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Afghanistan withdrawal should enhance US presence in Middle East: US political researcher

WASHINGTON, USA (North Press) – An American political researcher believes that the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and the chaos and tragedy it caused will push US President Joe Biden’s administration to enhance its forces and deterrence capacity in northeastern Syria.

Senior Director of the Turkey Program at Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) and former Turkish parliamentarian Aykan Erdemir said that the Syrian case is different from the Afghan one, as the US presence in Syria is supported by both parties in Washington, which was obvious when former US President Donald Trump announced his intention to withdraw from Syria in 2019. 

“Decision makers in Washington are quite aware of the difference between both cases. In Afghanistan, the US spent between two and three trillion dollars, in addition to a huge human cost that did not change the reality for 20 years. In Syria, the human and financial cost is much lower and the local forces succeeded in fighting ISIS,” Erdemir told North Press in an exclusive interview.

Turkish threats

Erdemir ruled out any large-scale military operation by Turkish forces in northeast Syria, because the recent Turkish escalation is an attempt to test the American reactions following the withdrawal from Afghanistan.

“After the withdrawal from Afghanistan, the US will realize that the only solution is to strengthen American power, invest more in the Middle East, and continue to carry out anti-terrorism campaigns instead of isolationism that will not help stop terrorism.”

“I do not expect a new Turkish invasion of northeast Syria, unlike what we saw during the last there campaigns…the situation there comforts the United States and does not involve it in many obligations.” 

“Comparing the political models of governance in Afghanistan and northeast Syria will highlight that the most important difference is that the local initiatives have built a government in northeast Syria, while the US tried with billions of dollars and a lot of military support to build a government and a political model in Afghanistan, but the Afghan government did not hold out.”

“The American footprint in northeast Syria is very tiny and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are the ones who maintain political and security stability in the region. This is what we have seen constantly, even before the American intervention, which was proven by Kobani’s steadfastness in the face of the terrorism.”

Internal challenges

“The attempts of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to distract the Turkish people from pivotal internal challenges with external adventures will not work this time, especially since recent opinion polls indicate that the popularity of Erdogan and the Justice and Development Party is at its lowest level, and polls confirm the possibility of the mayors of Istanbul and Ankara winning if they run to compete with Erdogan in the elections,” Erdemir said.

“Holding early elections in Turkey at the beginning of 2022 is possible due to the many challenges, from the spread of COVID-19 to the economic collapse caused by the corruption and mismanagement of the Erdogan government.”

Erdemir ruled out that the Turkish President would regain his popularity through foreign ventures as he previously did in Nagorno-Karabakh, Libya, and northeastern Syria, because the Turkish people are facing great challenges today.  

Reporting by Hadeel Oueiss

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