U.S. President Donald Trump's abrupt announcement this week that he intends to withdraw all American troops out of Syria risks dealing a serious blow to his country's credibility as an ally and partner, former national security officials and regional experts warned.
That decision, announced in a Twitter post, was reportedly the "breaking point" for Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who submitted his resignation letter a day later. The 68-year-old retired Marine Corps general said he was leaving the administration in part because he does not agree with Trump on a number of issues, and cited the importance of alliances.
Geopolitical experts are also sounding the alarm on the state of America's international partnerships.
"(Trump's Syria move) risks not only jeopardizing the near-term U.S. interest of stabilizing a key part of the Middle East, but also damaging America's reputation for the long term," Turkey expert Soner Cagaptay and former Defense Department and Senate Foreign Relations Committee member Dana Stroul wrote in a brief for The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Trump has long opposed U.S. military involvement in Syria, and his backers view the withdrawal decision as a campaign promise kept. He announced the defeat the Islamic State (IS), arguing that America should no longer fight others' battles for them.
But defense officials and lawmakers reject the assertion that IS is finished, and say that America still has commitments to allies on the ground and a reputation to uphold.
"Next time the U.S. needs to challenge an imminent terror threat somewhere in the world, we'll presumably want to do so 'by, with & through,' using local partners," wrote Charles Lister, senior fellow at the Middle East Institute and author of "The Syrian Jihad."
"You think they're going to trust us now? Not a chance."