Abdulrahman Al-Rashed
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad.

US Enters Syrian Conflict

A Syria army of 30,000 soldiers is being built east of Euphrates, bordering southern Turkey and northern Iraq. Half of the army consists of Syrian Kurds, while the other half is of locals from the Arab region and other regions.

The United States is the head of this new project and the new player that has finally decided to get involved in the Syrian war through supporting local opposition groups and working in the field, in order to impose its view of what a political solution could be in Syria.

Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper was the first to notice the accelerating field changes and described them as a project for the birth of a new Syria.

Indeed, this is an important development established on a strong power, but it won't be a state in the legal sense. Dividing states and building a new state is a complex and dangerous political, legal and military process. Not to forget that there almost is an international consensus to reject such project, which was the issue of Iraq's Kurds and their dream of forming their own state in a region fully controlled by them.

The project to build a region in Syrian eastern Euphrates is less than a state, yet more than a protectorate.

In his recent testimony before the Congress, acting Assistant US Secretary of State for Near East Affairs, David Satterfield said the project would constitute a new model in Syria. Satterfield stated that the project appears to be with many ambitious goals involving the efforts of diplomats, intelligence officers and military commanders.

This time, US surprised everyone by showing that it could come up with new ideas, build a project from scratch and maintain it secrecy. Under the pretenses of fighting ISIS in eastern and southern Syria, US will gradually increased its forces and experts to around 5,000, more than half of which were in the eastern Syrian Euphrates. It was in charge of gathering and training a large force of 30,000 Syrians whose first victory was defeating ISIS in Raqqa.

The first opposing reaction to US' idea did not come from Damascus regime or Iran, as was expected, but from Turkey that announced it would not remain silent about this and that it would go into war with armed Syrian Kurds. Ankara considers Syrian Kurds as an extension of the “terrorist and separatist” Turkish Kurds.

Everyone is waiting Turkish ground forces' first battle in Afrin in the next few days.

Turkey's suspicious position toward any Kurdish armed force on its border is justified and understandable, but its reluctance to confront Iran in Syria created a vacuum prompting the creation of an alternative force for this task.

Countries involved in the conflict recognized Turkey's weak point and succeeded in benefiting from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's pragmatic policies, who seemed ready to cooperate and compromise with any party that would support its conflict with the Kurds.

This is what the Iranians did, and then Russians, so Ankara rushed to them in exchange of ending their support for the Kurds. US officials may feel that they need to send the same message to Ankara. However, there is a more important US message to the Iranian regime that Syria would be Iran’s Vietnam.

The new Syrian power might be the best option for a reasonable peace in Syria, not Sochi's peace that was planned by the Russians and Iranians, in order to impose a solution by force. Iran wants a peace that allows it to occupy Syria and impose its influence on Lebanon and Iraq which eventually could provide it with a high negotiating power in its regional issues and its relations with the West.

Iran is in a race against time. It attempts to control areas Russia had already agreed to leave under the civilian opposition's control. A member of the opposition delegation, Yasser al-Farhan spoke about the agreement and how Iran violated it.

“Maps were clearly drawn showing that the regime will not enter these areas, and that it would be managed by local councils with no heavy weapons, while the light weapons will remain with security and civilian defense forces to serve the local population,” said Farhan.

Farhan added: “The agreement states that Iranian militias can't enter, neither can the regime forces, rather, a limited group of Russian forces would only be allowed as monitoring forces at three checkpoints to ensure the implementation of the agreement. Behind the line dividing the two sides, Turkish troops would be deployed.”

As we see, Iranian militias did not respect the agreement, Russia did not force them to respect it, nor did the Turkish forces intervene.

This Iranian activity proves that Sochi talks can't be trusted, which makes the existence of a parallel force a necessity in light of the regional race for the control of Syria.