TUNIS - Conflicting messages over the United States’ commitment to its Syria mission has potentially undermined its partnership with Syria’s Kurds and emboldened regional rivals Turkey, Iran and Russia.
US President Donald Trump met with top military aides April 3 before modifying his demand to withdraw from Syria “like very soon” to calling for a staged withdrawal following the defeat of the Islamic State (ISIS).
The United States had previously indicated it intended to maintain a long-term presence within Syria. Operating from its military position mostly east of the Euphrates River Valley, shared with the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the United States was working towards the defeat of ISIS and, through its continued presence and stabilisation efforts, trying to ensure the jihadist group would not rise again. The US presence was also meant to check the spread of Iranian influence in Syria.
However, domestic political concerns appear to have taken precedence over international affairs in Washington. “At the heart of the conversation in Washington right now is the question of how you can define when ISIS is 100% defeated,” Nicholas Heras, a Middle East Security fellow at the Centre for a New American Security, said in a telephone interview.
Read the full article at The Arab Weekly