Arab forces to replace Americans in Syria "unrealistic"

Li Jiayao

by Hummam Sheikh Ali

DAMASCUS, April 30 (Xinhua) -- The recent U.S. proposal for creating Arab forces to replace the U.S. troops in Syria was "unrealistic," said analysts.

The U.S. idea is rather an attempt to gain more financial support from the Gulf states, in order to pay for the expenses of the U.S. army who is expected to stay longer in Syria, analysts have argued.


Since taking office, U.S. President Donald Trump has showcased himself as a successful businessman, who aims to apply his experience in business to the presidency of the United States and repeatedly voiced his unwillingness to pay out than getting paid.

Before his presidency, Trump called Saudi Arabia a "milk cow," while during his candidacy time, he said that he wanted to make safe zones in Syria and "get the Gulf States, who are not doing much."

"Believe me, the Gulf States have nothing but money I am gonna get them to pay," he said.

In March, U.S. newspaper The Washington Post said Trump wanted to get U.S. out of Syria and asked the Saudi King for 4 billion U.S. dollars, adding that the money is to help rebuild and stabilize the parts of Syria the U.S. military and its allies liberated from the Islamic State (IS).

"We spent 7 trillion U.S. dollars in the Middle East. And you know what we have for it? Nothing," said the U.S. president.

In an interview with the Time magazine, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said "if you (U.S.) take those troops out from eastern Syria, you will lose that checkpoint," referring to the supply route that could be empowered between Iran, Syria and Lebanon.

In the same month, reports from the United States said Trump had focused ahead of the visit of the Saudi Crown Prince on the tens of billions of dollars in arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

On April 4, the New York Times said that Trump had dropped his push for an immediate withdrawal from Syria. It is estimated that 2,000 U.S. soldiers are present in Syria in areas controlled by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Analysts believed that finishing off IS seems like the ostensible goal for the U.S. military presence in Syria, but the far goal is to prevent the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from expanding its control over Syria territories and to also thwart any Iranian expansion through Syria to Lebanon's Hezbollah as that would pose a risk on Israel.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration floated the idea of sending Arab troops to replace the American ones in Syria and Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir reportedly said his country was ready to send troops.

Haitham Hassoun, a Syrian political analyst, told Xinhua that the "United States, through proposing to send Arab troops to Syria, aims to embezzle money from the Gulf states and to also reshape the militant groups in the northeastern part of Syria."


Hassoun said the topic is unrealistic and cannot be applied because the concerned Arab countries are unable to do so and will not be capable of directly confronting the Syrian army and its allies.

Hmaidi Abdullah, another analyst, told Xinhua that the concerned Arab countries cannot send troops because "they are busy with their internal issues."

"Saudi Arabia, for instance, has a priority of winning the war in Yemen and this proposal is a test balloon by the U.S. to justify its withdrawal from Syria, which seems to be a serious thought," he said.

He added that the U.S. knows that if it didn't withdraw from Syria, it would have to confront the Syrian army at some point and would have to deal with "popular resistance from the government side, Iran and other allies and that could have a negative impact the U.S. isn't willing to endure."

For his part, Emad Naddaf, a political analyst, said the Arab countries should think of political solution to the Syrian crisis and bridge the gap between the conflicting parties instead of sending troops to Syria, which would further complicate the situation in the country.

Other analysts believed that the U.S. wants to put the Arab countries, mainly the rich ones, in front of two options: either pay more to have the U.S. troops in Syria or come to fill the void and risk becoming in a direct confrontation with Iran.


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