What are the consequences of removing the US sanctions on Kurdish areas in Syria?
The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control has removed the economic sanctions on non-Syrian regime-controlled areas. In other words, the American administration allowed foreign investments in northeast Syria which lead by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), and in northwest areas that were occupied by Turkey and Syrian opposition militias. However, the US authorisation does not include Idlib and the Turkish-occupied enclave of Afrin. Furthermore, such American Caesar sanctions will remain on the oil and gas sector in the areas controlled by the Kurdish forces.
The US administration has announced that the new legislation is considered a part of the US strategy to defeat ISIS. That means the authorisation is extended to 12 economic sectors such as agriculture, education, information and telecommunications, finance, and construction, and the foreign investment will be legal in all of these sectors. For purpose of stabilisation in the areas that have been liberated from ISIS, the US administration has declared a project of funding $100 million to support those areas. However, the US economic and political sanctions will remain to be imposed on the Syrian regime and the areas under its control "until there is irreversible progress toward a political resolution to the conflict in line with UNSCR 2254" according to the US officials.
Despite the fact that the Treasury Department's decision will have positive effects on thriving the economic situation in Kurdish areas by allowing the foreign companies to invest there. Nevertheless, the US new decision cannot be implemented and take place without creating a political environment in the Kurdish-controlled areas. For instance, the Kurdish area of Afrin is still under the Turkish occupation and also has been excluded from that decision. Besides that, the US Department of Treasury has ignored the vital importance of the oil resources in the economy and the income of the US-backed Kurdish self-administration. Instead, the United States' decision has not extended to the oil sector which is considered the main resource in northeast Syria.
The US strategy of defeating terrorism and preventing the resurgence of ISIS by implementing such economic steps, cannot be successfully improved without a political recognition that can bring stability to the Kurdish region in northeast Syria. For example, the US administration can take serious steps toward its initiative regarding the Kurdish-Kurdish negotiation. the American example of leading talks between Kurds in Iraq can be imposed on the Syrian Kurds as well and it seems to be the only solution for the Kurdish-Kurdish ongoing long-term talks. In other words, if the US administration plan of defeating ISIS and bringing political stability to the non-government areas that have been liberated from ISIS, they should lead serious negotiations between Kurds to find out a political
recognition and umbrella for Kurds and for the Kurdish region, and the Kurdish areas of Afrin, Ras Al-Ain (sere kaniye) and Tal Abyad to liberated from Turkey and the Syrian opposition extremist groups. However, the Kurdish-led self-administration is still not capable to offer such a stable political atmosphere to implement the US decision for the free foreign investment in the Kurdish region in northeast Syria.
BY: Zara Saleh