Trump’s Choices…

By Fahed Khitan

تم نشره في Tue 28 February / Feb 2017. 12:00 AM
  • Fahed Khitan

Just when he needed it, US President Donald Trump receives a memo from the Pentagon entailing a bundle of recommendations to expedite the war on terrorist group, ISIS, to finish them once and for all.

All Trump has to do is pick, among a concise variety of options, the one which —to his discretion— would get the job done.

Among these propositions is increasing the number of US advisors in Iraq and Syria, and allowing US forces on the ground there to engage directly in anti-ISIS operations.

Now in Iraq, that sounds doable, simply because it is the official army mainly who is engaged in the war against ISIS.

Whereas in Syria, it is far more complicated. For instance, no one know how Washington is going to approach Raqqa.

Army generals, who may be less informed in the politics of the situation, know that Washington must incorporate every military step taken in the field into the political agenda. Otherwise, it won’t work, or at least that is what Gen Joseph Dunford thinks, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff.

For Syria in general, howver, the situation has yet to crystallise.

It remains unclear which military and political powers are fit and have the capacity to take over once ISIS are finished. There are so many disputing parties who are equally conflictive in their agendas.

So far, the US has yet to decide on who will be in charge of the Syrian city, raqqa, once liberated.

Notwithstanding, this is but an example on how complicated the situation in Syria really is; regional and sponsoring forces do have the practical influence to impose a ceasefire, i.e. the Astana talks. But once the negotiations get to Geneva, where politics is deliberated, division and dispute surface, and everything sustained is periled to crumble.

Most likely, Trump’s administration will be faced by this kind of predicament in regards to picking their allies in the battle against ISIS.

Once the military aspect of it is decided and finalised: what’s next? Or rather; who?

The US administration is hopeful signs of resolution would beacon from Geneva to signal that warring parties in Syria are finally converging on a political agenda. Likewise, they may even be looking forward to reach an accord with Russia on the post-ISIS phase.

Still, these wishful hopes collide only with the concrete of reality.

The Geneva process; given the outcomes of the last round of negotiations, does not seem promising, and Russia are unlikely to extend any concessions to please Washington.

The political, diplomatic, and military institutions of the United States realise this, and they are completely disillusioned with the Moscow promise, unlike Trump.

More so, the war against terror, in Afghanistan as well as in Iraq, has taught everyone a lesson. It has proven that military victory, without an all-encompassing political resolution, is unsustainable and vacant.

Fact is that Qaeda could have been defeated for in Iraq had there been an integrated military-political approach. But Nouri Maliki’s notorious government abandoned the political element of the Iraqi dynamic and drove a stick through the heart of the national reconciliation project.

Apparently, that was enough to bring about the rebirth of a fiercer, more savage, and terrible terrorist organisation; ISIS, aka Daesh, who had the military capacity and force to occupy several prime Iraqi cities, and drive thousands of Iraqis out of their homes.

In the absence of a fundamental political solution in Syria, Trump’s plan is bound to make the same fate it met in Iraq; failure.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic version, published by AlGhad.