Trump’s decision to withdraw from Syria shuffles cards in the region – Foreign Policy

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U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision last month to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria has led to the unintended consequences of Russia emerging as the unrivalled powerbroker, Kurds facing an existential threat and Iran solidifying its position in a country far from its borders, Foreign Policy magazine said.

Though the withdrawal announced on Dec. 19 is not in full swing, the article said, and might not be as comprehensive as envisioned, the decision has already caused a shift in alliances and interests in war-torn Syria.

“By saying we are leaving unconditionally and immediately, all of those parties will make all of their own deals,” it quoted Jon Alterman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies as saying. “U.S. interests and U.S. ability to influence what endures was reduced overnight from a reasonable amount to virtually zero.”

Russia’s position in Syria paves the way for Moscow, and thus Iran, to cement its outsize influence in the region, Foreign Policy said, noting that this would allow Syrian President Bashar Assad to regain the power he had pre-war.

Since Trump’s withdrawal announcement, Russia has become the mediator between the Assad government, Turkey, and the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), comprised mostly of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) that Turkey views as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group the United States, Turkey and the EU designate as a terrorist group, the article said.

The Kurds have become more vulnerable to attack from the Turks across the border, it stressed, noting that Kurds have asked Moscow and Damascus for protection.

Meanwhile, Iran is quietly exerting influence throughout the country, Foreign Policy said, “with the goal of creating a land bridge from Iran through Iraq and Syria to Lebanon.”

“Iran is purchasing real estate, constructing new Shi’ite meeting halls, mosques, and schools, and slowly replacing Sunni communities with people friendly to Iran and the Assad regime,” the article said.

Source: Ahval News

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