Impact of Latest U.S.-Syria News
When Pompey annexed the richest Roman province of Syria in 64 BC, legend has it that after such a ferocious Mithridatic battle – the third of its kind, Roman coffers and its troops were so exhausted that Pompey wanted to rule the province through a proxy. An earlier version of military outsourcing what he perceived to be credence to his legacy and in-return for full loyalty to Rome, prisoned and defeated former leaders would now govern the area. Upon hearing such a facile prospect, Pompey’s generals revolted. Considering to be a betrayal of their blood, sweat, and tears the generals were not going to remain silent. Pompey immediately rescinded such a decree. Syria would remain under the Roman empire for nearly two centuries. Today in another episode, the US withdrawal of Syria is seen as a betrayal to their only allies and proxies in the area , the Kurds.
The now ongoing eight-year civil war in Syria has primarily produced an outcome in the country divided in five areas; Syrian-Kurds in the north east, the Russians in the north west, the Iranians in the south west, the Alawite regime in Damascus and ISIS with its affiliates in the south in the strategic Iraq border areas.
In such a scenario the ISIS terror network has grown to be the weakest, but that has mostly been so due to the Syrian-Kurdish soldiers on the ground aided by American advisors.
In the last few days, the Kurds have reached out to the French government to fill the void, but Paris’s mantle is not as forthcoming as the militarily caressed Americans. The French are more concerned over their fortunes in Africa and the fears of what the European Union will find itself after the exit of German stalwart Chancellor Angela Merkel and the repercussions of Brexit.
Being abandoned by an ally is not new to the Kurds. They have seen this before in the 1919 treaty of Versailles. Promised a state of their own by Britain – the superpower at the time, only to be sucked into another state in what is today Turkey, Iraq and then later to Syria and Iran. The strength of the Kurds is their resilience to survive. Their folly, however, is seizing the credence opportunity to cement their ambitions through non-super power alliances. Today the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria, a terrorist-affiliated of the PKK group by Turkey’s standards but an American proxy, now mis calculatingly crossed Damascus – the reluctantly viable Kurdish patrons.
When the Syrian civil war broke out, President Assad pondered about reaching out to the Kurds of Syria for their support. In due time he offered them Syrian citizenship hoping in-return they would fight on his side. That would not be so. The Alawite regime found itself isolated as the opposition Free Syrian Army gained ground. Until the intervention of Russia in 2015 and further battleground successes by backed Iranian militias that gave the regime insurmountable breathing room. A much-needed boost for Damascus as prior precarious situation looked to be their possible overthrow. As the fighting intensified in western Syria, the Syrian Kurds with the help of the Americans were successfully able to create a large enclave – a self-governing area of their own in the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria commonly known as Rojava with its capital in Qamishli. Such a move had been opportunistically feasible had the Kurds policed their affiliate and more radical groups to not inflict the anger of Turkey, so close to Rojova’s north.
When Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK) conducted attacks in Turkish soil from 2015, Ankara vowed to retaliate. The YPG in Syria was unmoved and concentrated on securing their patch of Syrian territory as attacks on Turkey intensified through their affiliates and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). A difference of ideology and personalities between the different Kurdish factions of YPG, PJAK and PKK that separates the principles and the conduct of each faction but that did not stop Ankara the self-providing license to go deep into Syria to eradicate what they perceived as the Kurdish problem.
The Turkish operation intensified in the north-west of Syria, namely in Afrin where the Kurdish administration upon taking the area from ISIS refused to return control to Damascus. Turkey then pressed to not only expand its operation into Syria but now worked to drive YPG forces out of the area. Again, Damascus sent 900 fighters to assist YPG units, but again the Kurdish administration refused control of the area to Damascus.
The Turkish operation in these areas which necessarily is the wealthiest real estate in Syria, not only placed American advisors helping YPG units in a problematic conundrum and danger, but also created uncertainty in the coordinated American effort to drive ISIS, Russia or Iranian militias out.
By keeping Damascus out, the Kurds hedged all their hopes to American wishes. By doing so, permitted Turkey a free hand to not only occupy part of Syrian territory but a large part of the Kurdish areas which previously belong to Damascus.
When Turkey took the opportunity from their American NATO ally to drive out Kurdish units out of Manbij with both America and Turkey jointly to control the area, an episode that alarmed Kurdish fighters with high intensity, now with American withdrawal, it is certain Turkey will not only carve Kurdish expansion but possibly eradicate its presence on Syrian soil.
The early signs are beginning to show. The Kurds already had lost military and political support in fighting ISIS militants with further volatility in their control of areas in Manbij, Raqqah, al-Hasaka, and Deir-ezzour becoming more entrenched with Iranian and Russian forces.
The civil war in Syria is slowly reaching its climax, but problems with ISIS and its affiliates remain. American military advisors will now see nearly eight years of their blood, sweat, and sacrifices overrun by a fellow NATO ally besieging its proxy. For the Kurds, they will survive this episode. The American withdrawal does signal one crucial emergence. The more aggressively expansionism of Turkey in Syria.