News Analysis: U.S. withdrawal from Syria positive for political process: experts

Source: Xinhua| 2018-12-22 05:26:38|Editor: Chengcheng
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DAMASCUS, Dec. 21 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. sudden decision to withdraw from Syria is read by political experts as a positive step toward pushing forward the political process in Syria's more than seven-year war.

Different circumstances surround the Wednesday decision of U.S. President Donald Trump to withdraw forces from Syria, as the United States has around 2,000 special forces deployed in 12 positions in the country.

The first reason behind the planned pullout of the U.S. forces is that Russia has been repeatedly urging the United States to withdraw from Syria as such a presence is further complicating the political landscape in the country, given the fact that the United States entered Syria in 2014 without the consent of the Syrian government.

The second reason is the recent Turkish threats to launch a military campaign against the U.S.-backed Kurdish militia of the People's Protection Units (YPG) and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which are regarded by Turkey as terrorist groups due to their links with the Turkey-banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

It is worth noting that the U.S. forces are embedded with the Kurdish militia and it would be difficult for any Turkish campaign to differentiate between the forces.

The reason is expected to be the main driving force behind the timing of the U.S. withdrawal from Syria, as Ankara is Washington's key NATO ally and when the United States is pushed to choose between them, Turkey would surely win over the Kurds for the U.S. interest in the region.

Following the declaration of the White House about the withdrawal of the U.S. forces, which will take place within 100 days, Turkish reports said Friday that the planned Turkish campaign on the Kurdish militias in the eastern bank of Euphrates River in eastern Syria has been postponed.

There is no specific date or information on how long it would be pushed back, but experts believe that the Turkish forces could carry out limited operations against the Kurdish militia once the U.S. withdrew its forces.

Aside from the details surrounding the timing of the withdrawal, political analysts agree that it is a positive development for Syria and it could push the Kurdish militia in northern Syria to review their stances and realize that they cannot count on the U.S. forces anymore and they should come under the umbrella of the Syrian state.

Nuwairan Ahmad, a Syrian Kurdish political expert, told Xinhua the pullout of the U.S. forces will help accelerate the political process in Syria.

"The withdrawal of the U.S. forces from Syria is a positive one because the entry of the U.S. to Syria was illegal. The withdrawal would help in accelerating the political process in our country," Ahmad said.

As for the Kurdish-led SDF, which has been supported by the United States throughout several key battles against the Islamic State (IS) group, Ahmad said their best choice is to come under the umbrella of the Syrian army, otherwise they would face the Turkish forces and would risk losing areas to the Turkey-backed rebels akin to what happened in Afrin, a predominantly Kurdish region that fell to the Turkish forces earlier this year in northern Syria.

Ahmad noted that in Afrin, when the Kurdish forces confronted the Turkish forces, people suffered. "We don't wish to see that scenario repeat in any other place."

For his part, Muhannad Haj Ali, a Syrian lawmaker, agreed that the U.S. presence in Syria is basically illegal, and their withdrawal would help the political process in Syria.

"The U.S. presence in Syria ... we consider it as an act of aggression. The withdrawal comes as part of a Russian pressure on the United States to pull out in order to accelerate the Syrian political process and find a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis," he told Xinhua.

The Kurdish militias, which have been ruling areas in northern and northeastern Syria with the help of the United States in the hope of enforcing a federal rule, must show a sign of good will and hand over their weapons to the Syrian Army, the lawmaker said.

"If the Kurdish militias want to show a sign of good will and a good initiative, they should hand over their illegal weapons to become under the umbrella of the Syrian army and from this point we can set off for a dialogue to discuss all points that could benefit the country," he said.

Ali said the Turkish forces could still launch limited operations in northern Syria, if the situation remains unchanged.

"I expect that the Turkish forces would launch a limited operation in some areas because they have concerns about the presence of the Kurdish forces in northern Syria," the lawmaker pointed out.

Maher Ihsan, another political expert, said no matter what reason is behind the U.S. sudden decision of withdrawing forces, the withdrawal should be a positive one for Syria because the presence of the U.S. forces on the ground complicates the situation.

"If they are gone, it would be easier to discuss the Kurdish situation with the Kurd themselves without the pressure of the United States. Any possible settlement between the government and the Kurds would push away any Turkish campaign on Syrian soil because their fears then would be unwarranted," he said.

He added that "the presence of foreign forces, which came to Syria without the consent of the Syrian government, is negative for any possible settlement, and now with the U.S. decision to withdraw, the political process would have more chances and I think we are moving to a brighter era."