More U.S. Troops being sent to the Middle East
BY: Nisreen Eadeh/Staff Writer
It was announced on Monday by President Obama that 250 U.S. Special Forces would be deployed to Syria to help fight the Islamic State, or Daesh. President Obama made the announcement during a speech he gave in Hanover, Germany, and urged European and NATO allies to do the same. The deployment would increase U.S. military presence in Syria roughly six fold, but “they’re not going to be leading the fight on the ground,” said President Obama. Rather, the troops will be providing assistance to the Kurdish YPG, while recruiting and training Arab fighters willing to join the Kurdish forces.
Already in existence are the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, who are working to unite Kurdish and Arab allies. The Syrian forces said Obama’s efforts were not enough because they needed weapons, too, not just bullets. Turkey also had issues with this announcement because the country has hostile ties with the Kurds, but is a U.S. military ally in NATO.
This deployment comes one week after President Obama approved an additional 200 troops in Iraq, raising the troop number to 4,070. The administration also approved new measures sending artillery systems and helicopter gunships to Iraq in an effort to “intensify its campaign against the Islamic State.” Although the troops are there for a temporary assignment, it is not clear how long they will be in Iraq – a country that has been under U.S. control for over a decade.
Furthermore, the U.S. is sending $415 million to aid the Kurdish forces to pay salaries of their fighters. Dropped oil prices in recent months have caused the forces to lose millions in revenue. Obama also said in an interview with Charlie Rose that there would be more strategies in place by the end of the year to help take back Mosul.
Heightened U.S. presence in the Middle East has always ended poorly throughout history. It is difficult to predict whether more troops, financial aid, and military arms will benefit the region in the long-run, but for now, it seems the Kurdish forces are the only short-term solution. Many U.S. political leaders believe a solution to Daesh can only come from the Middle East itself, but they can’t do it alone, leaving the U.S. in the difficult situation of finding the right line between helping and hurting.
While most can agree that Daesh needs to be combatted, putting more U.S. troops into Iraq and Syria leaves Americans with memories of past failures. Some Arab Americans argue that the real solution to Daesh lies in the Gulf region, but private criticisms of Obama from Gulf monarchies are complicating the efforts to find diplomacy from the region. One senior Saudi Arabian of the royal family has already brushed off Obama’s troop deployment to Syria as “window dressing.” Without serious Gulf cooperation, it seems that the future of Syria and Iraq is not getting brighter.