ما بعد ما بعد النصرة وداعش

ما بعد ما بعد النصرة وداعش

ناصر قنديل

– كلما كان الأمين العام لحزب الله السيد حسن نصرالله متحدثاً عن معارك السلسلة الشرقية الحدودية بين لبنان وسورية كان خصومه اللبنانيون يستحضرون اسم عرسال كبلدة لبنانية أرادوا توظيف هوية سكانها لتظهيرها هدفاً لحزب الله والمقاومة بسحابات طائفية، وتحويلها بالتالي بيئة تحتضن المقاتلين الذين دخلوها ضمن خطة قديمة، ويعرف حزب الله كما يعرف خصومه أنهم منتمون لتنظيم القاعدة ولا علاقة لهم لا بالثورة ولا بالثوار، كما وصفهم وزير عدل تيار المستقبل يومها اللواء أشرف ريفي. وليس خافياً على حزب الله كما على خصومه أنّ هؤلاء «الثوار» هم أنفسهم الذين قال وزير حرب العدو موشي يعالون في الفترة ذاتها أنهم أصدقاء لـ«إسرائيل» وأنهم مؤتمنون على أمنها و«حدودها».

– لم تنفصل معركة من معارك حزب الله في سورية، وخصوصاً معركتي القصير والقلمون عن قيام جيش الاحتلال باستهداف حزب الله بضربات معلنة وواضحة تحمل رسائل التحذير من الإقدام على خيار الحسم، كما لم تنفصل مساعيه للحسم مرة عن ضجيج مرتفع داخلياً من معارضيه وخصومه الذين وقفوا يطالبونه بتسليم سلاحه في حرب تموز عام 2006، وكلّ مرة بذريعة، لكنهم دائماً كانوا يحاولون إعاقته عن الحسم ويمنعون قيام الجيش اللبناني والأجهزة الأمنية بعمل جدي يستهدف الجماعات التي أعلنت «إسرائيل» أنها عالجت خلال سنوات ثلاثة آلاف من جرحاها، ما يحسم أنّ الخلفية هي السعي لحماية هذه الجماعات رغم إدراك علاقتها بـ«إسرائيل» وتوفير التغطية لها تحت عناوين متعدّدة مرة تربطها بالنازحين السوريين والبعد الإنساني ومرة بالسلاح وهوية حامليه ومقابلهم هوية عرسال الطائفية والتحذير من الفتنة.

– تقترب الحرب على سورية من نهاياتها مع سقوط الرهانات الأميركية على إعاقة قوى محور المقاومة عن سقف أدنى هو حماية سورية من السقوط وسقف أعلى هو حماية سورية من التقسيم والفوضى، وصارت الخيارات الأميركية محدودة وعنوانها، إما التخلّي عن مشروع الفوضى وبلوغ لحظة خسارة كلّ شيء وبلوغ لحظة يصل فيها رجال المقاومة مع الجيش السوري إلى كلّ بقعة من الجغرافيا السورية، أو قبول العرض الروسي بتسليم الجيش السوري طوعاً مناطق سيطرة المسلحين، حيث يمكنهم ذلك تفادياً لتوسع رقعة انتشار حزب الله من جهة، وحفظاً لدور سياسي لممثلي هذه الجماعات من بوابتي أستانة وجنيف، لكن همّ واشنطن وحلفائها يبقى أمن «إسرائيل» سواء بالسعي لربط التسوية في سورية بضمانات وترتيبات تتصل بهذا الأمن، أو بفرض وقائع تتصل بحصار المقاومة.

