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Conflict between Palestine and Israel: Religio-Political Perspective

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Authors: Asfandiyar Khan and Areeja Syed

Palestine is a disputed territory between Palestine and Israel. The West Bank and Gaza has been a disputed territory throughout history. It still is today. The Arab-Israeli conflict is a contest over a particular territory. The parties to this conflict are mainly Palestinian Arabs and Israeli Jews, and the territory is called Palestine by Arabs and Eretz Yisrael (the land of Israel) by Jews. The West Bank and Gaza is disputed territory in the eyes of great powers Washington, New York, London, Cairo and other capital cities of the Middle East and Europe, and in the hearts and minds of Israelis and Palestinians, as well as Jews and Muslims around the world. The dispute between Israel and Palestine have also been considered a very massive contest in the world’s Media among historians and scholars. The conflict between Palestine and Israel is very intense, and it have very little chances that it will end in the near future. It will not end until there is an agreement, not only on today’s contested issues but also by all sides on the need to recognize and acknowledge the wrongs and injuries inflicted by each on the other.

The disputed territory have been interpreted by Israeli and Palestinian differently. Zionist interpretation: many Jews have a particular interpretation of their history and the place they call Eretz Yisrael (the land of Israel). This is often called a Zionist view because Zionism was the ideology of those who promoted the state of Israel in the 1948 and have supported it since. The central idea of Zionism is that Jews have a historical birthright to Israel as a homeland or state. This historical claim is based in part on a narrative of continuous Jewish entitlement to the region over the past 4000 years, and in part on a religious tradition in which the God of the ancient Israelites- and the same God worshipped by Christians and Muslims-promised the land (which they believe included modern Israel) to Moses and his descendants, the Jews. Zionist [1] narratives and beliefs portray the reestablishment of a Jewish state in the ancient homeland of Israel as a heroic epic, involving great sacrifice and hardships, against overwhelming bitter European and Arabs. Palestinian Arabs also have an interpretation of their history and the territory they call as Palestine. It is very different from that of the Zionists. They believe that they are descendants of the original inhabitants of the region, and that Palestine is theirs by birthright. They regard the Jews who have arrived in the past century are unwelcome intruders. They believe they have been engaged in an equally heroic attempt to resist the takeover of their homeland, first by Zionists and later by Israelis, to create an independent Palestinian state against overwhelming belligerent powers (European, Israeli and American Zionist) (Hill, 2005).                                                   

The modern boundaries of Palestine and the other Arab states were established by the British and their allies after World War I. Palestine is a small region on the east coast of the Mediterranean sea, measuring approximately 230 kilo-meters north-south and extending inland to the east between 51 and 117 kilometers (Hill, 2005). The term “Palestine” for the time before 1948, refers to the area west of the River Jorden, extending south from the borders of Syria and Lebanon to the Gulf of Aqaba, the Sinai and the Egyptian border. Palestine, with a total area of about 27000 square kilometers, would fit into New South Wales (with an area of 800640 square kilometers) about thirty times (Hill, 2005). Palestine have different cities but the most important and sacred city is Jerusalem, One city, three faiths (Armstrong, 1997). British religious scholar Armstrong has

 Written a provocative, splendid historical portrait of Jerusalem that will reward those seeking to fathom a strife-torn city. Jerusalem has been a central to the experience and “sacred geography” of Jews, Muslims, and Christians and thus has led to deadly struggles for the dominance (Armstrong, 1993).

 The most secular Israelis and Palestinians pointed out that the Jerusalem was “holy “to their people. The Palestinian even called the city al-Quds, “the Holy, “though the Israelis scornfully waved this aside, pointing out that Jerusalem had been a holy city for Jews first, and that it had never been as important to the Muslims as Mecca and Medina (Armstrong, 1999). Palestinians claim that there is absolutely no archaeological evidence for the Jewish kingdom founded by King David and that no trace of Solomon’s Temple has been found. The kingdom of Israel is not mentioned in any contemporary text but only in the Bible. It is quite likely, therefore, that it is merely a “myth.” Israelis have also discounted the story of the Prophet Muhammad’s ascent to heaven from the Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem- a myth that lies at the heart of the Muslim devotion to al-Quds-as demonstrably absurd. One of the earliest and most ubiquitous symbols of the divine has been a place. People have sensed the sacred in mountains, groves, cities, and temples. When they have walked into these places, they have felt that they have entered a different dimension, separate from but compatible with the physical world they normally inhabit. For the Jews, Christians, and Muslims, Jerusalem has been such a symbol of the divine. This is not something that happens automatically. Once a place has been experienced as sacred in some way and has proved capable of giving people access to the divine, worshippers have devoted a great deal of  creative energy to helping others to cultivate this sense of transcendence. Jerusalem turned out to be one of those locations that “worked “for Jews, Christians, and Muslims because it did seem to introduce them to the divine.

