AIJAC expresses “deep concern” over recent developments in Syria

The Australia/ Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) today expressed its strong concerns about Turkey’s unilateral incursion into northern Syria, and the apparent shift in US foreign policy toward rapid Syrian disengagement which helped facilitate the Turkish move.

AIJAC Executive Director Dr. Colin Rubenstein AM stated, “AIJAC is deeply concerned about recent developments in Syria, with Turkey launching a military operation into Kurdish-controlled northern areas of the country, and the US announcing a pull-out of its forces from the area, and implying an accelerated timetable to withdraw all US forces from Syria. The two related events – with the US announcements deliberately or inadvertently facilitating the Turkish actions – appear likely to be very detrimental to the ongoing battle against the remnants of Islamic State, to Middle East stability more generally, and to US credibility across the region and beyond.

“These moves appear to leave the Syrian Democratic Forces, which have been the key ground troops in the successful fight against Islamic State, with the choice of either allying with the Syrian regime and its Iranian and Russian allies – guilty of gross human rights abuses leading to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Syrian citizens in the civil war – or potentially facing annihilation by the Turkish regime. Turkey not only regards all Kurdish groups in Syria as terrorists but has a clear history of facilitating the entry of Islamist extremist fighters into Syria and even arming them,” he added.

“At a time when China is becoming increasingly assertive and the Iranian regime is openly flouting international rules of behaviour in unprecedented ways by targeting oil shipments in the Persian Gulf, firing missiles at Saudi petroleum-refining  facilities, building an extensive permanent military presence in Syria, and arming an internationally-recognised terrorist group, Hezbollah, with precision missiles, the US move in particular sends a worrying signal to all nations counting on Washington to help preserve international security and stability.

“AIJAC notes that the Australian Government has said it is ‘deeply troubled’ by recent developments in Syria. Given Australia’s important national interests in global stability, the free flow of resources and freedom of navigation, both in the Middle East and our own region, AIJAC calls on Canberra to act with allies to both urge maximum restraint by Turkey, and to attempt to convince the Trump Administration to remain strongly engaged in resolving the situation in Syria”, he concluded.