Why US Subversion Flopped in Iran

Why US Subversion Flopped in Iran

Author: Tony Cartalucci

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At the end of December 2017 the Western media reported “widespread” protests sweeping Iran. Narratives indistinguishable from the US-engineered “Arab Spring” in 2011 flooded headlines and social media regarding a “popular uprising” spurred first by alleged economic grievances before protesters then began making demands echoing the US State Department regarding Iran’s internal domestic affairs as well as its foreign policy.

The protests were in fact so indistinguishable from the now admittedly US-engineered “Arab Spring” that still-fresh disillusionment regarding the fate of nations like Libya and Syria likely played  a role in blunting the efficacy of the protests in Iran.

Western Propaganda Outlived Actual Unrest 

An article in Politico titled, “Why the Iranian Uprising Won’t Die,” in an attempt to qualify and promote the West’s narrative regarding the Iranian protests would claim:

…Iranians were enraged as they struggled to feed their children while their government spent billions on its foreign adventures in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and elsewhere. While Iran was made poor, the regime became richer. While Iranians suffered, the regime’s allies became powerful and prosperous.

Yet when Politico published the article on January 7, 2018, written by RAND Corporation analyst Alireza Nader, the protests had already since “died.”

Politico’s article wasn’t the only one published days and even weeks after the protests had already ended – indicating that the Western media had prepared weeks – even months of propaganda to fuel Iranian unrest within information space as US-backed opposition groups attempted to fuel it on the ground.

Despite preparations that US policy papers indicate were years in the making – which included not only the creation of opposition fronts and armed militant groups within and along Iran’s borders but the encirclement of Iran itself by US military bases including in Syria and northern Iraq under the pretext of “fighting the Islamic State (ISIS)” –  the protests quickly ran their course and ended.

If the majority of Iranians were truly driven into the streets by extensive economic and political grievances – and since none of these grievances could have possibly been addressed yet – it is unlikely the protests would have died out so quickly and with a minimum use of force by the Iranian government, even according to the Western media itself.

However, if the protests were organized by the West and led by illegitimate, unpopular opposition movements within Iran and from abroad – and after the West has already long-abused these now transparent tactics of subversion – “widespread” protests diminishing in just days was not only likely, but inevitable.

Washington’s Extensive Preparations

Preparations for the overthrow of Iran stretch back well over a decade and have transcended multiple US presidential administrations – both Republican and Democrat – including the current administration of US President Donald Trump and his predecessor, US President Barack Obama.

The Brookings Institution in its 2009 “Which Path to Persia? Options for a New American Strategy toward Iran,” laid out extensive plans for undermining and overthrowing the Iranian government.

Chapters in the paper included:

Chapter 1: An Offer Iran Shouldn’t Refuse: Persuasion;

Chapter 3: Going All the Way: Invasion;

Chapter 4: The Osiraq Option: Airstrikes;

Chapter 5: Leave it to Bibi: Allowing or Encouraging an Israeli Military Strike

Chapter 6: The Velvet Revolution: Supporting a Popular Uprising;

Chapter 7: Inspiring an Insurgency: Supporting Iranian Minority;

And Opposition Groups and;

Chapter 8: The Coup: Supporting a Military Move Against the Regime.

It should be noted that each and every option has been pursued since 2009, either against Iran directly or against Syria in a bid to spread conflict over Iranian borders. This includes Washington’s use of Israel to carry out airstrikes on Syria while the US attempts to maintain plausible deniability.

Within these chapters, detailed plans were laid out to create and back both political opposition organizations and armed militant groups. It laid out a variety of economic sanctions that could be used to pressure Tehran and create division and discontent among the Iranian population. It also proposed methods of attacking Iran militarily both covertly and overtly as well as possible ways of goading Tehran into full-scale war.

The paper was written shortly after the failed US-backed “Green Revolution” during that same year – a US-engineered protest that was larger in scale and duration than the most recent protests.

US Sought to Draw Out and Overextend Iran Ahead of Subversion 

Another paper – by the RAND Corporation also published in 2009 – titled, “Dangerous But Not Omnipotent : Exploring the Reach and Limitations of Iranian Power in the Middle East,” noted that Iran’s foreign policy was pursued mainly in self-defense. The paper explicitly noted that (emphasis added):

Iran’s strategy is largely defensive, but with some offensive elements. Iran’s strategy of protecting the regime against internal threats, deterring aggression, safeguarding the homeland if aggression occurs, and extending influence is in large part a defensive one that also serves some aggressive tendencies when coupled with expressions of Iranian regional aspirations. It is in part a response to U.S. policy pronouncements and posture in the region, especially since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The Iranian leadership takes very seriously the threat of invasion given the open discussion in the United States of regime change, speeches defining Iran as part of the “axis of evil,” and efforts by U.S. forces to secure base access in states surrounding Iran.

The paper discusses Iran’s extensive ties to Syria and Lebanon’s Hezbollah as well as its growing ties with Iraq. These ties – according to the RAND paper itself – were pursued to create a buffer in Iran’s near-abroad against regional US military aggression.

By 2011, the US was pursuing a proxy war consuming the entire Middle East and North Africa region (MENA) with Libya overthrown and left in perpetual ruination by the end of the year and Syria consumed by nationwide conflict as foreign-funded and armed militants flooded the country from Syria’s borders with Turkey and Jordan.

The fact that Libya was overthrown first, then used as a springboard for the proxy invasion of Syria illustrates the wider regional context that drove the US-NATO intervention in Libya.

In essence, the US was attacking the pillars of Iran’s national defense in its near-abroad. Knowing how critical Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq were to Iran’s national defense strategy of hindering US encirclement and keeping in check Washington’s regional allies particularly in the Persian Gulf – the region-wide destabilization was designed to draw the Iranians into a costly regional intervention.