Palestine have strategic importance to the western world: Palestine is not only a geographical place with shifting and imprecise boundaries: it has political, strategic, and culture significance as well, and is why the rest of world is also interested in this conflict. To the protagonists in the Arab –Israel conflict, Palestine /Israel represents a homeland and is the repository of their history and culture. To the rest of the world, Palestine is located at the crossroads of three continents: Europe, Africa, and Asia. Developments from the mid-nineteenth century and throughout the twentieth, such as the building of the Suez Canal, World War I and world war  II, the discovery and the use of the oil reserves of the Middle East, as well as the establishment of the first Jewish state in two thousand years and the subsequent conflict, highlighted its strategic importance. Palestine/Israel is also the home of the three monotheistic religions-Judaism, Christianity and Islam. For all these reasons, the area has been the site of innumerable wars over the centuries (Hill, 2005). Jewish immigrants to Palestine from the late nineteenth century on ‘knew’ the landscape from their knowledge of Hebrew/Jewish history and religious tradition, but most did not see the Arab population or acknowledge the impact they had made on the landscape. Thus, in ‘making the desert bloom’, Jewish settlers destroyed existing, ancient olive groves tended by Palestinian farmers because they were ‘unseen. They created a new landscape of farming settlements very different from those they found, but to do so they destroyed the existing one. For their part Palestinians refused to see or accept the Jewish settlers and their transformation of the landscape. They were determined to resist any changes-even beneficial ones- and destroy the landscape created by the intruders. The first contests in the Arab-Israeli conflict were over the changing shape of the landscape. The military combat of 1948 that resulted in the establishment of Israel was, therefore, inevitable.

The current Arab-Israeli conflict had its origins in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. During that period a number of Jews from Russia and Eastern Europe began arriving in Palestine. These Jews called themselves Zionists and they came with the view of settling on the land and building, or as they saw it ‘rebuilding’, a Jewish homeland in Palestine. They purchased land, built farming communities and established a new town, Tel Aviv, on the coast near Jaffa. The local Arab population looked on these developments with alarm regarding the arrival of the Zionist and the growth of Jewish settlements as a threat to their own economic, culture and national future. They tried to prevent the sale of land to the new immigrants, formed anti-Zionist groups and in some cases physically attacked Jewish settlements. Both sides disagree about almost all aspects of what happened in Palestine (and why) during the period from the first arrival of Zionist groups in the 1880s to the outbreak of World War I. Since 1948, the physical boundaries of Israel/Palestine have changed a number of times as the result of wars and treaties. In addition, Israel has ‘redrawn’ the map of the area within its own boundaries erasing many Palestinian/Arab landmarks, renaming and replacing them with Israeli towns and historical markers. Israelis have reshaped and made Israel their own. In so doing they have denied Palestinians their experience and their ‘signposts’ of memory.

More than 400 Arab villages were demolished and depopulated, after over 700000 Palestinians fled during the war of 1948 (Hill, 2005). Before 1948, Palestinians had a thriving urban culture as well as village life, and more than one-third of the population lived in sixteen substantial towns and cities. There was a flourishing, affluent, Palestinian middle class in Palestine before 1948. Much of the tension between Jews and Muslims in Palestine/Israel has historical centred on the occupation and use of the land, which is holy to both religions. It is no accident that Jerusalem and its future are the core of the conflict. AS the site of the first and second Temples, the focus of the Jewish worship, Jerusalem is the holy city for Jews and Palestine/Israel is dotted with Jewish sacred sites. Jerusalem is holy for Muslims as the site of the al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock, from where Muhammad briefly ascended to heaven, symbolizing to Muslims the beginning of their journey to God. It is clear that the historic and current landscape is far more important to people than it might at first seem, and any changes that occur produce violent reactions unless handled with great care and understanding by both sides.

