In Brief

US Defence Secretary James Mattis resigns

Former general quits after president’s surprise troop announcement

US Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis has resigned from his post, two days after Donald Trump’s announcement of troop withdrawals from Syria and Afghanistan.

The New York Times reports that Mattis went to the White House with his resignation letter already written, however he “made a last attempt at persuading Mr. Trump to reverse his decision about Syria”.

In his resignation letter to Trump, Mattis wrote that the president should have a secretary of defence “whose views are better aligned with yours”, and signalled an end date to his tenure as 28 February, 2019.

“We must do everything possible to advance an international order that is most conducive to our security, prosperity and values, and we are strengthened in this effort by the solidarity of our alliances,” Mattis wrote in the letter.

Mattis also wrote that he was “proud of the progress that has been made over the past two years”, adding: “Our troops continue to provide the capabilities needed to prevail in conflict and sustain strong US global influence”. The letter did not include any direct praise of the president himself.

The Washington Post says that in Mattis’ resignation, Trump has lost “a respected Cabinet official who won widespread praise at home and abroad but who experienced increasing differences with a commander in chief known for his scepticism of American allies and military operations overseas.”

CNN says the resignation comes “at a time of great risk to the United States and its allies”, citing the increasingly tumultuous state of affairs in the White House, including a number of ongoing investigations and the fact that Republicans are set to lose control of the House.

“The president is being boxed into a corner. That's when he can be most dangerous,” the network says.

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