SYRIAN WAR REPORT – JAN. 23, 2019: SYRIA THREATENS TO STRIKE ‘TEL AVIV AIRPORT’

South Front

Late on January 22, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) repelled a major attack by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) in the Idlib de-escalation zone.

According to the Russian military, about 150-200 militants supported by 15-20 vehicles equipped with machine guns attacked SAA positions in the areas of Abu al-Duhur and Abu Sharja. They also employed at least one suicide vehicle borne explosive device. The militants overran the first line of defense and penetrated about 1.5-2 km deep into the SAA-controlled area.

Then, the military deployed reinforcements and with support of artillery units SAA troops repelled the advance and forced militants to withdraw from the recently captured positions.

According to pro-SAA sources, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham members suffered significant casualties.

12 service members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) were killed in the January 20th Israeli airstrikes on Damascus’s International Airport, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said on January 22. The SOHR claimed that the total death toll is 21 people: 6 Syrian Army troops, 12 IRGC service members and 3 other non-Syrian nationals.

On January 22, Syria’s envoy to the United Nations warned that if the UN Security Council did not put a stop to Israeli strikes on his country, Syria would retaliate on its own.

“Syria would practice its legitimate right of self-defense and respond to the Israeli aggression on Damascus International Airport in the same way on Tel Aviv airport,” Bashar Jaafari said.

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) claimed that the strikes were aimed at Iranian targets in the country. According  to the very same version, IDF aircraft attacked Syrian military positions because they were responding ‘violently’ to Israeli strikes on Iranian forces. It should be noted that the SOHR claims contradict with the data provided by the Russian Defense Ministry. It said that 4 Syrian service members were killed in the attack.

The Russia-delivered S-300 system was not employed by the Syrian military during the encounter. According to Russia’s Kommersant newspaper, the reason is that Syrian S-300 crews are still not ready to operate the S-300 air defense system themselves. According to the report, the S-300 crews have not passed firing exams yet. The newspaper speculated that the crews would not be ready earlier than March 2019. Then, one battalion of the S-300 air defense system will reportedly be deployed in the T4 airbase area.

Citing its own sources, Kommersant stated that Russia is not going to change its current attitude towards Israeli strikes on Syria as long as Russian personnel are not near the targets being hit.

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ماذا يعني رفض رئيس الحكومة تمثيل طائفة لبنانية؟

يناير 22, 2019

ناصر قنديل

– من الطبيعي في السياسة أن يفكّر كل طرف باتخاذ الموقف من المبادرات السياسية التي تعرض عليه وفقاً لحساب مصالحه، فيرفض ما لا يلائمها ويقبل ما يتوافق معها. وهذا هو الحال مع النظر لقبول ورفض الرئيس المكلف بتشكيل الحكومة سعد الحريري تجاه ما يتمّ تداوله من مبادرات تتصل بحل العقد التي تعترض تشكيل الحكومة، وليس لأحد عليه أن يقبل ويرفض خارج إطار حساب مصالحه، ولكن دائماً تحت سقف المصلحة الوطنية، وإذا تسامحنا بمقياس المصلحة الوطنية الذي بات مطاطاً ويشكل الرديف للمصالحة الخاصة في أيامنا، بحيث بات المعيار ما دمت بخير فالوطن بخير، فلن يكون بمستطاعنا التسامح إذا كانت الخلفية واللغة المرافقتان للقبول والرفض تهددان وحدتنا الوطنية.

– تناقلت وسائل الإعلام موقفاً ثابتاً للرئيس المكلف برفض صيغة مقترحة للحكومة من إثنين وثلاثين وزيراً. وعند هذا الحد يدخل الأمر في نطاق الحق المشروع بالقبول والرفض، لكن اللافت للنظر أن الخلفية واللغة المرافقتين لتفسير الرفض الحريري توزعت بين أقوال نسبت إليه مضمونها «أنه لا يريد تكريس عرف تمثيل الطائفة العلوية في الحكومات المقبلة»، ومنها أن «منح العلويين مقعداً وزارياً يشكل انتصاراً لسورية» ومنها أن «ولاء العلويين ليس للبنان». ومن بين هذه المفردات العنصرية الخطيرة على وحدة لبنان وسلمه الأهلي، ما قيل في حلقات تلفزيونية بألسنة شخصيات محسوبة على الحريري بينما تقول جميع المعلومات التي تناقلتها وسائل الإعلام خلال الشهرين الماضيين أن الحريري لم يعترض على منح مقعد إضافي للأقليات، وهذا يعني أن الاعتراض ليس على منح الطوائف الأصغر مقعداً وزارياً بل حصر الاعتراض بالطائفة العلوية بالتحديد.

