WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will travel to Egypt, Kuwait, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey next week, on a trip focused on stabilization and reconstruction after the territorial defeat of the so-called Islamic State (IS), US officials and diplomats tell Al-Monitor.
But as US and coalition partners try to consolidate battlefield gains after uprooting the IS “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria, former US diplomats and experts warn that the vagueness of Washington's goals for post-IS Syria could come to haunt policymakers. They express foreboding that the Donald Trump administration says it intends to keep some 2,000 US troops in eastern Syria until it achieves its broad political goals for Syria. Those goals, as laid out in a speech by Tillerson last month, include not just preventing IS’ return, but countering Iran’s presence in Syria, deterring an Iranian threat to US regional allies, making way for refugees to return and advancing a postwar Syrian political settlement that would see the departure of Bashar al-Assad.
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