What to do with what little influence we still have in and around Syria?

Neocons have been bewailing the fact that we have lost influence recently in Syria, with the Russians lining up the Turks and Iranians in what is essentially a coalition to save Assad, and us on the outside looking in. We have a few friends left, mainly with the Kurds, and maybe we still have some assets in Baghdad, but we’ve been downgraded and are no longer major players. I suspect that my former associates in NEA in State are formulating complex plans that are being ignored at the political level. No harm joining them for old time’s sake.

There’s no need to bewail our exclusion. It’s good for us to be on the outside of the fishbowl for a change. Maybe for once we’ll try using our brains instead of our muscle.

The key issue for us is how far we are willing to annoy the Turks by helping the Kurds. The next question of course is which Kurds, the KDP in Iraq and/or the YPG in Syria. The Turks have a modus vivendi with Erbil at the moment and are fixated on the YPG so probably we should support the KDP to some limited extent, the Syria bunch less visibly or not at all. The Turks should know, and will anyway, that we can up the ante with the Kurds in Iraq and play a stronger game in Syria, or not, depending among other things on whether they loosen up on their own Kurds, which they know we want them to do.

It’s all very tricky and won’t work at all if we play that game in the open. But if Trump wants a deal, that’s probably the best approach.

Meanwhile we do best by seeming to do least. I know that goes against neocon doctrine but it’s just the way it is. Let the American media look elsewhere in the world for their front page news and ‘insights’.

Carl Coon

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