In a new interview with the Wall Street Journal, President-elect Donald Trump said that he is likely to end the US support of “moderate” Syrian rebel groups, saying that “we have no idea who these people are” and that the US needs to focus on defeating ISIS.
The interview only briefly touched on foreign policy, but Trump echoed similar concerns about backing Syrian rebels in the past, saying that the defeat of Assad could lead to something even worse in the country, and today warning that backing the rebellion risks starting a fight with Syria and Russia.
This has been an ongoing problem for the US, with the Pentagon seeking to fight ISIS and the CIA and State Department seeking to shift the focus away from ISIS and toward regime change. The CIA is heavily involved in arming and funding the rebels.
The CIA plan to aid rebels, along with Pentagon efforts to create whole new rebel forces, have largely been disastrous failures at any rate, with much of the smuggled arms ending up in the hands of al-Qaeda and ISIS forces. Despite this, the programs have largely continued, and Trump’s interest in not doing so is seen as a major shift in US policy.