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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson gave a talk Wednesday at the right wing Hoover Institution that hovers over Stanford University, in which he committed to a Forever War in Syria. The speak was a hotchpotch of exclusive articulate points and full of false and tendentious assertions, but its many discouraging underline was the integrity to keep US troops in Eastern Syria over the prolonged haul.
Some 60% of career diplomats have fled the State Department in the past year, as Tillerson seems vigilant on destroying the establishment he leads. The miss of any genuine imagination on Syria is apparent in his erring articulate points.
Tillerson laid out 5 vital goals in Syria, what he called “end states”:
First, ISIS and al-Qaida in Syria humour an fast defeat, do not benefaction a hazard to the homeland, and do not resurface in a new form; that Syria never again serves as a height or protected breakwater for terrorists to organize, recruit, finance, sight and lift out attacks on American adults at home or abroad or against the allies.
Second, the underlying dispute between the Syrian people and the Assad regime is resolved by a UN-led domestic routine prescribed in UN Security Council Resolution 2254, and a stable, unified, eccentric Syria, under post-Assad leadership, is functioning as a state.
Third, Iranian change in Syria is diminished, their dreams of a northern arch are denied, and Syria’s neighbors are secure from all threats emanating from Syria.
Fourth, conditions are combined so that the refugees and IDPs can start to safely and willingly return to Syria.
And fifth, Syria is free of weapons of mass destruction.
The problem is that many of these goals can't be achieved at all, and several of them can be achieved only if others are not.
The United States only has some 2,000 special forces operatives in eastern Syria, which is not a big adequate force to police the country against posterior ISIL cells. US troops are embedded with the revolutionary Kurdish YPG militia, which is accessible to the US at the moment and hates ISIL, and which has finished the complicated lifting in defeating ISIL in Raqqa Province (along with contributions to its south in Deir al-Zor from al-Assad’s Syrian Arab Army). The YPG can be depended on to fight ISIL wherever it crops up, but only in areas adjacent to its race and energy bottom in the Jazira, of northeastern Syria.
Since the al-Assad regime has won the polite war, it does not feel it needs to make a grand domestic concede with the rebels, who only have 3 poignant pockets of insurgency left: Idlib Province in the north, the East Ghouta area in the closeness of Damascus, and Deraa south of the capital. All together, these 3 comment for about 2 million people. The YPG Kurds of the north and northeast consecrate another 2 million, but they are not rebels against the regime per se and substantially would be peaceful to react Syria if it were reformulated as a sovereign state with estimable states’ rights. They also now order over about a million Arab Syrians in Raqqa. So the ruins of the rebels order about 11 percent of the some 18 million Syrians still inside the country. The YPG Kurds have about 16 percent of the population. That is 27%. Let’s contend there are insurgent pockets amounting to another 3%, giving the regime 70% of the population. Tillerson says Damascus only manners half the territory, but that statistic is irrelevant given the eastern dried is thinly populated It is like the US supervision losing control of Wyoming, which is a big place but, no offense, few people live there. And remember that the 11% that is Kurds, while they are not under supervision control, have been peaceful to concur with the Syrian Arab Army against the Arab fundamentalists and would likely do a understanding with Damascus if the US left
Not only does the al-Assad regime have 70% of the race (and potentially 81%), but it has all the major civic centers that comment for many of the economy–Aleppo, Hama, Homs, Latakia, and Damascus. It has the major port, Latakia, and can besiege farming background pockets in Idlib and Deraa.
Tillerson’s depiction of the al-Assad regime as having only half the cards is simply incorrect, and it leads him to over-estimate the strength of the American hand. Al-Assad does not have to go under these circumstances, and will not. In fact, the presence of the Idlib, East Ghouta and Deraa pockets is in critical doubt. Over 120,000 people have fled north toward Turkey from the stream Idlib campaign just in the past month.
The United States has no push to revoke Iranian change in Syria.
Syria does not have weapons of mass destruction. The Russians helped seclude or destroy many of its chemical weapons, which is what this weaselly term means. It still has a tiny warehouse of sarin gas, about which the US substantially can do nothing. Where the regime uses it in mopping up insurgent pockets, as it did last spring, the Trump administration has shown that it will meddle with barb attacks. These strikes, however, had no follow-through and are comparatively ineffectual.
As for the return of the Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey, that routine has already begun as the al-Assad regime has reestablished control over much of the economically prolific tools of the country. Several thousand refugees have returned from Lebanon in the past 3 months.
What will meddle in that routine is the US gripping the pot hot by compelling continued instability in Syria.
I can’t go into all the contradictions in this policy. Tillerson names al-Qaeda in the northwest as another aim for US intervention. But complains about the regimes operations against the al-Qaeda associate there! When aggressive the Damascus regime, Tillerson lionizes the rebels who rose up against it. But he downplays that some of them became extremists solely when casting about for some reason to stay in Syria.
Tillerson tried to placate Turkey, but did not really residence Ankara’s outrage about his plans to create a permanent 30,000 clever US-armed Kurdish company in Syria. He pronounced that this devise has been artificial in the press, and simply aims at training Kurds to unit the limit with Iraq and forestall ISIL from returning. But if he is formulation to sight and arm 30,000 such limit police, well, that is precisely what Turkey was angry about.
The Trump administration is personification an intensely dangerous diversion here. Those US troops in eastern Syria are sitting ducks if Turkey turns on them. They are distant from any support bottom (if you bar Incirlik in Turkey, Baghdad’s Command, with only 6,000 troops, is the closest). They are surrounded by antagonistic forces–Hizbullah, Iranian Revolutionary Guards, the Syrian Arab Army, Iraqi Shiite militias, and potentially the Turkish army and intelligence. And no one among the neighbors with the probable difference of Baghdad wants them there
This policy is a mishmash, and premised on feign statistics and paradoxical goals.