Wednesday, March 31, 2021
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Washington is heading to reassess the accounts of its military presence in Syria – politics – files – developments in Syria


In contrast to the scene in the Syrian-Iraqi border, with the exit of US forces from military bases east of the Euphrates towards their counterparts in Iraq, especially the Ain al-Assad base, following the decision of former US President Donald Trump, on October 8, 2019, to withdraw the military from Syria, Syrian official reports revealed that an American convoy consisting of 45 trucks, loaded with logistical equipment, entered through Iraq in the direction of Deir Ezzor and the northern countryside of Hasaka, in mid-March, where there are about 25 American military positions within the deployment points in 33 locations of the international coalition forces. generally. And after 10 days of taking over the new administration, a new American base was opened in Yaroubia in the northern countryside of Hasaka, in the border triangle area (Syrian-Iraqi-Turkish). It is the second base to be established a month after the establishment of an air base in the “Al-Omar oil field” In the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor, where Washington says it aims to prevent ISIS members from reaching the oil fields again.

The absence of an alternative

With the reference of the US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, to the failure of the American policy in Syria, over the course of the 10-year-old conflict, there does not seem to be a clear American political plan, as the administration kept the special envoy to Syria, Joel Rayburn, who was appointed During the era of the previous administration (November 2020), and several American estimates indicate that the administration does not give priority to the Syrian conflict, like the conflict in Yemen, for example, which was the concern of President Joe Biden since his arrival at the White House, but the remarkable incident is that the first A military strike during the era of the new administration, which was in Syria near the Iraqi border, to target pro-Iranian militias there, which was considered a counter-strike, in response to other militias in Iraq targeting an American military base in Erbil.

The American strategy during the previous period focused on working within the coalition’s strategy in the context of the war against ISIS in Syria. After the organization’s defeat, it turned to pursuing its remnants and preventing it from returning to the oil wells. While this goal is still in place, it is expected that Washington will devise a new strategy for the next stage. The commander of US forces in the Middle East, Frank MacKenzie, revealed the anticipation of new decisions from President Joe Biden regarding the future presence of US forces in Syria, and said: “We are waiting for what President Biden will decide, and that if continuing our stay in Syria is in America’s interest, then we will remain indefinitely.”

Several motives

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It is conceivable that the calculations of the American presence in Syria are based on a number of considerations and motives, including:

1- Addressing the imbalance in the balance of power:

As a strategic priority, the US forces seek to put pressure on their Russian counterpart, with the aim of limiting the latter’s efforts to expand in the eastern and northeastern regions of the country, where there are approximately 13 points, some of them for Russian forces, on the edges of the Turkish military deployment areas in the northeast, and others along the separation between East and west of the Euphrates, specifically from the Raqqa region, and the third group meets at Deir Ezzor, and frictions often occurred between the two parties, indicating the level of convergence in the distances between these bases.

It is also conceivable that the United States is in the process of dealing with the nature of the Turkish military deployment in northern Syria, and according to the map of deployment, 20 US military posts out of the total number of separate and shared military stationing points with the international coalition are located in the areas controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

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During the past days, the Turkish forces launched attacks on the northern countryside of Raqqa, in addition to establishing a new military base, which included the deployment of defense systems in the vicinity of Ain Issa, which is the center of the Kurdish Autonomous Administration, and many estimates bet that the visit by the US Secretary of State, Antuti Blinken, currently in Turkey, aims to push Ankara to review its policy towards the United States, engage in the region, and try to settle contentious issues, including the growth of Russian-Turkish relations, which had political and field repercussions on the situation in Syria.

2- Preventing the Iranian expansion east of the Euphrates

This is the common denominator in most US statements, as US officials believe that the exit of US forces, in implementation of the decisions of the previous administration, will be in the interest of Iran, which will work to expand the vacuum in the areas east of the Euphrates, which may provide an opportunity to balance new power balances that will not be in the interest of Washington and its allies There, while it will double the Iranian influence in those areas, at the expense of the area of ​​spread of the international coalition and the Kurds, as the evacuation of the American forces from the east of the Euphrates will reduce the presence of the international coalition forces to less than a third of the level of deployment, and will allow Iranian militias to encircle and besiege the Kurdish areas.

