U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from Syria has sparked a coordinated campaign in Washington. America’s local partners and the Beltway establishment spearheaded the latest effort to slow down the Trump administration and play for time. At the same time, they have been trying to offer reassurances to frustrated parties – France, Israel, the Gulf states and the designated terrorist organization PKK’s Syrian affiliate, the People’s Protection Units (YPG) — and hopefully secure their support on the ground. Critics have claimed that Trump was out of touch with the Middle East, accused him of pulling out of Syria at a bad time and warned that his decision to withdraw could undo Washington’s success against the Daesh terrorists over the past three years.
Let’s pretend that U.S. generals, who supposedly “know” the region, did not destabilize the Middle East by invading Afghanistan and Iraq. And let’s forget for a moment that their mistakes turned the entire region into a hotbed of terrorism and radicalism.
The current campaign has two goals: to prevent the YPG’s eradication and to protect Israel’s interests vis-à-vis Iran. Hence the excessive references to the fight against Daesh. For this purpose, critics of Trump’s decision make three main points: (1) Iran will benefit from the U.S. withdrawal; (2) There will be a resurgence of Daesh terrorism; and (3) Turkey will “slaughter the Kurds.”
French President Emmanuel Macron, in turn, has been dreaming of taking over the YPG militants. In a recent phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, he reportedly lobbied Moscow to protect the PKK’s Syrian affiliate – with some success. First, Trump said that he did not specify a timeline for Washington’s withdrawal and pledged to protect the YPG militants. To be clear, he did not refrain from complaining about the YPG selling oil to Iran. Shortly afterwards, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the fight against Daesh was going to continue and the U.S. will “ensure that Turks don’t slaughter Kurds.”
Here’s the irony: How will the United States pull out of Syria and protect the YPG militants? Does the Trump administration seriously hope to talk the Turks into helping out the PKK’s Syrian affiliate? That’s obviously out of the question. How about Russia and the Assad regime? The Kremlin sees the YPG militants as mercenaries on Washington’s payroll and is prepared to make a deal with Turkey. The Assad regime, in turn, won’t agree to the creation of an autonomous region in northern Syria. To be clear, it’s just a matter of time for Trump to abandon the YPG militants as well. Therefore, the echo chamber won’t accomplish its first goal.