Author: Abdel Bari Atwan
The American and Russian parties are exchanging accusations about violating the truce in Syria and the agreements over a political settlement. Each side is saying that it has “had enough.” However, the one sure thing is that the Islamic State has actually had enough now that it lost two strategic cities in less than a week: The city of Fallujah in Iraq and the strategic city of Manbij near Aleppo…
The continuous “victories” achieved by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) under an American cover in the Aleppo area and another Russian [cover] in Raqqa…have turned the SDF into the most important figure in the military equation on the Syrian lands. This means that these forces – the backbone of which is formed by the Kurds – will constitute an equivalent force to the Arab Syrian army and perhaps even a competitor in the near future. For the time being, these forces’ mission is well defined and known since it consists of fighting the Islamic State and ending its control over main regions in East and North Syria under a joint American and Russian support by air and land. But the urgent question concerns these forces’ future roles and missions in Syria and the entire region in the context of what is being said on some scenarios that are being prepared in the closed secret rooms.
In this context, two important matters must be considered: First, dissolving these forces at the conclusion of their missions seems unlikely if not completely out of question. This brings another question on their role in the future and the reward they will obtain from the two major forces [i.e. America and Russia] after completing their mission. We believe it is likely that these Syrian Democratic Forces will actually become the official army of any Kurdish entity that the two major countries are planning on establishing along the northern Syrian borders near Turkey.
We have reached this conclusion because of the extent of armament and training as well as the gradual marginalization that Turkey is suffering from concerning the Syrian file including the political and military aspects in addition to the expansion of this same marginalization case to Turkey’s Arab partners such as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Qatar… The Syrian Democratic Forces’ control over the Syrian-Turkish borders and the main passageways there represents one of the most important developments in the file of the Syrian crisis since it was first detonated in early 2011. Indeed, these passageways represented the main artery of life for the Syrian armed opposition and the radical Islamic groups, which obtained money and arms through these passageways…
The fall of the city of Manbij following the attack carried out by the Syrian Democratic Forces under the American and French air and land covers represents an important turning point in the course of the Syrian crisis. This might pave the way for two main directions: first, proceeding with the political process and the negotiations based on the Russian-American agreements at the end of the summer and beginning of the fall and with new players; and second, coming up with a road map for the “federalization” or sectarian and ethnic partitioning of Syria and perhaps even also the entire region thus forming the borders of the new Kurdish state with the Syrian Democratic Forces at its heart. Indeed, the armies will be making the countries in the Middle East area and not vice versa.
Will this plan work and will it proceed in the sketched direction without any obstacles? The possibilities of a success seem greater than the possibilities of failure according to the present indicators. We say this with a lot of pain because we oppose partitioning and dismantlement. But the map of alliances and the facts on the ground have changed so much over the past five years. Who could have expected that the Syrian army and state will resist for all these years and that organizations will collapse such as the National Council, the National Coalition, the Friends of Syria, and Nabil al-Arabi’s League whose knights, the Arab foreign ministers, completely disappeared from the scene for many reasons? The changes will proceed and become more numerous. The one constant thing for now is the “Syrian state” regardless of its form, power, and structure.