US Congressman Matt Gaetz
(Photo Credit: Wikicommons)
Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz introduced the War Powers Resolution legislation to end the ongoing US occupation of Syria’s northeast, the primary energy and grain-producing region of the country.
In seeking to end the US military presence in Syria, Congressman Gaetz argued that US law had never authorized a US military intervention in the country.
Introduced on Wednesday, 22 February, the legislation would require US President Joe Biden to remove all US forces from Syria within 15 days after the legislation is signed into law.
Following a recent US raid in Syria in which several US soldiers were wounded, Gaetz questioned the legality and rationale for leaving troops in the country.
“Congress has never authorized the use of military force in Syria. The United States is not currently in a war with or against Syria, so why are we conducting dangerous military operations there? President Biden must remove all US Armed Forces from Syria. America First means actually putting the people of our country first – not the interests of the military-industrial complex,” Gaetz stated.
Though US troops, accompanied by fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), initially conquered large swathes of Syria under the pretext of fighting ISIS, the official rationale for the occupation changed once ISIS was largely defeated.
As the Washington Post reported in 2018, after the defeat of ISIS, “the [Trump] administration switched course, saying the troops will stay in Syria pending an overall settlement to the Syrian war and with a new mission: to act as a bulwark against Iran’s expanding influence. That decision puts US troops in overall control, perhaps indefinitely, of an area comprising nearly a third of Syria, a vast expanse of mostly desert terrain roughly the size of Louisiana.”
Syria analyst Jennifer Cafarella of the Institute for the Study of War noted the importance of continuing the US military occupation. She observed that “Whether Washington chooses to admit it or not, the US now has direct influence over the vast majority of Syria’s most productive oil fields,” and that the territorial gains of the SDF “are Syrian national treasures that when added up amount to brute geopolitical power for the US.”
The Syrian government often accused the US of stealing Syrian oil, which it needs to rebuild the country and provide for the needs of the country’s millions of residents currently suffering from fuel shortages.
In December of last year, Syrian state media claimed that US military vehicles were escorting tankers loaded with oil stolen from the Hasaka countryside and moving it across the border to be sold in Iraq.
In August of last year, the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed that the losses incurred by the country’s oil and gas sector as a result of US actions amounted to $107 billion since the beginning of the Syrian crisis in 2011.