– توقيت معركة السلسلة الشرقية الحدودية لبناني أولاً لحفظ أمن العاصمة من المفخّخات والانتحاريين. لكنها إقليمية دولية، واستراتيجية. فهي تسريع لروزنامة تستبق التفاوض وتنزع الأوراق من يد الخصوم، فلا تكون الحدود اللبنانية السورية موضوع تفاوض ولا الحدود السورية العراقية غداً، ولا يترك بعض المتربّصين والمتذاكين في لبنان يكسبون الوقت لتهيئة الظروف والتحدّث عن نشر وحدات دولية هناك، وربطها بإقامة مناطق لا مسلحين فيها تحت شعار إيواء النازحين. والأهمّ الاستعداد لما هو آتٍ في فلسطين والذي قد لا يتيح فرص التنعّم الأميركي بتسويات قد تنسفها التطورات الفلسطينية التي قد تفرض تصاعداً في التوتر يأخذ المنطقة ومعها المقاومة من بوابة القدس إلى مكان آخر.

– القضية ليست فقط وجود النصرة وداعش، بل هي قضية ما بعد ما بعد النصرة وداعش.

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EXPLOSION HITS IDLIB AS HAY’AT TAHRIR AL-SHAM TAKES CONTROL OF CITY

South Front

23.07.2017

According to opposition sources, fighters of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) deployed in Idlib city and catpured the Executive Force building, the electricity company as well as all checkpoints and Ahrar al-Sham HQs in the city. Thus, HTS set a full control over Idlib.

According to sources, there were few clashes between Ahrar al-Sham and HTS fighters in the city before the withdrawal of Ahrar al-Sham fighters. The source confirmed that handing over Idlib City to HTS is a part of the agreement between Ahrar al-Sham and HTS.

Hours after the deployment of HTS fighters a unknown side targeted a gathering of HTS fighters at the Al-Zira’a Roundabout with a VBIED, killing 13 HTS fighters and injuring dozens. However, it’s not yet known whether elements of ISIS or Ahrar al-Sham were behind the attack.

During the last battle in Idlib province, HTS managed captured Idlib city and the entire Syrian-Turkish border line in the Idlib province.

More than 15 armed groups defected from Ahrar al-Sham and joined HTS. The influence of Ahrar al-Sham has receded and become limited to Sahl al-Ghab areas and Qalat Al-Madiq in the southern and southwestern countryside of Idlib.

 

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US Ends CIA Program in Syria but Continues Preparations for Big War

US Ends CIA Program in Syria but Continues Preparations for Big War

ALEX GORKA | 23.07.2017 | WORLD

US Ends CIA Program in Syria but Continues Preparations for Big War

The news hits headlines. The Washington Post (WP) reports that President Trump has decided to discontinue the CIA’s covert program to arm and train «moderate» Syrian rebels battling the government of Bashar al-Assad, according to US officials. The program was authorized by  Trump’s predecessor in 2013. The move is described by media as a major concession to Russia. «This is a momentous decision,» the WP cites an unnamed official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the secret program, «Putin won in Syria». Ned Price, a former CIA officer who served as senior director of the National Security Council under President Barack Obama, thinks «The White House appears content to kowtow to Moscow on any number of fronts — including in Syria». Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham tweeted that «if true – and I hope it’s not – it would be a complete capitulation to Assad, Russia, and Iran». But is it really a concession or a big policy change?

At first glance, the plans to oust the Assad government in Syria are shelved and there is nothing left but airstrikes against Islamic State (IS) militants and the Defense Department run train-and-equip program to support the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) dominated by Kurds. With the de-escalation zones coming into effect, the US is gradually reducing its involvement in the Syrian cauldron. But a deeper look into the matter leads to quite different conclusions.

The suspension of the CIA program is much ado about nothing, it was inefficient anyway. In fact, it does not change anything because the Pentagon program is in place. The US is not curtailing its involvement. To the contrary, it is increasing its military presence in Syria, and also in Iraq, by leaps and bounds.

The Turkish Anadolu Agency published a report on July 17 detailing the military facilities’ whereabouts and, in some instances, the number of special operations forces working there. It said two airfields and eight military outposts in Kobani, Manbij and Rumeilan, among others, are being used to support the Kurdish Democratic Party (PYD) and its armed wing, the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG). One post in Ayn Issah town in northern Raqqa governorate housed around 200 US soldiers and 75 French special forces troops.