Iranian forces have lent extensive aid to Syria and Iraq including direct and indirect military support – the extent of which when coupled with decades of economic sanctions imposed upon Iran by the US and its Western allies – contributed to the so-called “economic” grievances recent US-backed protests in Iran attempted to leverage.

The US has maintained troops in several Persian Gulf states including Qatar and Bahrain, a continuous military presence in Iraq since the 2003 invasion, and a US military presence in Afghanistan on Iran’s eastern borders since 2001.

More recently, the US has occupied eastern Syria and lent extensive aid to Kurdish militant groups both within Syria and in northern Iraq. The US also provides political and covert support to Buluchi terrorists in southwest Pakistan and western Afghanistan.

On a map, it is clear that the US has continued to further encircle Iran since 2011 both with its own military, and with proxies engaged in costly conflicts along Iran’s peripheries.

The Opposition Was Intentionally Left “Unnamed” 

Despite sensational Western headlines promoting and attempting to perpetuate unrest in Iran, the Western media was particularly careful about not identifying the political and militant groups taking to the streets. Just like in Libya and Syria where “pro-democracy protesters” were eventually revealed to be extremists drawn from listed terrorist organizations, many of those taking part in Iran’s protests had likewise unscrupulous backgrounds.

Protesters in Iran invoked the names of opposition groups and figures mentioned by name in the 2009 Brookings paper under a subheading titled, “Finding the Right Proxies.” These included the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) – a US State Department designated foreign terrorist organization delisted in 2012 for the sole purpose of allowing the US to more openly fund and arm the group. It also included exiled Iranian opposition figure Reza Pahlavi, the son of the ousted Iranian Sha who now resides in the United States.

The bulk of pro-opposition coverage in Iran came from overtly US-funded media sources including the US State Department’s Farsi-language version of Voice of America and the New York-based “Center for Human Rights in Iran.”

To then claim the recent Iran “protests” were merely “spontaneous” expressions of Iranian frustration and not simply the next step in an admitted US conspiracy against Tehran is an absurdity the Western media is having increasing difficulties selling to global audiences.

Washington’s Return on Investment

Still, the unrest, when coupled with ongoing efforts by the US to encircle and envelop Iran, have at the very least applied additional pressure on Tehran – forcing it to invest more resources at home while still fighting against multiple US-backed proxy conflicts across the region.

The 2009 Brookings paper “Which Path to Persia?” explicitly states that:

While the ultimate goal is to remove the regime, working with the internal opposition also could be a form of coercive pressure on the Iranian regime, giving the United States leverage on other issues.

It continues by stating:

In theory, the United States could create coercive leverage by threatening the regime with instability or even overthrow and, after having done so, use this leverage to force concessions on other issues such as Iran’s nuclear program or support for militants in Iraq.

However, each time the US attempts to use foreign-funded opposition and militant groups to destabilize Iran – especially as alternatives to Western media domination continue to grow – this tactic losses a certain degree of credibility, sustainability, and thus viability.

That the recent protests ran their course so quickly despite the fact that Iran has been overstretched militarily and economically amid years of conflict in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, illustrates just how unsustainable this foreign policy option has become for the US when targeting well-prepared, formidable states like Iran.

A combination of well-honed information warfare, well-prepared security forces, and well-organized counter-protests on Tehran’s part blunted this latest round of US-backed subversion.

Washington’s apparent impotence versus Tehran when coupled with its struggling attempts to overthrow the Syrian government and assert hegemony over Iraq further undermines the illusion of legitimacy the US has attempted for decades to construct around its otherwise illegitimate hegemonic foreign policy.

Washington’s increasingly sloppy and transparent meddling in Iran will undermine efforts later this year as Washington prepares to destabilize other nations everywhere from South America to Southeast Asia. And with the US accusing Russia of meddling in American politics, obvious questions will be raised as to why it is not acceptable for Moscow to allegedly “influence US elections,” but acceptable for the US through organizations like the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and USAID to not only openly influence foreign elections around the world, but to openly run entire opposition parties from Washington D.C.

Washington’s return on investment for its extensive and so-far failed attempts to destabilize and overthrow Iran is indeed questionable. Iran – as well as other nations likely to be targeted by the US next – will simply review this latest round of protests and be better prepared for it next time. As more people become aware of tactics used during US-backed subversion, these tactics will grow less effective.

US Still Losing in Syria and Iraq 

Meanwhile, the protests in Iran seem to have had little impact on Washington’s precarious position in nearby Syria as Syrian forces continue making advances into Idlib and as the US struggles to justify its continued presence in the eastern region of the country. If Idlib is secured, it will leave US and Turkish occupation forces at the fringes of the conflict and at the fringes of international legitimacy.

Irregular warfare targeting Turkish or American forces in Syria could transform their respective occupations into untenable and costly conflicts. It will be difficult to differentiate between Syrian, Russian, or Iranian-backed irregular forces and the terrorist organizations Turkey and the US themselves have been arming and funding while simultaneously claiming to fight.

Just as the repeated overuse of US-backed protests have cost the US a once valuable tool from its geopolitical bag of tricks, the use of terrorism against targeted states appears poised to boomerang back Washington’s way. Like all waning empires in human history, the US will be unable to simply “go home.” It will require many more years of direct and indirect conflict before the US is fully uprooted from the MENA region. However, the spectacular failure of US-backed subversion in Iran before New Year’s may be further evidence of US hegemony’s irreversible decline.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazineNew Eastern Outlook” 
https://journal-neo.org/2018/02/23/why-us-subversion-flopped-in-iran/

 

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Is it time to put the US Coalition in Syria on a Terrorism watch list?

