The Syrian Backdrop As Battleground

When Obama pulled out of Iraq after being handed a win by team Bush, the political concerns that drove Obama’s decision paved the way for a surge that became the Islamic State.  That process of strategic defeat by absconding from commitments abroad may seal team Trump’s fate if his geopolitical instincts aren’t informed by realities in Mesopotamia.

Iraq is fomenting nationalist sentiments.  This is astonishing given the depth of is Shia population and Iranian subterfuge to subvert Iraq.  A year ago most U.S. strategists thought Iraq gone.  With May 15 elections arriving, we’ve got a reboot.  How can team Trump solidify gains favorable to the Iraqi’s and Kurds.

Regionally, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s cohorts have been identified and killed by special operators throughout the Euphrates.  This weakened caliphate has ambitions with a cohesive global network outside Syria and Iraq.  All of this changed when Turkey launched operation ‘Olive Branch‘ in northern Syria in January.  Ankara’s aim was to defeat the linkage of YUP (Kurdish People’s Protection Units) with PKK (designated Kurdish terrorist group.)  The Kurdish abandonment of U.S. objectives in the assistance of Afrin has revealed a startling insight; namely the limits of US regional war proxies.  With multiplying and competing geopolitical agendas, the US presence in eastern Syria is scaled back.  We’re now witnessing increased operational tempo of al-Qaeda affiliates in provinces of eastern Syria and western Iraq that were defeated.

al-Qaeda affiliates are growing in Yemen, Libya, Philippines, West Africa, the Sinai, Somalia and most of the African Horn (trans-Sahel).

This ain’t over.  We cannot disengage.  There will be no ‘Mission Accomplished‘ for the long war.  We reform and deliver a win or they come for us.



About William Holland

Systematic Theologian/International Relations
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