Ilham Ahmad, a leader of the Kurdish-led political party affiliated with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), ended an extended visit of Washington last week. Ms. Ahmad made the case for the U.S. to provide security guarantees once the troops withdrawal President Trump announced last December is complete.
Backdrop: President Trump's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria will leave Syria's Kurds and allied Arab and other groups, who fought and died against the Islamic State, vulnerable to an attack by Turkey and to President Bashar al-Assad's regime, intent on regaining full sovereignty over Syria.
While it is unclear what progress, if any, the Kurdish representative of the SDF, has made with the administration, Ms. Ahmad held meetings with numerous members of Congress to convey her message that the U.S. needs to protect the Kurds and their allies and offer guarantees before the troops withdrawal is complete. As a measure of her success, Ms. Ahmad's message was reflected in the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on February 5, before which the U.S. Central Command Commander General Joseph Votel testified. Senators on both sides emphasized the need to protects Syria's Kurds. Senator Rick Scott (R-Florida), for example, brought up the idea of establishing a no-fly zone over northern Syria.
A Washington-based member of Ms. Ahmad's team and organizer of her visit who wished to remain anonymous told Shout News that Ms. Ahmad met with more members of Congress and Congressional leaders than any previous visiting delegation from Syrian opposition groups.