U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton are heading to the Middle East to calm U.S. allies who were rocked by President Trump’s surprise announcement that he plans to quickly withdraw troops from Syria and James Mattis’ subsequent resignation as defense secretary. The top Trump officials—who will visit Turkey and Israel from Friday into next week—will have to reassure the allies that the U.S. isn’t giving up its influence in the Middle East to Iran with Trump’s latest move. However, they have a tough job on their hands—in his first Cabinet meeting of the year Thursday, Trump said Iran’s leaders “can do what they want” in Syria. Bolton’s authority on Middle East issues has been severely undermined by the president’s unpredictable announcements on foreign policy. Months before Trump announced he wanted to pull troops out of Syria, Bolton said the U.S. wouldn’t leave Syria as long as adversaries including Iran, Russia, and the Islamic State terror group were still in the country.
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