The U.S. Pentagon discussed on Tuesday the 2020 budget proposal. Within the next year budget proposal, the Pentagon allocates $300 million towards the establishment of a train and equip programme for Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The SDF is a coalition of several indigenous militia groups in Syria. The most important sub-group within the SDF coalition are the Kurdish Peoples Protection Units (YPG).
The Pentagon 2020 budget assistance directed towards YPG forces is the same in amount as of the 2019 one. This is another major blow to Ankara’s ambitions of progressive diminution of YPG forces from north-eastern Syria in the future. Turkey considers YPG militias as a subsidiary group of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the major Kurdish political organisation in Turkey. PKK has been outlawed in Turkey given its protracted conflict with Turkish government authorities in recent decades.
Besides the $300 million tranche directed as assistance to YPG forces, the Pentagon also allocates another $250 to establish a U.S.-led border security force in the territories connecting South Turkey with North Syria, Iraq and the territories claimed by YPG. This decision is an elaboration of the U.S. troops’ progressive withdrawal announced in December 2018 by U.S. President Donald Trump. The troops will eventually leave Syrian soil but before their departure they would have established a status quo on the ground. The presence of remaining U.S. forces in Syria serves a dual purpose. They ensure that a non-resurgence of the Islamic State (IS) forces would not materialise and guarantee the security of YPG forces from Turkish and Syrian aggression. A third purpose served by the extended presence of U.S. forces in Syria is the abolition of November 2018 Turkish plans for a military intervention in north-east Syria to expel garrisoned YPG forces from the region. The so-called East of River Euphrates operation has been halted for the time being, given the presence of U.S. forces in the region which in effect annul Turkey’s plans in the region.