The Trump administration is reportedly trying to recruit Arab nations to commit funding and troops to eventually replace the U.S. military presence in Syria.
The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that U.S. officials have reached out to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates about contributing billions of dollars and military resources to help secure Syria after ISIS is defeated.
National Security Adviser John Bolton has also reportedly reached out to Egyptian officials about the initiative.
Military officials told the Journal that it would be difficult to convince Arab nations to send troops if the U.S. withdrew its forces entirely.
The reported effort comes days after President TrumpDonald John TrumpPoll: Less than half of Americans think their taxes are too high Comey pulls no punches with Trump Incoming Pence adviser withdraws nomination following reports Trump opposed candidacy MORE authorized targeted missile strikes in Syria following in response to a chemical weapons attack on civilians in the town of Douma.
However, Trump has in recent weeks created uncertainty over the future of the U.S. role in Syria. While he has pledged to defeat ISIS, he has indicated on multiple occasions — including as recently as Friday — that he’d like to bring American troops home from Syria soon.
“America does not seek an indefinite presence in Syria,” he said during an address to announce the missile strikes. “It’s a troubled place. We will try to make it better. But it’s a troubled place.”
During a press conference with Baltic leaders, Trump suggested the U.S. could extend its military presence in Syria if other Arab states, like Saudi Arabia, paid for it.
Multiple military advisers and lawmakers have pushed back on Trump’s comments, warning that pulling troops out of Syria would be a mistake that could destabilize the region.
Earlier this month, Trump reiterated his desire to end U.S. involvement in Syria quickly.
“I want to get out. I want to bring our troops back home,” the president said.