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US to Pull Out Troops from Syria and Afghanistan

  • 22 Dec 2018
  • 4 min read

United States has decided to withdraw over 2,000 US troops from Syria after it has declared victory over the Islamic State.

  • US has also decided to reduce by half the US forces in Afghanistan.
  • These decisions mark the end of a prolonged phase of American military interventions in the Middle East and South Asia.

Likely Impact of US Troops Withdrawal

  • Allies of US like the UK, Germany, and France have expressed dismay over the decision as they also have troops stationed in Syria. The Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) warned of a military vacuum that would leave the alliance trapped between "hostile parties".
  • Experts believe that the withdrawal of troops will allow regional actors like Iran to increase their footprints in Syria.
  • It may lead to demands for US troops withdrawal from Iraq also.
  • An imminent US withdrawal might lead to an open confrontation between Turkish and Kurdish forces.
  • The withdrawal of US may lead to the resurgence of forces like Islamic State in Syria and of Taliban in Afghanistan.

Impact on India

  • India must be concerned about the changes in US stance in the middle east and Afghanistan as it will impact our interest in the region and in our neighborhood.
  • India was Impacted by the rise of the Islamic state after the turmoil in Syria.
  • The extremist group IS (Islamic State), extended its reach to South Asia—home to the largest Muslim population in the world—is of concern to India, which has significant stakes in the peace and stability in South Asia.
  • The threat was compounded by the fact that IS started attracting Indian youth.
  • The resurgence of Taliban will severely impact India’s position and stakes in Afghanistan, embolden Pakistan while destabilizing the region.

Syrian Crisis

  • Syria has been in a state of civil war since the 2011 uprising known as the “Arab Spring.”
  • The Syrian government, led by President Bashar al-Assad, responded to the protests by killing hundreds of demonstrators and imprisoning many more.
  • In July 2011, defectors from the military announced the formation of the Free Syrian Army, a rebel group aiming to overthrow the government, and Syria began to slide into civil war.
  • International Involvement: The civil war has spilled beyond the borders of Syria. It has triggered sectarian tensions (Shia-Kurds-Sunni), geopolitical rivalries (US-Russia; Iran-Saudi Arabia-Israel), and the global threat of Islamic extremism(Islamic State).

India Position on Syrian Crisis

  • India’s position in Syria and the middle east is influenced by its own stakes in the Middle East- namely energy security and diaspora.
  • India’s support for the President Bashar-al-Assad regime in Syria is driven by two factors. The first is its fears of instability and the rise of Islamists fundamentalism.
  • The second is its commitment to non-interventionism, a position shared by members of the BRICS countries.
  • In addition to these factors, Assad’s Baath Party’s has continuously supported India’s stance on the Kashmir issue.
  • In line with this, India supports an all-inclusive Syrian-led process to chart out the future of Syria, its political structures and leadership.
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