Syria – we shall see

  • Clues to why President Trump’s decision to pull US forces out of Syria makes sense.
  • The regional players interests explained from an Israeli-American perspective.
  • Possible future scenarios.
French artillery has conducted 34 fire missions against ISIS targets in the Hajin area Syria in during the past week (19 – 25 December).

Shock is the appropriate word to describe president Trump’s sudden announcement that he was ordering all US forces out of Syria.

There are few public figures who eagerly support the move and it has me scratching my head as well. His defence secretary resigned over it and other close foreign policy advisors are quiet and we are told, not very happy. We don’t know what will develop there when the forces leave but I have been thinking…

The US has succeeded in crushing ISIS, which was their stated mission. There is no power in the area that can threaten US interests. At the same time, there are significant local powers who will not tolerate an ISIS come back. I refer specifically to Shia Iran and to Syria backed by Russia. Also, Turkey, though Sunni, like iSIS, was not an ally of the Caliphate and will not tolerate an ideologically fanatic, independent, out of control movement on its doorstep. Since the “Arab spring” and the ongoing breakup of the traditional Arab states throughout the region, there is no regional power capable of picking up all the cards in what was Syria and Iraq. They are far too busy with day to day survival for immediate expansionist dreams.

Iran has its own dreams of a Shiite crescent rising from Iran, through Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. The Shia regional power is now in internal confusion as US sanctions bite hard even as they struggle to evade it.

The price of oil (their only real export) is very low and falling.

They have taken serious military losses over their years of intervention in Syria and Iraq causing unrest at home.

Turkey would like to regain their Ottoman era prestige and power. Turkey sees itself as the rightful regional superpower and leader of the Sunni world. Iran does too. They will not let each other realize their dreams without a fight.

Trump’s alleged phone call to Turkey’s leader, telling him,” it’s all yours” would mean that he sees no danger to US interests in having Turkey keep things quiet there and keep his enemies, Iran and ISIS out. If Turkey fails at this task, the US military has a very long arm.

Also, let us not forget that Russia overshadows everything going on in Syria.

The US is apparently satisfied with the way things are going in the region and can ( for now) disengage but can always influence events militarily – using it’s regional forces, as it has been demonstrated on numerous occasions.

The United States has indeed the longest and most effective military arm in the world and is always on call.

As long as Russia does not allow Iran to position itself on Israel’s border, Israel wouldn’t care too much who is fighting whom in the chaotic areas that were once Syria and Iraq.

Israel should pray for the success of all of the protagonists. Russia’s decision to allow an Iranian foothold on Israel’s border has more to do with US diplomatic/military demands of Russia than upon what Israel may do. The ones who will most certainly be adversely affected by the US pullout are the Kurds. They will be strangled by Turkey and Iran no doubt. The Kurds are helplessly divided and ridden by internal divisions. They have been selling their oil to Assad even as the US has been imposing sanctions on the murderous regime. Not a very comradely act. Trump has apparently decided that the US is not obligated to protect Kurds with American blood and treasure.

As Trump often says, “we shall see”.


Shalom Pollack is a published writer, tour guide and lecturer. He was born in New York City but made aliyah to Israel in 1977.  He has done military service in the Israeli Navy reserve anti-terrorist and has worked as a licensed tour guide in Israel since 1980.  Shalom is a contributing journalist for various publications. He is also an activist in Israel politics. He says: “I love and guide in every part of our magic land. Besides the obvious history, archaeology and landscapes, I always make the very palpable connection between the past, present and future in this small but unique land. God’s presence should be felt here by all who visit. If it is not, then the guide has not done his job properly.” Shalom blogs and can be reached at http://shalompollacktours.com

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