Why is the US deploying its troops now, when the Syrian army is close to winning its war against radicalism, asks Middle-East expert Catherine Shakdam, while noting that US interventions have never been successful in fighting terrorism in any way.
Damascus has not given the US troops permission to be in Syria, President Bashar Assad said. “Any foreign troops coming to Syria without our invitation or consultation or permission, they are invaders, whether they are American, Turkish, or any other one,” he said in an interview with Chinese PHOENIX TV, as cited by the Syria’s state-run news agency, SANA.
The Pentagon confirmed earlier that it has sent a small number of US troops to the Aleppo governorate’s city of Manbij, saying they are there to deter conflict between US-backed Kurdish forces and rebels backed by Turkey.
According to Middle-East expert Catherine Shakdam, the deployment is “a violation of international law.”
“Whenever a country infringes on another’s national and territorial sovereignty, then you have a problem. I would argue that having foreign military presence in Syria without consultation with Damascus and an expressed approval of President Bashar Assad, who remains the legitimate source of power in Syria, [is] an act of war,” she told RT. “You can’t have those situations where the likes of Washington continue to intervene against the wishes of nations just because they feel that they can,” she added.
The US had repeatedly insisted it would put no boots on the ground in Syria, but has now reneged on that promise, Shakdam said, noting that “this is what they do.” The timing of Washington’s decision to deploy additional troops raises a few questions that need to be asked, she says.
“Why now, why this military presence in Syria when the Syrian army is just about getting rid of ISIS [Islamic State, formerly ISIL] permanently, when the Syrian Arab Army with its partners – Hezbollah, Iran, and Russia – is just about winning this war against radicalism? Why does the US need to intervene right now when the Syrians can do it by themselves, thank you very much, if it’s not to actually muddy the water and actually offer some kind of a cover by creating a vacuum to the likes of ISIS and other militants on the ground?”
It also remains to be seen whether the relatively small number of American troops in Syria, which currently amount to about 900, is going to help in the fight against Islamic State, the expert said. “I don’t think that anywhere the US has intervened, it has helped in any way, shape, or form in terms of fighting terrorism,” Shakdam added.
Shakdam also drew a parallel between the US intervention in Syria and the Saudi-led war in Yemen. “It’s very strange how the architecture of the new intervention in Syria is shaping up in a way which reminds me of the Saudi coalition against Yemen,” she said.
The analyst argues that, by “running into this war theatre,” the US is playing into the hands of Riyadh, which doesn’t want Assad to remain in power “and would like to impose its reality on the ground in the Levant in general.”
Catherine Shakdam is a political analyst, writer and commentator for the Middle East with a special focus on radical movements and Yemen. A regular pundit on RT and other networks her work has appeared in major publications: MintPress, the Foreign Policy Journal, Mehr News and many others. Director of Programs at the Shafaqna Institute for Middle Eastern Studies, Catherine is also the co-founder of Veritas Consulting. She is the author of Arabia’s Rising – Under The Banner Of The First Imam