Strategic Syria between the US withdrawal and the Turkish attack

Strategic Syria between the US withdrawal and the Turkish attack

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Researcher Shatha Khalil *

Translated by : mudhaffar al-kusairi

Petroleum and natural gas are the most important natural resources of Syria, followed by phosphate, rock salt, plaster and asphalt and there are some important resources that are used as raw materials in industry such as pottery and sand , as well as in construction work , such as limestone , basalt , manganese , lead, cooper, uranium and mineral materials such as sulfur , talc and rock silk (asbestos). It is very rich
in natural, human and cultural wealth.
Most of Syria’s main oil assets are in the north-east under the control of Kurds , and further exploration could lead to the discovery of offshore gas reserves, given the presence of giant deposits in the Mediterranean waters in the far south near Egypt, Israel and Cyprus.
This explains ( the conflict over Syria) because of its multiple riches and being the key to the region and for the Russians and Iranians as an extension to the Mediterranean, the conflict over Syria is explained by its multiple riches and being a key to the region, not only in the geopolitical field, but also in economic terms through Russian interest in the gas discoveries on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean that arrived at Gazprom Com. to sign contracts of partnership to invest Israeli gas fields , and it seems there are signs of Moscow’s concerns about Syrian and Lebanese fields on the coast extended from Iskenderun to Gaza.
Russia is an ally of Syria, because of Russia’s economic interest in Syria , its control over the Syrian port of Tartus on Mediterranean , where Russia maintains a strategic naval base that can be used to direct military force to the threshold of Europe.
Moscow has a big obsession that cutting Europe off Russian gas, which now supplies one-third of its needs, and replacing it with Gulf gas that arrives more quickly and cheaply across the Syrian coast, or through pipelines from the Gulf via Jordan, Syria and Turkey to European territory, would put Russia in a vulnerable position before the West making it unable to control the nerve of the European economy, which is already preparing and is planning trends towards cutting or reducing Russian gas imports.
By helping Russia to the Syrian regime to restore almost all the positions held by Syrian rebels, Russia has emerged as a major force in Syria, and some of Trump’s political allies oppose a US withdrawal in Syria for fear it would be in the interests of Russia and Iran.
As for the risk of (US withdrawal from Syria) , Trump justified the withdrawal and defended his decision to withdraw US troops from the Syrian border with Turkey
“I don’t think our soldiers should be there in the next 50 years to protect the border between Turkey and Syria when we can’t protect our borders at home,” he said, referring to the US border with Mexico.
The US withdrawal from Syria is now a reckless step. Despite Trump’s hesitation, the United States has a major role to play in preventing ISIS from re-emerging, confronting Iranian expansionism, and making sure the country does not sink into a state of endless war.
As the Iraqi experience shows, the withdrawals leave a vacuum that expansionist colonists can fill in several ways to take advantage to fill the security vacuum, create terrorist movements and take on the role of savior, as they did in Iraq, where Iran took advantage of the vacuum left by the withdrawal of US soldiers in 2011.
That move had a major impact on Iranian control in Syria, because Iraq was an important transit point that supplied the Assad regime with a large quantity of weapons and tens of thousands of sectarian militia elements who now became the most dominant force on the ground and then created the terrorist ISIS group in 2014.
The partial US withdrawal is an opportunity for Russia in two ways: First, it will push the Kurds to head toward the Syrian regime, with the confusion of local cards.
Second, the precedent for a US withdrawal could be replicated elsewhere, and Moscow believes that putting pressure on the United States will do what it wants as Turkey has done.

In fact, a few hours after the withdrawal of US troops, Russian forces asked the American forces in the city of Manbij to evacuate their positions from the city, in preparation for the entry of Syrian regime forces.
The Syrian Civil War Map project, through its map, pointed to the presence of military movements by Russian and Syrian regime forces towards Manbij.
It is not ruled out that the Russians take advantage of the exposure of the back of Kurdish forces to launch an attack targeting the southern Kurdish areas from the city of Tabqa southwest of the province of Raqqa and other areas in Deir Ez-zor.
Trump’s statements that the United States has borne many costs, coinciding with his demand for regional and international countries to shoulder their responsibilities, these remarks indicate that the US withdrawal will not be limited in the near future to just two points, but may go beyond to a full withdrawal from the Syrian geography.
The Syrian civil war is no longer a matter of the Syrian people, it is now the battleground for the future of the regional order in the Middle East and the balance of power that accompanies it.

