James Mattis has
resigned as US defence secretary, pointing to differences with Donald Trump
over the treatment of allies and the US approach to “malign actors and
strategic competitors” on the world stage.
US Syria pullout draws
Kurdish condemnation and Putin’s praise
His resignation comes
a day after Trump announced an abrupt withdrawal of American troops from Syria,
and amid reports he has also ordered the return of half the 14,000 troops in
Afghanistan as well.
Mattis was reported to
have gone to the White House on Thursday afternoon in an effort to persuade
Trump to agree to a gradual withdrawal of troops from Syria and to leave a
residual force of a few hundred, diplomatic sources said.
He also opposed
Trump’s plans to halve the US contingent in Afghanistan. His resignation
suggests those appeals were rejected.
Mattis said he would
stay in office until 28 February, to allow time for a successor to be nominated
and confirmed by the Senate. His departure is likely to alarm US allies in
Europe who saw Mattis as the embodiment of continuity in US defence policy in
an otherwise erratic and often radical administration.
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