– الأخطر هو الكلام الأخير المنسوب للرئيس المكلف عن موافقته على صيغة إثنين وثلاثين وزيراً وتضمينها مقعداً إضافياً مسيحياً للأقليات، شرط أن يكون المقعد الإضافي للمسلمين من الطائفة السنية بدلاً من الطائفة العلوية، هذا مع العلم أن واحدة من الصيغ المعروضة على الحريري كانت حكومة من ستة وثلاثين وزيراً تتضمن وزيراً إضافياً من الطائفة السنية ضمن ستة وزراء جدد، يتوزّعهم الموارنة والأرثوذكس مسيحياً والشيعة والسنة إسلامياً فيصير التوزيع بين المذاهب متوازناً أكثر من حال حكومة الثلاثين وزيراً، ومقعد لكل من العلويين والأقليات، والاقتراح كان معطوفاً على جعل كل وزراء الدولة في الحكومة من دون تعويضات ورواتب ومكاتب، منعاً للتذرع بالرفض بحجة زيادة النفقات، ولو كان هدف الحريري هو زيادة وزير من الطائفة السنية لتسهيل تمثيل اللقاء التشاوري من دون أخذ المقعد من الحصص التي تم توزيعها بين الأطراف، لكان المنطقي أن يقبل صيغة الستة وثلاثين وزيراً، بدلاً من اقتراح استبدال المقعد العلوي المقترح في حكومة الإثنين وثلاثين وزيراً بمقعد للطائفة السنية.

– إذا صحّ الكلام الأخير المنسوب للحريري. فالخطير فيه ليس مجرد التفكير بالإخلال بالتوازن الطائفي بين الطوائف الثلاث الكبرى المتفق على تساويها في اتفاق الطائفة، السنة والشيعة والموارنة، بل الأخطر هو بلوغ مرحلة من التفكير العدائي لطائفة لبنانية عريقة هي الطائفة العلوية، من موقع المسؤولية الرئيسية في السلطة الإجرائية التي يتولاها رئيس الحكومة، وهذا يعني أن البلد على شفا تهديد لسلمه الأهلي.

– على الرئيس الحريري أن يخرج للعلن ويوضح حقيقة موقفه من الطائفة العلوية قبل أن يتحوّل الكلام المنسوب إليه مادة ملتهبة في بلد يحتاج إلى مَن يطفئ النيران فيه لا إلى مَن يشعلها.

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ISIS Needs the US to Survive

ISIS Needs the US to Survive

Scott Ritter – American Conservative Jan 18, 2019

Scene of the suicide bombing in Manbij, Syria, Jan. 16, 2019

Scene of the suicide bombing in Manbij, Syria, Jan. 16, 2019

“No war is over until the enemy says it’s over,” James Mattis, the former Marine Corps General and recently resigned secretary of state, is quoted as saying. “We may think it over, we may declare it over, but in fact, the enemy gets a vote.” Mattis’s statement was made in 2012, well before President Donald Trump, in a surprise announcement on December 19, declared victory over the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, better known as ISIS.

“We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency,” the president wrote. He later expanded on that sentiment in a video message, posted on Twitter. “Our boys, our young men and women, are coming home now,” Trump noted. “We won.”

But a recent attack on U.S. forces in Syria, carried out by a suicide bomber which ISIS claimed was operating on its behalf, has led to an outpouring of criticism of Trump’s precipitous decision. “ISIS has claimed credit for killing American troops in Syria today,” Senator Marco Rubio tweeted in the aftermath of the attack. “If true, it is a tragic reminder that ISIS not been defeated and is transforming into a dangerous insurgency. This is no time to retreat from the fight against ISIS. Will only embolden & strengthen them.”

