U.S. Special Representative for Syria James Jeffrey leaves post, says U.S. policy on Syria will not change

U.S. Special Representative for Syria James Jeffrey has informed European counterparts, Arab officials, and Syrian opposition figures that his mission has come to an end. In his last comments as Special Representative for Syria, Jeffrey stated that he foresees no change in the current U.S. policy towards Syria and its regime will continue as is, regardless of the election results.

“Regarding our presence in Syria, I do not see any potential change in the presence of our forces or in our sanctions policy. In addition, no change will take place in our demand regarding Iran’s leave of Syria, whether it is with the Biden’s or Trump’s administration,” he stated.

James Jeffery (75) can be seen as one of the architects of the current U.S. policies on Syria. The U.S. withdrew its military from northeastern Syria in October 2019, only to keep a smaller military presence to “protect the oil”. After the U.S. withdrawal, Turkey invaded the Democratic Autonomous Administration and occupied parts of it to create a “safe zone”. The U.S. has also backed NATO-member Turkey in its military operations in northwestern Syria; it has sanctioned almost all of the top figures in the Syrian Baath regime and closest circle, and the U.S. backs Israel in eliminating Iranian presence in Syria – for which the U.S. has increased pressure on Lebanon and sanctioned members of Iran-proxy Hezbollah and e.g. the leader of the Free Patriotic Movement the Syriac Maronite Gebran Bassil.

He will be replaced by his deputy Special Envoy Joel Rayburn. Appointing Rayburn can also be seen as an indication of a continuation of current U.S. policies in Syria. Rayburn was present in most of Jeffrey’s contact meetings.