US-made armored vehicles, including MRAP, M-ATVs, and up-armored bulldozers have recently reinforced the forces in the area of Qamishli – a city in northeastern Syria on the border with Turkey. Guardian armored trucks and US up-armored Humvees are included in the coalition aid to the SDF, and according to the Defense Department’s fiscal year 2018 request for funds for train-and-equip program for Syrian partner forces, armored bulldozers are also included in aid to «vetted» Syrian groups, Military Times reports.

The source notes that M-ATVs and MRAPs are not part of the package that is divested to the Syrian Democratic Forces. Neither is the Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station, or CROWs system, which appears mounted on the M-ATVs featured in the photographs spread around by media. The images of heavily armored American combat vehicles entering Syria seem to illustrate that the US is increasing the military presence in the region in general and in Syria in particular.

Last month, US High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems – HIMARS – were moved to al-Tanf base in the southeastern part of the country – one of three official border crossings between Syria and Iraq. HIMARS had already been deployed in northern Syria.

US, British, and Jordanian troops, equipped with tanks and helicopters, have been reportedly positioned in a long strip region across the border zones of Syria’s southern provinces of Dara’a and Suwayda, from Tel Shahab rural area, just a few hundred meters from the Jordanian border, to al-Nasib Border Crossing and Khirbet Awad village. Their presence has also been reported near Ramtha, a Jordanian city, located in the far northwest of the Arab country close to the Syrian border. There are no IS militants in that area, so the forces’ mission is to keep away the Syrian government and pro-Iranian forces.

According to an AP report made public in March, the United States had spent to date more than $11.5 billion on its intervention in Syria. Several hundreds of US special operation forces have been sent to Syria under the pretext of training Kurdish militia fighters.

Actually, American military personnel are not supposed to be present on Syrian soil at all. The War Powers Resolution of 1973 enables the president to act unilaterally in the event of «a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces». Syria has not attacked the United States. The US 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) gives no authority to enter Syria, which had no relation to the 9/11 terrorist act. The Syrian government may be painted as a batch of bad guys doing wrong things in their own country, but the UN charter prohibits the use of military force for retaliation or for reprisal or, punishment.

The administration is pushing Congress for the authority to build new «temporary» facilities in Iraq and Syria. That’s what its recent policy statement says. The president wants Congress to extend existing authorities that only cover the «repair and renovation» of facilities to also encompass «temporary intermediate staging facilities, ammunition supply points, and assembly areas that have adequate force protection».

Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, the commander of who currently commands Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve and the XVIII Airborne Corps, said the campaign is now expected to expand into the Euphrates River Valley after Iraqi forces retook Mosul. The general acknowledged that a continued US military force presence in the region could include the use of temporary facilities set up on an ad hoc basis, such as those proposed by the administration, but would mostly draw upon existing bases. Little by little, the bird is making a nest in Syria.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is in talks with the Trump administration to keep American troops in Iraq after the fight against the IS in the country is concluded. The parties appear to agree that a longer-term presence of American troops is needed. The US military has about 7,000 troops in Iraq.

As one can see, there are multiple signs that the United States is increasing war preparations in the region. One of the missions is to prepare for a possible conflict with Iran. Another is strengthening the bargaining position at the talks on de-escalation zones in Syria and the talks on crisis management in Geneva. Any scenario can ignite a spark to light a fire.

Russia and the US could put aside all the differences and launch bilateral confidential talks on Syria. An open, honest conversation protected from any leaks to media could help to prevent the worst form happening. Moscow could act as a mediator between the Astana group and the US-led coalition. The mutually agreed proposals could then be submitted to other pertinent actors for discussion and approval. But the refusal to return Russian diplomatic compounds shows the US is not ready for a dialogue. Looks like Washington prefers to balance on the brink of war in the region in an effort to boost its influence and make the situation unfold the way it wants.

