The Syrian Kurds are facing decisive months. If US President Trump put his announcement into action to pull the American soldiers out of Syria, they would find themselves between the Turkish hammer and the anvil of the Syrian regime. Ankara and Damascus pursue similar goals: preventing Kurdish autonomy. Turkey continues. She wants to end the rule of the Kurdish PYD and their national defense units YPG final, as it fears their connection to the PKK. On the other hand, the Syrian regime may allow a Kurdish self-government on a small flame.
Turkish lip service
Both are not in American interest. For Turkey, despite its lip service, has so far not meant the fight against Islamist jihadists very seriously. Otherwise, the terrorist militia Haiat Tahrir al-Sham, attributed to Al Qaeda, would not have conquered large parts of Idlib province in the past few days, for which Turkey has assumed responsibility. Without the Kurdish ground forces, however, the triumph of the so-called “Islamic state” could not have been stopped, and the IS is still not defeated. In Syria and Iraq, his fighters are waiting for a return.
Nor would it be in the American interest for the Kurds to call on the Syrian regime for defense against Turkey. Then Washington would have actively contributed to the regime, which has become even more brutal than prior to 2011, regaining control of almost all of Syria.
Trump’s advisers have recognized this. Therefore, National Security Advisor John Bolton has demanded Turkish security guarantees for the Syrian Kurds as a condition for an American withdrawal. If Trump keeps the withdrawal of ground troops, the US could still protect the Syrian Kurds, as they had protected the Iraqi Kurds from Saddam Hussein in 1991, which eventually led to their autonomy.
Possible political profits of Russia
Washington has not yet specified the withdrawal plans – there is no timetable and no information on how Bolton’s protection for the Kurds can be achieved. If they did not exist, the Kurds would presumably bow to the lesser evil: an alliance with Damascus. One unknown is Russia, which can garner only one of two possible political gains: Either to the Arab world a gain in credibility, because it protects the territorial integrity of Syria. Or a point win over Turkey with the aim of tying Ankara closer and deepening the gap between Ankara and Washington. The war in Syria will not get easier.