Is it time to put the US Coalition on a Terrorism watch list?

While Syria is fighting ISIS, it must also battle US Coalition-supported Turkey al-Qaeda groups, while the US reserves the right to bomb the SAA

[ Editor’s Note: We are living in an upside-down world now. Western countries, widely known to have been using terrorist proxies in Syria and other places, have appointed themselves judge and jury of who is supporting terrorism, and thus sanctionable. Yet they give themselves immunity for doing the same thing.

Britain’s Intel orgs run the murdering White Helmets, and our own CIA has been gun-running to the Jihadis in Syria for some time, with many of its coalition partners lending a hand.

For example, wire-guided missiles and MANPADS can easily be transferred from Saudi Arabia’s huge stockpiles (or Israel’s) into al-Qaeda jihadi groups. When Aleppo was retaken, which had been starving, the SAA found Saudi food stockpiles, enough to last two years, and tons of munitions for a long siege. Western media reported none of it.

We have to break up this dynamic or we will remain stuck in the mud, permanently. The US coalition has a system with no rules, if you have the military fire power to tell unhappy people, orgs or countries, to go to hell.

When these targeted countries try to build their defenses to protect themselves from the obvious threat we represent, they are framed as a threat, not only by our government but our lackey media, also; a pitiful situation

We have become the thugs of the planet, with nothing in our Constitution giving our government authority to do this; yet we see anemic pushback from the citizenry, despite the crushing expenseJim W. Dean ]

 

Boris “the clown” Johnson resumes subsidizing Al Qaeda through the CSSF

Boris Johnson resumes subsidizing Al Qaeda through the CSSF

Voltaire Network — Feb 20, 2018

Without making a big deal about it, Boris Johnson, British Minister of Foreign Affairs is now resuming subsidizing Adam Smith International (ASI) following a two-month break.

In December 2017, the BBC programme Panorama had shown that the ASI, supported by Her Majesty’s government to train police in the “liberated areas” (sic) of Syria, was actually funding Al-Qaeda.

Other investigations have shown that this NGO had also funded lobbying in the UN to convince diplomats that Bahrain is respecting human rights.

Put under pressure by the Labour Party, the Conservative Government had then cut the funding of the most important “humanitarian” NGO in the country.

Several scandals – from the sky-high salaries of its several of leaders to stealing confidential state documents, had then arisen, challenging several people holding key positions within the NGO. Several directors of the Adam Smith International had then resigned.

Her Majesty’s government has created a fund for security and stabilization (Conflict Stability and Security Fund— CSSF) which is funding Al-Qaeda in Syria via three humanitarian NGOs: Adam Smith International, Integrity Global and Tamkeen. The funds have been paid to the so-called “Mayor” of Aleppo (in actual fact a mouthpiece for the Saudi jihadists who occupy the East of the city) and to the White Helmets (which claims to be a local organization, led by an MI6 officer which has organized both military operations and propaganda operations). Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon confirmed before the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Commons that CSSF had pledged £66 million to Syria in 2015-16, £64 million in 2016-17, and had given £69 million for the tax year 2017-18 [1].

Translation
Anoosha Boralessa

Source

Syrian War Report – February 21, 2018: Government Forces Entered Afrin

South Front

Over the last few days, the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) and the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army have captured over a dozen villages from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in the Afrin area.

A complicated situation on the frontlines forced the YPG to at least temporarily forget “the US is our only ally” mantra and to start implementing what local sources describe as a Damascus-YPG deal that will allow deployment of government troops in the region.

On February 20, a column of the government-backed National Defense Forces (NDF) consisting of about 20 vehicles entered the YPG-held area and moved toward the city of Afrin. The column was within about 10km of the city when it came under Turkish fire. At least 2 NDF members were killed in the TAF strikes.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed that the column retreated after this incident. However, according to existing video evidence at least a part of the column reached Afrin city.

While 20 vehicles are not enough to reverse TAF gains in Afrin, the deployment of government forces in the area as well as Iranian and Russian diplomatic support can limit and even counter a major part of the Turkish military plans. Few hours before the column deployment Erdogan vowed to lay siege to the city of Afrin in three days time.

The situation remains tense. Many will depend on the terms and conditions of the YPG-Damascus deal.

On February 20, Eastern Ghouta militant groups conducted a massive shelling of the government-held areas of Damascus. The Russian center for reconciliation of the warring parties in Syria was among targets. The shelling killed at least seven civilians and wounded over 40 others. No casualties among the Russian personnel were reported.

No ground operation has yet started in Eastern Ghouta but the mainstream media is already full of reports about the so-called Assad forces attacking civilians there. These reports ignore that a large part of the pocket is controlled by groups, which have never respected the ceasefire – Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, Ahrar al-Sham and Faylaq al-Rahman.

Related News

Russia and Syria Falsely Blamed for Civilian Deaths in Eastern Ghouta

Russia and Syria Falsely Blamed for Civilian Deaths in Eastern Ghouta

by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org – Home – Stephen Lendman)

The area is one of four de-escalation zones in Syria, brokered last May by Russia, Iran and Turkey.

Al-Nusra and other US-supported terrorists in the area, falsely called rebels, undermined it.

They’re responsible for civilian deaths and blocking humanitarian aid from reaching civilians in dire need, Russia and Syria falsely blamed for their high crimes.

Commenting on false US and media accusations, Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called them “groundless.”

US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert falsely accused Assad of siege and starvation tactics, ignoring atrocities committed by US-supported terrorists.

In a statement issued by his spokesman, UN Secretary-General Guterres shamefully urged restraint by all parties, reminding them of the de-escalation agreement, failing to lay blame where it belongs, fulfilling his role as a reliable US imperial agent – betraying UN Charter principles.

