US needs to stay in Syria; its only partner is the YPG

Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress

WASHINGTON DC, United States (Kurdistan 24) – “The US needs to be in Syria,” Alan Makovsky, an expert in Turkish affairs and a senior National Security fellow at the Center for American Progress in Washington, explained in an interview with Kurdistan 24.

The “only party” that the US “has to work with in Syria is the YPG (People’s Protection Units) or, more precisely, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which includes Arab forces, but which is led by the Kurdish YPG, Makovsky said. 

He noted that the political arm of the YPG—the Democratic Union Party (PYD)—had wanted a political relationship with Washington, but the US had remained aloof, and now has almost no ties with the PYD. 

The US relationship with Syria’s Kurds “is overwhelmingly with the military,” Makovsky stated. 

Nonetheless, he strongly believes that the relationship will continue because it is important to the US. 

“The US needs a platform in Syria in order to make sure that [the Islamic State] doesn’t return,” Makovsky said, while he explained that a continuing American military presence in Syria also serves other key US aims. 

Washington seeks “to check the spread of Iranian, and to a certain extent, Russian, power,” by remaining in Syria, he observed. 

Makovsky rejected the notion that the US did not care about Turkey’s attack on the Kurdish canton of Afrin, as he noted that the US has “called on Turkey to limit the violence, to limit the scope and duration of their operation.” 

However, Washington seems to lack any plan for stopping the fighting, he said. “There’s concern, but no plan.” 

Makovsky worked earlier in the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research and subsequently as a professional staff member on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. 

In 1992, he served as the political advisor to Operation Provide Comfort, following the US-led war against Saddam Hussein.

Editing by Nadia Riva