Feb 15 2018

U.S. Syria options: withdraw or weaken alliance with Turkey - analyst

All the external actors in Syria are at a “strategic dead end”, Atlantic Council senior fellow Aaron Stein wrote, and the United States has no good options left.

“The first, of course, is status quo,” Stein said, referring to a maintenance of the U.S. commitment to the majority-Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and continued attempts to manage its relationship with Turkey while Russia seeks to undermine it.

“This approach would sacrifice the relationship with Turkey for the twin goals of defeating ISIS and putting pressure on Iran,” he said.

Another option would be to declare victory over the Islamic State (ISIS) and withdraw from Syria, Stein said, leaving Turkey and the YPG to their dispute.

A third option would be to work together with Russia to freeze Turkey out of Syria, he said.

“The U.S. would have to acquiesce to Assad remaining in power, or at least a coherent transition where Assad’s interests (and therefore, Moscow’s position in Damascus) is retained,” he said.

This, Stein said, would at least defuse Turkey’s anger between two different states.