The US’s operation in Syria

It was announced last week that American special forces recently carried out a military operation in Syria to kill one of the leading figures of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Thanks to the operation, we now know that the US is perfectly informed about the whereabouts of ISIL leaders. Second, the US has demonstrated that it can carry out ground operations against the Islamist organization if it wants to. Washington has also proven by this unilateral operation that it has no intention of cooperating with the Damascus regime, not even to fight against a common enemy.

The senior ISIL commander in question was Abu Sayyaf, a key figure in the organization. It is said that he was responsible for the organization’s black market sales of oil and gas to raise funds. So, it seems the US is determined to limit the organization’s financial capacity. American officials have said that President Barack Obama personally ordered the operation, which had been planned several weeks previously.

One shouldn’t expect ISIL to disappear just because a number of key figures have been killed. Attacking the organization is a message, however, to those countries who were hoping to use ISIL in their strategic plans. The attack followed a summit Obama held at Camp David last week with the leaders of the Gulf States and Secretary of State John Kerry’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. After the meeting, Kerry came to Turkey and participated in an important NATO event as well. So, all this diplomatic activity was probably not in vain.

By attacking ISIL, Obama wants to prevent the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Iran from using the organization’s presence as an excuse for their actions. The US certainly discussed it thoroughly with Russia. The developments tell us that Washington and Moscow have probably come to an agreement on how to deal with the problems in Syria and Iraq.

American officials said the US forces liberated a young Yazidi woman during the operation. The woman appears to have been held as a slave by Abu Sayyaf and his wife. The latter was also suspected of playing an important role within ISIL. So, the US is not only interested in ISIL’s military activities but also in its internal political balances.

It is interesting that the Damascus regime’s aircraft are violating Turkish air space frequently these days. One wonders whether these acts are part of a plan to pull Turkey deeper into the Syrian conflict. Maybe this plan hasn’t been elaborated directly by the Assad regime. At a time when the US is directly getting involved in the Syrian crisis, is someone trying to make things more complicated by provoking Turkey?

This somehow reminds me of what happened during the civil war in the former Yugoslavia during the 1990s. First, European countries thought they were able to resolve the crisis by themselves and rejected NATO cooperation. The countries involved backed different ethnic and religious groups there and the conflict continued for many years. Finally, in 1995, the US decided to put an end to the conflict. Then, the Kosovo crisis erupted and, as a result, Serbia lost this province. As a response to that, Russia occupied several regions of Georgia in order to prevent the country from joining NATO. A similar equation exists nowadays too, but the battlefield is Syria and Ukraine.

The US and Russia are just trying to draw the map of their respective zones of influence. If they reach some sort of understanding on that, they will no longer need third parties in this game. So we won’t have to look elsewhere than Washington or Moscow to understand what will happen in Syria and Iraq.

It is perhaps time, therefore, for these third parties to come to a clear decision because it will no longer be possible to play double games.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman