Kurdish forces have spearheaded the campaign against Islamic State in the Middle East. Despite this, the White House has given the green light to a Turkish offensive into northern Syria, moving US forces out of the area in an abrupt foreign policy change that will in effect abandon Washington’s longtime allies, the Kurds.
According to the White House, Turkey will take custody of captured ISIS fighters.
The decision has raised fears of fresh fighting between Turkey and Kurdish forces in Syria’s complex war. The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said that their US partners had already begun withdrawing troops from areas along Turkey’s border.
The SDF spokesman, Mustafa Bali, accused the US of leaving the area to “turn into a war zone”, adding that the SDF would “defend north-east Syria at all costs”.
Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Turkish foreign minister said, “We are determined to ensure survivability and security of Turkey by clearing the region from terrorists. We will contribute to bringing safety, peace and stability to Syria.”
Due to the latest erratic moves by Trump, fighting impeachment at home, the decision to remove US forces was apparently taken without consultation with, or the knowledge of, US diplomats dealing with Syria. In August 2019, the US and Turkey came to an agreement to create a “safe zone” in northern Syria, by which the US-backed Kurdish-led SDF would pull back from the border.
Ankara sees the SDF as indistinguishable from Kurdish insurgents inside Turkey and views it as a serious security threat. The safe zone deal was due to forestall a Turkish military offensive.
the US government has pressed France, Germany, and other European nations, from which many captured ISIS fighters came, to take them back, but they did not want them and refused.
Syria experts warned that the US abandonment of the SDF would lead to another, new front in the eight-year Syrian conflict, and could push the Kurds into seeking an arrangement with the Assad regime in Damascus.
James Jeffrey, the US special envoy for the global coalition to defeat Isis, stressed that the US had an agreement with Turkey on a safe zone, in recognition of Ankara’s security concerns, that obviated the need for an Turkish incursion.
“We try to respond to them when we can,” Jeffrey said. “And we have made it clear to Turkey at every level that any unilateral operation is not going to lead to an improvement in anyone’s security – not Turkey’s.”
*Miral Sabry Al Ashry , Associate Professor at Future University (FUE), Political Mass Media Department