Statement of the problem:

The most significant factor shaping the attitudes and actions of Arabs and Jews to each other, and the contested space, is differ religious traditions of Islam and Judaism respectively. Despite the fact that both are monotheistic religions that believe in the same one, God (Hill, 2005). Islam and Judaism are not only religious faiths of the present, they are religions with a history. Each has shaped the world and transformed entire civilizations as well as influenced each other. The main problem between Jews and Muslims is politics: religions is using as a tool to achieve the national interest of country. By the sixteenth century, attacks by Christian’s armies on the Islamic world had transformed Muslim attitudes toward Christians and Jews, who were seen as Christian’s allies. During the nineteenth century, the British and French found Jews to be attractive agents for their commercial and colonial activities in the Ottoman Empire. Jewish-Muslim conflicted increased in the Arab state as Jews were seen as foreign and instruments of colonial designs. It’s means that western powers have also a great role in the conflict between Israel and Palestinian Arabs. The creation of Israel in 1948 became a focal point for Muslim-Jewish relations, which had steadily deteriorated since the end of World War I.

[1] Zionism is Israel’s national ideology. Zionists believe Judaism is a nationality as well as a religion, and that Jews deserve their own state in their ancestral homeland. OR- Zionism is the national movement of the Jewish people that supports the re-establishment of a Jewish homeland in the territory defined as the historic land of Israel (roughly corresponding to Canaan, the holy land or the region of Palestine).

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Middle East

UAE-Israel relations risk being built on questionable assumptions

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A year of diplomatic relations between the United Arab Emirates and Israel has proven to be mutually beneficial. The question is whether the assumptions underlying the UAE’s initiative that led three other Arab countries to also formalise their relations with the Jewish state will prove to be correct in the medium and long term.

UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed laid out the strategic assumptions underlying his establishment of diplomatic relations, as well as its timing, in a conversation with Joel C. Rosenberg, an American-Israeli evangelical author and activist, 18 months before the announcement.

Mr. Rosenberg’s recounting of that conversation in a just-published book, Enemies and Allies: An Unforgettable Journey inside the Fast-Moving & Immensely Turbulent Modern Middle East, constitutes a rare first-hand public account of the Emirati leader’s thinking.

Mr. Rosenberg’s reporting on his conversation with Prince Mohammed is largely paraphrased by the author rather than backed up with quotes. The UAE’s interest in building good relations with American Evangelicals as part of its effort to garner soft power in the United States and project itself as an icon of religious tolerance, and Mr. Rosenberg’s willingness to serve that purpose, add credibility to the author’s disclosures.

Mr. Rosenberg’s reporting, wittingly or unwittingly, has laid bare the potential longer-term fragility of the relationship that is evident in Prince Mohammed’s timing for the UAE’s recognition of Israel as well as the assumptions on which the Emirates has argued that relations would contribute to a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

What emerges is that the UAE and Israel have a geopolitical interest in cooperating to contain Iran and militias in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen that are associated with the Islamic republic. They also reap economic benefit from the formalisation of a relationship that has long existed de facto.

When it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, however, the implication is that public support for the relationship could prove to be fickle even though comment on social media in a country that tightly polices freedom of expression was dominated by supporters of the Emirati government.

Prominent Emirati political analyst Abdulkhaleq Abdulla described the public backing as “a show of support for the government rather than a show of support for ‘normalization’ (with Israel) as such.” Mr. Abdulla was speaking in May as Israeli warplanes bombarded the Gaza Strip in a conflict, sparked by protests in East Jerusalem, with Hamas, the Islamist group that governs the territory.

He noted that “no matter what your national priorities are at the moment or regional priorities are at the moment, when stuff like this happens, the Palestinian issue comes back and hits you.”

It was this sensitivity that persuaded Prince Mohammed that the door would close on establishing diplomatic relations with Israel without a solution to the Palestinian problem if then Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu were to go ahead with his plans to annex parts of the West Bank occupied by Israel during the 1967 Middle East war.

