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Consequences of Creating a Buffer Zone in Syria and Possible US Objectives

Many influential figures in the US believe that Obama’s approach to the Syrian issue, which was not resorting to military force, has resulted in failure and this has led to Iran and Russia gaining the upper hand. Therefore, in Trump’s era, America must adopt a different approach. In late January 2017, Donald Trump ordered the Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense to make a plan for creating a buffer zone in Syria in 90 days.

Introduction

Many influential figures in the US believe that Obama’s approach to the Syrian issue, which was not resorting to military force, has resulted in failure and this has led to Iran and Russia gaining the upper hand. Therefore, in Trump’s era, America must adopt a different approach. In late January 2017, Donald Trump ordered the Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense to make a plan for creating a buffer zone in Syria in 90 days.

It goes without saying that in order to create a buffer zone, it is necessary to safeguard a geographical area so that the population in that are remains unharmed by land and by air. This requires tight security measures ensuring that no air or ground force can threaten the security in that area. The question which arises is: Without having forces on the ground, how can the US provide this security guarantee?

Possible US Objectives in Creating a Buffer Zone in Syria

  1. Marginalizing Assad’s forces and the forces backed by Islamic Republic of Iran

At the time being, there are several war fronts in Syria. ISIS controls central and eastern Syria, the areas surrounding Euphrates and Northern part of Aleppo. Very close to these areas are Turkish forces and Free Syrian Army. Fateh al-Sham forces are present in Northern Idlib.

US experts believe that if they could manage the war against ISIS, it is possible to be hopeful about creating a buffer zone. These experts believe that to accomplish this objective, it necessary for the US to change its views. In their view, the only ground forces fighting ISIS are Kurdish YPG, designated by the US as a terrorist group.

These Turkish forces and some Arab groups (i.e.) Syrian Democratic Forces) try to attack ISIS Capital (i.e. Raqqa) and they are 20 KMs away from this city. Americans believe that in urban areas, it is not possible to wage a war by employing forces trained in classic army. Rather, there is a need for special skills so that casualties of both Americans and the civilians could be reduced. Therefore, they try to take the initiative and control the affairs in Syria by creating a coalition led by the US and the participation of skillful forces from the countries which consider ISIS as a serious threat against them (Turkey, Jordan, France, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain).

Americans aim to destroy ISIS not only in Raqqa but also throughout Syria. After victory, they intend to establish a local government in those areas. This local government will be comprised of a council of forces fighting against ISIS and having views similar to Americans’. Each force will settle in a special area and will control it. Finally, in the liberated areas, protection must be provided in the air and on the ground. In fact, Americans’ plan for creating a buffer zone in Eastern and Central Syria is preventing Assad’s forces from entering these areas. In addition, by letting Turkish ground forces and Syrian forces on their side enter these areas (in Albab,…), and by the cover provided by the Turkey’s air forces, they ostensibly try to safeguard these areas.

In addition to coordinating its efforts with Turkey, Trump has made arrangements with Jordan. Thus, Jordanian ground and air forces will play an important role in this plan in borders with Syria. It has been said that in addition to central and eastern areas in Syria, it is possible to enter this country from the southwest if the need arises. In fact, with this plan in place, Assad’s government will effectively lose the control of central and eastern areas of Syria and areas overlooking Turkish borders, and Turkish forces and the Syrian opposition forces will be in control.

With this plan in place, Assad’s forces, Hezbollah, Fatemiyoun Division, … will leave the scene and in fact Iran will be crippled in Syria. It seems that by strengthening Syrian Kurds and training them, the United States intends to help Kurds to liberate Raqqa and following the liberation of this city, to prevent Iran and Assad from entering these areas. In addition, it could be said that by having the Kurds dominate the areas, and strengthening them in central, eastern and northeastern areas, Americans plan to block The People’s Mobilization Forces (PMF) from entering Syria.

  1. Creating Divisions between Iran and Russia

In this plan, Americans especially count on support from Russia and expect Russians to convince Iran and Assad-backed forces not to oppose this plan by exerting pressure on them. Especially in Idlib Province, Russia can use its influence and support this plan. In order to accomplish this, Russia must stop its air raids in Aleppo and convince Iran and Assad to back this plan. Needleless to say, Iran will reject any plan endangering the territorial integrity of Syria and this will be a bone of contention between Iran and Russia.

One of the secondary objectives of the United States is to create divisions between Iran and Russia and prevent from further collaboration between the two countries. Americans believe that Iranians’ and Russians’ interests in Syria do not quite match and try to take advantage of this difference to create divisions between the two countries. Creating a buffer zone is one of these contentious issues.

