Are the US and Turkey resurrecting ISIS in Syria?
What will happen after the United States practically gave Turkey the green light to invade Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava)?
President Donald Trump’s decision to pull troops from northern Syria surprised many. But why the sudden decision? What are the motives behind Trump’s choice? Has the US suddenly turned its back on the Kurds? A more sinister question would be: does the US want the Islamic State to come back to life?
Trump claims he is meeting his election campaign pledge of reducing the presence of American troops abroad, but that is not a legitimate excuse. The US military presence in Syria is relatively small. The two military posts (out of a total of 15 posts in Syria) that US troops have evacuated contain only 1,000 soldiers, which is around 0.05 percent of the total US military presence abroad. Keeping or evacuating these 1,000 troops does not really make a significant difference for the US. However, the location of these evacuated posts is critical; they are near the border between Rojava and Turkey.
The US government, under Trump’s leadership, has demonstrated time and again that it cannot be trusted. Its foreign policy has been erratic and unstable at best. It has failed to maintain permanent allies, especially in the Middle East. The Kurds have been at the forefront of the fight against the so-called Islamic State. It has spearheaded a successful campaign to fight ISIS, which was one of Washington’s main objectives. However, the US government thinks the Islamic State’s threat is over, which is a strategic mistake. The terror group is already beginning to resurface in parts of Iraq and Syria.
Now that the Turkish military operation appears to be over, what will Turkey do next, especially regarding the thousands of Islamic State prisoners?
There are around 12,000 Islamic State prisoners in Syria, which the Kurdish troops have guarded. There are also 58,000 families accused of Islamic State affiliation at the al-Hol camp in northeastern Syria. How will Turkey deal with this problem? It is important to remember that Turkey’s stance on the Islamic State has been unclear with some foreign policy experts claiming Ankara has not opposed the extremist group, but rather the opposite.
The Trump administration may be deluded in thinking the Islamic State’s threat is over. It may deeply regret its decision to pull out of Syria when the Islamic State is resurrected with the help of the former Ottoman Empire, Turkey.
One thing is for sure; there is a change in the balance of power in Syria. With the US pulling out of Rojava, it is now apparent that the main player calling the shots is Russia. Russia has its own agenda in Syria, and eliminating the Islamic State is not one of its priorities. Rather, it wants to expand its international influence in the Middle East and stand as a legitimate alternative superpower to the US. By pulling out of Syria, Washington has just handed over the scepter of power to Moscow and helped it fulfill one of its main aims.
The US’ long term foreign policy plan is to try to reduce the presence of its military abroad and keep them where it serves its best interest. Apparently, the original purpose of sending US troops to Syria was to eliminate the Islamic State, with the help of Syrian Kurdish fighters.
Has the Islamic State been eliminated, though?
The problem lies in the short-sightedness of Trump’s foreign policy. The US or, rather, Trump and his followers think the Islamic State has been eliminated. However, many people believe the terror group’s resurrection is near and will return with a vengeance. Trump has just given the Islamic State a kiss of life by pulling out of Syria!
Swara Kadir is a UK educated business studies and psychology lecturer with a Doctorate in Psychology. He is also a writer at a leading private school in Erbil.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of Kurdistan24.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany