Does the US have a plan for Syria?

The differences separating Turkey and the US on Syria became clear on Tuesday with US National Security Advisor Bolton's trip to Ankara. The US has postponed its announced troop withdrawal and Bolten demanded security guarantees for the Syrian Kurdish militia YPG, which Ankara is combatting as a terrorist organisation. Commentators reflect on Washington's goals in Syria.

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The Times (GB) /

Don't leave the Kurds in the lurch

It would be a serious mistake to leave the Kurds unprotected in Syria, The Times explains:

“It will send a devastating signal to America's allies everywhere. The US is telling the Kurds to stand fast and trust in Washington's ability to hold back Ankara. But with Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish president, facing local council elections in March, the betting is that he will be impatient to land a crowd-pleasing blow on Kurdish guerillas. … The US presence ... should have a strategic purpose, by being clearly linked to eliminating any chance of an Isis revival. The Kurds have lost many thousands of soldiers in this endeavour. They deserve better.”

Yeni Şafak (TR) /

Washington wants a buffer zone to contain Turkey

Bolton's insistence on cooperation with Syrian-Kurdish forces reveals once again the US's true objectives in the Middle East, writes İbrahim Karagül, editor-in-chief of the pro-government daily Yeni Şafak:

“The Syria War was started with just this end in mind. Not to liberate the Syrian people from Assad's regime, but to set up a buffer zone spanning hundred of kilometres between Turkey and the Arab world. ... For that reason Turkey has no choice but to invade [the Kurdish-controlled area] east of the Euphrates. ... In so doing Turkey will give the right answer to its enemies in the region and the 'invaders from within'.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Chaos with serious repercussions

Trump's dithering on Syria will have major repercussions, the Süddeutsche Zeitung comments:

“Many governments wonder whether they'll be the next to be hit by one of Washington's farcical about-faces. Israel and Saudi Arabia, America's closest allies, are cosying up to the Kremlin. Iran is taking part in joint manoeuvres with Russia. And the IS has gone underground, following al-Qaeda's successful example in Iraq. All this runs counter to the interests of both the US and Europe. The risk that the IS will reorganise is growing, as is the danger of a regional war against Iran; meanwhile Lebanon has begun to totter ominously. And in any case, peace and stability won't come to Syria without a comprehensive political solution supported by Moscow and Washington, Riyadh, Tehran and Ankara.”

Sabah (TR) /

Bolton will prevent a deal with Ankara

US Security Advisor John Bolton is in Ankara today to discuss the situation in Syria. The pro-government daily Sabah suspects that he will play for time on the subject of withdrawing troops:

“Even if Trump wants the withdrawal, his team will do everything in its power to make it difficult. So we expect these negotiations to be very arduous. Bolton will make things difficult. ... He'll go into details about how the withdrawal won't be easy. ... He'll bring up the topic of the IS, ask about the Russians. In short, he'll want to negotiate every single aspect. He'll make the issue more and more diffuse because he wants the negotiations to reach an impasse.”

Tygodnik Powszechny (PL) /

How Trump could actually help

As an experienced businessman Trump could advise Russia on Syria's reconstruction, Tygodnik Powszechny points out:

“What's emerging is a state of castes, in which Alevis, Shiites and Christians are above the Sunnis, and in which the government can only feed on corruption and nepotism. ... For peace to reign in such a situation, the government needs money. Russia doesn't want to pay for Syria's reconstruction, yet its position as the strategic player in Syria will cost billions of roubles in the coming years. At least on that score, Trump could actually help Syria for the first time. Although he's turned out to be a worse strategist than Putin, as an experienced businessman he could now remind him: subsidising unsuccessful projects normally ends in a flop.”