An unnamed official told the UK-based Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper on January 7 that the US is taking steps to officially recognize the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) as the legitimate authority in eastern Syria.
According to the report, some of the US steps are empowering local councils, backing reconstruction efforts, assisting in training of government agency workers, improving public services and infrastructure. All of these steps are a route to a diplomatic recognition of the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), the political wing of the SDF.
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis had said on December 29 that he expects to see a larger US civilian presence in Syria, including contractors and diplomats after defeating ISIS, according to Reuters.
In the military side, the US will increase its support to the SDF according to the western official. This is opposite to the promise US President Donald Trump made to Turkey on November 25, 2017. The US military support to the SDF will include protecting SDF areas, engaging in the upkeep of military bases and even turning the SDF into a regular army.
Some of these steps are already underway as on December 24, Siyabend Welat, a commander of the Northern Syria Defense Forces (NSDF), revealed that the US-led coalition SDF are forming a new military force in the SDF-held areanamed the Northern Syrian Army (NSA).
Also on January 7, some SDC officials claimed that the US is going to recognize the SDC as an alternative to the Syrian government and to recognize the SDF as the national army of the SDF-held area.
Some observers doubted that the US could take such step because it will be opposed by the majority of its allies in the area including Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt. However, Trump’s administration has already proven that it’s ready to make high risk moves in the Middle East, like recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.