US Proxies Fear 'Afghanistan-Style' Withdrawal From Syria

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by Tyler Durden
Sunday, Mar 10, 2024 - 11:00 AM

Via The Cradle

The US military's Kurdish proxies occupying northeast Syria fear an "Afghanistan-like pullout" of US forces that would leave them at the mercy of their long-time enemy TurkeyMiddle East Eye (MEE) reported Friday. 

Turkey has escalated its airstrikes on areas in northeast Syria occupied by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in recent months; at the same time, Washington is in talks with the Iraqi government to potentially withdraw forces from Iraq. 

YPG/"Syrian Democratic Forces backed by the Pentagon, Getty Images

The 900 US soldiers occupying northeast Syria with the SDF receive logistical support from US forces in Iraq. Any US withdrawal from Iraq may necessitate US withdrawal from Syria as well

"The whole region is on fire and nobody will respond to Turkey's aggression against us when everyone is busy with Gaza. We have asked the US to rein in Turkey, but they have brushed us off," said Mahmoud Meslat, co-chair of the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), the political wing of the SDF.

In recent months, Turkey has bombed power stations, the region's electric grid, medical facilities, and oil fields, leaving millions without electricity or access to clean drinking water.

Kurdish fears of being abandoned by the US remain despite a visit last week to northeast Syria by US General Erik Kurilla.

US–Turkey relations have improved in recent months. Ankara approved Sweden's entry into NATO, while Washington approved the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey after numerous delays.

"The Americans told us Turkey would not use the jets against their allies [the SDF]," Meslat told MEE. "But we think Turkey will do what it wants."

Another senior SDC official claimed a US withdrawal would have "chaotic results" for the region. However, Fabrice Balanche, a Syria specialist at the University of Lyon II, said the SDF would simply have to cut a deal with Damascus if the US pulls out, returning northeast Syria and its oil and wheat resources to Syrian government control

"There is a sense of 'when, not if, the US leaves.' I don't see how the SDF can survive another year, maybe two," Balanche said. "Northeast Syria is collateral damage of Gaza. I wouldn't have too much hope about its future."

The SDF began partnering with US forces in 2015 to conquer areas of Syria, then occupied by ISIS. US planners wished to keep these areas out of Syrian government control as part of their effort to keep the country divided and without the resources needed to rebuild the country after the war.

The war began in 2011 as US planners provided weapons and funding to extremist groups with ties to Al-Qaeda in an effort to topple the Syrian government.