US looking for allies to replace it in Syria, says Sen Graham

The United States is looking for allies to replace American soldiers who will be leaving Syria, Defense News quoted U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham as saying.

Speaking at the 2019 Munich Security Conference, Graham told the assembly of world leaders that the U.S. chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford, “would be coming to some of you in this room, and he will be asking for a contribution of forces to stabilize the region, post destruction of the caliphate.”

Senator Graham was in Ankara two weeks ago, where his critical remarks about the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) during public meetings were greeted with much appreciation by Turkish officials.

Graham is also remembered for his visit to the White House to discuss the sudden announcement of the U.S. withdrawal with President Donald Trump. Graham, following the lunch meeting with Trump, said U.S. allies in northeastern Syria would be protected once U.S. forces leave Syria. 

Turkey recognises the YPG as a terrorist organisation and an extension of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), an armed Kurdish militant organisation fighting against the Turkish Army that is also recognised as a terrorist organisation by the United States, the European Union and Turkey.

Graham called for a lean, joint military presence to enforce a safe zone that would protect American-backed Kurdish forces in Syria from Turkey, watch for the reemergence of ISIS and buy time for a Syria peace process in Geneva.

Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar at the same conference once more argued that the northeastern part of Syria should be controlled only by the Turkish soldiers.

During the Sochi summit yesterday, Russian President Putin and Iranian President Rouhani set their own conditions before discussing such a safe zone. 

Syria expert Joshua Landis in a podcast with Ahval stated that there is no actor involved in the Syrian conflict supporting Turkey's safe zone proposal.