In a recent interview with Al-Monitor’s Amberin Zaman, General Commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces Mazloum Abdi discussed such matters as the recent Turkish threats, communications with Russia and the United States, and the link between the region’s economic conditions and ISIS’ ability to regain ground. 

The interview covered the current situation on the ground in North and East Syria and how it has changed from the situation preceding the 2019 Turkish offensive. Commander Mazloum mentioned that prior to the attacks on Afrin in 2018 and the subsequent 2019 attacks against Tal Abyad and Ras-al-Ayn, there were no binding international agreements that restricted Turkey’s offensive movements. Following the 2019 offensive, this has changed, as there are now two separate agreements between Turkey and Russia and Turkey and the United States respectively. 

Commander Mazloum stated that “The United States said they were opposed to, and would not accept, any attack by Turkey against us.” This was relayed by the United States to the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria officially, and US officials told Commander Mazloum that President Biden told President Erdogan on the sidelines of the G20 that any attack was unacceptable.

Furthermore, the economic conditions of the region were brought up as part of the discussion on the region’s security issues. Specifically, the unemployment, poverty, and how these factors “diminish the authority” of the administration in its fight against ISIS. “Bolstering the economy has become one of the pillars of combatting terrorism” according to Commander Mazloum. He stated that the international coalition should take immediate action to address the economic issues as part of the fight against terrorism.