Syria Open to Talks With Biden If US Policies are Changed

Damascus wants US troops occupying oil fields in northeast Syria to leave and for Washington to cut off support for SDF

In comments to Newsweek, Syria’s permanent mission to the UN said Damascus is willing to open a dialogue and reestablish ties with the US if President Biden reverses the Syria policies of previous administrations.

Reversing those policies would mean withdrawing US troops from northeast Syria that are occupying the country’s oil fields and cutting off support for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and other non-state actors inside Syria. Damascus is also calling for Biden to stop meddling in Syria’s internal affairs altogether, which likely means lifting crushing economic sanctions left in place by the Trump administration that are purposely impeding Syria’s reconstruction effort.

“The reason for the existing disputes with the United States of America is the policies of previous American administrations that include: interference in the Syrian internal affairs, occupation of territories in the Syrian Arab Republic, stealing its natural resources, and supporting separatist militias and armed terrorist entities in Syria,” Syria’s UN mission said.

In the event that Biden reversed these policies, the UN mission said, “Syria does not object to meaningful and purposeful communications” with the US. But there are no indications that President Biden is planning to change policy on Syria.

Not long after Biden’s inauguration, a State Department spokesman told Rudaw that the new administration will continue supporting the SDF. There are also no indications that Biden would withdraw troops from the country or lift sanctions.

Biden appointed Brett McGurk to head Middle East Policy on the National Security Council. McGurk previously served as the US envoy to the anti-ISIS coalition and resigned in 2018 when President Trump announced he was withdrawing from Syria, something he never followed through on.

Judging by articles written by McGurk after his resignation, it seems he supports what is now the status quo for US policy in Syria: maintaining a small occupation force in the northeast, supporting the SDF, and supporting Israel’s bombing campaign in Syria.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the assistant news editor of Antiwar.com, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.