While Mattis’s words were a cautionary warning about premature celebration, Rubio’s sentiments, along with those who share his point of view, miss the point of the ISIS attack altogether. The U.S. was on the verge of withdrawing from Syria, something Rubio and others believe would give ISIS a victory. Why, then, would ISIS attack American forces in such a high-profile manner, creating the condition for a reversal of Trump’s decision and keeping the U.S. military in Syria for the foreseeable future?

As far as military patrols go, the one carried out by forces assigned to the Special Operations Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve (SOJTF-OIR) in the northern Syrian city of Manbij on January 16 was as routine as it gets. SOJTF-OIR was authorized under Section 1209 of the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to provide assistance to the so-called “Vetted Syrian Opposition,” or VSO. A Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) intelligence specialist, accompanied by a Department of Defense civilian translator, was tasked with meeting with local personnel from the Civil Administration of Manbij and the Manbij Internal Security Forces, ostensibly as part of the overall coordination being conducted with the VSO in preparation for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria announced by Trump last month. The intelligence specialist was accompanied by a small force of U.S. soldiers, tasked with providing force protection commensurate to the threat.

The “threat” as it was, was two-fold. On the one hand you have the Turkish military and allied proxies on the outskirts of Manbij who are threatening to occupy Manbij in the wake of a U.S. withdrawal in order to expel Kurdish forces aligned with the YPG, a Syrian Kurdish political party Turkey accuses of being allied with the PKK, a Turkish-based Kurdish group designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey. On the other, ISIS, an Islamic extremist group which had, until 2016, occupied Manbij. Although ISIS had been driven from Manbij by VSO forces, so-called “sleeper cells” remained. This threat was real—in March 2018 a U.S. Delta Force operator and British commando were killed in a roadside bomb attack carried out by ISIS.

But ISIS apparently was not a major factor in the security plan put in place by the patrol. The planned meeting took place in a popular restaurant located on the main street of Manbij. The owner had fled Manbij when ISIS took over, returning after its liberation to open this particular establishment, which became the “go-to” location for visiting dignitaries (Senator Lindsey Graham claims to have eaten there when he visited Manbij), and was frequented by U.S. soldiers during their “coordination” efforts with the VSO. If an ISIS suicide bomber wanted to pick one location in Manbij where he or she could be certain Americans and high-value local officials would regularly congregate, it would be this restaurant.

This is precisely what happened this week. Alerted by the tell-tale presence of the unique M-ATV vehicles used by U.S. special forces, flying large American flags, the ISIS suicide bomber waited until the Americans had entered the popular restaurant and sat down with their VSO counterparts. The bomber walked to the entrance of the restaurant, detonated a suicide vest carrying explosives and, in the resulting explosion, killed the DIA intelligence specialist, his American interpreter, and two other U.S. soldiers, and wounded three other U.S. soldiers. Eleven locals died in the bombing as well, including at least five members of the Manbij Internal Security Force.

Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria had been met with a wave of high-profile opposition, and prompted the resignations of Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Special Presidential Envoy to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS Brett McGurk, in protest. Senator Lindsey Graham led a chorus of Congressional opposition to the decision, calling it a “huge Obama-like mistake” and, in doing so, drawing parallels to the December 2011 withdrawal of U.S. combat forces from Iraq, an action critics later claimed helped spawn the birth of ISIS. Graham further noted that “An American withdrawal at this time would be a big win for ISIS, Iran, Bashar al Assad of Syria, and Russia. I fear it will lead to devastating consequences for our nation, the region, and throughout the world.”

While Iran, Syria and Russia have all supported Trump’s decision, ISIS had remained silent—until January 16. “The enemy gets a vote,” Mattis said. On January 16, 2019, ISIS voted, but it wasn’t the vote Senator’s Graham and Rubio have articulated. The ISIS attack in Manbij was a premeditated, carefully calculated event designed to sow chaos in the processes associated with an American disengagement in Manbij.

Manbij is a predominantly Arab city strategically located on the front lines separating Turkish forces from their arch-enemies, the Kurdish YPG, in the contested territory of northern Syria. The Manbij City Council, headed by a former Syrian Parliamentarian named Sheikh Farouk al-Mashi, has been touted as a model for similar Arab-led city councils in former ISIS strongholds such a Raqaa, the one-time capital of the ISIS caliphate. These councils would operate within the framework of a self-governing Kurdish-dominated entity in northeastern Syria known as Rojava. Arab-led city councils like the one in Manbij are viewed by the U.S. as a means of reducing the Kurdish profile in northeastern Syria, thereby placating the Turks, locking in a pro-U.S. Arab element opposed to the Assad regime in Damascus, and providing an Arab-based political entity that can effectively counter the attraction to ISIS on the part of many Syrian Arab tribes.