“The only way to stop Netanyahu from grabbing what the Emiratis saw as Palestinian land was to go full Godfather and make Bibi an offer he couldn’t refuse,” Mr. Rosenberg wrote referring to Mr. Netanyahu by his nickname.

A proposal by the Trump administration that the UAE and other Arab states sign a non-aggression and non-belligerency pact with Israel without establishing diplomatic relations with the Jewish state gave Prince Mohammed the opening to push his plan.

“MbZ was open to the idea, but he now realized it would not be enough to pull Netanyahu away from his desire to annex large swaths of the West Bank. The only way to get what he wanted, MBZ recognized, was to give Netanyahu what he wanted most – full peace, full recognition, full normalization. But MbZ would have to move fast” to pre-empt the Israeli prime minister Mr. Rosenberg summarised, referring to Prince Mohammed by his initials.

Quoting then Emirati minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, rather than Prince Mohammed, Mr. Rosenberg regurgitates hopes publicly expressed by Emirati officials that the establishment of diplomatic relations would reinvigorate moribund Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

The establishment of diplomatic relations promised to be “a 360-degree success, one that goes beyond trade and investment,” Mr. Rosenberg quoted Mr. Gargash as saying.

Emirati economy minister Abdulla Bin Touq said the UAE hoped to boost trade with Israel to US$1 trillion over the next decade. Emirati officials were further banking on the fact that strong cultural and people-to-people ties – absent in Israel’s initial peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan in the 1980s and 1990s – would put flesh on a skeleton of Arab-Israeli relations and ensure that Israel refrains from acts like annexation that would upset the apple cart.

Mr. Netanyahu’s successor, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, has put those hopes to bed. He has unequivocally rejected the notion of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel, refused to negotiate peace with the Palestinians during his term, and suggested that the improvement of social and economic conditions would satisfy Palestinian aspirations.

That could prove to be a risky bet given a shift to the right in Israeli public opinion, the growing influence of conservative religious segments of society, and the fact that some 600,000 Israelis who populate settlements built on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem make a two-state solution de facto impossible. That would leave a one-state solution as the only solution.

For that to work, Palestinians would have to buy into Mr. Bennett’s approach that is informed by the concept of “shrinking the conflict” that seeks to marginalise the Palestinian problem, put forward by Micah Goodman, an Israeli academic who chose to build a home in a West Bank settlement.

“Twenty per cent of Israelis are on the extremes, for either withdrawing from the territories or annexing them,” Mr. Goodman says. “The remaining 80 percent who don’t want to rule over the territories or relinquish them don’t have a way to talk about the conflict, so they just don’t think about it. Which is the tragedy of the Israeli center.”

Shrinking the conflict, rather than solving it, is what Mr. Goodman calls “replacing indifference with pragmatism.” He suggests that initiatives such as the creation of corridors between Palestinian enclaves on the West Bank and a border crossing to Jordan “up to the level that the Palestinians feel they are ruling themselves, without the capacity to threaten Israel” would tempt Palestinians to buy into his concept. Mr. Goodman’s plan would ensure, in his words, that Palestinians “don’t get anything like the right of return, a state or Jerusalem.”

Prince Mohammed appears, based on Mr. Rosenberg’s account of his conversations with the UAE leader and other Emirati officials, to have adopted the approach.  

“MbZ believed that by breaking the mould and making peace with Israel without giving the Palestinian leadership veto over his freedom of movement, he could open the door for other Arab countries to see the benefits and follow suit,” Mr. Rosenberg wrote.

Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco were quick to follow the UAE’s example. Some 300 Iraqi tribal and religious leaders, activists and former military officers called last week for diplomatic relations with Israel in a gathering in the Iraqi Kurdish city of Erbil.

“Just as we demand that Iraq achieve federalism domestically, we demand that Iraq join the Abraham Accords internationally. We call for full diplomatic relations with Israel and a new policy of mutual development and prosperity,” said Wisam Al-Hardan, a spokesman for the group and onetime tribal militia leader that aligned with the United States to fight al-Qaeda in 2005.

Mr. Rosenberg noted that “as more Arab states normalized relations with Israel, MbZ and his team believed it could create the conditions under which the Palestinians could finally say yes to a comprehensive peace plan of their own with Israel.”

