The American hesitation and the arousing Turkish ambitions in northern Syria

Due to the unclearpolicy showed by the US administration regarding the deteriorating conditions in Syria, American politicians criticize the way in which this administration is tackling the issue that deepening crisis more and more in the Middle East region and all over the world, leading to the emergence of new extremist groups, migration crisis to European and neighboring countries, and also threatening US interests due to the intervention of regional parties that do not hid their ambitions in Syria and their desire to expand at the expenses of the countries of the region.

The Joe Biden’s administration is the one that has not placed great emphasis on the Syrian issue as its decision to deprioritize the ongoing conflict in Syria comes in a time when Turkey is disclosing about its ambitions in the northern Syria, Iran is continuing its pressure to expand its power in south, east and north Syria to use it in the negotiations of its nuclear talks with major countries, and Israel is sparing no efforts to hit the Syrian military sites where Iranian forces are stationed and from which arm shipments are sent to the Lebanese Hezbollah through Syria.   

In a time, when Joe Biden and his administration are giving the greatest focus to the Iranian nuclear issue, war is still going on in Syria describing it as “remains a festering wound at the heart of the Middle East,” said James Jeffrey.

He noted that positions of the current US administration is really bad in light of the ongoing conflict stressing that US officials have to reconsider their decisions regarding Syria and seriously participate in the Syrian solution as the situation is changing and a possible compromise is taking shape. 

He added that ignoring the conflict in Syria entails major risks, thus the US has to run any diplomatic effort for a permanent solution regarding the Syrian conflict instead of being hesitated and revealing about its intentions to withdraw from Syria at every turning point or change in the White House.

The hesitating policy of the democrats regarding the Syrian issue and their precarious position to keep symbolic US forces east of the Euphrates and support the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in their war against the remnants of the Islamic State Organization (ISIS) terrorism, conceals a number of temptations for Turkey and, in the same time, renews its ambitions to run the southern Syria, east and west of the Euphrates, to eliminate any Kurdish ambitions there.

And this does not contradict the Syrian government’s ambitions in restoring the region according to conditions that it has never hidden in any negotiations with the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) under Russian auspice.  

Meanwhile, any relation that leads to confrontation between the Syrian government and Turkey in the region will not exceed Adana Agreement of 1998 that allows Turkey to take all necessary security measures 5 km deep into Syria across the Syrian–Turkish border, according to the annex No. 4 to the text of the agreement. Turkey invaded the area between Sere Kaniye (Ras al-Ain) and Tel Abyad in 2019 with Russian-Iranian complicity and under the US eye with 30 km deep in Syrian territory to pursue what Turkey claims as “the terrorist of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)”. This ultimately means that Turkey will accept to hand over areas east of the Euphrates to the Syrian government within the framework of any agreements between the guarantor countries of Astana Peace Talks, in which the Syrian government and its Turkish-backed Islamic opposition are participating.  

Meanwhile, Manbij area, west of the Euphrates, is the western gate for areas held by the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES), east of the Euphrates, and a possible transit route for the Turkish forces and the Turkish-backed armed Islamic factions to those areas east of the Euphrates, so that Erdogan keeps beating the drums of war and threatening to occupy areas of the AANES.

In the regard of mixing cards there, the Syrian government forces returned to their positions that they and their Russian ally had previously abandoned with the Turkish aggression against Afrin, through this the government wants to put pressure on the SDF and Manbij Military Council to bring them back under the regime’s umbrella on one hand and to direct a message to Turkey that conducting any security and military preparations in the Syrian north, from its national security perspective, will not be fulfilled but according to agreements with the government on second hand.

In both situations, the possible choices left to the AANES with its political [SDC] and military [SDF] wings are limited, either to negotiate with the government under Russian auspice to settle condition of the Jazira Region and Manbij with the minimum political limits to recognize the rights of the communities there, especially the Kurds, or to freeze the negotiations by the entry of the Syrian Army into the area to maintain border security with Turkey, with the AANES kept in the residential areas until a general settlement for the Syrian issue is reached through an international road map according to the UN Resolution No.2254 or from outside it, or through a national and comprehensive dialogue that results in national solutions and compromises for all cases of the Syrian issue.

Or through conducting bilateral or multilateral negotiations under international auspice in the event that the internal concerned parties to the conflict, particularly the Syrian government with direct pressure by its Russian ally that has become more convinced with the need to reach serious understandings including the rights of ethnic minorities issue between the government and the SDF on one hand and between the government and the Syrian National Coalition and Turkey on the other.

With all the aforementioned choices, the AANES has no choice but the political and military resistance to counter any ambitions, if necessary, to eliminate ambitions of its ethnic communities in secular, democratic, and decentralized Syria.  

The successive threats by Turkish Justice and Development Party to invade what left of the Syrian north under the pretext of its national security is but assurances to the Turkish people in order to divert attention from the internal problems that may shake pillars of the Turkish Brotherhood project.

In the same time, to fulfill its economic and geopolitical ambition in the Syrian north that are evident through the Turkish command’s successive statements. And also to put pressure on the EU to reduce the economic and financial pressure on Turkey, whose external debt has come up to half a trillion dollars this year, including short-term debts due within a year or less, amounting to 169.5 billion dollars, equivalent to about a quarter of the Turkish GDP.

During 2021, the Turkish lira lost more than 13% of its value which indicates a dangerous sharp contraction in the Turkish economy that will threats the presence of AKP to lead Turkey in any elections that may be held early.  

And then any Syrian silence, by either the government, the opposition or any other opposing parties regarding the Turkish military and political ambitions and tactics throughout Syria will become suspicious and worrisome that there are potential bilateral understandings reached from under the table under Russian auspice and intentional US cover.

And it may not be more than a possible last attempt of putting pressure by the Syrian government on the AANES  on one hand, and on the Islamic opposition on the other, in order to improve the terms and conditions of each of them in any negotiation process sponsored by the UN again, which will undoubtedly be at the expense of the Syrian people. Unless it was preceded by a productive national dialogue.

It is true that Erdogan, in principle, failed to obtain Moscow and Washington’s approval to invade the AANES-held areas which compelled him to postpone the invasion, but the SDF’s military strategy and SDC’s political moves should always be aware of the possible complicity of the two superpowers and regional actors in the Syrian issue, because Turkey, from the two superpowers’ stances, is the part to fulfill balances between the regional and international interests in the Middle East, as Turkey has a wide network of relations with all the countries involved and active in the Syrian issue.

Involving the Islamic armed opposition, gathered in Idlib and north of Aleppo, in Turkey’s possible battles in Manbij, west of the Euphrates or in SDF-held areas, east of the Euphrates, is meant to mix the cards in the region and put the SDF in a direct confrontation with the Islamic armed factions which bears common interests for the guarantor parties of the Astana Peace Talks served by the American hesitation that threatens every time to withdraw from northeast Syria raising Turkey’s ambitions to launch new adventures.