Wednesday, 21 August, 2019

Defence secretary: Jim Mattis quits, citing policy differences with Pres

U.S. special envoy Mc Gurk submits early resignation after Syria pullout decision CBS Jim Mattis warns against allowing alliances to fray; resignation letter lays out challenges for next...
Patty Aguilar | 27 December, 2018, 19:30

Donald Trump on Sunday announced he will replace Defence Secretary Jim Mattis with his deputy Patrick Shanahan, speeding up the Pentagon chief's planned exit days after he quit, citing key policy differences with the USA president.

In addition to opposing the spread of authoritarianism, Mattis was adamant about the US' role in upholding worldwide maritime law, and took a hard line in support of U.S. freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea.

Trump announced that deputy defense secretary Patrick Shanahan will take over the job. Please refresh the page for the fullest version.

Shanahan, 56, was proposed for the deputy role a year ago after moving up the ranks at the aerospace giant, which he joined in 1986.

Mattis resigned last week over his differences with Trump on key policy issues, especially on his decision to withdraw USA troops from Syria.

Trump announced Shanahan's appointment in a tweet, calling the former Boeing Co executive "very talented".

In the letter, which was described to the Associated Press by an official familiar with its contents, McGurk said fighters with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) were on the run, but not yet defeated as Trump had said.

Mattis in a resignation letter said he was stepping down at the end of February citing the fact that Trump needed to find a defence chief, whose views were more aligned with his own.

Brett McGurk announced his departure just two days after the president's defence secretary, Jim Mattis, made a decision to quit.

(AP) President Donald Trump has moved early to replace outgoing Pentagon chief James Mattis.

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But the Trump administration instead "focused on how do we punish Russian Federation and hit them on the nose", Weiss said.

"While the USA remains the indispensable nation in the free world, we can not protect our interests or serve that role effectively without maintaining strong alliances and showing respect to those allies", Mattis wrote.

Discussing the USA role in Syria this month, he had told journalists that "it would be reckless if we were just to say, 'Well, the physical caliphate is defeated, so we can just leave now'".

On Thursday, Mattis had abruptly said he was quitting, effective February 28, after falling out with Trump over his foreign policy, including surprise decisions to withdraw all troops from Syria and start planning a drawdown in Afghanistan. Last week, he stated that "it would be reckless if we were just to say, 'Well, the physical caliphate is defeated, so we can just leave now.'"I think anyone who's looked at a conflict like this would agree with that," he added". Mulvaney said the president "is entitled to have a secretary of defense who is committed to that same end".

Shanahan, 56, became deputy secretary of defense in July 2017. "I don't know if it was specifically Syria", the official said.

"The past two years have also shown us that the Trump administration can change gears quickly", said Kristi Govella, a professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

"He and the president had differences on some issues". "The recent decision by the president came as a shock and was a complete reversal of policy that was articulated to us", McGurk wrote.

Trump said on Twitter that he had spoken with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey about "our mutual involvement in Syria, & the slow and highly coordinated withdrawal of United States troops from the area".

The retired four-star Marine Corps general has spent the last 23 months of his tenure trying to thread the needle between implementing Trump's policy objectives and maintaining long-standing American principles.

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