Could Syria Turn Out to Be a Trump Triumph?
The Trump foreign policy is working. In fact, it’s having effects that go beyond what any of us narrow-eyed “realists” ever dreamed. We were jaded, even embittered. How? By the Candyland promises that neocons blithely made under Dubya. Then by the globalist baloney Obama served up. So most of us dreamed small. We figured that Trump’s America-First emphasis would prevent a number of evils:
- The commitment of tens of thousands of U.S. troops in foreign hellholes. (Including hapless National Guardsmen who didn’t sign on for combat duty in the desert.)
- A constant stream of dead Americans flowing back to America.
- Potemkin-democratic regimes propped up on the bottomless sand of intolerant Muslim countries by billions of U.S. dollars.
- The ongoing destruction of ancient Christian communities while American troops and our local clients looked on.
- The rise to power of intolerant Sunni or Shi’ite regimes with deep ties to terrorist groups, posing as U.S. “allies.”
None of that is happening now. And we would have settled for that. But Trump’s policies are yielding much, much more.
Trump Helps Freedom Spread
I wrote last week about the hopeful signs in Iran. There desperate citizens have responded to the rise of a U.S. regime not allied with their persecutors. The current oligarch who rules Saudi Arabia is making reformist noises. He might just cut the money that country uses to radicalize Muslim immigrants around the world. We see the beginning of a Pakistan policy that is really in line with US interests: A country that exports terrorism is simply not an American ally.
But now let’s speak of Syria. There’s concrete good news coming from that tortured country right now. President Trump’s wise and prudent policies made it possible. The Stream has run reports from our Syrian correspondent, Johannes de Jong. He’s written of the rise of the Federation of Northern Syria. That’s the region run by Kurdish militias allied with local Christians, who liberated the ISIS capital Raqqa. What de Jong reported then is still, happily true.
The region runs as a decentralized, religiously tolerant democracy. The Federation guarantees women seats in legislatures. They form armed self-defense units. Christians are armed and their churches are safe. There is no ethnic cleansing, not even of Sunni Arabs who might have feared it would happen. In fact, Sunni Arab areas form part of the Federation, and their units fight as part of the Syrian Democratic Forces.
A New Middle East?
Jason Jones and I wrote months ago that the Federation of Northern Syria ought to form the template for reconstructing all of Syria. Indeed, it would make a good model for the rest of the Middle East:
Up till now, the only alternative to thuggish, centralized nationalism of the sort practiced by Assad (and before him, Saddam Hussein) has been Islamist theocracy. Islamists like the al Qaeda factions now covet power in Syria. They also wish to impose a single creed and way of life on vibrant, diverse regions. The difference is that Islamists look to sharia as the source of all law and order. That’s bad news for religious minorities. That’s why millions of Alawites and Christians now look for protection either to Assad, or to Kurdish militias….
[What’s needed instead is] … a Swiss-style solution for Syria. Each of the regions now controlled by one faction or other would form a kind of “canton,” with most of the powers that normally go to a central state. These cantons would be linked by a loose confederation, designed to keep peace among them. (Some other Alawite, not Assad, should be its figurehead.) People unhappy in the canton where they ended up would likely vote with their feet, and move to a friendlier region.
Will the U.S. Offer Recognition to Its Kurdish and Christian Allies?
Now the Trump administration is moving in this direction. According to regional news source Ashara al-Awsat:
Washington is expected to soon take concrete steps towards diplomatically recognizing the eastern Euphrates region controlled by the Kurdish-Arab Syrian Democratic Forces, which amounts to an area of about 28,000 square kilometers, three times the size of Lebanon.
According to a senior Western official, the US administration is in the process of adopting a new strategy for Syria.
The first “concrete sign” of a change in American position in Syria, was given by US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis when he said Washington would send “diplomats” to SDF-controlled areas to work alongside the military, the official told Asharq Al-Awsat on Saturday.
Washington is also pushing for the empowerment of local councils in the post-ISIS era.
US policy is leaning towards backing reconstruction initiatives, the strengthening of public services and infrastructure, training of government agencies, in addition to protecting SDF areas and the upkeep of military bases, later leading to diplomatic recognition.
Another local source confirms the story:
Syrian Kurdish official: US is preparing to recognise Kurdish-led Democratic Federation of Northern Syria as an “alternative to [Syrian regime]” and to recognise SDF as the national army of the new entity in post-ISIS #Syria https://t.co/ePLk0dyByw
— E.R. Satlyck (@e_sklt) January 7, 2018
A Realist Third Way
What does this mean? That the U.S. has really found a “realist” third way between neocon hubris and liberal globalist masochism. We are working to transform a major Middle Eastern country. But not by occupying it. Instead, we are working carefully and respectfully with local forces that favor American interests. No big surprise, they share our understanding of fundamental freedoms.
The U.S. has really found a “realist” third way between neocon hubris and liberal globalist masochism. We are working to transform a major Middle Eastern country. But not by occupying it. Instead, we are working carefully and respectfully with local forces that favor American interests.
Moreover, they don’t treat Christians as passive victims who need protection. The Federation enables them to protect themselves. It makes them fully part of military and governance structures. Christians have their own militias and political parties. (If only the U.S. gave the same recognition and aid to Christian militias in Syria and Iraq, as The Stream has opined in the past.)
Not bad, for a president who’s allegedly unstable and unfit for office. Let’s pray for Trump’s success in this bold and constructive venture. Let the president know that you support this bid to help a tolerant, infant democracy in the Middle East.