On Wednesday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said “(w)e are now working in New York on the draft of (a) relevant (Security Council) resolution,” adding:

“As regards the humanitarian ceasefire, I think this issue will also be resolved, depending on how the development of this draft resolution further goes.”

“Humanitarian issues, including humanitarian aid and humanitarian access, have become perhaps the most egregious example of the double standards of the United States and their adherents in approaching the entire Syrian dossier.”

“We see every day how not only selectively, but cynically, Washington separates issues that are beneficial to it from the point of view of political promotion and pressure on Damascus, from similar situations that create discomfort for the United States, to put it mildly, due to certain reasons. We point this out in all contacts and in all formats.”

Shelling by US-supported al-Nusra and other terrorists is responsible for civilian deaths and attacks on hospitals – using heavy weapons supplied by Washington and its rogue allies.

Al Jazeera is owned and operated by the despotic Qatari regime, allied with Washington, NATO, and their rogue partners against Syria – reporting daily disinformation about ongoing conflict.

On Wednesday, it lied, saying “Syrian forces backed by Russian warplanes have continued to hit the rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta, with at least 27 killed on Wednesday,” adding:

“This brings the number of civilian deaths to more than 270, including 60 children, over the past three days” – citing as sources the anti-Syria, Western-funded Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and al-Qaeda-connected White Helmets, complicit in their atrocities.

Al Jazeera: “Eastern Ghouta is the last remaining rebel-held area east of Damascus and has been under siege by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces since 2013.”

Russian and Assad forces are trying to liberate the area, besieged by US-supported terrorists, holding thousands of Syrian civilians hostage.

Like Western media scoundrels, Al Jazeera reports daily disinformation on the conflict – irresponsibly blaming Russia and Syria for high crimes committed by US terror-bombing and support for terrorists used as imperial foot soldiers.

