The US creates new Kurdistan in Syria

Author : Georgiy Kuhaleyshvili

Source : 112 Ukraine

American intention to maintain a military presence in northern Syria reveals double standards of foreign policy of the Republican administration in the MidEast
09:18, 27 November 2017

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112 Agency

Presidents of Russia, Turkey, and Iran were holding a meeting in the Russian city of Sochi and reports on the imminent defeat of Islamic extremists and the "revival" of Syria were heard, the Washington Post published information that the US is going to create a new local government in northern Syria and save there its a military presence. Self-government will be carried out in the territories where American instructors trained soldiers of the "Syrian Democratic Forces" to fight against ISIS. There are 503 US military. Supporters of the Syrian President Bashar Assad, supported by Moscow and Tehran, will not participate in the new local administration. As reported by The Washington Post referring to the administration of the US President, such a measure should prevent Assad’s capture of territory of Syria, which is controlled by the rebels, ensure their political survival, and prevent Iran's victory. "Syrian democratic forces," in the ranks of which 25,000 Syrian Kurds and about 5,000 Arabs are fighting against ISIS, control the cantons of Afrin, Jazira, and Kobani. In 2016, Kurds proclaimed an autonomous formation of the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria in these territories or, as it is called by local residents, Rojava (Syrian Kurdistan).

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According to US Secretary of Defense James Mattis, the United States is not going to leave Syria until the conflict between the government and the opposition is resolved diplomatically. Initially, the United States followed a different approach. In 2016, the United States refrained from recognizing Rojava as an autonomous entity, hoping to democratize Syria and bring the Syrian opposition to power in the Libyan scenario. However, the situation on the front has changed not in favor of the Syrian opposition. To date, most of the territory of Syria is controlled by the Syrian army, controlled by President Bashar Assad. With the support of the Russian aerospace forces and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, the Assad regime managed to regain control over vast territories, including over the cities of Aleppo, Palmyra, and Deir ez Zor.

Map of Syrian Kurdistan

The information on the creation of the local self-government in the north of Syria with the support of the USA should be taken as a reminder to Russia and Iran about the need to reckon with the existence of the "Syrian democratic forces", the opposition to the Assad regime in Syria, which conduct American influence in a war-ravaged republic. In July 2017, US President Donald Trump stopped financing the "Free Syrian Army," the part of the Syrian opposition that is resisting the troops of Assad. In return, Washington hopes that Moscow will convince Damascus not to impose its power on the Syrian Kurds.

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However, the political future of Syria has not yet been determined. During the meeting in Sochi, Russian President Putin proposed development of a comprehensive program for the revival of Syria and stressed that the Syrians themselves must decide on the future state system and the fate of their country. The parties plan to convene a congress of the peoples of Syria to resolve political contradictions and prepare a new constitution for the country. In February 2017, Russia proposed its version of the Syrian constitution, which presupposed decentralization, the equality of all religions and cultures, the exclusion of the leading role of the ruling Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party (the "Party of Arab Socialist Revival"), of which Bashar Assad is a member. Even in the case of presidential elections in Syria, it is likely that a Ba’athist candidate will be elected, since most of the country's territory is in the hands of the Syrian military, who can intervene in the electoral process. Even if Bashar Assad resigns, his one-party man can come to power, in a transparent or opaque way. In this case, the political system of Syria will not change. Realizing the likelihood of such consequences, the United States makes it clear to Russia and Iran that they will not allow the Baathists to restore their power in the territories controlled by the "Syrian Democratic Forces" after the final defeat of the ISIS. To do this, they launched information in the media about plans to create a new self-government in the north of Syria.

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It seems that the US is trying to gain a foothold in Syria in the Iraqi scenario, using local Kurds as a support for its influence. After the First Gulf War in 1991 and the liberation of Kuwaiti territory from the occupation of Iraq, Iraqi Kurds and Shiites rebelled against the regime of President Saddam Hussein. After punitive actions in Baghdad, about 1 million Kurdish refugees fled to neighboring Turkey and Iran, becoming a source of social tension. The US played on the Kurdish-Arab conflicts and began to provide humanitarian and military assistance to the people of northern Iraq to strengthen their influence in the oil-rich region.