The problem with this approach is that it can’t work. The Kurds will never grant full autonomy to the Arab city councils, thereby guaranteeing Turkish angst, and the Syrian government, backed by Russia and Iran, has insisted on the return of all Syrian territory to its control. Moreover, the city councils are weak and ineffective, and as such provide the perfect incubator for a residual ISIS presence. The only way the continued existence of city councils such as the one in Manbij is for the U.S. to remain in Syria and continue to prop them up.

The leadership of ISIS knows that its days are numbered once the Syrian government can turn its full attention on the eradication of that organization. ISIS was born in the vacuum of governance created by the collapse of central authority in both Iraq and Syria brought on by the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, and the subsequent support of Islamic extremism as a vehicle of instability in Syria after 2011. As the Iraqi government, with the assistance of Iran, regains control of its own territory, the last remaining bastions of ISIS control are on Syrian soil, in areas controlled by the U.S. military. The correlation between the presence of U.S. military forces and the continued existence of ISIS should not be lost on anyone—ISIS needs the U.S. in order to survive.

The patrol that was attacked in Manbij was not, as the detractors of Trump’s decision to withdraw from Syria have stated, furthering the national security objectives of the United States. While it wasn’t their intention, through their actions these Americans were empowering ISIS by furthering a situation from which ISIS in Syria draws its relevance. A U.S. withdrawal from Syria would set ISIS adrift, allowing the Syrian government, backed by Russia and Iran, to defeat it and reassert its control over not only the territory currently occupied by ISIS, but also the hearts and minds of the Syrian Arabs whom ISIS needs for sustainment. By attacking the U.S. military and Manbij City Council on January 16, 2019, ISIS cast its vote in favor of the continued presence of U.S. military forces in Syria. Those who continue to argue in favor of a U.S. military presence in Syria are only giving credence to that vote.

Scott Ritter is a former Marine Corps intelligence officer who served in the former Soviet Union implementing arms control treaties, in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm, and in Iraq overseeing the disarmament of WMD. He is the author of Dealbreaker: Donald Trump and the Unmaking of the Iran Nuclear Deal (2018) by Clarity Press

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A Convenient Killing of US Troops in Syria

A Convenient Killing of US Troops in Syria

FINIAN CUNNINGHAM | 18.01.2019

A Convenient Killing of US Troops in Syria

With unseemly haste, US news media leapt on the killing of four American military personnel in Syria as a way to undermine President Donald Trump’s plan to withdraw troops from that country.

The deadly attack in the northern city of Manbij, on the west bank of the Euphrates River, was reported to have been carried out by a suicide bomber. The Islamic State (ISIS) terror group reportedly claimed responsibility, but the group routinely makes such claims which often turn out to be false.

The American military personnel were said to be on a routine patrol of Manbij where US forces have been backing Kurdish militants in a purported campaign against ISIS and other terror groups.

An explosion at a restaurant resulted in two US troops and two Pentagon civilian officials being killed, along with more than a dozen other victims. Three other US military persons were among those injured.

US media highlighted the bombing as the biggest single death toll of American forces in Syria since they began operations in the country nearly four years ago.

The US and Kurdish militia have been in control of Manbij for over two years. It is one of the main sites from where American troops are to withdraw under Trump’s exit plan, which he announced on December 19.

Following the bombing, the New York Times headlined: “ISIS Attack in Syria Kills 4 Americans, Raising Worries about Troop Withdrawal”. The report goes on, “the news prompted calls from Republicans and Democrats for President Trump to reconsider his plans to withdraw troops from the country.”

A more pointed headline in The Washington Post was: “Killing of 4 Americans in Syria Throws Spotlight on Trump’s Policy”.

The Post editorialized, “the bombing showed that [ISIS] is likely to be a force to be reckoned with in Syria for the foreseeable future.” It quoted politicians in Washington claiming the “bombing deaths… were a direct result of a foolish and abrupt departure announcement [by Trump], and made the case for staying.”

