Who benefits from the US withdrawal from Syria?
There is no doubt that US President Donald Trump’s statement about withdrawing from Syria shocked not only his allies but even some of his top administration officials — Secretary of Defense James Mattis, for example. The decision naturally made others happy, especially Tehran and its terrorist militias.
Trump stated that the presence of US troops in Syria was only to counter Daesh, that after its defeat there was no need to stay in the country any longer, and that he wanted others to complete the fight against terrorism.
The decision to withdraw can be interpreted in two ways. First, Trump considered that the danger and terrorist threat in Syria came only from Daesh. This is puzzling when you look at the policy that was followed on the ground. His administration’s counterterrorism policy had been more comprehensive and effective because it correctly recognized the root of the terrorism: The Iranian regime and its militias.
Trump’s administration began with a big step in the right direction in the fight against terrorism, withdrawing from the disgraceful Iran nuclear deal and then imposing tough sanctions on the Iranian regime and many entities and senior figures linked to it. Second, in November the Trump administration imposed sanctions on the export of Iranian oil, but eight countries were given different kinds of waivers.
Whoever seeks to curb Tehran and its malign actions should eradicate its militias. That would leave Iran unable to stir up more proxy wars in the region and to threaten the stability of other countries.
Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri
Putting economic pressure on Tehran and curbing its nuclear ambitions are very important. But what about its destructive projects carried out through the use of terrorist militias in the region?
Turning a blind eye to them in Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq and Syria means that Tehran is allowed to accomplish its projects, and that there is a breeding ground for Daesh and others to be companions and supporters of the presence of Iran and its terrorist militias. Iran and Daesh feed off each other. They have a common hidden agenda, seeming to indicate that they are not in agreement when in fact they are.
Forming an international coalition against Iran’s militias is needed. Not doing so would raise many questions and uncertainties for regional allies of the US. Action is demanded if we are serious about countering all types of terrorist militias, since we are familiar with the malicious activities of Iran and its militias even before Daesh’s appearance.
Whoever seeks to curb Tehran and its malign actions should eradicate its militias. That would leave Iran unable to stir up more proxy wars in the region and to threaten the stability of other countries. The war on terror will be worthless if it is not waged against those militias. If that happens it will increase trust between allies, but if it does not happen trust will decrease.
It was during the Obama administration that the region was left to Iran. This means we must remind our ally, the US, of its mistake in handing Iraq to Iran, and that it should not make a similar mistake by handing Syria to Iran.
- Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri is a political analyst and international relations scholar. Twitter: @DrHamsheri