Rashid A Mughal
TOWARDS the end of 2017 when ISIS was on the run and Muslims in general and neighbouring countries in particular were just preparing to have a sigh of relief, the Trump Administration, feeling defeated and humiliated(remember ISIS was created by them, as Hillary herself admitted),announced to keep a strong military force of 30,000 in Syria. The move is to topple Assad regime and counter the Russian presence in the area. When the Islamic State (IS) was in its best shape, the international efforts were focused on the battles to defeat the terror-designated group. But following the defeat of the IS in Syria late last year, the international players in the Syrian conflict have put their differences on the table in northern Syria.
The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of Kurds, Arabs and Assyrians, declared their victory on the IS in its de facto capital of Raqqa late last year, while the Russian-baked Syrian army was declaring the defeat of the terror group in the eastern city of Deir al-Zour. At the time, all players in the Syrian conflict were rejoicing their victory in the battles against the IS, but now their differences lay bare in northern Syria. The US hopes to consolidate its foot-hold in Syria by throwing extra support behind Kurdish-led groups such as the SDF and its primary component the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which emerged as a reliable ally to Washington in Syria’s nearly seven-year war.
Such a support, which helped Kurdish groups expand in northern. Syria near the Turkish border has raised the ire of Turkey, which vowed to dampen the Kurdish sway near its border as it fears the separatist sentiment of Syria’s Kurds could inspire Turkey’s 14 million Kurds. Despite being long-time allies, the tension between Turkey and the US has grown bigger recently with Washington declaring its willingness to form a 30,000 strong border force from the SDF and other Kurdish groups in northern Syria.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has stressed that Moscow will not back US attempts to change the 2015 nuclear deal struck between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries.“We will not support what the United States is trying to do, changing the wording of the agreement, incorporating things that will be absolutely unacceptable for Iran”, Lavrov said at a news conference in Moscow, last week.. His remarks come a few days after US President Donald Trump extended sanctions waivers on Iran to give Washington and its European allies a chance to what he calls to “fix the terrible flaws” of the nuclear agreement.
Russia’s top diplomat also warned that the breakdown of the deal could be detrimental to dialogue with North Korea. ”If the deal is put aside and Iran is told, ‘you keep up with your obligations or we will impose sanctions again’, then you have to put North Korea in its place too”, Lavrov said. Syria says it is determined to end US military presence after Washington declared plans to build a 30,000-member “border force” in the Arab country that Russia says could lead to Syria’s partition, Syria’s Foreign Ministry has slammed the plan as a “blatant assault” on its sovereignty.
The US, purportedly fighting the Daesh terrorist group, is planning to build the so-called “Border Security Force” on the Syrian territory held by the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) which is dominated by Kurdish militants. The US, he said, is helping those who are seeking to topple the government of Syria rather than trying to resolve the Syrian crisis. “We don’t see the efforts to help resolve the conflict as soon as possible, but rather to help those who would like to make practical steps to change the government in Syrian Arab Republic,” Lavrov added.
Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The Syrian government says the Israeli regime and its Western and regional allies are aiding Takfiri terrorist groups that are wreaking havoc in the country. The US move has also angered Ankara with Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag stating last week that Washington is “playing with fire”. Turkey is already angry over strong US support for Kurdish forces in Syria. Ankara views SDF and its affiliates as the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been fighting Turkey since 1984.
The US launched its military campaign in Syria in 2014 under the pretext of fighting Daesh terrorists. Syria and Russia as well as other regional countries have cast doubt on the United States’ intentions, saying American troops have mostly tried to hamper government operations against Takfiri terrorists and harmed the country’s infrastructure. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov last month said that the presence of American troops in Syria was unlawful, urging them to completely leave the Syrian soil. The US action comes in the framework of its destructive policy in the region to fragment the countries and spur tension to hinder any solution to the crisis.
Russia has slammed US actions in Syria that encourage separatist sentiments among Kurds as either a provocation or ill-informed, after Turkey launched a major operation against US-backed militants in the troubled area. Washington has actively encouraged and continues to encourage separatist sentiments among Kurds, “Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said. “This is either a lack of understanding of the situation or an absolutely conscious provocation,” he added. Turkey has launched the so-called Operation Olive Branch recently in a bid to eliminating the US-backed YPG which Ankara views as a terror organization and the Syrian branch of the outlawed Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK). The latter has been fighting for an autonomous region inside Turkey since 1984.
So the situation in Syria still continues to be uncertain. The Muslim world in particular is still hoping for peace to return to the area and an end to the miseries of innocent people who have been witnessing the unwanted killing for the last seven years. It is a pity that a Muslim is killing another Muslim just for the sake of their different political agendas and falling in the trap of elements whose main purpose is to weaken Muslims and further their nefarious designs against Islam.
— The writer is former DG (Emigration) and consultant ILO, IOM.