U.S. withdrawal from Northwest Syria will give Turkey more legitimacy

Turkey is expected to welcome the U.S. governments decision to withdraw all assistance from Northwest Syria, CBSN reported.

The decision, which shows the Trump administration’s intent to exit the country after the Islamic State (ISIS) is defeated, involves cutting off U.S. backed efforts to strengthen and stabilise the region, including countering violent extremism, supporting civil society and independent media, strengthening education, and advocating for community policing.

The Northwest Syria, which has been completely cleared of ISIS, includes Idlib, which is under the control of rebel forces and hosts 3 million displaced Syrians. The region also includes Afrin, which was seized in March by Turkish Armed Forces and the Free Syrian Army after a two month military campaign against the Kurdish militia, which Turkey recognises as an extension of Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), an armed group which has been fighting inside Turkey since 1984.

According to the Astana agreement signed by Russia, Turkey, and Iran in Sep. 2017 to set up a new de-escalation zone in Idlib, Turkey has been establishing observation points to monitor the cease-fire in the region. 

Turkey will use the U.S. government’s decision to strengthen its legitimacy in the region, according to Bassam Barabandi, a former Syrian diplomat and co-founder of People Demand Change, an advocacy group. "Turkey already exists in Northern Syria, where it has started to do its own humanitarian aid and honestly they will be very happy if the Americans stop everything. They will be in charge of everything, they can get more money from the EU and they will have more say politically," he told CBSN.