US pullout from Syria risks boosting Russia, Iran influence: Merkel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel. (File/AFP)
Updated 17 February 2019

US pullout from Syria risks boosting Russia, Iran influence: Merkel

MUNICH: German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Saturday that Washington's plan to swiftly pull its soldiers out of Syria risks allowing Russia and Iran to boost their role in the region.
Daesh group fighters have been boxed in to a scrap of land in the battle for their last remaining territory in northeastern Syria and their final defeat is expected imminently.
Once they are defeated, US forces are set to soon withdraw after President Donald Trump in December announced the pullout of around 2,000 troops.
But Washington is struggling to convince allies to stay on in Syria after it leaves and Merkel warned of the risks of leaving a vacuum in the region.
"Is it a good idea for the Americans to suddenly and quickly withdraw from Syria? Or will it once more strengthen the capacity of Iran and Russia to exert their influence?" Merkel said at the Munich Security Conference.
Pentagon chief Patrick Shanahan on Friday pledged ongoing backing for the fight against Daesh -- but kept allies guessing as to how that would be achieved once US forces pull out, and won no solid pledges of support.
Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders said the US had told partners in the global anti-Daesh coalition that its soldiers would leave in "weeks rather than months".
The decision has stunned allies including France, which contributes artillery and about 1,200 forces in the region, including soldiers who train Iraqi troops.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian asked why the US would create a vacuum in Syria that could benefit its enemy Iran, calling the approach a "mystery".
A French government source told AFP it was "totally out of the question" to have French troops on the ground without US forces.


Jordan set for third phase of public sector work resumption

Updated 30 min 21 sec ago

Jordan set for third phase of public sector work resumption

  • Public institutions should be ready to receive all employees over the entire week

DUBAI: Jordan’s third phase of work resumption in the public sector will begin next week, state news agency Petra reported.
Public institutions should be ready to receive all employees over the entire week, the report added, citing the Civil Service Bureau President Sameh Al-Nasser.
Some employees will be asked not to work from the office, such as those who have medical records, pregnant and breastfeeding, Al-Nasser added.
He also urged workers to comply with the precautionary measures set by the Ministry of Health and relevant authorities.