U.S. troops unlikely to withdraw from Syria - analyst

2019/02/1550475320.jpg
Read: 787     13:09     18 February 2019    

U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement that U.S. troops would withdraw from northern Syria reminded Kurds of their proverbial lament that they have “no friends but the mountains”, but that may not be true, Cemal Ozkahraman said in an analysis for Jerusalem Post.

 


Trump's decision shocked the international community, as it would give Islamic State (ISIS) an opportunity to return, and give Turkey and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) a chance to massacre the Kurds, led by the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Turkey sees as a Kurdish terrorist organization and threat to its national security, who bravely fought against ISIS and created their a radical democratic secular system in Rojava, according to Ozkahraman, a visiting researcher at the University of Cambridge.

“Russia, Iran and Turkey were not expecting such a move from the US, and all have welcomed it, particularly Turkey, whose military, armed with heavy machine guns, is waiting for the right moment to occupy Rojava, having already taken the Kurdish town of Afrin,” he wrote on Sunday. “Reuters reported that Hulusi Akar, the Turkish defense minister, declared that Kurdish militants in Syria ‘will be buried in their ditches when the time comes’.”

Diplomatic Relations co-chair Salih Muslim said the U.S. withdrawal is a matter of concern, but expressed calm.  “We didn’t call them, and we’re not sending them away,” he told ANF News. “We rely on our own strength and defense... Our interests coincided, we acted together, but we never relied on them.”

Of course, the Kurds are conscious of previous Western betrayals, particularly 1999, when Abdullah Öcalan, leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), was handed over to the Turks with the help of U.S. intelligence services in Nairobi. Syrian Kurds follow Öcalan’s ideology, and their political success was built on his political theory.

“Nonetheless, Kurdish and U.S. regional interests currently overlap,” wrote Ozkahraman. “While the Kurds need long-term protection, the U.S. needs Rojava and the Kurds for two main reasons: stopping an Iranian Shia expansion in the region and securing Israel’s position in the Middle East.”

Iran is fighting to preserve its regional political clout and strengthen its geopolitical position, looking to create a Shia crescent from Iran down through Syria to the Mediterranean coast. “Such an expansion of Shia Iran will be the greatest threat to U.S. interests in the region in coming years,” said Ozkahraman.

The Kurds can play a key role in muting Iranian influence in Iraq and Syria. “The only deterrence to Iran is the Kurds [in Rojava],” said Sherkoh Abbas, president of the Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria. “The only way to disrupt the Shia crescent is the Kurds.”

The potential expansion of Iranian influence, the ambiguity of Turkish politics, and the role of Russia, which now has ties to both Iran and Turkey – all these factors have spurred U.S. concerns about the national security of its main ally, Israel.

Israel knows the U.S. withdrawal from Rojava would leave a power vacuum that would be filled by Iran and Turkey, both of which oppose Israel, according to Ozkahraman. As Abbas indicated, relinquishing the Kurdish buffer zone constitutes a substantial threat to Israel, North Africa, Europe and the US.

If the United States were to withdraw from northern Syria, it would contradict any rational understanding of the geostrategic paradigm, said Ozkahraman, undermining U.S.’ success against ISIS, its partnership with Kurdish fighters, and its ability to monitor and curb Iranian expansion.  

“So will the US withdraw its troops from Rojava? The short answer is ‘no’,” wrote Ozkahraman. “Relinquishing Rojava and allowing the elimination of the region’s Kurds would be entirely contrary to US/Western geopolitical and geo-security interests. The Kurds may believe that they have ‘no friends but the mountains,’ but they also know who has to act like a friend on their own soil.”

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U.S. troops unlikely to withdraw from Syria - analyst

2019/02/1550475320.jpg
Read: 788     13:09     18 February 2019    

U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement that U.S. troops would withdraw from northern Syria reminded Kurds of their proverbial lament that they have “no friends but the mountains”, but that may not be true, Cemal Ozkahraman said in an analysis for Jerusalem Post.

 


Trump's decision shocked the international community, as it would give Islamic State (ISIS) an opportunity to return, and give Turkey and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) a chance to massacre the Kurds, led by the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Turkey sees as a Kurdish terrorist organization and threat to its national security, who bravely fought against ISIS and created their a radical democratic secular system in Rojava, according to Ozkahraman, a visiting researcher at the University of Cambridge.

“Russia, Iran and Turkey were not expecting such a move from the US, and all have welcomed it, particularly Turkey, whose military, armed with heavy machine guns, is waiting for the right moment to occupy Rojava, having already taken the Kurdish town of Afrin,” he wrote on Sunday. “Reuters reported that Hulusi Akar, the Turkish defense minister, declared that Kurdish militants in Syria ‘will be buried in their ditches when the time comes’.”

Diplomatic Relations co-chair Salih Muslim said the U.S. withdrawal is a matter of concern, but expressed calm.  “We didn’t call them, and we’re not sending them away,” he told ANF News. “We rely on our own strength and defense... Our interests coincided, we acted together, but we never relied on them.”

Of course, the Kurds are conscious of previous Western betrayals, particularly 1999, when Abdullah Öcalan, leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), was handed over to the Turks with the help of U.S. intelligence services in Nairobi. Syrian Kurds follow Öcalan’s ideology, and their political success was built on his political theory.

“Nonetheless, Kurdish and U.S. regional interests currently overlap,” wrote Ozkahraman. “While the Kurds need long-term protection, the U.S. needs Rojava and the Kurds for two main reasons: stopping an Iranian Shia expansion in the region and securing Israel’s position in the Middle East.”

Iran is fighting to preserve its regional political clout and strengthen its geopolitical position, looking to create a Shia crescent from Iran down through Syria to the Mediterranean coast. “Such an expansion of Shia Iran will be the greatest threat to U.S. interests in the region in coming years,” said Ozkahraman.

The Kurds can play a key role in muting Iranian influence in Iraq and Syria. “The only deterrence to Iran is the Kurds [in Rojava],” said Sherkoh Abbas, president of the Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria. “The only way to disrupt the Shia crescent is the Kurds.”

The potential expansion of Iranian influence, the ambiguity of Turkish politics, and the role of Russia, which now has ties to both Iran and Turkey – all these factors have spurred U.S. concerns about the national security of its main ally, Israel.

Israel knows the U.S. withdrawal from Rojava would leave a power vacuum that would be filled by Iran and Turkey, both of which oppose Israel, according to Ozkahraman. As Abbas indicated, relinquishing the Kurdish buffer zone constitutes a substantial threat to Israel, North Africa, Europe and the US.

If the United States were to withdraw from northern Syria, it would contradict any rational understanding of the geostrategic paradigm, said Ozkahraman, undermining U.S.’ success against ISIS, its partnership with Kurdish fighters, and its ability to monitor and curb Iranian expansion.  

“So will the US withdraw its troops from Rojava? The short answer is ‘no’,” wrote Ozkahraman. “Relinquishing Rojava and allowing the elimination of the region’s Kurds would be entirely contrary to US/Western geopolitical and geo-security interests. The Kurds may believe that they have ‘no friends but the mountains,’ but they also know who has to act like a friend on their own soil.”

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