The US President Barack Obama’s doctrine in the region was based on setting in motion proxy wars and directly supporting the regional allies engaged in the ISIS-fueled crisis. But this policy became problematic because the forces with which Washington worked as allies were either the radical Islamists in Syria or those who at the same time were also close allies of Iran and Russia in Iraq. The conditions went so uncertain that President Obama in his address in early 2015 admitted that the US had no specific strategy to confront the terrorists of ISIS.
Additionally, the Russian military intervention in Syria in late September 2015 added to the need for the US to review its foreign policy for better dealing with the West Asian crises. Since then, the theorists of the US foreign policy have called for introducing a clear plan for presence in anti-ISIS front and to save the US sway in the region.
After this call, the first- and perhaps the most significant- move was to form the Syrian Democratic Forces in November 2015. In the beginning of establishment of the military organization, comprised of the Kurdish as well as Arab units, only very few people thought that Washington in the future would use it to pursue its policies and improve its weakened status in West Asia.
The fact is that the US officials are now following the policy of giving support to the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) – both of them Kurdish forces- and the Peshmerga forces of Iraq’s Kurdistan region, in a bid to save face in the region through exercising influence in the two crisis centers in the region, namely Syria and Iraq. A clear proof for this US approach is observable in the liberation operation of Raqqa, ISIS stronghold in Syria, in which the US forces for the first time took part actively. Adopting this approach emphasizes that Washington has come up with the notion that it should not allow the future of West Asia go under Moscow’s administration.
During the past week, the Russian officials offered cooperation with the US in its anti-ISIS battle for liberation of Raqqa. However, the Americans firmly reject Moscow’s offer. Actually, the US, as the most important member of the NATO, is not interested in direct military cooperation with Russia, the major rival to the Western military organization. Because on the one hand it has its own specific commitments to the members of NATO and on the other had it holds particular considerations about its ally in the region Turkey. Both of these factors hold White House back from any collaboration with Kremlin.
From a different perspective, it can be suggested that the US, through fueling the tensions between Moscow and Ankara and also resisting Turkey’s demands for recognition of the Kurdish forces as terrorist groups, is seeking impairment of the Russian and Turkish positions in the region, all for the final aim of firming up its position as a key power in West Asia.
Furthermore, the US foreign policy, by decision to back the Kurdish forces in Iraq and Syria, intends to strengthen its place in the region and rebuild its status internationally.
The Kurds in two aspects could effectively serve this White House strategy: first, after emergence of ISIS, the Kurdish forces presented themselves as rational forces, showing no tendency to ethnic and Islamist radicalism to massacre their adversaries. So, the US in the future would easily justify its helps to them. For example, the US backing to the rebel group Free Syrian Army in the initial years of Syria’s crisis produced the terrorist groups like al-Nusra Front, Ahrar ash-Sham, Jaysh al-Islam and an array of other radical groups. But so far there were no cases of human rights violations and killing of the civilians in the areas where the Kurdish Democratic Union Party or the Kurdistan region’s Peshmerga forces are in control. Second, the Kurdish forces enjoy good reputation in the eyes of the world public opinion, as they are mostly referred to by the Western media as guardians of freedom and democracy. Thereby, the US’ supports for them and engaging in Raqqa liberation operation just next to them appears to be a smart attitude of which the US leaders take advantage to boost their position and prestige in West Asia.