Trump’s win: what this might mean for Syria
It’s too early to say exactly what Donald Trump’s presidential victory means for Syria’s beleaguered civilians.
Will he “pivot” the USA towards Assad and Putin in some narrow “counter terror” strategy against ISIS? He has certainly given indications that fighting ISIS would be his main policy priority on Syria.
Needless to say, aligning with the Syrian and Russian governments would almost certainly spell even greater disaster for Syria’s long-suffering people.
On top of it probably meaning the White House in some way seeking to downplay or even excuse the Assad government’s crimes against humanity, we would most likely be looking at many more civilian casualties from US-led strikes. (Many more than the considerable number that have already occurred).
And this kind of realignment may carry with it some kind of acceptance of the Damascus/Moscow line that all opposition in Syria - whether armed or unarmed - amounts to “terrorism”.
Trump has also talked about “safe zones” in Syria, saying - a la the Mexico wall - that Arab countries would be made to pay for this. The motive here appears not to be protecting civilians but containing desperate people who are trying to flee the bombs and misery of Syria.
Another motivation would seem to be the creation of a territory into which to push Syrian refugees back into Syria. As disastrous - and illegal - as this would be, the idea would likely see support from some extremist, anti-immigrant parties across Europe and further afield.
Another consequence of a Trump “safe zone” could be the beginning of a process of partitioning the country. This is an idea that itself may gain US political support under a Trump presidency, appearing to offer relatively quick and easy solutions to an intractable conflict. It could also have disastrous long-term implications relating to sectarianism and access to vital resources.
Then again, many of these Trump-related notions on Syria may never see the light of day. And nor should they. But right now a Trump presidency looks like making a catastrophic situation for Syrian civilians even worse.
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