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An American flag above a building used by the Kurdish police Tal Abyad, Syria, in 2016. Photo: Delil Souleiman/AFT via Getty Images

At yesterday's Oval Office press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron, President Trump said of Syria, "We'll be coming home, but we want to leave a strong and lasting footprint."

Yet it's doubtful the U.S. could maintain a strong or lasting footprint without committing to stabilization, which would involve a larger U.S. troop presence or support for a Turkish security zone in northern Syria.

The big picture: Little has changed since the coalition airstrikes on April 13, a response to President Bashar al-Assad's latest chemical weapons attack, and the White House continues to send mixed messages about the U.S. presence in Syria.

Regional allies are unsure of U.S. commitment, leading them to make choices that at times exacerbate the conflict. Two weeks ago, for example, Israel launched an airstrike on a Syrian airbase in response to the chemical attacks, killing 14 people, 7 of whom were Iranian. And Turkey, a NATO ally, has also caused tensions to flare by acting unilaterally in northern Syria.

Meanwhile, U.S. enemies have exploited the U.S.' strategic negligence, complicating the White House's options as Iran extends its influence to the Mediterranean and Russia establishes itself as the region's powerbroker.

The bottom line: So long as the U.S. and its Western allies continue to avoid assuming a more substantial leadership role in the region, Syria will remain mired in crisis and confusion.

Adham Sahloul has been a researcher at the Atlantic Council's Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East and an advocacy officer at the Gaziantep, Turkey, office of the Syrian American Medical Society.

Go deeper

State Department to set up new cyber bureau to combat hack attacks

Secretary of State Tony Blinken speaks on the challenges during an October conference in Quito, Ecuador. Photo:y Felipe Stanley/Agencia Press South/Getty Images

Secretary of State Tony Blinken announced Monday plans for the State Department to create a new bureau of cyberspace and digital policy.

Why it matters: The establishment of the bureau and plans for a new envoy to oversee critical and emerging technology come after a series significant hack attacks and other online crimes, notably ransomware assaults on U.S. infrastructure.

Biden rejects Trump's latest executive privilege claims

Photo: Jim Watson and Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The White House on Monday rejected two more of former President Trump's claims of executive privilege over documents that the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot requested, CNN first reported.

Why it matters: Trump's legal team is seeking to block some of the panel's requests for records by invoking executive privilege, which can allow presidents and their aides to sidestep congressional scrutiny. The Biden administration has maintained that it will evaluate on a case-by-case basis.

Amazon warehouse workers in New York file petition to hold unionization vote

Amazon workers and their supporters rally outside the National Labor Relations Board's regional office in Brooklyn, New York City, after filing a petition requesting an election to form a union. Photo: Gabby Jones/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Amazon warehouse workers in New York City filed a petition on Monday with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to hold a vote on unionization.

Why it matters: The move comes six months after an organizing effort was defeated at Amazon's distribution center in Alabama.