Fool’s Errand: America’s Open-Ended Occupation of Syria
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson must recognize that regime change in Syria was a losing strategy that did not work. The same could be said about efforts to set out new US policy goals aimed at justifying what he describes as an “open-ended” deployment.
Tillerson insists instead of a “counter-terror” operation focused on ISIL, the US presence is now also intended to generally fight against Iranian influence, to facilitate refugee returns to Syria and, most scandalously, to “ensure the departure of the Assad regime.”
The US has long insisted on regime change in Syria, but never before suggested that their military deployment was anything to do with that, let alone that the US might try to impose regime change militarily. With no legal justification for the US deployment as Washington has no authorization from the Syrian government or the United Nations, re-positioning the war away from ISIL and toward a war with Damascus and its allies makes an open-ended deployment even less tenable:
Tillerson’s decision is, on some level, an admission of defeat. But it is also a concession to reality, and an acknowledgement that America’s military program in Syria was misconceived from the start. The United States cannot just keep fueling a war that has no definable end and feeding a rebel host body from which Al-Qaeda and ISIL can suck blood at any moment.
The new effort is supposed to build a new force that can apply serious enough military pressure on Syria to force President Bashar Assad to step aside as part of a negotiated political settlement. But the latter part of that objective, a compelled transition, has always been fantasy. As for the “moderate rebel force,” for the last several years much of America’s support has gone to “Free Syrian Army” factions that have functioned as battlefield auxiliaries and weapons farms for larger terrorist factions, including ISIL and Al-Qaeda affiliates.
The regime changers should take note: It’s over - America’s regime-change war on Syria is finished. And with the failed campaign behind them, it’s time to look forward. Washington has to think about how it can responsibly withdraw its occupying troops and, in real terms, actually allow the international humanitarian community save Syrian civilians and rebuild their devastated communities.
A political solution that removes President Bashar Assad is never a real possibility either. There was never any indication, at any point in the war, that the Syrian government was willing to negotiate its own demise. Now that Syria and its allies Iran, Russia and Hezbollah have defeated ISIL, it’s silly to even think about it. It falls apart when it becomes clear that America’s favorite opposition force - which is supposed to extract political concessions from Damascus – is still increasingly permeated by pro-partition extremists like Al-Qaeda and ISIL and de-linked from the civilian interlocutors with which the government is meant to compromise.
And the take-home here: The US-led war on Syria has indeed failed, most obviously. There will be more mess, in all likelihood, but the outcome is clear. ISIL, Al-Qaeda, and the sectarian Salafists the US financed and armed, are headed into history. Syria will remain intact and the peace talks Iran, Russia, and Turkey have sponsored will prevail. In effect, there will be a framework for the future structure of the state in peace with itself and its people.
At any rate, Iran, Turkey and Russia have taken an increasingly prominent role in diplomacy with Syria, and Washington’s decision to have an “open-ended presence” there or put President Assad’s fate on the back burner won’t change the outcome either. Along with the international civil society, these three nations no longer willing to tolerate American subterfuge in Syria have pushed it aside and have taken charge of a peace process Washington has never shown serious interest in cultivating.
This is what Secretary Tillerson was mumbling about in his “open-ended presence” rhetoric. US alliances with some of the world’s most reactionary despots and depraved terrorists have become a thing of the past, and their regime-change campaign has been effectively challenged. The US has to recognize that this regime-change imbroglio cannot be won militarily. The US must recognize that the open-ended occupation of Syria is also a losing strategy, a fool’s errand that flatly won’t work.
Source: Fars News