The objectives of the Turkish attack in Syria :
Erdogan said in the UN General Assembly on September 24 that he “intends to eliminate the terrorist structure of the PKK and YPG and establish a corridor for peace.”
Erdogan is seeking to build 10 districts and 140 villages in this region to house at least one million Syrian refugees residing in Turkey.
But Senator Lindsey Graham, an ally of President Trump, called the US move “a disaster” while the UN humanitarian coordinator said it was “preparing for the worst.”
Republicans and Trump’s allies criticized him , when he was threatening Turkey in a tweet that he would destroy the Turkish economy altogether if the latter made an “unacceptable” move.

The former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton wrote in a tweet: “The president has sided with the authoritarian authorities in Turkey and Russia at the expense of our loyal allies and the American interest, and this decision is a despicable betrayal of the Kurds and the oath that he did.”

“If we are to be supported by our allies, we should support them equally,” said former US ambassador to the UN Nikki Healy. The SDF played an active role in our successful war against ISIS in Syria, leaving them to face death a big mistake. ”

The economic motivation for the Turkish intervention in Syria is that the Turks want to make their lands the crossroads of the Gulf oil and gas pipelines, in addition to the gas pipelines and oil of the Caucasus and the former Soviet Central Asia, to be a conduit for Turkey to the European continent, and this is probably the reason for their heavy involvement in the Syrian conflict in addition to their dream of making Damascus and Sham Sharif a key to the region resembles the Marj Dabiq in 1516 to make Istanbul once again the leader of the Sunni Muslim world.
Iran’s expansionist ambitions in Syria and Iraq are building an Iranian gas pipeline that extends to the Syrian coast through Iraqi territory.
This heavy involvement of the Russians and Iranians in the Syrian conflict also has preventive defenses on the economic front : with Iran’s continued threat to close the Strait of Hormuz, with Yemen, Somalia, and piracy unrest, and with the Suez Canal’s inability of giant oil and gas tankers to cross via it , there are signs that there are The five Gulf states (except Oman, of course) are thinking of making the Syrian coast a pipeline as a crossroad for Gulf oil and gas pipelines, and a port for Gulf goods to import and export .It seems that the economic cost is lower than sea routes if trains and trucks are used, and it is also faster.
The Russians and Iranians want to prevent this by fixing their word in Syria through the ongoing conflict in and on Syrian soil.

Implications of the attack on the Turkish economy:
There must be repercussions for the Turkish attack on its economy, especially after Trump threatened to wipe out the Turkish economy;
US congressional leaders have threatened sanctions that hurt the lira and reinforce Turkey’s mistrust of Western allies.
Turkey’s currency, which suffered a crisis a year ago partly because of US sanctions and tariffs, reached its lowest level in nearly four months after US troops withdrew from northeastern Syria and Ankara ordered attacks against Kurdish forces there.

The lira has stabilized in recent months and inflation has fallen, a sign that Turkey’s economy of $ 766 billion, the largest in the Middle East, has moved away from its worst decline in nearly 20 years.
Risks include rising deficits, borrowing costs, and a slowdown in tourism if the Turkish military engages in the process for a long time, but the biggest threat, which investors say Turkish assets do not take into account, is a new insistence on top US Republicans to punish Turkey for attacking Syrian Kurds. They are Washington’s key allies in its fight against ISIS.

A few days ago, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a staunch defender of President Donald Trump, joined another Democratic senator in unveiling a framework for sanctions, while sticking to criticism of the president’s decision to withdraw US troops.
Graham’s proposal will target assets owned by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other senior officials, and impose restrictions on the issuance of visas, and penalties for anyone carrying out military dealings with Turkey or supporting energy production.
Turkey could also face broader sanctions under the Graham plan in light of its purchase of Russia’s S-400 missile defense system this year despite strong objections from Washington.

Ulrich Loichtmann, head of currency research at Commerzbank in Frankfurt, said further sanctions would “completely change Turkey’s economic image and we will have to take into account the possibility of a new recession with the position of fragile economy after the 2018 crisis.”
It was unclear whether Congress would support Graham’s sanctions or whether he would get a two-thirds majority vote needed to overcome any opposition from Trump, whom Erdogan has a good working relationship and talked to before withdrawing US troops.
It was also unclear whether Trump would back sanctions after he said earlier this week the United States would “wipe out” Turkey’s economy if it did anything “beyond the border” in Syria without specifying what it meant.

Economic Studies Unit
Rawabet Center for Research and Strategic Studies