ANALYSIS: Trump creates a new war zone in Syria

Pro-Assad, Russian forces prepare to face Turkish forces as US withdrawal clears way for new conflict.

Yochanan Visser,

US troops in Syria
US troops in Syria
Reuters

The United States “is hatching a new war zone in northern Syria” read the headline above a report about US President Trump’s sudden decision to withdraw his military from what is called by the Kurds Rojava, the Kurdish autonomous cantons along the Turkish border in Syria.

Trump apparently took the decision without consulting anyone and after a telephone conversation with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who is the only world leader who considers the Kurds of the Syrian Democratic Forces ‘terrorists’.

Following the latest reports about the developments in northern Syria one could say the headline hit the nail on the head.

Trump’s new reversal of long-standing US policy regarding Syria triggered severe criticism by experts on the situation in The Middle East and many Republicans while the Israeli government kept mum on the move.

One of these expert critics was Brett McGurk the former special US envoy for the war against Islamic State who called the decision “a sad replay” of Trump’s earlier decision to pull out all US Special Forces from Syria which led to McGurk’s resignation in 2018.

McGurk wrote on Twitter that “there’s a similar defect at the core of US foreign policies across the board: maximalist objectives for a minimalist president combined with no process to assess facts, develop options, or prepare contingencies” and warned that US military personnel in Syria “are left exposed at the slightest moment of friction.”

The former US envoy also pointed to the fact that Turkey will now take over the al-Hol refugee camp where ISIS has created a mini Caliphate and that will most likely lead to the resurgence of ISIS in Syria.

Trump, from his side defended his decision by falsely accusing the Syrian Kurds of ‘fighting Turkey for decades” and reminded the public that the US had paid “massive amounts of money” to the Syrian Kurds and equipped them with many weapons.

“It is time for us to get out of these ridiculous Endless Wars, many of them tribal,” Trump tweeted.

The Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces who effectively won the war against ISIS in Syria reacted furiously and without saying so made clear that they feel the US had betrayed them and exposed them to Turkish aggression.

"All of our commitments to remove military fortifications between Tell Abyad and Sari Kani, withdraw combat forces with heavy weapons, risking a security vacuum as a result of the agreement," the SDF said in a statement which referred to an agreement between Turkey and the US about the creation of a so-called safe zone in northern Syria.

A Turkish government official now says that Turkey cannot wait “a minute longer” to launch the long-anticipated “counter-terror operation” in Syria.

“Syria needs local governance not the PKK’s occupation.” he claimed referring to the outlawed Kurdish Workers Party in Turkey which is fighting an endless war with the regime of Erdogan.

Local Syrian media already report about a new refugee problem as the direct result of the American decision.

Scores of Syrians are leaving their homes in panic as the SDF threatened all-out-war whenever Erdogan makes good on his promises and launches the new incursion in Rojava.

“We will not hesitate to turn any unprovoked attack by Turkey into an all-out war on the entire border to defend ourselves and our people,” an SDF spokesman said in a statement.

The same media reported that US Special Forces have already begun leaving the SDF-controlled border region and that the Russian-Iranian-backed pro-Assad coalition reacted by filling the vacuum near the city of Manbij.

Trump’s decision sets the pro-Assad coalition on a crash course with the Turkish army since Assad regards Turkey’s presence in Syria as illegal and as an occupation which can be fought using all means.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem earlier accused Turkey of providing "terrorists with all forms of support, including weapons that are more sophisticated".

He was referring to Islamist rebels in the Idlib Province which are supported by the Erdogan regime.

Al-Muallem indicated last Friday that the pro-Assad coalition is determined to ‘liberate’ Syria from the last terrorist and would get rid of “foreign-sponsored Takfiri militants” a reference to the Turkish sponsored Islamist rebels in Syria.

According to the al-Masdar news site, Russian troops are already deploying in northern and eastern Syria to block the intended Turkish invasion.

On social media multiple videos showed the build-up of Assad’s forces in the border region after news broke that the US troops would pull out of the area.

Trump, meanwhile, seemed to realize he had made a sort of mistake and indulged in damage-control.

The President threatened to destroy Turkey’s already ailing economy whenever Erdogan makes good on his threats to invade Syria again.

The US would “obliterate” Turkey’s economy if Ankara does anything that, in his “great and unmatched wisdom,” he considers to be “off-limits” in Syria, the US President wrote in a new Tweet.




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