US Claims Pullout From Syria 'Unlikely' But Damascus-Based Analyst Says It is Inevitable
06:11 GMT 09.11.2021 (Updated: 16:46 GMT 08.01.2023)
© AP Photo / Baderkhan AhmadIn this Monday, Oct. 28, 2019 file photo, U.S. forces patrol Syrian oil fields, in eastern Syria.President Donald Trump's decision to dispatch new U.S. forces to eastern Syria to secure oil fields is being criticized by some experts as ill-defined and ambiguous.
© AP Photo / Baderkhan Ahmad
Washington has repeatedly stressed that its goal in Syria was purely to fight Daesh*. But with the terror group's presence largely eliminated, the agenda of the US is now unclear.
With the US withdrawal from Afghanistan completed, and with the pullout from Iraq drawing near, speculations have emerged that Syria is next in line.
Although officials in Washington have recently refuted those allegations, saying the US military exit from Syria was "unlikely any time soon", Taleb Ibrahim, a Damascus-based political analyst, says the Americans will not stay in his country "forever" and it is only a matter of time until their troops leave the war-torn nation.
Officially, there are 900 American military personnel in northeastern Syria. According to official statements, their goal is to help the Kurdish forces fight Daesh, a notorious terror organisation. But Ibrahim says it is "unclear" what Washington's real agenda is.
"They don't have a strategy in Syria. Nor do they have clear goals. Some say they have a secret plan to divide the country and put their hands on its resources. Others claim they want to keep Iran away from Syria. And yet there are those, who believe the idea is to end the Russian presence in the area. One thing is for sure: they are not here to fight Daesh."
At its peak, the extremist group controlled a third of Syria, but by December 2017 Daesh had lost 95 percent of its territory. Its fighters, who numbered around 35,000 during its heyday, is now reportedly no higher than 8,000 extremists dispersed across the region.
The majority of those militants have fled Syria and Iraq and relocated to other locations, primarily in Africa's Sahel region.
Political Solution on the Horizon?
Now, as the main threat to Syria's stability is gone, Ibrahim says his country is on a course to reach a political solution to its decade-long civil war that has left more than 350,000 people dead and millions of others displaced.
Multiple efforts have already been exerted to reach a resolution in Syria. Russia, which has played a pivotal role resolving the conflict, has held numerous talks with President Bashar Al Assad and members of the country's opposition. The most recent round of such negotiations was held last Friday.
Iranian officials have also held meetings with their European partners, whereas Egypt intensified its efforts to bring Syria back into the Arab fold.
"The political settlement in Syria is going well. Even though the sense is that the Americans are not willing to see that happen, truth of the matter is that once it is reached, Americans will not have a choice but to leave. They are not wanted here."
Anti-American sentiment in the region has grown significantly since the infamous US invasion of Iraq in 2003. Those attitudes have only gotten stronger with time. And now as the US keeps decreasing its presence in the area, more and more Middle Eastern nations, says the analyst, want the Americans out.
"The US has caused many problems in the region. They gave the extremists of Daesh and other terror cells an opportunity to lift their heads. They didn't want to rebuild the Middle East. Neither did they want to invest in it. They only spilled blood. Now the time has come for them to go. The only question is how they will do it."
*A terrorist group outlawed in Russia and many other countries.