Calls grow for pullout of all US troops from Syria

US troops patrol in the countryside of Syria's Hasakeh province near the Turkish border, on Feb 18, 2023. (PHOTO / AFP)

Syria’s rapprochement with its Arab neighbors and reduced terrorist attacks in the conflict-ridden nation bolster the case for withdrawal of United States’ troops from the country, analysts say.

They added that the US continued exploitation of Syrian resources indicates a general lack of sensitivity to a nation deprived of developing its own resources.

The US report quoted the Syrian mission to the United Nations as saying that the practices of the US and the illegal presence of its forces in parts of Syria “is an actual embodiment of the crime of aggression” 

Syrian officials are calling on US President Joe Biden’s administration to pull out American troops from the country. A Newsweek report on April 4 cited new diplomatic initiatives that are signalling a shift in the geopolitical order of the region. 

READ MORE: China asks US to end illegal occupation, plundering in Syria

Meanwhile, there are also growing calls for a political solution to the Syrian crisis.

The presence of an estimated 900 US troops has been a thorny issue with the Syrian government, which rejects the American military intervention. The US has 900 troops under a mandate to support its local counterterrorism partner, the Syrian Democratic Forces to help it defeat the ISIL – also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, IS or Daesh.

Nagapushpa Devendra, a West Asia analyst and research scholar at the University of Erfurt in Germany, noted that the US had two major objectives in Syria: one, to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “in favor of a government that is more or less pro-western”, which does not threaten the US or its allies, especially Israel; and two, the so-called eradication of terrorism.

She said now that the Gulf countries are leading the talks in bringing Syria back into the Arab fold, the US no longer has to worry about its allies and that Tel Aviv “could defend itself”.

The US report quoted the Syrian mission to the United Nations as saying that the practices of the US and the illegal presence of its forces in parts of Syria “is an actual embodiment of the crime of aggression”.

In March, Iranian international news network Press TV reported that Assad said US occupation forces have turned their military base in the Arab country’s strategic al-Tanf region near the borders with Iraq and Jordan into a bastion for terrorists. 

Assad questioned the benefits of American forces’ deployment in the desert region and accused the US of having barracks for terrorists “where tens of thousands of them and their families are accommodated”.

“Since the basic goal was accomplished and ISIS capabilities and territories under their control today are a fraction of what they used to be, Syria no longer needs US troops to provide or protect the security of its territory,” said Devendra.

“Also, wiping out terrorism from the region is not realistic unless, political, economic, social and religious grievances are completely eliminated,” she added.

According to the 10th edition of the Global Terrorism Index, which is produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace, a think tank headquartered in Australia, the Middle East and North Africa region recorded only 791 terrorism deaths in 2022.

This marked a decline of 32 percent from the previous year and the lowest number in the region since 2013, while the attacks almost halved in the year, from 1,331 in 2021 to 695 in 2022. 

“Underscoring the changing dynamics in terrorism, the region has dropped from 57 percent of global terrorism deaths in 2016 to just 12 percent in 2022. There has also been a substantial drop in suicide bombings in MENA. In 2016, suicide bombings resulted in 1,947 deaths; while in 2022, MENA recorded only six suicide bombings that killed eight people,” the report noted.

Syrian state media SANA reported on April 22 that the US occupation forces have continued to loot and plunder Syrian resources with dozens of tanks loaded with stolen oil from al-Jazeera fields taken toward Iraqi territories.

On 11 April, a convoy of 77 vehicles, including 32 tankers filled with oil were allegedly stolen from Syrian fields and 6 military armored vehicles, from the Hasaka countryside through the Al-Waleed crossing as well.

“Illegal US control over 90 percent of Syrian oil has prevented the government from financially utilizing the country’s natural resources, leading to a multi-billion-dollar loss. This piracy is part and parcel of the imperialist destabilization of Bashar-al Assad’s administration, which has been facing draconian Western sanctions and military strikes from both the US and Israel,” Jawaid Iqbal, chairman of the Department of West Asian and North African Studies at Aligarh Muslim University in India, told China Daily.

Ahmad Ghouri, Senior Lecturer in Commercial Law, School of Law, Politics and Sociology at the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom, noted that the UN Environment Programme suggested that in the last 60 years, at least 40 percent of all intrastate conflicts have a link to natural resources. 

READ MORE: UN envoy urges political progress to resolve Syrian crisis

Since 1990, he said, at least 18 violent conflicts have been fueled by the exploitation of natural resources, whether high-value resources like timber, diamonds, gold, minerals and oil, or scarce ones like fertile land and water. 

“With the continued presence of US armed forces in Syria, the conflict in Syria has become one of such conflicts where the US is undoubtedly an occupying power,” said Ghouri.

“It is likely that the presence of foreign military powers will only aggravate this situation which will contribute to keep Syria unstable. Rather, the US and other major powers must play an active role in addressing the country’s grievances and reviving stability,” said Devendra from the University of Erfurt.