Intelligence expert warns of regional consequences to US pullout from Syria

Israel’s former national security adviser says withdrawal will be “very bad for allies who cannot defend themselves” – but that doesn’t include Israel. 

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Intelligence expert Major General (res.) Yaakov Amidror has been highlighting both regional and local concerns regarding the expected U.S. pullout from Syria ever since President Donald Trump announced the sudden change in policy in mid-December.

Last week, in an executive briefing call with the American Jewish Congress, Amidror, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s former national security adviser and a current senior fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies, discussed the main winners and losers in the event of a withdrawal.

“The decision of the Americans to pull out means that the whole Kurdish area will be under threat from Turkey,” he explained. “And the question is: Is it good for the Middle East or is it bad for the Middle East?”

Referring specifically to the Syrian Kurds, whom the Americans have aided with training, air support and supplies over the last three years in the fight against ISIS, Amidror noted, “It’s very bad for allies who cannot defend themselves.”

But the security of the Jewish state would not be compromised, he explained, saying that it “is in a unique situation because we decided in 1948 that Israel would build its capability to defend itself, by itself.”

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The Syrian Kurds are viewed by Ankara as terrorists because they are linked to the separatist Kurds in Turkey. President Tayyip Erdogan has been building up military forces for a possible invasion of the Kurdish-controlled border area since Trump’s declaration of withdrawal, and his bellicose remarks led Trump to threaten to economically devastate Turkey if they attack.

However, on Tuesday Erdogan made a calming statement to his party in Parliament, telling them that he and the U.S. president were considering setting up a safe zone all along the border – an idea for which both leaders took credit.

“Until now, while physically present in Syria, the American contribution to Israel’s major struggle — to halt the Iranian war machine in Syria — was marginal to zero,” the LA Times quoted Amidror as saying.