AnalysisFuad HamiraHome

Repercussions of the US’ Afghanistan withdrawal on the AANES

The American withdrawal from Afghanistan raised the hopes of several regional and local powers that they will be able to achieve their military, political and social agendas. At the same time, the American withdrawal in such a confused and chaotic manner constituted a source of fear for other powers regarding their future, especially since these powers live in an environment completely hostile to their dreams, ambitions, and future.

Foremost among those who felt relieved after the Americans left Afghanistan and signed the Doha agreement with the Taliban was the Syrian regime. Those who follow regime- Iranian-funded media will clearly notice the tone of victory in the discourse on Afghanistan, as if the Taliban victory is a victory for the regime and “the resistance,” which equates to the victory of extremist forces in the category of victory for the regime and its extremist ally and leadership of the mullahs’ regime in Tehran.  

This victorious tone exposes the fallacy of the regime’s claims of secularism and clearly reveals its connection with extremist Islamists, and considers any victory achieved for them a victory for it and its friends – the “Resistance alliance.”

However, the joy of Tehran and Damascus with this withdrawal does not stop at the limits of the resistance’s claim, but rather goes beyond it to awakening and reviving the regime’s dream of a possible American withdrawal from Syria and thus the abandonment of the Kurdish factions; this allows the regime and Iran to eliminate the experience of the Autonomous Administration and bury it forever, which is a dream for Tehran and Damascus, and thus the Iranian Shiite militias’ control of the region.  

Another regional power which joins this dream, which was revived according to their political vision with the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and its abandonment of its allies there – Turkey, which is eagerly awaiting the news of the withdrawal of US forces from Syria so that the Turkish military can intervene in the northeast to get rid of the Kurdish factions.  

Here, the dreams of the Damascus regime overlap with those of Ankara’s rulers. Not only are their hopes revived, but followed by a revival of coordination between the two states, which has never been interrupted according to the statements by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, when he once announced that intelligence coordination between Damascus and Ankara has never stopped.

It is no secret to anyone that this coordination mainly focuses on the Kurdish issue and how to get rid of everything related to the Kurds at once.  

Regardless of Erdogan’s other regional and international goals and dreams which were revived by the US withdrawal, the focus will be on military intervention in northeastern Syria, whether directly or indirectly, to eliminate the Kurdish factions, which Ankara describes as terrorists.  

Another ally will join the current discussions between Damascus and Ankara regarding the Kurdish issue, which is Jabhat al-Nusra, which later turned into Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). Abu Mohammad al-Jolani, who recently worked to implement a malicious policy based on denying any connection with al-Qaeda and claiming that HTS is a local faction concerned only with Syria, and then making reform attempts aimed at involving the tribes of Idlib in an alliance with him to ensure their loyalty in the event of the outbreak of any potential conflict. All of these policies have clear indications that al-Jolani wants a role for the HTS in the future of Syria and to be present at the table of any future negotiations related to the Syrian issue.  

Although the regime’s army skirmishes did not stop at the Idlib borders, these skirmishes did not have any effect on HTS’ military capabilities, which means that the regime did not intend to cause real harm to it in preparation for its use in its next battle – the battle for northeastern Syria.

These conflicting and discordant forces seem to have agreed on one goal, which is to eliminate the experience of the Autonomous Administration, after its dreams were revived with the exit of the American forces from Afghanistan and abandonment of their allies in Kabul, which meant for these forces, there is a possibility that Americans will abandon the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) and thus facilitate the elimination of the experiment.

So, despite the Turkish conflict with Damascus, despite the enmity between the HTS and the Syrian regime, and despite al-Jolani’s attempts to single out his views and move away from Turkish control, the conditions now seem favorable to change all those hostilities and turn them into coordination in order to reach one goal, but the reality on the ground may overthrow all those hopes and illusions revived and scatter them with the wind.  

The experience of the Autonomous Administration is rooted in society among the people of the region, despite some lapses and abuses that can be avoided in the future. The experience enjoys broad popular support not only among the people of the region, but also in all Syrian cities and regions such as the south and the coast, for example.

Many Syrians now see the idea of the Autonomous Administration as a logical solution and an acceptable form for the future Syria.  

Erdogan also has his own calculations, including that he wants to get close to the US administration and the West, solve his problems with Greece, his interventions in Libya and the eastern Mediterranean, and the problem of the Russian S-400 missiles, which were the final nail in the coffin of the relations between Ankara and Washington. Therefore, we do not believe that Erdogan has the desire and the courage to create bigger problems with the US administration and the European Union. From here, and regardless of a possible withdrawal of the US army from Syria or not, it is sufficient for Washington to say “No” to stop these players from pursuing their goals.  

With regard to the regime, Putin’s sudden summoning of Bashar Assad to Moscow bears indications and signs to an agreement between Moscow and Washington that includes acceptance of the dissolution of the Autonomous Administration in North and East Syria. The leaked information says that Putin did not sit with Assad for more than ten minutes, while he left the task of explaining the rest of the terms of the agreement in detail to the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defense, and therefore the regime will not dare to take any action that contradicts the position of its main ally Putin.  

Additionally, Iran needs a nuclear agreement with Washington to lift the economic sanctions imposed on it, which have burdened the Iranian regime and brought it almost to its knees.

The problem remains with Jabhat al-Nusra, which the regime, Turkey, and Iran may resort to moving in this direction, with their keenness to lead from behind and their denial of any connection with any moves that the HTS may make. Here, it is possible to rely on the Kurdish factions and the SDF and their popularity in the region because of their secular orientation in confronting any ventures that the HTS may undertake in the future in implementation of the agendas of Ankara, Damascus, and Tehran. 

As we have said, the HTS is also trying to wash its face and clean its body to appear ready for any negotiations related to the Syrian crisis and to impose its presence on the table.  

From here, we stress that there is no fear for the experience of the Autonomous Administration, whether the Americans withdraw from Syria or remain, because the American’s “no” is sufficient and adequate.

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