  1. Legitimizing Assad’s Removal from Power

Americans intend to adopt a bottom-up approach to this issue. They intend to establish security in a part of Syria (in this plan, Syrian Kurdistan) and provide financial, political and humanitarian assistance (by constructing shelters, promoting health care, supplying food and water for war-stricken people) in this area. Then, they intend to introduce this as a good example for whole Syria and thus implement their plan throughout this country. Therefore, they want to remove Assad from power in this way. In this step-by-step plan, and by seeking help from other countries having an influence in Syria, the United States can remove Assad more easily.

According to Americans, the first step is to identify the areas in which this plan could be implemented. They believe that areas in Southern Syria are ideal for this purpose. The Zionist regime has pointed out that it has allies in these areas, and that his allies in the region are ready for help with the American plan. By providing so-called “humanitarian” assistance for these areas, the Zionist regime has managed to secure their support and to coordinate them. The US also intends to complete the activities of the Zionist regime by providing financial, and educational assistance and facilities for these areas to pave the way for the implementation of its plan.

Based on this plan, the US no longer needs extensive military presence in Syria and can promote its cause by continuing such activities, relating to local groups and coordinating them. Experiences of Americans in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq have taught them the lesson that whenever Americans have paid attention to local forces, have identified their needs, have met their needs and have related to them, they have achieved the intended results. For this same reason, the US intends to act likewise in Syria and by legitimizing its presence in the country, it tries to gradually move ahead and remove Assad from power.

  1. Setting up a Military Base in Syria

The US has decided to set up a military base in Ramaylan, Hasaka Province in Eastern Syria, the border area between Iraq, Syria and Turkey where the Syrian Kurds are stationed. Of course, US officials’ position on the military base in Ramaylan is unknown. However, it is clear that this move is in line with US tactical race with Russia and Iran. In addition, once the buffer zone is created in Central and Eastern Syria, the US intends to provide air and ground support for the forces it supports in these areas if the need arises.

Recently France 24 Television Network has released some pictures showing the extensive presence of American Special Forces in war in Southern Shadadi, Hasaka Province. Reportedly, the pictures showed American and Kurdish forces fighting against ISIS. This issue confirms the possibility of US setting up a military base in Northeastern Syria.

It is necessary to note that in addition to the US, France is also seeking to set up a military base in Northern Syria. According to some reports, French Special Forces stationed in Northern Syria have started setting up a military base near the town of Kobani and French experts and military advisers will be stationed on this military base. At the time being, French military is providing advice to Syrian Democratic Forces.

  1. Supporting Syrian Kurds

One must be mindful that autonomous territory of Kurdistan is the result of American invasion in 2003. However, it is crystal clear that US officials have yet failed to come up with a definitive decision about the fate of this territory. America neither wants the complete removal nor the complete autonomy of Kurdistan.  On the one hand, it is necessary to support Kurdistan as a counterbalance against the Shia government close to Iran. On the other hand, out of fear of PKK development, which Americans have designated as a terrorist group and have arrested its leader, Ojalan, Kurdistan remains a worry.

Anyway, it must be noted that, in order to strike a balance between the forces in Syria and to reduce the power of the Syrian government, which is an Iranian ally, the US is trying to support Syrian Kurds in Central, Eastern and Northeastern Syria. However, this time the US is trying to accomplish it through limited and controlled military presence, not through military action similar to what happened in Iraq in 2003.

By implementing the buffer zone in Syria and supporting Syrian Kurds and providing military training for them, the US is pursuing a number of objectives at the same time: Creating Syrian Kurdistan, and effectively disintegrating Syria, preventing Iran’s increased power in the region, stopping The People’s Mobilization Forces (PMF) from entering Syria and preventing Assad’s forces and the forces backed by Iran from entering Central and Eastern Syria.

Conclusion

As pointed out above, the US is trying to accomplish its multifaceted objectives in Syria by a multifaceted plan. In fact, by implementing this plan, the US tries to decrease Iran’s influence in Syria and to stop forces backed by Iran and Assad from entering Central and Eastern Syria. At the same time, it is trying to strengthen Kurds in Eastern and Northeastern Syria and will set up a military base in these areas. In addition, it will have Kurds use their power against Assad. By providing humanitarian assistance in Southern Syria, America will win the hearts and minds of the groups living in these areas. It will introduce these areas as a good example for managing whole Syria. Moreover, it will try to create divisions between Iran and Russia and prevent from further cooperation between the two countries.

 

 

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