President Donald Trump, rejecting critics saying he “capitulated” on his withdrawal of troops in Syria, levied a bold suggestion the U.S. might “take the oil” it is remaining there to “protect.”
“They said, ‘He left troops in Syria,'” Trump told Fox News’ “Ingraham Angle” on Friday night. “You know what I did? I left troops to take the oil. I took the oil.
“The only troops I have are taking the oil. They’re protecting the oil. I took over the oil.”
When pressed to clarify – “We’re not taking the oil, right?” Ingraham asked – Trump did not demurr, despite Russia having considered such an act “state banditry,” according to The New York Times, and Syria levying claims Trump plans to “steal” it.
“Well, maybe we will, maybe we won’t,” Trump responded, echoing a criticism of the former Iraq War not having taken Iraqi oil.
Ingraham chimed in for him to back off the provocative suggestion, trying to reframe it as merely “we’re protecting their facilities.”
“I don’t know, maybe we should take it, but we have the oil,” Trump continued. “We have the oil. Right now. The United States has the oil.
“So, they say, ‘He left troops in Syria.’ No, I got rid of all of them other than we’re protecting the oil. We have the oil.”
While it is plausible Trump might actually be planning to take Syrian oil, it might also be a leveraging tactic in his state campaign to encourage other nations to come into the Middle East to share the burden of cooling tensions – and the cost on taxpayers – in the region.