واشنطن لحلفائها: فلنقسّم سوريا

المجتمعون أعطوا أنفسهم مهلة عام لتنفيذ الخطة الأميركية (أ ف ب)
تغيّرت السياسة الأميركية في سوريا. بعد طول مراوحة في تحديد ما سيفعلونه بعد هزيمة «داعش»، قرر الأميركيون إطالة أمد الحرب بالبقاء خلف الضفة الشرقية للفرات، والعمل وفق خطة تفصيلية لتقسيم البلاد. وخلال الشهرين الماضيين، كانت الدبلوماسية الأميركية تعمل على اطلاع الحلفاء على تلك الخطة تمهيداً لإطلاقها ووضعها قيد التنفيذ. وفي هذا الإطار، حصلت «الأخبار» على برقية دبلوماسية صادرة عن سفارة بريطانيا في واشنطن، توجز الاستراتيجية الأميركية للوصول إلى تقسيم سوريا كما عرضها ديفيد ساترفيلد خلال اجتماع عقده في واشنطن في الحادي عشر من الشهر الماضي ممثلون عن مجموعة «سوريا» الأميركية
محمد بلوط, وليد شرارة
المشروع الأميركي التقسيمي في سوريا لم يعد في حيّز التحليلات، لا في دائرة التراشق الدبلوماسي الروسي مع واشنطن، وقد برز منها كلام وزير الخارجية سيرغي لافروف في الأيام الأخيرة عن أن واشنطن تخطّط للتقسيم. فبعد الضربة التي وجهتها المقاتلات الجوية والراجمات الأميركية، لقوات روسية وسورية رديفة، حاولت الأسبوع الماضي اجتياز «الحدود» فوق جسور عائمة من غرب الفرات إلى شرقه، عملت الولايات المتحدة على تثبيت خط فاصل بالنار بين «سوريتين»، غرب الفرات وشرقه.
لكن ما حدث لم يكن صاعقة في سماء صافية دبلوماسية أو ميدانية. المجزرة التي أوقعتها الطائرات الأميركية في مقاتلي شركة «فاغنر» «الرديفة» للجيش الروسي في سوريا رسمت الحدود ومستقبل ما وراء الفرات إلى الشرق، كما أعد لها الأميركيون منذ أسابيع. يأتي ذلك بعد أن نضجت في مجلس الأمن القومي الاستراتيجية الجديدة حول سوريا وأعلم الأميركيون حلفاءهم في «مجموعة سوريا»، قبل ستة أسابيع، أن الهدف المقبل هو فصل الشرق عن بقية الخريطة السورية، وأن البيت الأبيض خصّص أربعة مليارات دولار في العام الواحد لتمويل القوات التي ستعمل في المنطقة بالإضافة إلى تدريب قوة حرس الحدود المزمع إنشاؤها لتذويب الغلبة الكردية في قوات سوريا الديمقراطية شرق النهر، وتسهيل ابتداع معارضة سياسية شرق النهر تمثل المنطقة، وتمنع عودة الجيش السوري.
وفي برقية دبلوماسية من خمس صفحات، صادرة عن سفارة بريطانيا في واشنطن، حصلت عليها «الأخبار»، يوجز الدبلوماسي وخبير شؤون الشرق الأوسط في السفارة بنيامين نورمان لوزارة الخارجية البريطانية في لندن، الاستراتيجية الأميركية الجديدة للوصول الى تقسيم سوريا كما عرضها مساعد وزير الخارجية الأميركية لشؤون الشرق الأوسط، ديفيد ساترفيلد خلال اجتماع عقده في واشنطن في الحادي عشر من الشهر الماضي ممثلون عن «مجموعة سوريا» الأميركية.
حضر الاجتماع إلى جانب ساترفيلد، رئيس فريق سوريا في وزارة الخارجية البريطانية هيو كلاري، ورئيس قسم الشرق الأوسط وشمال أفريقيا في وزارة الخارجية الفرنسية جيروم بونافون. حليفان عربيان لواشنطن في خطتها التقسيمية حضرا الاجتماع: مستشار وزير الخارجية الأردني نواف وصفي التل، والمسؤول الأمني في وزارة الداخلية السعودي العميد جمال العقيل.
البرقية الموجزة تحدث فيها ساترفيلد بصراحة عن الهدف الذي ستعمل الولايات المتحدة على تحقيقه من الآن فصاعداً، وهو التقسيم وفصل الشرق السوري وشمال الشرق السوري عن البلاد. وقال ساترفيلد، كما جاء في الإيجاز البريطاني، إن الخطة التي يجب العمل عليها تتألف من خمس نقاط: تقسيم سوريا، تخريب سوتشي، استيعاب تركيا، وإصدار تعليمات إلى الوسيط الدولي ستيفان دي ميستورا لاستعادة جنيف، وتنفيذ ورقة من ثماني نقاط تتضمن الحل في سوريا كانت واشنطن قد قدمتها إلى الاجتماع الأخير للمعارضة السورية وممثلي الحكومة في فيينا في السادس والعشرين من الشهر الماضي. المجتمعون أعطوا أنفسهم مهلة عام لتنفيذ هذه الخطة عندما رحبوا، كما قالت الوثيقة، بالاقتراحات الأميركية «ودعوا إلى تحقيق تقدم ملموس في سوريا خلال عام ٢٠١٨، والرد على دعاية الانتصار الروسي».
ساترفيلد أبلغ الحاضرين أن الرئيس دونالد ترامب قرر الإبقاء على قوة عسكرية مهمة في سوريا، رغم هزيمة «داعش»، وأن الإدارة الأميركية خصصت أربعة مليارات دولار سنوياً لهذه العملية التي تقول مصادر غربية إنها ستنفق أيضاً منها على توسيع القواعد الأميركية في الأراضي التي يسيطر عليها الأكراد خصوصاً، في الرميلان في أقصى الشرق السوري، وفي عين العرب (كوباني)، على خط الحدود السورية ــ التركية. وقال إن الهدف من ذلك هو منع الإيرانيين من التمركز على المدى الطويل في سوريا، أو فرض أنفسهم في مسارات الحل السياسي. المجموعة قررت مواجهة الانفراد الروسي سياسياً في تحديد مستقبل النظام السياسي في سوريا عبر تقديم دعم مادي وسياسي لستيفان دي ميستورا لتصليب مسار جنيف، في مواجهة «سوتشي». الجميع رحّب بهذه الاقتراحات، مع التركيز على أخرى ميدانية وعملية لمواجهة «الرغبة الروسية بالتوصل إلى حل سياسي».
الأمم المتحدة ستلعب دوراً كبيراً في الخطة الأميركية لتقسيم سوريا. الأولوية ستعطى لتصليب مسار جنيف، إذ أبلغ الأميركيون الحاضرين أنهم لن يشاركوا من الآن فصاعداً في اجتماعات أستانا، وأنهم قد خفضوا تمثيلهم الدبلوماسي إلى أدنى مستوى، للعودة بالمسار السياسي إلى جنيف. محضر الاجتماع يقول إن الداعين إليه أقرّوا بأن جنيف قد فشل رغم الجهود التي بذلها ستيفان دي ميستورا لإنعاشه، وأبدوا تحفظاً على وقف إطلاق النار في سوريا في ظل الشروط الميدانية الحالية ومع تراجع المعارضة واعتبروا أنْ لا فائدة من إدخال اقتراح وقف إطلاق النار في مسار جنيف لأننا في الحقيقة «لا نملك القدرة على منع النظام من قضم الجيوب التي لا تزال المعارضة تحتفظ بها في إدلب والغوطة الشرقية» بحسب الملاحظات المدونة على الوثيقة.00 
الأميركيون في الطريق إلى التقسيم، لا يعبأون بفكرة الحكومة الانتقالية، ولا بتنفيذ الشق المتعلق بها كما نصّ عليها القرار الأممي ٢٢٥٤، إذ قال ساترفيلد للمجتمعين إننا «نصحنا المعارضة بعدم دعم فكرة الحكومة الانتقالية، وإن على المعارضة أن تتوقف عن التلويح بالحكومة الانتقالية في كل مناسبة». وبيّن الأميركيون أن الغاية من مبادراتهم الدبلوماسية هي الحفاظ على صورتهم «وإبداء مرونتهم وحركيتهم مع عدم المبالغة في توظيف المعارضة في هذه المفاوضات من دون التخلي عن هدفها النهائي والأساسي بتقسيم سوريا ورحيل الأسد». وأوضح الأميركيون للجميع أن «الخطة تقضي بالعمل على إنشاء مؤسسات وشروط لانتخابات لا يستطيع بشار الأسد الفوز فيها، لذلك لا يوجد مبرر بديهي لمنع الأسد من المشاركة في الانتخابات». المجتمعون أقروا استراتيجية تجاه روسيا باختبار نياتها للذهاب نحو توفير شروط ملائمة لإجراء انتخابات تحت إشراف الأمم المتحدة «وجرّ النظام إلى التفاوض على دستور جديد، وعدم الاكتفاء من الآن فصاعداً بالكلام المعسول لوزير الخارجية الروسي سيرغي لافروف». ساترفيلد قال: «إننا سنستفيد ايجابياً من هشاشة وضع فلاديمير بوتين في المرحلة الانتخابية من أجل دفع الروس إلى التخلي عن الرئيس الأسد عبر المزيد من الاجتماعات في مجلس الأمن، وأوسع حملة إعلامية ضده».
الأميركيون تقدموا خطوة نحو تكريس قناة دبلوماسية مع شرق الفرات والأكراد، عبر تعيين ويليام روبوك، سفيراً لدى «قوات سوريا الديمقراطية»، كما أبلغ ساترفيلد المجتمعين. كذلك قدموا اقتراحات تمنح المزيد من الاعتراف والوزن الدبلوماسي للأكراد في المسار التفاوضي من دون استفزاز الأتراك، وخصوصاً أن هؤلاء كانوا على اطلاع على الخطوات الأميركية في هذا الاتجاه، وهو ما برّر الأتراك به الهجوم على عفرين. واقترح الأميركيون، أيضاً، إغراق التمثيل الكردي في مفاوضات جنيف تحت اعلام «قوات سوريا الديمقراطية» وتشكيل وفد يمثل شرق الفرات عملياً للإطباق بواسطته ووفد المعارضة الائتلافية، على وفد الحكومة السورية، كما تقترح الوثيقة.

