conventional military fight, but we are positioning ourselves for the longer term, and we feel pretty confident those pieces are getting into place.
After a reporter asked how long the “coalition [would] be staying in Syria,” McGurk stated that “the military mission is the enduring defeat of ISIS.” He added, “We have obviously learned a lot of lessons in the past, so we know that once the physical space is defeated, we can’t just pick up and leave. So we’re prepared to make sure that we do all we can to ensure this is enduring.”
Another reporter asked for an estimate as to how long “American soldiers” would “remain in Syria,” and McGurk replied: “I think it’s fair to say Americans will remain on the ground after the physical defeat of the caliphate, until we have the pieces in place to ensure that that defeat is enduring.”
Given what McGurk expressed during the press conference, it seems unlikely that he had any foreknowledge of the president’s decision on Wednesday to pull U.S. forces out of Syria.
McGurk’s exit comes on the heels of Secretary of Defense James Mattis’ resignation on Thursday, which was also reportedly in response to the president’s announcement regarding Syria. In his resignation letter, Mattis noted that he and the president have differing opinions regarding the way in which the United States treats its allies and, conversely, how it treats “malign actors and strategic competitors” on the world stage.
“Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects,” Mattis wrote, “I believe it is right for me to step down from my position.”
McGurk, who has served as the Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS since November 2015, also held positions in the Obama and Bush administrations. December 31 will serve as McGurk’s final day in his current position.
The Daily Wire reached out to McGurk for comment, but as of publication, we have not received a reply.