22:18 GMT11 April 2021
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    Washington's envoy to the US-led anti-Daesh coalition in Syria, Brett McGurk, resigned over US President Donald Trump's decision to pull out of Syria. McGurk stated that the US president's sudden move has “left our coalition partners confused and our fighting partners bewildered with no plan in place."

    Trump has called the envoy's resignation a "nothing event" as McGurk was set to leave his post in February, 2019. The US president announced his decision to withdraw US troops from Syria on Wednesday, claiming that Daesh has been defeated.

    Bassam Tahhan, a French-Syrian political analyst, told Sputnik France that, without American support, there is no point for France to maintain its military presence in the country.

    Sputnik: This is a very unexpected decision. Yes, Trump promised it during his election campaign, but Western media considers it one-sided. This decision has resulted in massive criticism, even among Republicans. Why did Trump make this decision now?

    Bassam Tahhan: Trump has repeatedly stated that the American presence in Syria is too expensive and these billions of dollars could be spent on the needs of American taxpayers. In addition, his proposal that the Arab troops replace American forces to the East of the Euphrates is a complex project requiring the consent of Russia, Turkey, and Syria.

    But Trump's decision is not a sudden one. It was to be expected.

    In Syria there's an apparent discrepancy between the more numerous Russian and American forces. In addition, Donald Trump knows very well that Syria now has Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems, which are reliable air defense systems.

    Sputnik: You believe that Turkey has played an important role in Trump's decision?

    Bassam Tahhan: Yes, that's the case. Erdogan went to the United States where he made a deal with Trump. Returning to Ankara, the Turkish president was quick to declare that he would teach Syrian Kurds a lesson, despite Washington supporting them. How do you explain this? It turns out that Trump does not want a conflict with Turkey.

    On the contrary, all this should be considered, bearing in mind the prospect of the restoration of Turkish-American relations. Trump didn't like that Erdogan was buying Russian weapons and that there is a whole number of joint economic projects.

    It should not be forgotten that Turkey is still a member of NATO and Russia is a kind of potential or virtual enemy of the United States. The White House seeks to return Ankara to the fold of the West.

    Sputnik: What will be the consequences of the withdrawal of American troops for the Syrian Kurds?

    Bassam Tahhan: As already mentioned, the withdrawal of American forces will greatly weaken them. It was foreseeable that sooner or later Washington would leave them without support.

    Now the issue of weapons remains. The Americans promised Erdogan to also withdraw heavy weapons or will they leave them with the Kurds? In this case, the alignment (of forces) will change a little, but not radically.

    The Kurds may find themselves in a very difficult position in relation to the Turkish army, Daesh and the Syrian army, although they are excellent fighters. I still think that they are quite reasonable. And when they are pushed against the wall, they will have only one way out: negotiations with Damascus.

    Sputnik: Has Daesh really been defeated, as Trump claims?

    Bassam Tahhan: This is not true.

    They know that the Islamic State[Daesh] is still operating in territories near the Iraqi border. Perhaps Washington is counting on a military presence in Iraq to counteract Daesh.

    Sputnik: What is Israel's and Iran's reaction?

    Bassam Tahhan: Netanyahu rushed to declare Israel’s readiness to defend itself regardless of whether the Americans remain in Syria or not.

    But Israel will have to be much more alert. And most importantly — Iran has won a conditional victory. One of the conditions for the withdrawal of American troops was the withdrawal of Iranian forces. But the Iranians, just as Hezbollah, will remain in Syria.

    Sputnik: According to American observers, the withdrawal of US forces “ratifies” a “victory” for Russia. Do you agree with this?

    Bassam Tahhan: I believe that Trump and Putin initially agreed on the withdrawal of American forces.

    Trump is seeking peace with Russia. But it is clear that with the US withdrawal, Russia more than ever strengthens its position in Syria. Neither the French army, with a few hundred soldiers, nor the Kurds will oppose Russia, and neither Israel, by the way.

    The “hotline” between Putin and Netanyahu works well. After the Russian plane was shot down and Russia blamed Israel relations between the two countries were revised.

    Sputnik: London believes that Daesh is far from being defeated. The French Minister for European Affairs said that France would maintain its presence in Syria. What are the prospects for the coalition and the role of France?

    Bassam Tahhan: I want to warn France. What will it do in Syria with a few hundred soldiers?

    There are different scenarios, but, in my opinion, it is foolish to remain, even if the Americans maintain military bases and infrastructure created for the British and French.

    First of all, additional expenses will be required. France has already spent millions of euros since the beginning of its intervention in Syria. It is unlikely that the French would like it at the peak of the “yellow vests” protests taking into account their demands to hold popular referendums, in particular on French military operations abroad.

    If the decision to maintain a military presence in Syria comes directly from Emmanuel Macron, while a significant part of the population opposes it, he will continue to lose the trust of the French people.

    The presence of several hundred French soldiers in the war zone along with Turkish, Iranian, Syrian forces, Hezbollah and Daesh is too dangerous. The United Kingdom is in a similar situation. Without the US, the coalition will collapse. And I fear there might be casualties if France maintains its presence in Syria.

    During the presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy, French soldiers died in Afghanistan. We will not repeat the same mistake. Let's leave with dignity, without waiting for the arrival of flag-draped coffins in France.

    Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of Bassam Tahhan and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    Daesh (also known as ISIS/ISIL/IS) is a terrorist group banned in Russia.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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