The Trump administration has decided to stop CIA support of Syrian rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad’s government. The CIA covert programme was set up in 2013 in order to help rebels overthrow Assad but it has had little success. The six-year civil war is ongoing.
For many this is a sign of Trump’s desire to strengthen ties with Russia. Russia is one of Assad’s most important allies. It is not likely that this was a push from Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian government but rather a symbolic gesture.
There is a risk that this may create tensions with Saudi Arabia who are providing Syrian rebels with military and financial assistance. Iran, who are supporting Assad, are fighting a Proxy war with Saudi Arabia through the Syrian conflict. So while this gesture may be seen as a bid to strengthen ties with Russia, there is a risk that Saudi Arabia will misinterpret it.