Analysis: What’s behind American Sanction Waivers for Kurdish-held Syrian Regions?

Analysis: What’s behind American Sanction Waivers for Kurdish-held Syrian Regions?

While the Syrian social-political situation in recent years, especially since the early 2022, has begun transition to calm, the US still takes actions to keep Damascus away from a final solution to the over-decade-long crisis.

AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA): While the Syrian social-political situation in recent years, especially since the early 2022, has begun transition to calm, the US still takes actions to keep Damascus away from a final solution to the over-decade-long crisis. 

In the latest anti-Syrian move by the White House, Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland on May 11 and at the meeting of the so-called international anti-ISIS coalition hosted by Morocco vowed to grant investment permit in northeastern Syria, namely areas controlled by Kurdish militias allied to the US. 

The decision comes as since the eruption of the crisis in Syria, Washington imposed on Damascus a great deal of sanctions. The face of all sanctions is Caesar Act that on January 2019 banned dealing with Syria altogether. 

Now, Washington looks inclined to lift part of this choking sanction, however. But this raises a question: What is Washington's aim behind issuing investment waivers to the northeastern parts? 

Details of the plan and the reactions: According to Nuland, the objective behind the investment waivers in the northeast is helping to accelerate reconstruction process in areas once held by the ISIS terrorists. According to the American sources, this permit only covers farming and reconstruction but not oil industry. It is noteworthy that the plan covers both areas held by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and areas held by the Turkish-backed armed groups. 

As it was expected, the move drew strong-toned reaction from Damascus government. In a statement published on May 14, the Syrian foreign ministry said that the US and Western assistance to the terrorist groups in northeastern and northwestern Syria is what destroyed the Syrian economic potentials and helped loot sources and products like cotton, oil, wheat, and archeological sites. The statement asserted that Syria is ready to foil this plot and all the forces behind it. 

In addition to Syria, the neighboring Turkey, which itself occupies parts of northern Syria under the excuse of activities of its adversary the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in these areas, voiced its opposition. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey on May 14 held that Ankara does not approve of exemptions to the Kurdish-controlled regions. 

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavusoglu was another top Turkish official to respond, saying during a press conference with his counterpart Christophe Lutundula Apala of Democratic Republic of Congo that this is a step "legitimizing the YPG terrorist group." 

The US goals 

Using Syrian Kurds to advance plans to undermine Damascus: A look at the US policy in Syria post-2011 and the Kurds' place in this policy leads us to the conclusion that the Americans have no long-term plan for the Syrian Kurds. Since 2014 that the US started its intervention in Syria, Washington used the Syrian Kurds as infantry to its operations and even there were speculations that the Americans plan Syria partitioning. But after eight years, it seems that the split plan has failed and the only remaining goal is undermining the central government. 

Seizing economic opportunities in the last days of Syria crisis 

Although Washington has explicitly mentioned the agricultural and urban sectors as its target in the plan to exempt the northeastern and northwestern western regions of Syria from the "Caesar" sanctions, the reality is that the US government, as in all past years, seeks, in any crisis, profits for the American companies. Actually, in accordance with the principle of the Shock Doctrine, Washington seeks to maximize the economic exploitation of the Syrian Kurdish forces' oil revenues in periodic strategy. From another perspective, having in mind that Turkey has ruled out the possibility of exporting oil produced in northeastern regions of Syria, it seems that the Americans are looking for an opportunity to take advantage of the existing economic opportunity under the pretext of investing in the agriculture sector. 

Playing with Kurdish card in West Asia equations: The Americans have repeatedly taken advantage of the Kurdish card to advance their policies in West Asia. Meanwhile, the interesting reality is that Washington has never counted them its strategic allies, rather, for the Americans, the Kurds are simply a pressure card securing some regional goals. The Kurds sooner than later would see the American betrayal of them repeated in Syria, many agree. In the new conditions, too, these sub-national actors are expected to come out losers of the American game. The promise of facilitation of investment at present is more a pressure instrument to draw flexibility from Turkey to the American demands than a real support to the Kurdish-majority regions.



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