 


المشاركون في الاجتماع
 ــ بنيامين نورمان، معدّ محضر الاجتماع المرسل إلى وزارة الخارجية البريطانية، خبير الشؤون السياسة الخارجية والأمنية للشرق الأوسط في السفارة البريطانية – واشنطن.
ــ هيو كلاري، رئيس فريق سوريا في وزارة الخارجية البريطانية.
ــ جيروم بونافون، رئيس قسم الشرق الأوسط وشمال أفريقيا في وزارة الخارجية الفرنسية.
– ديفيد ساترفيلد، مساعد وزارة الخارجية الأميركية للشرق الأوسط.
ــ نواف وصفي التل، مستشار وزير الخارجية الأردني.
ــ العميد جمال العقيل، مسؤول أمني سعودي.

 


مقدمة الوثيقة
الاجتماع الأول لمجموعة العمل الأميركية المصغَّرة حول سوريا بعد مباركة الرئيس دونالد ترامب لوجود مديد للقوات الأميركية في هذا البلد. اتُّفق على توفير دعم فوري لستيفان دي ميستورا لموازنة الجهود الروسية، ولإعادة تفعيل مسار جنيف بنيوياً، بإعادة التفاوض في القضايا الانسانية، والسجناء… ستقدم المجموعة المصغرة اقتراحات بشأن الدستور السوري والانتخابات، وإفهام روسيا ما هو منتظر من التزامات من قبل (الرئيس بشار) الأسد في الجولة المقبلة للمفاوضات التي ستعقد في فيينا في السادس والعشرين من كانون الثاني. سيلتقي الوزراء على الاجتماع في باريس في الثالث والعشرين من شهر كانون الثاني، للاتفاق على هذه المقاربة ورمي القفاز في وجه الروس. وسيلقي تيلرسون خطاباً أساسياً حول سوريا الأسبوع المقبل.

تعليقات كاتب الوثيقة
النقطة ١٨: حقق هذا الاجتماع تقدّماً وفق المعايير السورية. أعادت الولايات المتحدة تأكيد زعامتها وفق ما تصبو إليه، وهو ما سيجهر به تيلرسون في خطاب له بشأن سوريا في معهد هوفر. كرر ساترفيلد التزام الولايات المتحدة المسار السياسي، وفي اجتماعات منفصلة (مع براين هوك). كان واضحاً أن تيلرسون سيساهم في دفع العربة إلى الأمام.
النقطة ١٩: لدينا الآن خطة متينة للأسابيع الثلاثة القادمة. مع ذلك جرى نقاش في كيفية الاستمرار بالضغط على روسيا، وحتى مضاعفتها إذا لم يستجيبوا لطلباتنا المتعلقة بالنظام السوري كما نأمل. ينبغي أن نواصل ما قد بدأناه في هذه المجال، بالتركيز على الوضع الإنساني الرهيب والتواطؤ الروسي مع عمليات القصف ضد المدنيين.
النقطة ٢٠: (مخاطباً ساترفيلد) شكراً جزيلاً لكما أنت وهيو لحضوركما هذا الاجتماع. عبّرت الولايات المتحدة عن امتنانها لجهودنا ودعمنا في الاشهر التي خلت، بعد أن بلورت استراتيجيتها، إنه يوم عمل جيد.
أفضل التحيات
بنيامين نورمان. شؤون السياسة الخارجية والأمنية. السفارة البريطانية، واشنطن.

The Saker: Escalation In Syria – How Far Can The Russians Be Pushed?

16.02.2018

Written by The Saker; Originally appeared at The Unz Review

Events in Syria have recently clearly taken a turn for the worse and there is an increasing amount of evidence that the Russian task force in Syria is being targeted by a systematic campaign of “harassing attacks”.

First, there was the (relatively successful) drone and mortar attack on the Russian Aerospace base in Khmeimin. Then there was the shooting down of a Russian SU-25 over the city of Maasran in the Idlib province. Now we hear of Russian casualties in the US raid on a Syrian column (along with widely exaggerated claims of “hundreds” of killed Russians). In the first case, Russian officials did openly voice their strong suspicion that the attack was if not planned and executed by the USA, then at least coordinated with the US forces in the vicinity. In the case of the downing of the SU-25, no overt accusations have been made, but many experts have stated that the altitude at which the SU-25 was hit strongly suggests a rather modern MANPAD of a type not typically seen in Syria (the not so subtle hint being here that these were US Stingers sent to the Kurds by the USA). As for the latest attack on the Syrian column, what is under discussion is not who did it but rather what kind of Russian personnel was involved, Russian military or private contractors (the latter is a much more likely explanation since the Syrian column had no air-cover whatsoever). Taken separately, none of these incidents mean very much but taken together they might be indicative of a new US strategy in Syria: to punish the Russians as much as possible short of an overt US attack on Russian forces. To me this hypothesis seems plausible for the following reasons:

First, the USA and Israel are still reeling in humiliation and impotent rage over their defeat in Syria: Assad is still in power, Daesh is more or less defeated, the Russians were successful not only their military operations against Daesh but also in their campaign to bring as many “good terrorists” to the negotiating table as possible. With the completion of a successful conference on Syria in Russia and the general agreement of all parties to begin working on a new constitution, there was a real danger of peace breaking out, something the AngloZionist are absolutely determined to oppose (check out this apparently hacked document which, if genuine, clearly states the US policy not to allow the Russian to get anything done).

