By: Dr Kamran Matin
*On US Withdrawal From Syria/Rojava*
It’s absurd to think that the US would have provided strategic and long-term support for an anti-capitalist, semi-anarchist, eco-feminist experience. And Rojava’s leaders have made clear on many occasions that they don’t have any illusion about.
The relationship between Rojava and US was essentially and explicitly based on a contingent, tactical and hence temporary confluence of interests with respect to opposing ISIS. A White House official told Reuters yesterday that ”we were not in Syria to support building a utopian democracy’. He could have not been clearer. And we all knew this. So no surprise here.
What is however inexplicable is that US presence in Rojava was the only effective instrument for the US to have any say whatsoever on the future of Syria and central to of its wider strategy of containing Iran and foreign policy in the region. In other words, Trump’s withdrawal from Rojava makes no sense in terms of his own administration’s stated strategy of ‘maximum pressure’ on Iran so that Iranian state ‘changes behaviour’. The withdrawal by default boosts Iran-Assad-Russia axis of which Turkey has also been a pragmatic member in the last few years.
In this respect, no doubt diverting attention from the multiple criminal investigations against himself was part of Trump’s motivation in withdrawing the US forces from Syria. But I wonder if there was a specific link between the sentencing of Mike Flynn (a paid agent of Turkey), the subsequent telephone conversation between Trump and Erdogan and Trump’s tweet announcing US withdrawal from Syria. Does Erdogan have evidence implicating Trump in the Flynn affair?
At any rate, US withdrawal enabling an invasion of Rojava by Turkey – which is bound to be genocidal given standard Turkish conduct against Kurds – is not exactly what Russia-Assad-Iran want. In so doing, Turkey will have extremely strong leverage on shaping post-war Syria without having even spent a fraction of what Iran and Russia have. And Neo-Ottomanism will have a new lease of life and with Turkey firmly back in NATO fold all that Russia had achieved in terms of dividing NATO will go up in the air and Putin and Assad and Iran will have no instrument to expel Turkey short of war which they can’t wage.
So the ‘game’ is not as ‘over’ as it might seem. France and UK have already disagreed with Trump on the end of ISIS in Syria and France have said they will not withdraw their own forces and that this episode shows the need for an independent European army and foreign policy.
The Kurdish experience in Bashur (Iraqi Kurdistan) last September and now in Rojava (Syrian Kurdistan are painful reminders of what it means to be ‘stateless’ in a world of ‘states’. A statement by a White House official on the US withdrawal from Syria was very telling in this regard. He said: ‘We are not entering into long-term relationships with *sub-state* entities …’.
Source: Kamran Matin`s Facebook