Brett McGurk, the US special envoy to the anti-Islamic State group coalition, has resigned.
His resignation wraps up a chaotic week that saw the departure of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Donald Trump’s stunning decision to pull troops from Syria. McGurk’s resignation, effective December 31, comes on the heels of Mattis’s decision to quit the Trump administration over key disagreements with the US president, notably the Syria withdrawal.
Just last week McGurk, a Barack Obama appointee whom Trump kept on, said “nobody is declaring a mission accomplished” in the battle against IS just days before the president blindsided politicians and allies with his announcement of victory against the jihadist movement.
Trump who had postponed his holiday vacation as failed budget talks triggered a partial US government shutdown again on Saturday said “ISIS is largely defeated.” “When I became President, ISIS was going wild,” the president tweeted. “Now ISIS is largely defeated and other local countries, including Turkey, should be able to easily take care of whatever remains. We’re coming home!”
McGurk, 45, was set to leave his position in February, but reportedly felt he could no longer continue in the job after Trump’s declaration and on Friday evening informed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo of his intention to wrap up at year’s end. His conclusion mirrored that of Mattis, who was seen as a voice of moderation in the mercurial Trump White House and quit after telling the president he could not go along with the Syria decision.
McGurk has served as the US envoy to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, another acronym for the jihadist group, since 2015. He also served as the deputy assistant secretary of state for Iraq and Iran, and worked under Republican George W. Bush as a senior official on Iraq and Afghanistan.