US President Donald Trump’s administration is planning to stay in the Middle East until the Syrian War concludes, in order to check Iran’s expansion in the region, reports the Washington Post. The new US policy is a reversal from President Trump’s announcement of pulling out the US troops from Syria.
The Washington Post report quotes James Jeffrey, the State Department’s special representative for Syria, who said that ‘the United States would maintain a presence in the country, possibly including an extended military mission, until Iran withdraws the soldiers and militia forces it commands. U.S. officials expect that possible outcome only after world powers broker a deal ending the war. The president wants us in Syria until that and the other conditions are met.’
US National Security Adviser John Bolton also recently revealed that the country’s troops were to stay in the region as long as Iranian troops were ‘outside Iranian border’. This new US policy also threatens to escalate the already complex Syrian war that started in March 2011 and took more than half a million lives.
Robert Malley, who heads the International Crisis Group, believes that the notion of thinking that Iran might be forced to leave the region in the near future is ‘illusionary’, especially because it has been the Assad regime’s longest and most consistent ally. Moreover, according to a Western diplomat, if the condition for the US leaving Syria was the retreat of Iran, it would take ‘decades’ to happen.
Previously, speaking on the sidelines of the 73rd UN General Assembly, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem accused also Israel of supporting terrorist groups in the country’s southern parts through its military interventions and a series of recent attacks. Muallem also said that his country was determined to liberate the Golan Heights from Israel. ‘Israel even supported terrorist groups that operated in southern Syria protecting them through direct military intervention and launching repeated attacks on Syrian territories. Just as we liberated southern Syria from terrorists, we are determined to restore the Golan Heights to the borders set in 1967. We call on Israel to comply with UN resolutions and allow the Palestinians to establish their state’, Muallem told his counterparts.
In another major development, almost two weeks ago, both Russia and Turkey agreed to establish a demilitarised zone in Syria’s Idlib province. Idlib is the last major region held by the rebel groups and establishment of the demilitarised zones paves the way for the Assad regime to take its control back from the rebels. Russia had long believed that it could convince Turkey to help the Assad regime take back control of the city without bloodshed or protracted conflict. Turkey’s stance, in terms of its past support for some anti-Assad groups, still remains unclear.
However, even with these developments, there still remains a threat of further extension and broadening of the bloody Syrian War, with Russia moving warships and planes, and the US moving a substantial military force in the region.