The statement by the US president on the imminent withdrawal of US servicemen from Syria has become a sensation that generated a discussion in the journalistic, political and expert circles of Russia, in the world media, whose intensity, as far as one can judge, is much higher than the probability that what Trump said is something different , except for the usual sensing of the situation for him and trying to get everyone on the wrong track. At least the actions of the Pentagon are directly opposite to these words.
Strengthening of Americans in the area of Manbija indicates that the differences between Washington and Ankara are not only not overcome, but also become insurmountable. The US can not and does not want to give up its reliance on the Kurds. Turkey can not and does not want to abandon the continuation of the military operation against the Kurds in the north of Syria.
At the same time, the US continues to try to organize pressure on Tehran both by forming an anti-Iranian coalition from Arab countries and by persuading the EU countries to reformat the “nuclear deal” by returning to the sanctions policy. Neither one nor the other does not work. “Arab Unity” turned out to be a phantom, while the competition in this world turned out to be much more acute than was supposed by American analysts, based on the geopolitical interests of the main regional players. The price of the issue that the Trump administration tries to solve in an attempt to rally the Arabs against Iran is not just too high. The issue itself is undecidable, since for most Arab countries, Iran is far from being the main problem. Especially it concerns the Europeans.
Trump trolls the Pentagon.
The statement of Donald Trump about the need for the withdrawal of US troops from Syria confused the Pentagon, which worked out a proposal to increase the number of troops in Syria. According to the US defense department, about two thousand US troops are deployed there. The president’s statements, in addition to PR and misinformation (Trump believes himself to be a great conspirator and often tries to misinform against his actions not only opponents but also partners), do not carry a great deal of meaning. Perhaps he decided to play on the nerves of the US military, whose excessive presence in the administration began to strain him. Otherwise, if this scenario is implemented, the US will have to recognize the failure of the strategy to contain Russian-Iranian influence. And not only in Syria, but throughout the Middle East region.
And this will make it as difficult as possible for the US to work in all areas of regional policy, beginning with the revision of the deal on the INP and ending with an attempt to realize its draft Middle East settlement. Not to mention the fact that the influence of Russia and Iran in the region will increase dramatically. The regional powers came to the realization that the regime of Bashar Assad was kept and will exist in the long term. Even the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, in an interview with Time magazine said: “Bashar will remain. I think it’s in his best interests not to let the Iranians do whatever they want.” And he expressed the hope that the US army will consolidate in the territory of Syria. Without the American cover, the expansion of government troops and Turks in the north, including in Idlib, where the main forces of the pro-Duda “Djebhat an Nusra” are concentrated, will begin.
Restoration of the status of Damascus as the only legitimate government begins to take shape. The group of Arab countries intends to demand the restoration of Syria’s membership in the League of Arab States (LAS) on the upcoming summit of this regional community in Saudi Arabia on April 15. Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco, Palestine and Oman (9 of the 22 member countries of the Arab League) called for the return of Syria to the ranks of the community, suspended in November 2011. Then Saudi Arabia, Qatar and a number of other countries provided financial and military assistance to armed groups that opposed the legitimate government. The position of Russia, which supported Damascus in the war against terrorist groups and the restoration of control over most of the territory of the republic, influenced the change in the Arab approaches to the conflict.
It remains to be assumed, what kind of transformations will take place in the minds of Arab leaders in case of Americans leaving Syria. There are direct analogies with Afghanistan and Vietnam.
According to Arab diplomatic sources, high-ranking representatives of Iraq and Egypt can go to Damascus to invite President Bashar Assad to participate in the LAS summit. If the consensus on this issue is reached, the King of Jordan, Abdullah II, may join them. But even if Assad does not attend the summit, the process has already started. The withdrawal of US forces from Syria will all be regarded as a weakness of the US, which could not withstand Iran, Russia and Turkey. It is impossible to believe that Washington will take such an option.
The steps of the US military say that they are not going to leave. The Americans began to equip two new military bases under Manbij, one in the village of Dadat, the other to the south. In Manbije itself, the forces of not only the “Democratic Union” (DS) but also the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) continue to be deployed. The Pentagon’s actions, in addition to stating the failure of all US-Turkish efforts to find a compromise on the Kurdish issue, suggest that the US is not going to leave Syria.
The Trump administration decided to postpone until September the summit planned for May with Arab leaders, which was to be held in the US capital or at the country residence of the president at Camp David. According to Reuters, citing representatives of the administration, the reasons are the ongoing diplomatic crisis around Qatar, as well as preparations for a meeting with the leader of the DPRK, Kim Jong-un, to be held before the end of May. Trump would like to see the summit, which was put forward on March 13 by Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, former CIA director, whose candidature has not yet been approved by the Senate.
Trump held a meeting in the White House on 21 March with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud. It is expected that he will meet with the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamada Al Thani and crown prince of the emirate of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The White House has repeatedly stated that it intends to resolve the conflict between the Arab countries and Qatar, unite the Persian Gulf states and convince them to focus on counteracting Iran. It is believed in this with difficulty. Americans, as always, fail to pay attention to regional studies.
On June 5, 2017, KSA, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt declared a break in diplomatic relations with Qatar, accusing Doha of supporting terrorism and interfering in their internal affairs. This was followed by economic sanctions and transport blockade of the emirate: the countries of the region closed their airspace for Qatari aviation. Later, the Quartet formed a list of requirements, which in Doha were considered impracticable and called for revision. Among them, the lowering of the level of diplomatic relations with Iran, the closure of the Al-Jazeera TV channel, the cessation of military cooperation with Turkey. All these requirements are not feasible.
Washington has repeatedly called on the Arab allies to weaken the economic blockade of Qatar, pointing out that this makes it difficult to fight in the region with the “Islamic State” group (banned in Russia). In reality, 11,000 US servicemen and countries of the counter-terrorism coalition are based on the “El-Udeid” base in Doha. There is also the largest US electronic intelligence base that controls half of the Middle East, and the regional command of the US Army, which oversees operations in Syria and Iraq. Do not forget about the weapons contracts between Qatar and the United States, which were concluded immediately after the quarrel of the “Arab four” with Doha. She takes Washington out of the role of an impartial arbitrator. Moreover, Trump first provoked an open quarrel between the Arabs, and then washed his hands and received dividends from both sides in the form of arms deals.
At the same time, the regional struggle between the “Arab Quartet” and Qatar-Turkey not only did not cease or subsided, but also intensified. The Americans have no real levers of influence on this situation, everything has paid off from them. In this regard, we can assume that the postponement of the meeting of the Arab leaders is not related to their opposition. The question is the absence of real progress in Washington’s conviction of the Arab allies in adopting a new plan for BWI. The first attempt to probe the position of Arab leaders was made by the Americans in March during a conference on the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip.