The northeastern region of Syria has witnessed several U.S. military movements, such as patrols and meetings with Kurdish leaders, as well as other movements associated with redeployment in some areas close to Russian or Turkish spheres of influence. These developments come amidst Turkey easing its escalation in northern Syria and reducing the intensity of threats concerning a potential military operation.
These American movements occur at a time when attention is drawn away by Turkish threats to launch military action to dislodge “Kurdish units,” who are considered Washington’s most important ally in Syria. They have received widespread attention from analysts, who have shed light once again on the U.S. presence in Syria and its future. British newspaper National Interest published an article entitled “Washington’s Dubious Syria Intervention Continues”, in which it said:
“It is becoming increasingly difficult to justify the U.S. mission, on any basis. Positioning U.S. occupation forces in northeastern Syria – the one region of the country with significant oil reserves – hardly seems coincidental. It has raised understandable suspicions about Washington’s motives. Moreover, the principal U.S. client in that region, the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), is something less than a paragon of democracy. Meanwhile, U.S. troops have repeatedly come under attack, usually from pro-Iranian militias based across the border in Iraq.”
The newspaper added: “The presence of U.S. troops is causing growing difficulties with fellow NATO ally Turkey. Ankara launched a new round of airstrikes against Kurdish targets in northern Syria in November 2022. One attack came within 300 meters of a U.S. military base, leading to complaints from the Pentagon that such tactics were needlessly endangering the lives of U.S. personnel.”
In this regard, the newspaper Alquds Alarabi quoted former U.S. State Department adviser Hazem Al-Ghabra as saying: “The American deployment may seek to block understandings between Ankara and Moscow regarding the military situation in northeastern Syria. In that area, over the last two days, U.S. forces carried out more than one airdrop in SDF-controlled areas. U.S. forces directed the operations against members of the Islamic State in partnership with the SDF, which signified that military momentum has returned in Syria. It also emphasized that Washington has not altered its position in rejecting any Turkish military operation.”
The Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar also analyzed the nature of the U.S. moves in northeastern Syria. “Washington shows great interest in Raqqa in particular, apparently in an attempt to consolidate the status quo in the governorate in areas near the Turkish border. It would seem that the United States aims to thwart any future political development that leads to changing the status quo there. In the same context, sources indicate that the United States, as part of its plan to redeploy in Syria, is trying to develop Arab influence in parallel to that of the Kurds, also in the Al-Tanf area. Under this approach, the U.S. forces have restructured the Arab factions under their command there, and in Raqqa, and even in the northeast, where they are trying to mobilize as many tribes as possible in order to strengthen their presence amongst Arab groups stationed there.”
At a time when there is growing talk about U.S. moves in eastern Syria and the consequences and priority of this presence in US foreign policy, experts indicate that the events taking place on the ground show that Washington is moving towards a specific plan in that region. This approach would satisfy its Turkish allies and, at the same time, try to integrate more closely with civil society in that region. The plan would also allow the United States to maintain control over the Syrian areas richest in oil, wheat, cotton, and other resources. This would ensure that Washington maintains the current economic conditions, not to mention widespread instability for areas controlled by the Syrian government and across the country as a whole.
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.