India’s BJP drubbed in two key state polls :Shock withdrawal of US troops from Syria | Sunday Observer

India’s BJP drubbed in two key state polls :Shock withdrawal of US troops from Syria

 The announcement by the White House seems to have been done without any prior consultation with relevant stakeholders such as the Pentagon, the US Congress and even Washington’s military allies in NATO, some of whom have supported the US role 

American President Donald Trump’s sudden announcement that the US was pulling out most of the 2,000 combat troops currently positioned in Syria, not only caught the world by surprise but shocked the Syrian Kurdish forces and many other militant groups in Syria who have been dependent on US support. His announcement also resulted in the prompt resignation of Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis.

In Palestine on Friday, four civilian protesters, one just 16 years, died in the tiny, overcrowded, Gaza Strip during the now weekly protest demonstration against Israel’s illegal settlement program and the decades-long economic blockade against Gaza. This is 39th consecutive Friday of protests.

And, in India, the Bharathiya Janatha Party (BJP) of Prime Minister Narendra Modi lost governing control of three major States in the Northern, Hindi-speaking belt which is the pro-Hindu, pro-Hindi BJP’s political heartland.

During a week which saw more revelations hinting increasingly at Trump’s possible criminality, the American President took even his own Defense establishment by surprise with his sudden announcement about the Syria troop withdrawal. The announcement by the White House seems to have been done without any prior consultation with relevant stakeholders such as the Pentagon, the US Congress and even Washington’s military allies in NATO, some of whom have supported the US role in Syria and elsewhere.

Most directly affected by this sudden military move are the Syrian rebel groups, especially the Syrian Kurdish forces who have long been campaigning for their own free country. These diverse rebel groups were mainly dependent on US military supplies, combat training and operational guidance.

The Kurdish forces, who were the main force that dislodged the Islamic State (Da-esh) from its ‘capital’ city of Raqqa, northern Syria, are part of a larger Kurdish movement based in Turkey, northern Iraq, and northern Syria, and committed to building their own Nation-State. On hearing about the sudden White House announcement, These groups were quick to point out that the Da-esh has to be fully defeated and that they needed continued operational and aerial back-up in order to sustain their operations.

While IS/Da-esh has regularly shown its ability to go into hiding, stockpile weaponry and undertake guerrilla strikes on cities and vital targets, it has not been able to withstand heavy artillery bombardments and aerial bombing by the US.

Many analysts are still puzzled by this sudden and seemingly drastic move that goes against the US’ basic military-strategic interests and long term goals. Not only will the withdrawal leave a gap in the Western powers’ continued interventions in Syria – (interventions aimed at toppling the Syrian President Basher Al Assad’s government)- it will also, again, send a signal that Washington can no longer be trusted to stand by her old friends and allies.

Such a weakening of the anti-Assad alliance will certainly be to the advantage of Damascus and also Russia which has long used Syria as a naval and air force re-supply base to enable sustained military operations in the otherwise distant Mediterranean Sea. The withdrawal of American support to the Kurds is expected to enable Ankara to move into the now Kurd-held northern region of Syria and push back the Syrian Kurds from Turkey’s long and porous land border nearby.

Trump’s unheralded announcement has outraged the US Defense establishment and also the entire US Congress, both institutions being long steeped in the doctrine of US world dominance. The US presence in West Asia was also seen as a kind of reassurance of its support for key regional ally, Israel.

Commentators harshly criticised Trump for failing to keep flying the American flag and speculated whether this highly controversial move was no more than a stunt, by a Trump under siege from criminal probes against him and his family.

Defence Secretary (Cabinet minister) Jim Mattis, a retired Army general and war veteran, resigned from his post the very next day citing difficulty in agreeing with Trump on policy matters. Senior members of the US Senate and House of Representatives from both parties have already voiced their criticism and are likely to pass a resolution that could block Trump from fully implementing the withdrawal. Not to be outdone, Trump subsequently announced that he was thinking of pulling US troops out of Afghanistan as well- where Washington has been fighting against Sunni Muslim fascist insurgents for over thirty years – the longest war ever fought by America.

In the rest of the world, however, except for America’s close allies, most countries are likely to approve of the US military withdrawal since it will help reduce tensions overall in the region. West Asia analysts welcomed the withdrawal as one that would help de-escalate tensions in the region.

Meanwhile, India’s ruling BJP suffered its worst electoral losses in years after being dislodged from governing power in state elections held last week in the states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh. The rival Congress Party and its allies who have taken power in these states are now crowing about their surprise victory over the seemingly un-defeatable BJP. But most analysts warn that the defeat at State level may not necessarily translate into a BJP defeat in next year’s general elections. Still, there is the possibility of the Opposition parties gaining even slightly from this electoral trend.

In battered, besieged Palestine, the deaths of more civilians including a youth, means that this year too, Christmas will be sadder than normal – the ‘normal’ being the forcible occupation of their country by Israel and the displacement of an entire indigenous population for the last seventy years.

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