Trump’s Idlib Story: Another “What’s Aleppo?”-Or What?

by Jerry Alatalo

hile running for U.S. president on the Libertarian Party ticket in 2016, former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson suffered wide public embarrassment and criticism for answering a question on national television about Aleppo, Syria with: “What’s Aleppo?”

Aleppo is Syria’s 2nd largest city, and at the moment of Governor Johnson’s political blunder its citizenry was heavily involved in fighting for survival against a variety of ruthless-killer terrorists.

Did Donald Trump display a “Gary Johnson moment” a week ago during his press conference at the United Nations in New York City? If he did, or did not … it seems Reuters was one of the few world media organizations to even report on Trump’s very puzzling, questions-raising Idlib statements.

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https://www.reuters.com/article/us-trump-syria/trump-says-learned-about-syrias-idlib-from-supporter-at-recent-rally-idUSKCN1M638H

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump suggested on Wednesday he had never heard of the rebel-held Syrian region of Idlib under threat from Syrian government and Russian forces until a supporter brought it up at a recent rally about a month ago.

….Speaking at a news conference in New York, Trump took credit for convincing Russia, Iran and Syria to hold off on the attack after he warned them in a Sept. 4 Twitter post that they would be making a “grave humanitarian mistake to take part in this potential human tragedy.”

“Syria’s a mess and I was responsible (for stopping the offensive) and I hope it stays that way,” he said. “When I put out on social media a few weeks ago about Idlib province, I said, ‘Don’t do it’.”

Trump went on to explain that he had just learned about the situation in Idlib after a woman in the crowd at a rally brought it up.

“I was at a meeting with lots of supporters and a woman stood up and she said there is a province in Syria with 3 million people right now. The Iranians, Russians and Syrians are surrounding that province and they are going to kill my sister and kill millions of people in order to get rid of 25,000 or 30,000 terrorists.

“I said that’s not going to happen. I didn’t hear of Idlib province. I came back and picked up the Failing New York Times and opened it up … not the front page, but there was a very big story and I said wow that’s the same story the woman told me and I found hard to believe and I said how, why would anyone do that?”

Trump said the story had indicated the offensive could start the next day and so he wrote his Twitter post and gave orders to his team, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and White House national security adviser John Bolton, to “not let it happen.”

“That doesn’t mean they can’t be selective, but don’t kill millions of people, and it stopped. Nobody is going to give me credit but that’s OK because the people know, but I’ve had more Syrians thank me for that. … This was about four weeks ago I put that out,” Trump said.

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It is uncertain whether Trump’s statements as reported by Reuters indicate he had never heard of Idlib … or he was unaware that Syrian military forces, with help from Russia, Iran and Hezbollah, were about to take the city back from terrorists.

If this was the 1st time Trump became aware of Idlib, then he distressingly repeats the embarrassing experience of Gary Johnson in 2016 when Johnson asked “What’s Aleppo?”. That seems an absolute impossibility for the man who’s been president of the United States for some 20 months.

On the other hand, and nearly equally as concerning if the case, Trump might know about Idlib, but have been actually unaware that Syrians and their allies were intending to retake the city of Idlib with its population of approximately 3 million from terrorists.

For the President of the United States to have become informed of a major anti-terrorist military situation in Syria from a supporter at one of his rallies, which then was confirmed by Trump by reading the New York Times, has one asking the obvious: “What kind of National Security, State Department and Defense Department advice is the leader of the free world receiving?”

This seems as impossible as the theory he’s repeating the embarrassment of Gary Johnson and Aleppo.

Is there another explanation, such as Trump’s sharing a story about Idlib which is completely fictional … and if so, why? Could Trump be telling what really happened, and his advisers are keeping him completely out of the loop? Is Trump trying to give the public the impression his advisers are intentionally keeping him in the dark, as part of some covert psychological operation?

Given the propensity of Trump to go on Twitter and convey oft-controversial messages about hugely consequential matters concerning international relations, – especially situations of war and peace … literal life and death, this event is enormously disturbing in light of its potential negative outcomes if left unresolved.

Whatever the explanation for his “Idlib moment”, from any perspective there is a clear, unbelievably important, profoundly dangerous problem of communications inside the administration of Donald Trump.

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