Erdogan condemns al-Aqsa violence before flying to Gulf states

BEIRUT, LEBANON (10:30 P.M.) – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned the violence in East Jerusalem and called on the governments concerned to resolve the situation at al-Aqsa, during a press conference in Istanbul on Sunday.

He said he and French President Emmanuel Macron do not “approve the violations against the rights of life, the rights of property and the right to worship no matter who does it.” He went on to invite the Israeli administration to behave “according to the rules of a settled society, [of] justice and of basic humanitarian values.”

Disputes regarding the holy site of al-Aqsa Mosque have sparked violent clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian demonstrators in recent days.

Erdogan also mentioned his upcoming trip to the Gulf region, where he will be visiting Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in a bid to resolve the diplomatic crisis between Qatar and its neighbouring countries. Gulf States have cut ties with Qatar after accusing the country of supporting terrorism.

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‘We’re bad day away from Russians asking, ‘Why are you still (illegally) in Syria?’ – top US commander

‘We’re bad day away from Russians asking, ‘Why are you still in Syria?’ – top US commander

A US special operations commander has admitted that an extended US stay in Syria runs contrary to international law and that Russia would be entirely justified in questioning its presence there.

At the Aspen Security Forum on Friday, Special Operations Command chief Army General, Raymond Thomas was asked whether American forces will remain in Syria, after Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) is defeated, possibly, to support the Kurdish forces in the north of the country.

Thomas acknowledged that American forces are fighting in a sovereign Syria, where they will likely “have no ability to stay” if that presence is questioned “in terms of international law,” Thomas said, replying to the Washington Post journalist’s question.

Here’s the conundrum,” Thomas continued. “We are operating in the sovereign country of Syria. The Russians, their stalwarts, their back-stoppers, have already uninvited the Turks from Syria. We’re a bad day away from the Russians saying, ‘Why are you still in Syria, US?’

It has come up in the form of some close calls there, but it will be hard – I defer to the lawyers in the crowd and others in terms of international law on the basis for us staying there other than our CT [counterterrorism] writ. We went there for all the righteous reasons, but if the Russians play that card, we may want to stay and have no ability to do it.

Syrian President Bashar Assad has said that any uninvited foreign troops, including those from the US, are “invaders” who only prolonged the conflict.

Assad has meanwhile invited Russian forces in Syria to join the anti-terrorist operation.

On Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said America’s presence in the war-torn country was illegitimate and accused CIA Director Mike Pompeo – who had criticized Russia’s presence in Syria – of practicing “double standards.”

READ MORE: ‘Russians find any place they can make our lives more difficult’ – CIA chief

Lavrov cited Turkish media reports of “ten US bases already having been set up in Syria” and pointed to the “hundreds of military bases of the United States all over the world.”

US still supports Syrian rebels (terrorists) : Lavrov

US still supports Syrian rebels: Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks during a meeting with his Egyptian counterpart in Moscow, on March 16, 2016. ©AFP

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Friday he thinks the United States continues to support opposition groups in Syria.“I understand that the US supports much more groups than just the ones, which were announced as being left without the American weapons,” he said in an interview with NBC News.

Lavrov says US policy of dealing with ‘moderate opposition’ in Syria doomed from start
The Russian foreign minister disagreed with the host who said the United States’ decision to stop supporting Syrian opposition groups could be seen as a concession to Russia

“This decision was made a few weeks before the meeting of G20 [when the two countries’ leaders had their first personal meeting, which among other things focused on the situation in Syria],” he argued.

The Russian top diplomat refrained from commenting Washington’s statements on its cessation of support to a number of groups in Syria, saying only that what matters most is to develop a common approach to the resolution of the Syrian crisis.

