Mattis resignation triggered by phone call between Trump and Erdoğan
Fri 21 Dec 2018 18.49 GMT Last modified on Fri 21 Dec 2018 20.52 GMT
The resignation of US defence secretary James Mattis was triggered by a phone conversation between Donald Trump and the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in which Trump abruptly decided to upend previous US policy and withdraw troops from Syria, according to new accounts of the call.
Mattis went to see the president on Thursday afternoon in a last-ditch attempt to change the president’s mind, and argue for standing by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which have take the lead role in ejecting the Islamic State from its Syrian strongholds.Mattis had already composed a resignation letter that did not mention the SDF or Syria but repeatedly referred to the importance to US national security of respecting allies, and confronting strategic adversaries.
Trump rebuffed Mattis’s arguments over the course of a 45-minute meeting. Trump had already recorded a video in the White House garden, announcing he was bringing the troops home, and it had been shown to Mattis.
At the end of the meeting Mattis took Trump by surprise by presenting his resignation letter. According to the New York Times, Mattis ordered 50 copies to be made and circulated around the Pentagon on his return to his office.