Democrat Senator Jack Reed, who sits on the Senate Armed Forces Committee, said: “From the beginning, I thought the president was wrong [in ordering the withdrawal]. It was a strategic mistake for the whole region.”

With macabre smugness, anti-Trump politicians and news media appeared to exploit the death of US troops in Manbij to score points against Trump.

The president’s claims made just before Christmas of having defeated ISIS were widely replayed following the Manbij attack this week by way of ridiculing Trump’s order to pullout US troops from Syria.

Nevertheless, despite the deaths, Trump and his Vice President Mike Pence stated they were still committed to bring the 2,000 or so US troops home. Some military figures also went on US media to defend Trump’s pullout plan in spite of the terror attack in Manbij.

There clearly is a serious division in Washington over Trump’s policy on Syria. For Democrats and supportive media outlets, anything Trump does is to be opposed. But there are also elements within the military and intelligence nexus which are implacably against, what they see as, his “capitulation to Russia and Iran” in Syria. That was partly why his Defense Secretary James Mattis resigned days after Trump made his announced withdrawal at the end of last month.

Having invested years and money in regime-change machinations in Syria, there is bound to be US military and intelligence cabals which are resistant to Trump’s move to pack up. Not that Trump’s move portends a peace dividend for the region. It is more a “tactical change” for how US imperialism operates in the Middle East, as his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in Cairo last week.

That is why Trump’s order to take troops out of Syria may not be a clear-cut withdrawal. His National Security adviser John Bolton on a tour of the Middle East last week has already tried to undermine Trump by attaching all sorts of vague conditions to the troop pullout. Bolton and Pompeo have talked about the need to ensure the total defeat of ISIS and of the countering of Iranian presence in Syria.

This brings up the question of who may have carried out the bombing in Manbij? Was it really a suicide bomber? Was it really ISIS? Several observers have pointed out that ISIS have not had any presence in Manbij for the past two years since the Americans and Kurds took control of the city.

As always, the key question arises: who stands to benefit from the killing of the American troops? The scale of the attack suggests it was carried out with a sharp political message intended for Trump.

One potential beneficiary are the Kurdish militants who are being abandoned by the putative US withdrawal. Without their American sponsor on the ground, the Kurds are in danger of Turkish forces launching cross-border operations to wipe them out, as Ankara has vowed to do. A Machiavellian Kurdish calculation could be to “disprove” Trump about “ISIS being defeated”, and that US forces are needed to prevent any resurgence of the terror group in Manbij and northeast Syria.

Another sinister player is the CIA or some other element of US military intelligence. It is certainly not beyond the realm of plausibility that the CIA could facilitate such an atrocity against American personnel in order to discredit Trump’s withdrawal plan.

Certainly, the way the anti-Trump media in the US reacted with such alacrity and concerted talking points suggests there was something a bit too convenient about the massacre.

It would in fact be naive to not suspect that the CIA could have pulled off such a false flag in Manbij. As in 1950s Vietnam, as told by Graham Greene in ‘The Quiet American’, the CIA have been doing such dirty tricks with bombing atrocities and assassinations for decades in order to precipitate wars in foreign countries that the agency calculates are in America’s geopolitical interests.

ISRAEL CONDUCTS MASSIVE STRIKE ON ‘IRANIAN TARGETS’ IN SYRIA

South Front

21.01.2019

On January 20, the Syrian Arab Air Defense Forces (SyAADF) repelled an Israeli airstrike on positions south of the city of Damascus.

The Russian Defense Ministry said that 4 Israeli F-16 warplanes launched 7 missiles at the Damascus international airport from the direction of the Mediterranean Sea. The SyAADF shot down the missiles with its Pantsir-S1 and Buk-M2E systems.

Following the incident, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) announced that its Iron Dome anti-rocket system had intercepted a projectile over the occupied Golan Heights.

Later on the same day, the IDF carried out another strike on the outskirt of the Syrian capital of Damascus claiming that it is aimed at Iranian Quds Forces. The IDF claimed that it had targeted munition storage sites, a military site, an Iranian intelligence site and an Iranian military training camp. The Israeli strike destroyed a Syrian Pantsir-S1 air defense system.

