Reports from “Foreign Policy” and “Al-Monitor” last week, citing sources within the White House and the U.S. Departments of State and Defense, conveyed a similar narrative about the potential withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria. President Joe Biden’s administration reportedly considers the American military presence in Syria as unnecessary, with “Al-Monitor” suggesting that this withdrawal could be imminent, following a U.S. National Security Council meeting on January 18.
The articles also highlighted the financial and security costs of the U.S. presence in Syria and Iraq, with 130 attacks on American bases since October 7th. The discussions about withdrawal coincided with the Turkish Parliament’s approval of Sweden’s NATO accession treaty, hinting at a possible linkage between these developments. This suggests a potential shift in the U.S.-Turkey relationship regarding American military involvement in Iraq and Syria.
Two additional factors support this interpretation. Firstly, the Iraqi President’s insistence on forming joint committees to discuss the end of the U.S. military presence in Iraq emphasizes its significance as a sovereign matter. Secondly, the U.S. appeared to overlook recent Turkish attacks on SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces) targets in Iraq, signalling a potential change in its policy.
Contradictions appear in how the U.S. communicated with the SDF. While “Al-Monitor” reports that the U.S. informed the SDF about discussions in the White House, including a proposed partnership with the Syrian government against ISIS, the SDF’s media outlets deny any knowledge of American withdrawal plans. This discrepancy suggests the U.S. might use the media to indirectly inform the SDF, reflecting a possible lack of direct partnership and hinting at a U.S. readiness to abandon its commitments, akin to its withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021.
Given this backdrop, the SDF faces a critical need for strategic reassessment. It’s essential for them to distinguish between forging immediate alliances with Damascus under national sovereignty and planning for a scenario following a potential American withdrawal. This consideration also extends to other groups like the Free Syrian Army in the Syrian desert. These factions must carefully evaluate their dependence on U.S. support, as shifts in American policy could lead to escalated violence in the region and potentially trigger a new Turkish invasion, especially if the U.S. withdraws its protective presence.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.