Key players in Syria conflict  infographic
Graphic shows potential fallout from Trump’s Syria about face.
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MILITARY

Fallout from Trump’s Syria reversal

By Duncan Mil

October 15, 2019 - President Trump’s reliance on his gut instincts to abandon U.S.-backed Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Syria has created a power vacuum. His abrupt decision has emboldened Russia, Iran and the Islamic State group (IS).

Out of necessity, the Kurds switched sides on Sunday, turning their backs on Washington and signing up with Russia and President Bashar al-Assad of Syria.

Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops amounts to an existential threat for the Kurdish forces who are eager to take control of “Rojava” -- a Kurdish enclave in northeastern Syria. The most immediate threat comes from Turkey to the north, which is looking forward to seizing the region and resettling it with 3.5 million Syrian refugees who have fled to Turkey.

“In the short term, we have seen the escape of hundreds of IS fighters guarded by SDF forces. They will reinvigorate the group’s terrorist campaign in Syria and Iraq,” said professor Jacob N. Shapiro of Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School. “Some of those prisoners will surely make it to Europe and potentially beyond.”

“In the longer term, I have three worries. First, our intelligence collection capabilities on the ground in Syria will be eviscerated as our sudden withdrawal destroys the relationships developed over the years with local forces.”

“Second, potential allies elsewhere will now be much more guarded in their cooperation with the U.S.”

“Third, our European allies will be reconsidering the wisdom of committing to joint actions with the United States in the future. They were not consulted on this decision, which has driven a deep wedge between them and the U.S. on Middle East security issues.” added Shapiro.

PUBLISHED: 15/10/2019; STORY: Graphic News; PICTURES: Associated Press
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