Friday, June 1, 2018

Trump moves to protect ISIS, al-Qaeda enclave in Syria

Syria is preparing an offensive to regain control of the southwest of the country near the Daraa and Quneitra regions. The area is occupied by al-Qaeda and other insurgent groups associated with them, and a substantial portion is controlled by ISIS. But the US says it is opposed to the Syrian action because it would violate the de-escalation agreement made between the US, Jordan, and Russia. The administration has warned that it will take “firm and appropriate measures” if the operation is carried out — effectively putting the US squarely on the side of ISIS and al-Qaeda.
Negotiations are now underway to determine the fate of the region, with Israeli media reporting that a possible deal could include a Russian agreement to prevent the involvement of Iran and Hezbollah from any operations in return for the Israeli agreement to refrain from intervening against Syrian government attempts to take area.
However, the US warning makes clear that the administration regards the presence of ISIS, al-Qaeda, and associated forces as preferable to the Syrian state, and that it would like to maintain these in the area to prevent a Syrian advance. This is conducive with the overarching goal of keeping Syria weak and divided, of attempting to punish Russia and its allies for defeating the US-backed opposition by turning the Syrian victory into a liability.

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