What’s Behind Washington’s Dual Strategy in Syrian Crisis

The US policy in Syria has two sides, including fighting terrorism with the help of Kurds and resolving political crisis in the country. However, currently Washington is focused on supporting Kurdish forces fighting Daesh in Syria.

White House © Photo: pixabay How Obama’s ‘Status Quo’ on Syria Prepares the Ground for Hardline Stance of His Successor On August 24, Turkey launched its offensive, dubbed Operation Euphrates Shield, in northern Syria. The Free Syrian Army (FSA) backed by Turkish aircraft, tanks, artillery and special forces liberated the city of Jarablus from Daesh militants. Then, the Turkish forces and the FSA started attacking the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), mainly composing fighters from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG). However, both the FSA (and Turkey) and the SDF are considered key Washington’s allies in the region. Commenting on this conflict, journalist Seth Frantzman wrote that its origins lie in the fact that the US has two policies in Syria. Initially, the US approach in Syria was focused on supporting rebel groups trying to overthrow President Bashar Assad. A Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) fighter walks in the silos and mills of Manbij after the SDF took control of it, in Aleppo Governorate, Syria, July 1, 2016 © REUTERS/ Rodi Said US Still Backs Kurdish Forces in Syria Despite Demand for Kurds to Relocate The failed $500 million training program involved the CIA and the Pentagon was a testament to this. But later the US had to focus on fighting Daesh as the rising threat to the country’s national security. As a result, the Pentagon began to work with Kurdish fighters to fight against the terrorists, Frantzman wrote in an article for the National Interest. In an article for Hurriyet Daily News, journalist Verda Ozer argued that there is no actual conflict between the CIA and the Pentagon in Syria. “First of all, the Pentagon and the CIA are not pursuing two separate, independent policies. These are both official and political policies approved by the White House. So we cannot speak of two US institutions that have found themselves in the midst of a conflict,” she wrote. To the contrary, the two strategies are working together because they constitute two pillars of Washington’s policy in Syria, she added. Moreover, Washington does not consider the FSA and Kurds equal. View of Damascus from Mount Qasioun © Sputnik/ Mikhail Voskresenskiy Moscow, Washington Close to Reaching Deal on Syria – Russian Deputy FM According to Ozer, currently Washington’s priority goal in Syria is fighting Daesh. Barack Obama wants to leave the Oval Cabinet as the president who defeated Daesh. As a result, the YPG is the key ally of the US at the moment. But the Syrian crisis is bigger than the simply the Daesh issue, and Washington understands that. The US considers that other Syrian problems should be resolved at the negotiating table, including Russia, Iran, Turkey, Damascus and opposition groups. “So in Washington’s eyes the FSA is part of this political process and is mainly a political actor taking part in the Geneva talks. Since this part of Syria is not the US priority at all, Washington is also comfortable with the intervention of other countries,” the journalist concluded.

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