Middle East/North Africa

Graham, Fox News analyst used map in effort to change Trump’s mind on Syria: report

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and a Fox News analyst met with President Trump after his announced withdrawal of U.S. troops from northern Syria and used a map to highlight the threat to oil assets in the region, NBC News reported Tuesday.

Retired Gen. Jack Keane, a Fox News analyst, first met with Trump at the White House and showed him a map of oil fields in northern Syria that have been controlled by the U.S. and its Kurdish allies, two people familiar with the discussion told NBC News. Keane reportedly told Trump he feared Iran would take over the oil fields if U.S. troops were out of the picture.

{mosads}A few days later, Keane was joined by Graham, an outspoken critic of Trump’s Syria decision, and the two reportedly showed the president a map to demonstrate that almost 75 percent of the oil fields in Syria were in areas where troops were stationed. They told Trump that Iran could capture the oil fields in the absence of U.S. troops, four people familiar with the meeting told NBC.

One source said Trump appeared “resigned” to keeping a small amount of U.S. troops in the area.

Trump has since indicated he will consider a plan to leave about 200 U.S. troops in Syria.

An official told the network that troops would not physically defend the oil fields if they stayed, but the fields were mentioned to help persuade the president to maintain a U.S. presence.

Administration officials have reportedly used maps before to explain to Trump the implications of certain foreign policy moves.

The president’s decision to remove troops allowed Turkey to launch an offensive into Syria against the Kurds, longtime U.S. allies.

Both Keane and Graham have publicly criticized Trump’s removal of troops, with the retired general calling the president’s decision a “strategic blunder” and the South Carolina Republican saying it could lead to a “complete and utter national security disaster.”

Keane and a spokesman for Graham declined to comment to NBC News, and the White House did not return a request for comment.

The Hill has reached out to a Graham’s office, the White House and an assistant to Keane for comment.

Tags Donald Trump Fox News Jack Keane Lindsey Graham Syria Syria troop withdrawal Turkey
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