That may prove to be over-optimistic. Addressing the United Nations General Assembly this week, President Mahmoud Abbas warned that the Palestine Authority would withdraw its recognition of Israel and press charges against Israel in the International Criminal Court if Israel did not withdraw in the next year from the West Bank and East Jerusalem and lift the 14-year-long blockade of the Gaza Strip.

The assumption underlying Prince Mohammed’s hopes that Palestinians as well as Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon for that matter, would ultimately fall into line, creates a false equation between most Arab states and those bordering on Israel or under Israeli occupation.

Most Arab states like the UAE have existential issues with Israel that need to be resolved, which makes public opinion the potentially largest constraint on recognition of the Jewish state. There is no doubt that for Palestinians the issue is nothing but existential. The same is true for Jordan that has historic connections to the West Bank and whose population is more than half of Palestinian descent.

Similarly, Lebanon and Syria host large numbers of Palestinian refugees. Syria, moreover, has its own issues with Israel given the latter’s occupation of the Golan Heights since 1967.

Improving the social and economic conditions of the Palestinians are unlikely to satisfy their minimal needs or those of Israel’s immediate neighbours. Not to mention what the accelerated prospect of a de facto one-state solution to the Palestinian problem would mean for an Israel confronted with the choice of being a democratic state in which Palestinians could emerge as a majority or a Jewish state that sheds its democratic character and claim to be inclusive towards its citizens.

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Syria: 10 years of war has left at least 350,000 dead

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A decade of war in Syria has left more 350,200 people dead, High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet told the Human Rights Council on Friday, noting that this total was an “under-count of the actual number of killings”.

These are a result of a war that spiralled out of the 2011 uprising against President Bashar al-Assad’s rule.

Based on the “rigorous work” of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), she said that the tally, which includes civilians and combatants, is based on “strict methodology” requiring the deceased’s full name, the date of death, and location of the body.

People behind the numbers

In the first official update on the death toll since 2014, Ms. Bachelet informed the Council that more than one in 13 of those who died due to conflict, was a woman – 26,727 in all – and almost one in 13 was a child – a grim total of 27,126 young lives lost.

The Governorate of Aleppo saw the greatest number of documented killings, with 51,731 named individuals.

Other heavy death tolls were recorded in Rural Damascus, 47,483; Homs, 40,986; Idlib, 33,271; Hama, 31,993; and Tartus, 31,369.

Behind each recorded death was a human being, born free and equal, in dignity and rights”, reminded the High Commissioner.

“We must always make victims’ stories visible, both individually and collectively, because the injustice and horror of each of these deaths should compel us to action.”

More accountability needed

Her office, OHCHR, is processing information on alleged perpetrators, recording victims civilian or combatant status and the type of weapons used, Ms. Bachelet said.

To provide a more complete picture of the scale and impact of the conflict, the UN agency has also established statistical estimation techniques to account for missing data.  

The High Commissioner explained that documenting deaths complements efforts to account for missing people and that her office has been helping the families of the missing, to engage with international human rights mechanisms.

Given the vast number of those missing in Syria, Ms. Bachelet echoed her call for an independent mechanism, with a strong international mandate, to “clarify the fate and whereabouts of missing people; identify human remains; and provide support to relatives”.

No end to the violence

Today, the daily lives of the Syrian people remain “scarred by unimaginable suffering”, the UN human rights chief said, adding that they have endured a decade of conflict, face deepening economic crisis and struggle with the impacts of COVID-19.

Extensive destruction of infrastructure has significantly affected the realization of essential economic and social rights, and there is still no end to the violence.

It is incumbent upon us all to listen to the voices of Syria’s survivors and victims, and to the stories of those who have now fallen silent for ever”, the High Commissioner concluded.

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Lessons Learned: US Seek to Salvage their Relations with the Syrian Kurds

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The hasty retreat of the US troops from Afghanistan has left a sizeable dent in the reputation of the White House among the American public, in the Middle East and the world in general. Washington was criticised heavily for the betrayal of the Afghan government, which paved the way for Taliban to storm to power.

