Speaking at the US military budget signing ceremony on December 12, 2017 Donald Trump said the United States destroyed the Islamic State terrorist organization in Syria and Iraq. In February 2018 Pentagon declared withdrawal from Iraq but voiced no intentions to leave Syria though.
Washington considers long-term military presence in Syria as a dramatic element of its influence in the Middle East and deterrence of Russia and Iran. Trump’s Administration took a gamble on the loyal Kurdish forces (YPG) operating in the North of Syria. This was its second try to create a puppet army in Syrian territory to use it as a land component of its forces. Pentagon publicly failed its first try. This time the American military’s activities look more effective. And cynical. The White House announced establishing of the so-called ‘Border Security Forces’ based on YPG on the Syria-Turkey border, and it couldn’t ignore the fact that this initiative would make Ankara angry. Washington, probably, sent a clear signal that it would reckon with no external actors of the Syrian crisis settlement, even the NATO allies.
It’s noted that the United States’ Kurdish strategy takes effect. The YPG fighters, well-trained and equipped with the American weapons, are a serious military power. With the help of the US military advisers and instructors their units become similar to a regular army fighting not for the money but also in an effort to establish the Kurdish autonomous region with the elements of statehood in the North of Syria. The first results of the Turkish Operation Olive Branch in Afrin region of Syria demonstrate the Kurdish forces’ operating capabilities. The Turkish military failed to significantly damage them and, moreover, sustained serious losses.
Washington avoids commenting on its support to the forces fighting against the Turkish army but there are great concerns on the self-sufficiency of the Kurds. Also the local sources say the US military supported the Kurdish forces relocation from Manbij and other areas to Afrin.
How far is the White House going to go in Syria is still an open-ended question. Looks like Washington may act like in Kosovo trying to create a puppet state seeking for autonomy and based on the Kurdish so-called North Syria Federation. Whether the Kurds benefit themselves is unknown. After all, the United States have a tradition to betray their allies.