Within the framework of the international Provide Control operation (1991-96) under the aegis of the United Nations, the armed forces of the United States, Great Britain, France, Australia and the Netherlands provided a non-fly zone in the northern regions of Iraq and placed their armed contingents there. During the Provide Control operation and then on the Northern Watch (1997-2003 operations), the US Air Force, the United Kingdom patrolled the airspace of northern Iraq, struck air strikes against the Iraqi army in an attempt to resist and bring the region under its control. During the Iraqi Freedom Operation and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime in March 2003, Iraqi Kurds went over to American troops. Washington supplied arms to the Iraqi Kurds to fight ISIS, and American instructors trained the local armed formation of the Peshmerga. American and European companies Exxon, Total, Chevron, Talisman Energy, Genel Energy, Hunt Oil, Gulf Keystone Petroleum, and Marathon Oil have been producing oil at the fields of Northern Iraq.

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As in the case of Iraq, the United States is counting on the state of the state in northern Syria. With the help of the Syrian Kurds, the United States expects to dilute the influence of Russia and Iran on the political processes in Syria. A limited contingent of American troops present there should guarantee the separation of the north of Syria from Damascus. They will act as a deterrent, in order for the Damascus government troops not to try to capture Rojava. The United States took care of the fighting capabilities of the "Syrian Democratic Forces" in advance. The Americans bought Soviet-made weapons for their fighters, including the Kalashnikov rifles, in the countries of the former Soviet camp. Since September 2015, the United States has spent $ 700 million on arms and ammunition supplies to insurgents. The US Department of Defense has allocated $ 584 million for a military operation in Syria in 2017-18. By 2022, the United States plans to spend $ 900 million on Soviet weapons and ammunition. Like the Iraqi Kurdistan, the north of Syria has an important economic significance. There are several oil fields in these territories with a capacity of 40 thousand tons of oil per day, agricultural enterprises, enterprises specializing in the production of building materials, and the Tishrin hydroelectric power station with a capacity of 630 MW.

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The United States forms a narrow corridor of political development for the Syrian Kurds in the form of autonomy in the area of self-government from Damascus. The independence of Rojava and the shattering of the territorial integrity of Syria does not meet the long-term interests of Washington. Kurdish separatism is active in Turkey and Iraq, which are regional partners of the United States. The creation of Kurdish autonomy in northern Syria and the consent of the local population to self-determination within a holistic state should serve as an example for the Iraqi Kurds who have recently held a referendum on independence, worsening relations with the central government. On the example of the Syrian Kurds, one can trace the difference between the approaches of American Republicans to Democrats in the Middle East. Instead of changing political regimes, they are betting on the creation of loyal political entities within problem countries.

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At the same time, the US intention to maintain a military presence in northern Syria undermines the double standards of the foreign policy of Republican administration in the Middle East. Defending the idea of a new self-government for the Syrian Kurds and seeking their protection from Damascus and reducing the influence of Iran, the United States has not condemned Baghdad's recent military operation against the Kurdish separatists in northern Iraq, with the support of the pro-Iranian Shiite group Hasd al-Sha'bi. Iraqi troops regained control of the northern province of Kirkuk and the city of the same name, as well as over the territories of the provinces of Nineveh and Diyala, which the Kurdish fighters took in 2014, after the Iraqi army retreated under the onslaught of the ISIS. The actions of the Syrian Democratic Forces in northern Syria resemble the actions of the Peshmerga in northern Iraq. Initially, the Iraqi Kurds were also tuned to autonomy within the federal Iraq, but subsequently began to shake the territorial integrity of the country. And if the United States did not prevent the Government of Iraq from bringing order in the northern regions, then Damascus, with the support of Russia and Iran, may require the United States not to impede the restoration of the Ba'ath Party's power in northern Syria.

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It will be difficult for the United States to avoid dissatisfaction with Turkey and Iraq if a Kurdish semi-public education appears in northern Syria. Syrian, Turkish, Iraqi and Iranian Kurds have a common goal - to achieve independence or the widest possible autonomy and, under favorable conditions, to unite in a single state. Supporting the Syrian Kurds, the United States creates a problematic issue with regard to Turkey and Iraq, which can become closer to Iran in the fight against a common problem - Kurdish separatism. Iran and Russia can use presence of the US military in Syria in order to aggravate anti-American sentiments in the region and label the US as a sponsor of Kurdish separatism.

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