“We certainly concentrate on the de-escalation zones, which are designed to stop the fighting between the government and the armed opposition. For them not to attack each other, and hopefully for them to concentrate entirely on fighting ISIL (terror organization Islamic State, which is outlawed in Russia). Therefore, the logic of the opposition and the government to sign a ceasefire, to enter into cessation of hostilities arrangement is very much our logic,” Lavrov stressed.

Presence of any foreign troops or bases in Syria after the conflict resolution will be legitimate with the Syrians’ consent, Lavrov said.

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ALSO READ  US caves to Israeli interests in Syrian de-escalation deal: report

“After the country has been liberated, after the settlement has been reached to the satisfaction of all the Syrian ethnic, confessional and political groups, the presence of the foreign troops, of foreign bases on the soil of Syria would be only legitimate with the consent of the Syrians themselves,” Lavrov said when asked about Russia’s stance on deployment of US bases and checkpoints in north Syria.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo’s concern about deployment of two Russian bases in Syria whereas the United States are reported to have deployed about a dozen shows double standards, Lavrov said.

Moscow has no plans to deploy new military base in Syria — Russian Defense Ministry
“So if a gentleman, who represents a country (that) illegitimately have created ten bases in Syria, is concerned very much about two bases which have been established on the basis of our intergovernmental agreement with a government that is a member of the United Nations, than something is wrong with double standards,” he added.

“Not to mention that hundreds and hundreds of military bases of the United States all over the world and all around Russia seemingly do not cause any concern to Mr. Pompeo or anybody else,” Lavrov said.

Syria’s government did not ask the US’s help in the fight against terrorists, so the presence of US troops in that country is illegitimate, he said. Russia assumes that this presence is justified by a sole goal, which is the fight against so-called Islamic State and other terrorists.

On Tuesday, Turkey’s Anadolu news agency published a map of Syria with locations of US bases and outposts. The agency said that the US had deployed troops and hardware at two bases and eight outposts in northern Syria held by Kurdish Democratic Union party

Pentagon Establishes Ten Illegal US Military Bases in Northern Syria

Pentagon Establishes Ten Illegal US Military Bases in Northern Syria

By Russia Insider, July

No fewer than eleven illegal military bases within Syria’s borders. Turkey Reveals The Extent of Illegal US Military Base Building in Syria

Let us be under no illusions.

Washington objective is to fracture and break up Syria as well as establish a permanent military presence in both Northern and Southern Syria. 

(Michel Chossudovsky, GR, Editor)

*  *  *

Turkey’s state-owned Anadolu news agency has publicized the locations of 10 US bases in northern Syria, many of them previously unknown to the wider public.

For Turkey revealing the extent of increased US support for the Kurdish YPG militia—which Turkey insists is one and the same with the Kurdish PKK group it faces at home—serves to mobilize its public against the US.

Blowing the cover of the Americans is just a cherry on top.

The angle US media is centering on is just how upset the US is with Turkey for publishing this. Pentagon has asked US outlets not to reprint the information published by Anadolu and claimed doing so would endanger lives of US soldiers.

The Daily Beast:

Spokesmen for Operation Inherent Resolve, the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS, and for the U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Florida, asked The Daily Beast not to publish the detailed information reported by Anadolu.

“The discussion of specific troop numbers and locations would provide sensitive tactical information to the enemy which could endanger Coalition and partner forces,” wrote Col. Joe Scrocca, coalition director of public affairs.

“Publishing this type of information would be professionally irresponsible and we respectively [sic] request that you refrain from disseminating any information that would put Coalition lives in jeopardy.”

RT:

“While we cannot independently verify the sources that contributed to this story, we would be very concerned if officials from a NATO ally would purposefully endanger our forces by releasing sensitive information.”

However, we’d like to point out there is a party that has far more reason to be upset than the US. That would be Syria itself.

Along with the base at Al-Tanf the the US now has at least 11 permanently manned installations on the territory of Syria — all of them illegal.

All images in this article are from the author.

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