It is expected that the military escalation by the regime and Iran will grow in those areas, under the pretext of pursuing ISIS. In addition, the Israeli dimension appeared in the framework of the position on Iran, and despite the fact that Israel has moved towards Russia, within the framework of the visit of the Israeli Foreign Minister, Gabi Ashkenazi. To Moscow, a week ago, it focused on the developments of the Iranian-Israeli clash equation, but it is certain that the United States puts that equation in its calculations, whether from the perspective of the Iranian file in general, or according to the accounts of the Syrian file in particular.

3- Pressure to move the political process

In conjunction with McKinsey’s statements, the leader of the International Coalition, Paul Calvert, revealed the most important reasons that push the coalition to remain within the regions of northeastern Syria, which is to “push for a full political solution to the country,” and within the framework of achieving balance with the areas of influence under Moscow and Tehran. Thus Calvert points out that the presence represents a tool for pressure on the external powers that support the regime, not only Iran, but also Russia. International reports stated that direct American-Syrian talks finally took place for the first time in years, which brought together an American official present in the region and the head of the Syrian National Security Agency, Ali Mamlouk, which dealt with the American military presence and the political process, and according to these reports, no results were reached, but the meeting In itself, it remains changeable, but in the wake of those reports, State Department spokesman Ned Price said, “The US administration continues to promote a political settlement that ends the conflict in Syria, without normalizing with the regime.”

On the other hand, it seems that the US moves at the same time aim to reach a different approach with Russia and Turkey, to divert the path of the settlement process from Astana to a new path, but according to the statements of the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, during his meeting with Ashkenazi, Moscow is seeking a settlement, But it does not know the dimensions of the vision of the “small group”, which includes Germany, France and Britain, in addition to the United States, which the UN envoy, Geir Pedersen, wants to include in the settlement process. Therefore, strengthening the US presence militarily remains a card not to compromise the area of ​​influence in Syria, Rather, supporting him will contribute, according to the American point of view, in changing the balances of the political process as well.

In sum, it can be said that the new US administration is betting on utilizing the area of ​​military deployment that will neither increase nor decrease, but it can improve its position in terms of capabilities and capabilities, hoping that this will contribute to changing the view of the parties opposing the US military presence in Syria, which in turn believes that Washington It does not have a strategic vision towards Syria. In fact, Washington, on the other hand, has not presented a strategic vision for Syria, insofar as its moves reflect intentions, that it is only working to stabilize its feet, to adapt to developments that could backfire, should it decide to leave Syria.

But in the event that the American bet on polarizing Turkey succeeds, the political and security equations may change, and Ankara has expressed intentions as well in the possibility of dealing with the file in a more pragmatic way to resolve its crises with Washington, including the arrangement of the situation in Syria, especially since there are political commonalities between The two parties, in the forefront of which are their agreement to exclude President Bashar al-Assad from the political scene, in contrast to the positions of Moscow and Tehran. Likewise, it is in Turkey’s interest to involve the Kurds in a political settlement that would reintegrate them into the local political system, instead of focusing on gains within the framework of self-government that is an obsession for it. Also, Turkey’s alignment with the United States will push Moscow to change its tactics.


Diffusion map

The main conclusion from the outcome of developments in Syria is that no party prefers to develop a strategic vision to deal with the Syrian crisis and its developments, but rather it is in the interest of all parties to change the calculations tactically to adapt to developments in the Syrian scene from time to time. The map of military deployment in general will continue to be a reflection of the size of influence and the balance of power, although it does not appear that this map will witness a change, but the alliances based on it can change according to the requirements of interests.

• The new US administration is betting on utilizing the area of ​​military deployment in Syria that will neither increase nor decrease, but it can improve its position in terms of capabilities and capabilities, hoping that this will contribute to changing the view of the parties opposing the American military presence in Syria.

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