Second, both Trump and Netanyahu have promised to bring in lots of “victories” to prove how manly and strong they are (as compared to the sissies which preceded them). Starting an overt war against Russian would definitely be a “proof of manhood”, but a much too dangerous one. Killing Russians “on the margins”, so to speak, either with plausible deniability or, alternatively, killing Russians private contractors is much safer and thus far more tempting option.

Third, there are presidential elections coming up in Russia and the US Americans are still desperately holding on to their sophomoric notion that if they create trouble for Putin (sanctions or body bags from Syria) they can somehow negatively impact his popularity in Russia (in reality they achieve the opposite effect, but they are too dull and ignorant to realize that).

Last but not least, since the AngloZionist have long lost the ability to actually getting anything done, their logical fall-back position is not let anybody else succeed either. This is the main purpose of the entire US deployment in northern Syria: to create trouble for Turkey, Iran, Syria and, of course, Russia.

The bottom line is this: since the US Americans have declared that they will (illegally) stay in Syria until the situation “stabilizes” they now must do everything their power to destabilize Syria. Yes, there is a kind of a perverse logic to all that…

For Russia, all this bad news could be summed up in the following manner: while Russia did defeat Daesh in Syria she is still far from having defeated the AngloZionists in the Middle-East. The good news is, however, that Russia does have options to deal with this situation.

Step one: encouraging the Turks

There is a counter-intuitive but in many ways an ideal solution for Russia to counter the US invasion of Syria: involve the Turks. How? Not by attacking the US forces directly, but by attacking the Kurdish militias the US Americans are currently “hiding” behind (at least politically). Think of it, while the US (or Israel) will have no second thoughts whatsoever before striking Syrian or Iranian forces, actually striking Turkish forces would carry an immense political risk: following the US-backed coup attempt against Erdogan and, just to add insult to injury, the US backing for the creation of a “mini-Kurdistsan” both in Iraq and in Syria, US-Turkish relations are at an all-time low and it would not take much to push the Turks over the edge with potentially cataclysmic consequences for the US, EU, NATO, CENTCOM, Israel and all the AngloZionist interests in the region. Truly, there is no overstating the strategic importance of Turkey for Europe, the Mediterranean and the Middle-East, and the US Americans know that. From this flows a very real if little understood consequence: the Turkish armed forces in Syria basically enjoy what I would call a “political immunity” from any US attacks, that is to say that (almost) no matter what the Turks do, the US would (almost) never consider actually openly using force against them simply because the consequence of, say, a USAF strike on a Turkish army column would be too serious to contemplate.

In fact, I believe that the US-Turkish relationship is so bad and so one-sided that I see a Turkish attack on a Kurdish (or “good terrorist”) column/position with embedded US Special Forces far more likely than a US attack on a Turkish army column. This might sound counter-intuitive, but let’s say the Turks did attack a Kurdish (or “good terrorist”) column/position with US personnel and that US servicemen would die as the result. What would/could the US do? Retaliate in kind? No way! Not only is the notion of the US attacking a fellow NATO country member is quite unthinkable, it would most likely be followed by a Turkish demand that the US/NATO completely withdraw from Turkey’s territory and airspace. In theory, the US could ask the Israelis to do their dirty job for them, but the Israelis are not stupid (even if they are crazy) and they won’t have much interest in starting a shooting war with Turkey over what is a US-created problem in a “mini-Kurdistan”, lest any hallowed “Jewish blood” be shed for some basically worthless goyim.

No, if the Turks actually killed US servicemen there would be protests and a flurry of “consultations” and other symbolic actions, but beyond that, the US would take the losses and do nothing about it. As for Erdogan, his popularity at home would only soar even higher. What all this means in practical terms is that if there is one actor which can seriously disrupt the US operations in northern Syria, or even force the US to withdraw, it is Turkey. That kind of capability also gives Turkey a lot of bargaining power with Russia and Iran which I am sure Erdogan will carefully use to his own benefit. So far Erdogan has only threatened to deliver an “Ottoman slap” to the USA and Secretary of State Tillerson is traveling to Ankara to try to avert a disaster, but the Turkish instance that the USA chose either the Turkish or the Kurdish side in the conflict very severely limits the chances of any real breakthrough (the Israel lobby being 100% behind the Kurds). One should never say never, but I submit that it would take something of a miracle at this point to really salvage the US-Turkish relationship. Russia can try to capitalize on this dynamic.

The main weakness of this entire concept is, of course, that the USA is still powerful enough, including inside Turkey, and it would be very dangerous for Erdogan to try to openly confront and defy Uncle Sam. So far, Erdogan has been acting boldly and in overt defiance of the USA, but he also understands the risks of going too far and for him to even consider taking such risks there have to be prospects of major benefits from him. Here the Russians have two basic options: either to promise the Turks something very inciting or to somehow further deteriorate the current relationship between the US and Turkey. The good news here is that Russian efforts to drive a wedge between the US and Turkey are be greatly assisted by the US support for Israel, Kurds, and Gulenists.

The other obvious risk is that any anti-Kurdish operation can turn into yet another partition of Syria, this time by the Turks. However, the reality is that the Turks can’t really stay for too long in Syria, especially not if Russia and Iran oppose this. There is also the issue of international law which is much easier for the USA to ignore than for the Turks.