According to Syrian sources, the IDF launched over 50 missiles. The Russian military said that Syrian forces had intercepted at least 30 cruise missiles and guided bombs.

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لا استراتيجية مغايرة لترامب بل حملة متصاعدة ضدّ إيران لحماية «إسرائيل»

يناير 14, 2019

د. عصام نعمان

من القاهرة أطلق مايك بومبيو، نيابةً عن دونالد ترامب، حملةً بمحاور متعدّدة ضدّ خصوم الولايات المتحدة في غرب آسيا، ولا سيما في المشرق العربي. بومبيو تقصّد ان يقتصر خطابه على خطوط عريضة لعلمه أنّ رئيسه المتقلّب المزاج لن يستقرّ على رأي وأنّ ما سيقوله هو أو غيره اليوم قد يقول ترامب عكسه غداً.

اللافت في خطاب وزير الخارجية الأميركي حرصه على دحض الخطاب الذي كان ألقاه باراك أوباما في العاصمة نفسها قبل عشر سنوات. فقد وصف الرئيس الأميركي الأسبق بالضعف في تصدّيه لما أسماه «الخطر الإيراني الإقليمي» ما أدّى الى تقوية النظام الإسلامي في طهران وتشجيعه على «بسط نفوذه من اليمن الى العراق، والى سورية، وأبعد من ذلك الى لبنان».

بومبيو لم يركّز حملته على إيران فحسب، بل تناول فيها ايضاً حزب الله اللبناني، مؤكداً انّ واشنطن سوف تصعّد ضغوطها عليه بقوله: «في لبنان، ما زال لحزب الله وجود كبير، لكننا لن نقبل هذا الوضع الراهن لأنّ عقوباتنا الشديدة ضدّ إيران موجّهة ايضاً ضدّ هذا التنظيم الإرهابي وقادته، بمن فيهم نجل حسن نصرالله زعيم حزب الله». الى ذلك، ادّعى بومبيو انّ «ميل أميركا الى التمنيات جعلنا نتجاهل كيف قام حزب الله بتجميع ترسانة ضخمة مؤلفة من نحو 130 الف صاروخ وتخزين الأسلحة ونشرها في البلدات والقرى اللبنانية … هذه الترسانة موجّهة مباشرةً ضدّ حليفتنا «إسرائيل». فوق ذلك، تعهّد بومبيو بأن تواصل حكومته تعقّب الإرهابيين الذين يسعون الى التمدّد في ليبيا واليمن … ونحن ندعم بقوة جهود «إسرائيل» لمنع طهران من تحويل سورية الى لبنان آخر».

هذه هي، إذاً، محاور حملة بومبيو الترامبية بخطوطها العريضة، حتى إشعار آخر: تشديدُ الضغوط والعقوبات على إيران وحلفائها وحمايةُ «إسرائيل» ودعمها بسخاء ومواجهة التنظيمات الإرهابية ومَن تعتبرهم الولايات المتحدة بمثابة تنظيمات شبيهة او رديفة في سورية ولبنان واليمن.

لا تغيير لافتاً في حملة بومبيو الترامبية، لا من حيث الغايات ولا الوسائل. «إسرائيل» كانت دائماً، وما زالت، الحليفة الرئيسة للولايات المتحدة الجديرة بالرعاية والحماية في وجه العرب المعادين لها وإيران كانت دائماً، وما زالت، محور عداءٍ أميركي مركّزاً ومتواصلاً منذ الثورة التي أزاحت الشاه، حليف واشنطن المخلص، وأوصلت نقيضه الإمام الخميني وأنصاره إلى السلطة فيما سورية وتنظيمات المقاومة اللبنانية والفلسطينية واليمنية كانت دائماً، وما زالت، موضوع ملاحقة دائمة بعداءٍ شديد من جانب أميركا و«إسرائيل» شمل أيضاً الحكومات والقوى المناهضة لهما في المنطقة.

