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11/17/16

Britain: Downing Street warned to prepare for Donald Trump reversal on Syria and military support for the UK - by Josie Ensor, Ben Farmer

Britain should prepare for a fundamental rift with America over military matters after the election of Donald Trump and may need to instead forge closer defence ties with Europe, the deputy head of a respected think tank has said.

The Government may have to rethink decades of defence policy with the US now Mr Trump is president and the UK should no longer count on military support from across the Atlantic.

Prof Malcolm Chalmers, deputy director-general of the Royal United Services Institute (Rusi), said Mr Trump’s “evident sympathy” for Vladimir Putin and his scepticism for America’s military alliances “cannot be assumed to be passing fancies”.

Downing Street has been warned it should prepare for a dramatic change in US policy towards Syria’s Bashar al-Assad under Donald Trump, parliamentary researchers have briefed MPs.

Washington has led calls from coalition partners for Mr Assad to step down since the early days of the five-year civil war.

However the president-elect  this week warned he was likely to rip up President Barack Obama’s policy book on Syria.

He suggested that he would drop support for the opposition and concentrate on rooting out Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil), which will only help bolster Mr Assad.

“I’ve had an opposite view of many people regarding Syria. My attitude was you’re fighting Syria, Syria is fighting Isis, and you have to get rid of Isis,” he said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal on Friday.

The proposed shift would mark a major departure from the Obama administration, which has spent millions of dollars on CIA and Pentagon programmes training rebel fighters.

“It seems reasonable to expect radical change in US foreign relations,” warned analysts from the House of Commons library in a briefing paper to MPs on the president-elect’s foreign policy.

“(Mr Trump’s) declarations against regime change might mean the US aligning more closely with Russia on the survival of the present Syrian government,” the paper said. 

 Read moreL Downing Street warned to prepare for Donald Trump reversal on Syria and military support for the UK

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