It’s only natural that such events created a breeding ground for uncertainty among US allies in the region. Some of them started to reevaluate their relationship with the White House after the Afghan fiasco; others were having doubts about the US’ commitment beforehand. Current situation forces Washington to take firm actions to validate their status as a powerhouse in the region. There are indicators that US leadership has found a way to regain trust from its allies starting with Kurdish armed units in Syria.

The Kurds became a key ally to the US in their quest to defeat ISIS in Syria. Washington helped to create the predominantly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), who consequently established control over oil-rich regions in the north-eastern Syria. However the rapid rise of Kurdish influence triggered discontent from other parties of the Syrian conflict: the Assad government and Turkey, who considers SDF an offshoot of the PKK, designated as a terror group by the Turkish authorities. Under this pretext Ankara conducted three full-scale military operations against the Kurds in spite of its membership in the US led coalition.

Turkey remains a major headache for the US in northern Syria as it obstructs the development of a Kurdish autonomy. US failure to act during the Turkish offensive on Al-Bab and then Afrin is still considered one of the most agonizing experiences in the recent history of American-Kurdish partnership. On the flip side, this relationship had its bright moments. US forces were persistent in their cooperation with the Kurds despite Donald Trump’s efforts to withdraw US military presence from Syria. Furthermore, former Pentagon’s chief James Mattis increased funding of SDF in 2019 to a record high of $300 million.

Although the US cut back its support for the Kurds after proclaiming victory over ISIS, it’s still sufficient for SDF to stay among the most combat-capable forces in Syria. US provide machinery, equipment and ammunition, but most importantly teach the Kurds the skills to profit from their resources. Besides training SDF rank soldiers, the American troops prepare their special forces HAT (Hêzên Antî Teror, Anti-Terror Forces) primarily tasked with establishing security on oil facilities as well as detection and elimination of terrorists. In terms of their equipment they practically hold their own even against US troops. During their operations HAT fighters use standardized weaponry, night goggles and other modern resources.

Regardless of all the US aid military capabilities of SDF have one critical vulnerability, namely the lack of air defense. This weakness is successfully exploited by Turkey who uses their drones to bomb Kurdish positions. For the last couple of months the number of air strikes has significantly increased, which brought SDF to find new methods of deflecting air attacks.

There are good grounds to believe that Washington accommodated their partner’s troubles. Thus a source from an US air-base in Middle-East who asked to keep his name and position anonymous told us that on the 18th of September three combat-capable trainer aircraft T-6 Texan have been deployed to Tell Beydar air-base in Hasakah province, Syria. According to the source American instructors have begun a crash course in air pilotage with the candidates picked form the SDF ranks long before the airplanes arrived to their destination. This is implicitly confirmed by the large shipment of US weaponry, machinery and ammunition to Tell Beydar delivered on the 17th of September that included missiles compatible with Texan aircraft.

The sole presence of airplanes, even trainer aircraft, prompts a change in the already existing power balance. T-6 Texan can be used not only for air cover but also as a counter tool to Turkish “Bayraktar” UAVs especially if US grant Kurds access to intel from the radars situated on US air bases. Ultimately, from Turkey’s standpoint it must look like an attempt from the US military to create PKK’s own air force.

This being said the US are better off using political means rather than military if the goal is to handicap Turkish interests in Syria. The groundwork for this has been laid thanks to a reshuffle in the White House under Biden administration. First came the resignation of former US Special Representative for Syria Engagement James F. Jeffrey infamous for his soft spot for Turkey, who has been openly promoting pro-Turkish views in the White House during his tenure. In addition to the loss of their man in Washington, Turkey has gained a powerful adversary represented by the new National Security Council coordinator for the Middle-East and North Africa Brett McGurk. McGurk is a polar opposite to Jeffrey and has sided with the Kurds on numerous occasions. He is well respected among the leaders of SDF because of his work as Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to counter ISIS.

The only yet the most important question that is yet to be answered is the position of US president Joe Biden. So far Biden’s administration has been avoiding radical shifts regarding its Syria policy. Development of cooperation with the Kurds considering they have proven their reliability might come as a logical solution that will also allow the White House to show their teeth. Washington cannot endure another Afghanistan-like fiasco that will destroy their reputation figuratively and their allies literally. Even with all possible negative outcomes taken into account the enhancement of cooperation with the Kurds outweighs the drawbacks and remains the optimal route for the US.

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