Just like NATO, fearful of losing US support for their desire to return to a Cold War-era, began beating the anti-war drums after the US election, Britain’s government is upset about Trump’s peaceful outlook on Russia in Syria.
In what seems like a significant foreign policy split, officials in Britain admitted that they will have some “very difficult” conversations with the President-elect in coming months over his approach to Russia.
This comes after Mr Trump used his first interviews since winning the US election to indicate that he will withdraw support for rebels in Syria and thank Vladimir Putin for sending him a “beautiful” letter.
Mr Trump said that he will instead join forces with Russia and focus on defeating DAESH/ISIL. He has previously said it would be “nice” if the US and Russia could work together to “knock the hell out of ISIL”.
His views are in stark contrast with those of Theresa May, who has accused President Assad’s regime of perpetrating “atrocious violence” and said that the long-term future of Syria must be “without Assad”.
Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, has accused Russia of perpetrating war crimes over the deaths of hundreds of civilians.
The dramatic shift in US policy has prompted significant concern in the Foreign Office, and Britain will use the next three months before Mr Trump enters the White House to try to convince him of the importance of removing President Assad.
The Telegraph tells us that Mr Johnson is expected to fly to the US within weeks to meet with senior figures in Mr Trump’s administration and make clear that Britain believes that Mr Assad must go.
The diplomatic tensions emerged as a flotilla of Russian warships which passed through the English Channel has now arrived off the coast of Syria ahead of a major offensive against ISIL.
In other developments:
- Sir Michael Fallon, the Defence Secretary, warned that European members of NATO have become “too dependent” on the support of the US after Mr Trump accused them of failing to pull their weight.
- Mrs May will on Monday highlight the importance of globalisation to international security in an ever-changing World. She will also compare the US election to Brexit and say that that the West must recognise the concerns of people who have “seen their communities changed” by migration.
- Nigel Farage, the Ukip leader, met with members of Donald Trump’s inner circle at Trump Tower in New York after saying Theresa May must “mend fences” with the President Elect.
- Marie Le Pen, the leader of France’s far-right Front National, praised President Putin for “defending the interests of his own country” as she criticised US and European aggression towards Russia.
- Mr Johnson boycotted a “crisis” meeting of foreign ministers in Brussels to discuss how Europe will deal with the aftermath of the US election.
- Mr Trump said on Twitter yesterday: “This will prove to be a great time in the lives of all Americans. We will unite and we will win, win, win!”
In his very first interview Mr Trump told the Wall Street Journal that his administration will prioritise defeating DAESH/ISIL in Syria rather than removing President Assad.
He told the Wall Street Journal: “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.
“Russia is now totally aligned with Syria, and now you have Iran, which is becoming powerful, because of us, is aligned with Syria. Now we’re backing rebels against Syria, and we have no idea who these people are.”
He added that if the US attacks President Assad’s regime “we end up fighting Russia”.