The Case for Keeping U.S. Troops in Syria

In his October 10 article, “The Exit Path to Syria,” Christopher Alkhoury says the United States has achieved its main goal in Syria – eliminating the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) safe haven – and therefore should focus on negotiations soon of countries that both maintain US access to Syrian airspace. and protect Syrian allies who have fought alongside US forces. At first blush, this argument seems to have merit – tom after all, who wants an endless war? But Alkhoury quickly contradicted his own argument by citing the negative impact of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, a phenomenon attempt that has sent waves around the world even though the US-led campaign has failed and Washington has few interests there. In Syria, on the contrary, the US approach has succeeded, if there is morality, and American interest in business there are many. An Afghanistan-style withdrawal from Syria would lead to more uncertainty, one that would exacerbate the tensions that accompany US President Donald Trump’s brief to pull US troops out of Syria in 2019 seems small by comparison.

But the problems with Alkhoury’s strategy run far beyond the Afghan analogy. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has not won the war in Syria, according to Alkhoury. Nor did the Trump administration freeze Syrian humanitarian funding, as Alkhoury’s petition when it was first published (he canceled and then partially restructured the small aid program ). More important than the wrong decision and reality is the fact that withdrawing from Syria will cause damage to the region of the United States and the international community. That is why the Trump administration rejected the same approach as Alkhoury’s in 2018, a decision that subsequent events have proven.

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The main effect of Alkhoury’s strategy, although he carefully tries to downplay it, will be to give the Russians more political and military bandwidth to increase their influence on Turkey and Israel to withdraw from Syria as well. That would finally leave all of Syria under the control of Assad, who instigated the war, and give Russia and Iran a strategic victory. The United States will have to change a good national currency operation that has only 900 soldiers – none of whom have been killed in almost four years – into the fight against ISIS, considered to be in collaboration with the terrorists responsible for the death of 650,000 people and the evacuation of half of his country’s population.

Assad’s efforts against ISIS are feckless. In addition, the military leaders of the US Central Command have publicly announced the need for a US footprint in Syria, not out of the country, in order to fight ISIS. Yes, Alkhoury is correct that the Iranian military supports opposing the US occupation in Syria – just as they do in Iraq and elsewhere in the region. But the withdrawal encourages, more than deters, Tehran.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has not won the war in Syria.

In 2018, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo rejected a similar proposal to withdraw half of US troops from Syria and focus solely on fighting ISIS. He concluded that such an approach would not help to solve the civil war as a political intervention his boss, US Secretary of State John Kerry, had hammered out in the UN Security Council Resolution 2254, which requested a stop and a. Syrian government changes, including negotiations with opposition to the new constitution. Don’t think The withdrawal of the US refers to the situation of 12 million Syrian migrants and refugees who do not have a political solution would be necessary to fear an attack by Assad. In addition, the withdrawal of the US will not address Iran’s increasing influence in Syrian organizations and its stationing of missile systems in Syria that threaten Israel. The fight against ISIS, Turkey has many security concerns, and the fate of America’s Kurdish partner, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), will also be difficult for the United States and its people. cooperate.

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Therefore, the Trump administration has built on Kerry’s efforts to coordinate the US, Turkish, and Israeli military efforts to freeze the conflict and deny Assad victory. (Half of Syria’s population and 30 percent of its territory, including much of its fertile land and most of its hydrocarbon resources, remain beyond its control .) The United States also tried to negotiate a resolution with Russia in 2019 on the basis of UN Security Council Resolution 2254. And although Moscow shows little interest in negotiations, the freeze remains work With the exception of a small advance in early 2020, Assad’s forces have gained no more territory, and the fighting has been minimal. After the initial surprise, the Biden administration adopted a similar approach to the conflict in Syria.

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The decision to live in 2018 is dangerous; The US military has been in danger, Turkey has objected to US cooperation with the SDF, and a new Assad rebellion has emerged. But despite the Turkish incursion into the SDF region in 2019 – which led to Trump’s brief call to withdraw – and an Assad-Russian attack in 2020 against Turkish and opposition forces in northern Syria, the control mission held.

The success of these strategies has only become more apparent in the past four years, as decisions have been taken and many attempts by Arab states to reduce Assad’s isolation have been made. received no real answer from Damascus. More importantly, in an era of geostrategic competition, with Russia and Iran, the United States must avoid unnecessary victories. The Syrian freeze may not be pretty, but it may seem like a small victory will be going forward in Syria and maybe elsewhere.

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