The initial announcement of a US withdrawal from northeastern Syria took Paris by surprise. For the Quai d'Orsay, the maintenance of foreign IS members in the custody of local authorities is "imperative".
The French authorities were faced with a fait accompli, after the announcement on Sunday (October 6th) by Donald Trump of the withdrawal of US forces from certain areas of northeastern Syria, giving way to the Turkish army to establish its "Security zone". "We learned it at the same time as everyone else," sighs a French source. The good personal relations between the tenant of the White House and that of the Elysée will not have been enough that the French part is warned.
Since then, the US administration has partially retracted its announcement, noting that the redeployment would affect only fifty men, but the concern remains. On Monday, in a statement, the Quai d'Orsay warned Turkey against any military initiative in northeastern Syria, which it said could have "Significant humanitarian consequences ". And to qualify as"A security imperative" keeping local jihadists, many of them French, in the custody of local authorities, even as the White House announces that Turkey will now be "Responsible" their fate.
The embarrassment of the French authorities, military support, but especially political, Kurdish forces, is real. In April, two representatives of North-East Syria were indeed welcomed to the Elysee. According to members of the delegation headed by Abd Al-Mehbache, co-chairman of the executive council of the autonomous administration of North-East Syria, Emmanuel Macron was then committed to maintain French forces alongside the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and to financially support reconstruction and public services in the territory they control.
"We are caught in pincers"
Now, those whom Paris considers its allies in Syria risked, once again, being betrayed, and France seems to be unable to do anything about it. "We can try to mobilize the Europeans, but for the moment there is no unified position that could assert itself to compensate for the American inconstancy. It only remains to try to convince, once again, President Trump ", summarizes a French source, adding: "We find ourselves caught in pincers. Destabilization will benefit the Islamic State organization (EI) on the one hand, and the regime of the other – the two actors that the presence of the coalition in the zone is supposed to hold in check. "