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"Assad has won," Ian Bremmer says, as Trump recalls troops from Syria

Ian Bremmer: "Assad has won" in Syria
Ian Bremmer: "Assad has won" in Syria 04:28

Many Republicans and Democrats alike are condemning President Trump's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, but according to one geopolitical expert, the call isn't much of a surprise.

"It wasn't as if the United States had the leverage on the ground," said Ian Bremmer, Eurasia Group president and CBS News senior global affairs contributor. "That was the Russians, that was the Iranians, that was the Turks. Those were the countries that were willing to commit a lot because Syria mattered as a high priority of foreign policy to those countries. For the United States, it did not."

Bremmer referred to the U.S. withdrawal as "cutting and running."

"Assad has won. President Obama said Assad must go. Obama's gone, Assad is still there. It is embarrassing to admit that Assad has won, but five million Syrian refugees and 500,000 dead Syrians from the war already know that," Bremmer said.

Trump's Syria withdrawal plan worries allies 04:55

On Wednesday, the president claimed victory over ISIS, tweeting it was the "only reason" for U.S. troops to be there during his presidency. A senior U.S. official said last week ISIS holds just 1 percent of the territory it once held. But the Pentagon estimates there are still up to 30,000 ISIS fighters in Syria. Two weeks ago, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said only 20 percent of local forces have been trained to fight against ISIS. 

Bremmer said the way President Trump announced the decision created additional problems.

"Trump is very capable of doing intelligent things in very stupid ways, and this is one of many examples of that," he said. "Like you don't want to do it by tweet. You don't want your own national security team to not know this was your decision. You don't want sort of the allies that are fighting on the ground in Syria or supporting us with logistics and intel to suddenly find out, oh, here's the decision – but we didn't hear about this during the G-20 in Argentina."

About 2,000 U.S. troops are currently deployed in Syria. At the end of the day, however, Bremmer said the average American isn't "getting a lot of bang for buck out of being on the ground in Syria."

"I don't think you'll hear that from many of the experts, but I think it is a reality," he said.

"At the margins, would it be better if the Americans were more engaged in fighting terrorism around the world? Sure. But there are so many other things that we could be doing with that money," he said.

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