For all these reasons using the Turks to put pressure on the USA has its limitations. Still, if the Turks continue to insist that the USA stop supporting the Kurds, or if they continue putting military pressure on the Kurdish militias, then the entire US concept of a US-backed “mini-Kurdistan” collapses and, with it, the entire US partition plan for Syria.

So far, the Iraqis have quickly dealt with the US-sponsored “mini-Kurdistan” in Iraq and the Turks are now taking the necessary steps to deal with the US-sponsored “mini-Kurdistan” in Syria at which point *their* problem will be solved. The Turks are not interested in helping Assad or, for that matter, Putin and they don’t care what happens to Syria as long as *their* Kurdish problem is under control. This means that the Syrians, Russians, and Iranians should not place too much hope on the Turks turning against the USA unless, of course, the correct circumstances are created. Only the future will tell whether the Russians and the Iranians will be able to help to create such circumstances.

Step two: saturating Syria with mobile modern short/middle range air defenses

Right now nobody knows what kind of air-defense systems the Russians have been delivering to the Syrians over the past couple of years, but that is clearly the way to go for the Russians: delivering as many modern and mobile air defense systems to the Syrians. While this would be expensive, the best solution here would be to deliver as many Pantsir-S1 mobile Gun/SAM systems and 9K333 Verba MANPADs as possible to the Syrians and the Iranians. The combination of these two systems would immensely complicate any kind of air operations for the US Americans and Israelis, especially since there would be no practical way of reliably predicting the location from which they could operate. And since both the USA and Israel are operating in the Syrian skies in total violation of international law while the Syrian armed forces would be protecting their own sovereign airspace, such a delivery of air-defense systems by Russia to Syria would be impeccably legal. Best of all, it would be absolutely impossible for the AngloZionist to know who actually shot at them since these weapon systems are mobile and easy to conceal. Just like in Korea, Vietnam or Lebanon, Russian crews could even be sent to operate the Syrian air defense systems and there would be no way for anybody to prove that “the Russians did it” when US and Israeli aircraft would start falling out of the skies. The Russians would enjoy what the CIA calls “plausible deniability”. The US Americans and Israelis would, of course, turn against the weaker party, the Syrians, but that other than feeling good that would not really make a difference on the ground as the Syrians skies would not become safer for US or Israelis air forces.

The other option for the Russians would be to offer upgrades (software and missile) to the existing Syrian air defense systems, especially their road-mobile 2K12 Kub and 9K37 Buk systems. Such upgrades, especially if combined with enough deployed Pantsirs and Verbas would be a nightmare for both the US Americans and the Israelis. The Turks would not care much since they are already basically flying with the full approval of the Russians anyway, and neither would the Iranians who, as far as I know, have no air operations in Syria.

One objection to this plan would be that two can play this game and that there is nothing preventing the USA from sending even more advanced MANPADs to their “good terrorist” allies, but that argument entirely misses the point: if both sides do the same thing, the side which is most dependent on air operations (the USA) stands to lose much more than the side which has the advantage on the ground (the Russians). Furthermore, by sending MANPADs to Syria, the USA is alienating a putative ally, Turkey, whereas if Russia sends MANPADs and other SAMs to Syria the only one who will be complaining will be the Israelis. When that happens, the Russians will have a simple and truthful reply: we did not start this game, your US allies did, you can go and thank them for this mess.

The main problem in Syria is the fact that the US and the Israelis are currently operating in the Syrian skies with total impunity. If this changes, this will be a slow and gradual process. First, there would be a few isolated losses (like the Israeli F-16 recently), then we would see that the location of US and/or Israeli airstrikes would gradually shit from urban centers and central command posts to smaller, more isolated targets (such as vehicle columns). This would indicate an awareness that the most lucrative targets are already too well defended. Eventually, the number of air sorties would be gradually replaced by cruise and ballistic missiles strikes. Underlying it all would be a shift from offensive air operations to force protection which, in turn, would give the Syrians, Iranians, and Hezbollah a much easier environment to operate in. But the necessary first step for any of that to happen would be to dramatically increase the capability of Syrian air defenses.

Hezbollah has, for decades, very successfully operated under a total Israelis air supremacy and their experience of this kind of operations would be invaluable to the Syrians until they sufficiently built up their air defense capabilities.

Conclusion: is counter-escalation really the only option?

Frankly, I am starting to believe that the Empire has decided to attempt upon a partial “reconquista” of Syria, even Macron is making some noises about striking the Syrians to “punish” them for their use of (non-existing) chemical weapons. At the very least, the USA wants to make the Russians pay as high a price as possible for their role in Syria. Further US goals in Syria include:

  • The imposition of a de-facto partition of Syria by taking under control the Syrian territory east of the Euphrates river (we could call that “plan C version 3.0”)
  • The theft of the gas fields located in northeastern Syria
  • The creation of a US-controlled staging area from which Kurdish, good terrorist and bad terrorist operations can be planned and executed
  • The sabotaging of any Russian-backed peace negotiations
  • The support for Israeli operations against Iranian and Hezbollah forces in Lebanon and Syria
  • Engaging in regular attacks against Syrian forces attempting to liberate their country from foreign invaders
  • Presenting the invasion and occupation of Syria as one of the “victories” promised by Trump to the MIC and the Israel lobby

So far the Russian response to this developing strategy has been a rather a passive one and the current escalation strongly suggests that a new approach might be needed. The shooting down of the Israeli F-16 is a good first step, but much more needs to be done to dramatically increase the costs the Empire will have to pay for is policies towards Syria. The increase in the number of Russian commentators and analysts demanding a stronger reaction to the current provocations might be a sign that something is in the making.

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