Thursday, November 7, 2019

A New Competition for Influence in Northeast Syria

By John Dunford 

Key Takeaway: Russia, Turkey, and the U.S. are engaged in a new competition for influence in Northeast Syria. The Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) did not withdraw thirty kilometers from the Syrian-Turkish Border by October 29 as demanded in a deal between Russia and Turkey. The YPG and its affiliates are now hedging their position by pursuing partnerships with both the U.S. and Russia. The U.S. redeployed forces to Northern Syria on October 31 and resumed its partnership with the Syrian Kurds to secure two oil fields in Hasakah Province. Russian Military Police have meanwhile conducted multiple separate patrols farther west with both Turkey and the Syrian Kurds. The U.S. and Russia have both patrolled with the Syrian Kurdish Asayish - an internal security force linked to the YPG but technically exempt from the withdrawal deal with Turkey. Turkey is unlikely to accept this technicality over the long term but it has thus far prioritized the symbolic victory of joint patrols with Russia inside Syria. The Syrian regime has meanwhile conducted its own unilateral patrols in areas where the U.S. has patrolled in Northern Syria, increasing the risk of confrontation between the U.S., Syria, Russia, and Turkey.

Click the image below to view an enlarged version of the map.