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US New Game in Syria: Arming, Reorganizing Rebels

Alwaght– There is no doubt that the US has examined the field realities of Syria and concluded that Russia and Iran, the two backers of the Syrian government, have the upper hand, contrary to the Western-sponsored groups who give Washington every reason to think that they are drawing their last breath.

This week, the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), the country’s official news outlet, has reported that American helicopters evacuated ISIS terrorist group’s leaders from the eastern city of Deir ez-Zor. The news of this transfer meant that the US wants to help the terrorist group stay longer in the war-hit country in a bid to justify the uninvited American military presence in Syria. But this is happening on the sly. On the surface, Washington is seemingly considering ISIS over and thus is struggling to invest in other militant groups to cause the crisis drag on for a longer time.

The Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has recently expressed Moscow’s concern about the provision of anti-aircraft systems to the anti-Damascus takfiri terrorists by their foreign backers. She said that a terrorist group’s unveiling of newly-procured anti-aircraft missiles in Syria was a source of worry to Moscow. The spokeswomen wondered how and why these modern weapons came to be in the hands of the al-Qaeda terrorist group in Syria. On December 26, the al-Nusra Front, al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch, circulated online a video showing the moment a fighter carrying a MANPAD (Man-Portable Air Defense) shot down an Aero L-39 jet of the Syrian air force. Reports, quoting eyewitnesses, maintained that the Syrian pilot managed to exit from the jet through the canopy but he landed in a terrorist-held area. He was captured and beheaded by Jaysh al-Izza, an armed group affiliated with the Free Syrian Army (FSA). Not long ago, the US had secretly sent three Turkey and Qatar-funded convoys of 1,500-missile shoulder-launched anti-aircraft systems to ISIS, al-Qaeda, and FSA on the Syrian battlegrounds. But what does that mean?

The American President Donald Trump has recently authorized supplying $393 million in weapons aid to the Syrian Kurdish militias. The weapons included 12,000 AK-47 assault rifles worth of over $6 million, as well as 6,000 machine guns worth of over $29 million. According to Trump’s authorization, the US will send heavy weapons and armored vehicles to the Kurdish fighters, including the People’s Protection Units (YPG), who is operating as the Syrian affiliate of the Kurdistan’s Workers’ Party (PKK). The Trump administration has reportedly allocated some half a billion dollars meant to be given to the Syrian opposition body in 2018.

At the present time that the US sees all of the conditions are against its favor, wants to reorganize the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a predominantly Kurdish militant coalition. The reorgnition of the SDF might come out with a new bloc comprised of the “qualified Syrian opposition” with a redrawn body and in which the Arabs will get a bigger share. Addressing Turkey’s concerns and field conditions are the main drives behind the new alliance. The US pro-Kurdish operations run counter to the Turkish policies. Ankara leaders more than once harshly criticized the close US-Kurdish relations and Washington’s provision of arms to the Syrian Kurds. In fact, the Washington-Ankara conflict of views on the Syrian Kurds has driven a wedge between the two allies in Syria.

But this is just one face of the issue. The US now has lost the potentials to act as an effective party on the Syrian stage and counts on the SDF as the only party on the basis of which it can build trump cards for the future of Syria.

US aids to the Kurds might serve a series of goals: In the first place, Washington wants to solidify its presence in Syria through an alliance with the Kurds, as it is losing all excuses for staying in Syria’s north with ISIS now fully defeated. Moreover, the fight against ISIS and obliteration of the world’s largest-ever terror organization has awarded Russia with a strategic position in the region, something taking away from the US every reason to move back and leave the Syrian case to its own, and on the opposite side see the Russian influence in Syria growing broader every day. The best way, the Washington strategy makers think, is to support the Kurds and thus sow the seeds of upcoming crises for the Syrian government. After all, as long as Syria is under the yoke of the ongoing crisis, the Americans can argue with others for their presence in the country.

Therefore, delivery of the anti-aircraft missiles to the terrorists and perpetuating the Kurdish operations with $393 million worth of various arms fuels the seven-year-old Syrian conflict. Empowering the opponents of President Bashar al-Assad and inflaming the fighting in the country make up anti-Damascus pressure tools in the hands of the US to be used in next stages, especially in the future political process.

Nevertheless, it is clear that the American partnership with the Kurds is tactical, not strategic, and is only aimed at serving bigger Washington agendas. Turkey, a NATO member with one of most powerful armies in the military bloc, holds strategic relations with the US. With the severe Turkish opposition to the separatist Kurds’ power gain in northern Syria, which borders the Turkish territories, bearing no hallmarks of abatement, the White House will eventually prefer preserving its strategic ties with Turkish to the alliance with the Kurdish units, a choice very apparently displaying the US opportunistic attitude to the Kurds.

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