Brett H. McGurk has served as the Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL aka ISIS, and was appointed to the position by President Obama in 2015. He has remained in the position under President Trump, and was to leave the position next February.
However, in the wake of the President snap decision to withdraw troops from Syria, McGurk moved up his plans, announcing his resignation effective the 31st of December.
It was as recent as the 11th of December that McGurk spoke about the war against ISIS, cautioning that, "It would be reckless if we were just to say, well, the physical caliphate is defeated, so we can just leave now."
Trump, however, chose to do exactly that, blindsiding his own military advisors and diplomats in the process, and causing both McGurk and the President's Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, to resign their positions.
Trump has attacked both Mattis and McGurk via his medium-of-choice, Twitter, claiming that he gave Mattis a "second chance" after Mattis was removed from leadership under Obama.
With McGurk, Trump was far more pointed.
Brett McGurk, who I do not know, was appointed by President Obama in 2015. Was supposed to leave in February but he just resigned prior to leaving. Grandstander? The Fake News is making such a big deal about this nothing event!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 23, 2018
It is concerning that the President is claiming to not know McGurk, especially in light of the intended draw down of troops in Syria: McGurk would be one of the top people for him to consult with in his government before making such a decision.
McGurk's diplomatic career began in earnest when, in 2004, he became a legal advisor to both the United States Ambassador in Baghdad and the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA). He has since served on numerous posts regarding the middle east.
Under the Trump administration, he worked with both Secretaries Mattis and Tillerson on an accelerated campaign against ISIL. This campaign led to the liberation of Raqqa. He has visited the region several times to help organize fighters, and even spearheaded discussions with Russia and Jordan that lead to a "ceasefire zone" in the southwest of Syria.
His resignation leaves a large hole in or strategy around ISIL and in Syria.
Image via the U.S. Department of State.
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