The US is turning its back on the Kurds in Syria

Over the years President Bashar Al Assad has managed to consolidate his hold over 60 per cent of the country.

By Christiane Waked

Published: Mon 19 Aug 2019, 9:00 PM

Last updated: Tue 20 Aug 2019, 2:40 AM

Last week, the Syrian army took control of Al Habit in southern Idlib from Hayat Tahrir Al Sham, a militant group. Most of Idlib province, however, is still not under the Syrian army's control.
Over the years President Bashar Al Assad has managed to consolidate his hold over 60 per cent of the country, thanks to support from his allies, mainly Russia. The pressure on Syrian troops has, however, increased in recent days, especially in the north-west of the country, not far from territories coveted by the Turkish army. Such offensives make one wonder if a deal is near to mark the end of the war.
Turkey has been trying for months to create a buffer zone of at least 30km along its border in Syrian territory and drive out the People's Kurdish Protection Units (YPG). Th idea is to enable Ankara start relocating its refugees and also secure its borders from the Syrian Kurds.
The US, which considers the YPG its ally in the fight against Daesh, has tried to stall Turkey and put pressure on Ankara to prevent a massacre against the Kurds. Meanwhile, the Russians - the main power in Syria - and the Turks have been going ahead with negotiations. In fact, the progress of the Syrian army and Moscow towards Idlib makes us wonder if it is all part of a larger plan.
"It is clear that the military offensive of the regime forces, with the broad support of Russia, in the areas south of Idlib province and northern Hama aims to achieve several objectives," said Syrian political analyst, Baraa Sabri. "The first is to put pressure on Turkey and embarrass Ankara after there was some news regarding a Turkish-American consensus on the formation of a safe zone in the north-east. Secondly, there is a possibility of a barter deal between Russia and Turkey which will ensure in the handover of the Aleppo - Latakia and Aleppo - Hama roads to the regime forces in exchange for Turkey's control over the town of Tal Rifaat in northern Aleppo. Third, Turkey will be intimidated by the prospect of a large influx of refugees if it is not passive in its attitude towards Russia. Turkey's actions confirm its capacity to challenge Nato, with the acquisition of the S400 missiles being proof.
Meanwhile, the Kurds are caught in the crossfire and are well aware that any negotiation will probably be at their expense and are trying to propose their own safe zone deal
The Kurds are trying to stand their ground but Russia and Turkey want it be known that it is they who won the war in Syria and are now winning the peace process, too. Both capitals want to make clear to Washington and Europe that they have their own agenda, said Emmanuel Dupuy, president of the Institute for European Perspective and Security in Paris.
A new Turkish offensive on Idlib or a military status-quo on the Turkish-Syrian border follow the same pattern which demonstrates the inability of the US and Europe to protect the Kurdish SDF and YPG. Washington must ensure that it will not turn its back on its Kurdish allies, because if it does, it will add to the long record that the US cannot be trusted by its allies.
-Christiane Waked is a political analyst based in Beirut

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