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    A fighter from the Kurdish People Protection Unit (YPG) poses for a photo at sunset in the Syrian town of Ain Issi, some 50 kilometres north of Raqqa, the self-proclaimed capital of the Islamic State (IS) group during clashes between IS group jihadists and YPG fighters on July 10, 2015

    US Turned Syrian Kurds Into 'Double-Edged' Sword Targeted Against Assad, Daesh

    © AFP 2017/ DELIL SOULEIMAN
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    Washington has pursued a two-pronged strategy in Syria, trying to tackle Daesh and weaken President Bashar al-Assad and his allies by supporting the Kurds, but these goals risk canceling each other out, political analyst Grigory Lukyanov told RIA Novosti.

    Although many have hoped that the new US administration would readjust its approach to Syria, Donald Trump's policy appears to be similar to the one carried out by the Obama administration. It entails among other things empowering the Kurds so that they turn into a "double-edged instrument" targeted against Daesh on the one hand and Bashar al-Assad on the other, the analyst explained.

    "The United States needs to create alternative centers of power represented by the Kurdish and Arab opposition which could help to counterbalance excessive ambitions of Damascus and deter Iran, Russia and Turkey," he explained.

    Washington's activities have only complicated anti-Daesh efforts, Lukyanov of the Moscow-based Higher School of Economics added.

    "They do not contribute to maintaining Syria's territorial integrity and fostering constructive cooperation among key stakeholders. There is a single trend at the moment – relations have become increasingly chaotic. As a result, there is a risk that the situation would only become worse since Daesh which is far from being defeated would exploit these tensions," the analyst said.

    The United States is currently focused on the operation aimed at liberating Raqqa, Daesh's key urban stronghold in the Middle East. The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), made up of Kurdish and Arab militias, have been tasked with leading the offensive. The SDF is expected to launch the operation in the city proper in April.

    Washington's close ties with the SDF have prompted some to say that the United States has pledged to support Kurdish aspirations for greater autonomy, if not independence. However, Lukyanov maintained that the US leadership does not appear to be intent on helping the Kurds create an independent state at the moment. The analyst added that Russia, the United States and the European Union have a shared opinion on the matter.

    In Lukyanov's view, the Syrian Kurds have not reached the level of autonomy of Iraqi Kurdistan which appears to have put its independence drive on hold.

    "In 2016, the Iraqi Kurds were preparing for an independence referendum which did not take place because they felt that not a single major political force in the region or beyond is ready to support them," he explained. "The Syrian Kurds have achieved a lot in two-three years. They have established administrative institutions and developed the local economy, but they still have not gained credibility with the international community. This is why it is premature to say that the US or anyone else is ready to back them at the moment."

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    Tags:
    Syrian conflict, Syrian crisis, territorial integrity, Syrian Kurds, Kurds, Self-Defense Forces (SDF), Bashar al-Assad, Iraqi Kurdistan, Syria, United States, Russia
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