A friend recently asked: "Surely, the American Army is not staying in Syria forever and sooner or later they will leave, no?" To his surprise, my answer was: "No, I don’t think they would leave. Why would they? It costs very little and they incur hardly any casualties."
Moreover of all past military interventions in the region, the US presence in Syria is unique in a number of ways. It is relatively small in scope, yet it does achieve a seemingly broad set of objectives both geopolitically and even domestically.
Remember that the initial [ostensible] objective for entering Syria was to fight ISIS. Following the group's attack on Mosul in June 2014, it only took only 8 weeks for the US to to begin air strikes against them in Iraq. A month later, these strikes were expanded into Syria.
By December 2017, ISIS had effectively lost 95% of its territory. Even though Iraq's PM publicly declared victory against the group early that month, US strikes on Syria's side of the border continued. It took another year till Dec 2018 for Trump to declare the defeat of ISIS.
You would have thought that Trump would get his way and that he would pull out of Syria after his mission of defeating ISIS was accomplished....But, you would be wrong. Many in the Washington establishment as well regional "allies" would quickly join forces to stop Trump.
Not surprisingly, the "system' was able to reverse Trump's decision. Think Tank and Op-ed pieces were quickly warning about the calamity that would soon follow any troop pull out of Syria. America's prestige and her national interests were all at stake here, Trump was told.
Heartbreaking story of a Syrian child killed by US sanctions.— Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) April 2, 2021
"Can Biden, Congress, and EU leaders sleep at night while an entire people die of hunger, oppression, and marginalization just because politicians want to be seen as doing something tough?"
Bottom line... NO U.S. President will pull out of Syria. In Washington's thinking:
1) It costs little in lives or money
2) For a change, local terrain is friendly, i.e. the Kurds
3) It controls the oil & reinforces sanctions
4) It shows you are tough on Iran
5) It satisfies Israel and other allies
6) It leaves you at the negotiation table
* * *
Welcome to America's next forever occupation, apparently, from which it will never willingly extricate itself, akin to Afghanistan or Iraq.