Gulf States Are Not Equipped To Help In Syria

Al-Bayan, UAE, April 20

When U.S. President Donald Trump announced a few weeks ago his plan to withdraw all American forces from Syria, he made sure to note that if “other countries” want to spend money on governing the country, they are free to do so. Political commentators assumed that Trump was talking about Russia and Iran and that this so-called “invitation” to enter the Syrian quagmire was more of a ploy than anything else: namely, an attempt to remind Moscow and Tehran just how costly an armed intervention in another country can be. Trump understands this reality very well given that Washington has spent trillions of dollars on its military operations in the Middle East since its invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Now, political experts contended, it was time for Russia to carry the brunt of the burden. But a few weeks after Trump’s announcement we suddenly learned what the president was really referring to. Following a series of visits by Gulf leaders to the White House, Trump announced his expectation that Arab countries—like Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt—step up to the plate and help in Syria. This proposal seems ridiculous at best. Syria has been controlled by Russia, a global superpower which can only be counter-balanced by a player of similar caliber such as the United States. In addition, as the Syrian war enters its 8th year, it is almost impossible to imagine any outside party intervening at this stage. The sad reality is that Trump is not really interested in seeing another power fill the vacuum that would be left by the United States in Syria. He also isn’t concerned with the suffering of the Syrian people. If the White House really wanted to withdraw from and allow a new player to take its place, it would have conducted a closely-coordinated, gradual transfer of power to a new Arab army. Or, at the very least, it would have equipped Syrian opposition forces with weapons to enable them to survive. –Razzy Duhman 

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