The Pentagon this week declared that 40 percent of Raqqa in Syria has been liberated. Bashar Assad’s forces are miles away from Abu Kamal, and it seems that in eight to 12 months eastern Syria will be cleared of Daesh. So what is next for the United States in Syria, especially with regard to the People’s Protection Units (YPG)?
Last week’s Aspen Security Forum was insightful in this sense, where multiple high-ranking U.S. officials made comments on the current situation. They discussed fundamental questions like are the Syrian Kurds, meaning the YPG, a friend of Washington’s?
CIA Director Mike Pompeo took a breath, sighed and avoided giving a straight answer. “It is a complicated question. I’ll leave the details. And I don’t think you can speak about the Kurds as an individual element in any event. It’s much more complex”, he said. Pompeo briefly implied that in some areas Kurds were instrumental to achieving some U.S. goals, meaning there is indeed no U.S.-YPG alliance, but rather a tactical partnership, at least for the moment.
Ambassador Stuart Jones, U.S. acting assistant secretary for Near Eastern Affairs, said it is very important for Washington not to create a political monopoly for any Kurdish movement or Kurdish political party. Instead, Washington would support a setting that welcomes the people who are living there but also not threatening to Turkey.
He said: “I think we can play a positive role by providing some stabilization, but not providing so much stabilization or reconstruction that we create winners on the ground who will then sort of run the table, in terms of establishing political primacy”.
However, the fact that the White House does not have a clear position on the Kurdish issue can negatively affect the situation in Syria.