The United States regards its presence in Syria as a strategic tool and will maintain it unless Iran withdraws its forces from the country, which is a highly unlikely scenario, former UK Ambassador to Syria Peter Ford told Sputnik.
“The United States regards this territory as pawns in a chess game. It will not surrender any of these pawns except in return for, principally, withdrawal of Iranian forces from Syria,” Ford said.
Washington has been insisting that Iranian military had been present in Syria. Reacting to these accusations, Tehran, in turn, repeatedly denied it, explaining that Iranian army advisors have been the only country’s military presence in the country upon the Syrian government’s authorization. It has also been confirmed by Syria itself.
The Pentagon initially said that the US presence was aimed at defeating the Daesh* terrorist group. In September, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis noted that alleged Iranian presence in Syria was one of the obstacles on the path to Syrian settlement.
Meanwhile, the very same presence of the United States in Syria is the reason Tehran does not leave the country, bringing the situation into a deadlock, according to Ford.
“We can state with certainty that Iran will not leave Syria for as long as there’s one pair of American military boots on Syrian soil. And Iran will not leave in fact until Idlib is liberated,” he added.
Washington is simultaneously locked in a standoff with Ankara over support for Kurdish forces controlling Rojava and Al Tanf, who Turkey accuses of having links to Kurdish separatists in the country.
“We must, I’m afraid, look forward to the US continuing to occupy the Kurdish-controlled area Al Tanf… The outlook is for a long-term freeze of the American occupation of these parts of Syria. I find it hard to envisage scenario at least in the short or medium-term where they leave,” the retired diplomat concluded.