لعلّ الأمر الوحيد المغاير الذي لم يأتِ بومبيو على ذكره هو تعاون الولايات المتحدة الضمني والعلني مع تنظيمات إرهابية ناشطة في سورية ولبنان والعراق وسيناء المصرية واليمن ضدّ الحكومات والقوى المعادية لـِ «إسرائيل» ولحاميتها أميركا. ذلك أنّ واشنطن بادرت خلال اضطرابات ما يسمّى «الربيع العربي» الى توظيف عشرات التنظيمات الإرهابية الإسلاموية في خدمة أغراضها العدوانية ضدّ حكومات وقوى تحررية في أقطار عربية عدّة.

لا بومبيو، ولا من قبله رئيسه ترامب، هدّد باستعمال مزيدٍ من العنف المباشر ضدّ الدول والتنظيمات المعادية للولايات المتحدة و«إسرائيل» في المنطقة. هذا لا يعني بطبيعة الحال مهادنتها. بالعكس، أميركا ستثابر، شأنها اليوم، في اعتماد «الحرب الناعمة» المتصاعدة ضدّ أعدائها وأعداء الكيان الصهيوني. الحرب الناعمة تنطوي على فصول ساخنة تتعهّد واشنطن جانبها «المريح» المتمثل باستعمال سلاح الجو والحروب الأهلية التي يتولاها غيرها من وكلاء وتنظيمات إرهابية وحركات فئوية تتقن فن إثارة الفتن الطائفية، كما تقوم أميركا بفرض عقوبات اقتصادية وحروب تجارية ضدّ خصومها ومنافسيها.

في كلّ مراحل وجوانب الحرب الناعمة، لا دور لجنود أميركيين على الأرض. ذلك يجنّب الولايات المتحدة خسائر بشرية فادحة لطالما شكت منها وأرهقتها في حروب كوريا وفيتنام وأفغانستان والعراق ما حملها على «اختراع» الحرب الناعمة لتتفادى خسائر بشرية وتوفّر على نفسها سخط وتقريع شديدين من أهالي الجنود ونكسات سياسية في الداخل.

عامل آخر يدفع ترامب الى تفادي التدخل بقوات برية والتعرّض تالياً الى خسائر بشرية هو تصاعد المعارضة الداخلية ضدّه نتيجةَ سلوكه مسالك سياسية واقتصادية غريبة وخطيرة ما أقلق الرأي العام الأميركي وضاعف تحفظه وحذره من مغامراته السياسية والأمنية، ومعارضة إرسال قوات برية الى مناطق النزاع.

لكلّ هذه الأسباب والعوامل لن يتأتّى عن جولة بومبيو، وقبله مستشار الأمن القومي جون بولتون، ايّ فصول ساخنة تتعدّى تلك المعمول بها حالياً في ميادين الصراع في سورية والعراق وفلسطين واليمن وأفغانستان. فقد باشرت إدارة ترامب سحب قواتها ومعداتها العسكرية من سورية، في إطار تواطؤ تحت الطاولة مع تركيا يرمي الى إحلال قوات تركية محلّ قواتها المنسحبة. كلّ ذلك لتفادي حلول قوات سورية محلها ما يهدّد جهود أميركا، ومن ورائها «إسرائيل»، لتفكيك سورية وتقسيمها.

باختصار، ستثابر إدارة ترامب في اعتماد مختلف أشكال الحرب الناعمة بغية مشاغلة وإضعاف أعداء أميركا و«إسرائيل» في كلّ مكان، ولا سيما في سورية ولبنان والعراق واليمن. وعليه، يمكن اعتبار ما يحدث الآن، بالتواطؤ مع تركيا أو من دونه، في إدلب وغرب حلب وشرق الفرات، وما يحدث على طول حدود لبنان مع فلسطين المحتلة في سياق عملية «درع شمالي» وسواها، وما يحدث على حدود قطاع غزة وفي محيطه من مناوشات وعمليات عدوانية دورية، وما يحدث في العراق بعد سحب بعض القوات الأميركية من سورية وتركيزها في قاعدة عين الأسد في محافظة الأنبار العراقية، وما يحدث في اليمن من مجازر ومآسٍ يقوم بها حلفاء أميركا… أجل، يمكن اعتبار كلّ هذه الاعتداءات والاشتباكات والمناوشات تجليات ميدانية للحملة الصهيوأميركية المتجدّدة التي يعتمدها ساكن البيت الأبيض في غمرة حاله المزاجية الراهنة والمرشحة دائماً الى صعودٍ وهبوط.

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Turkey, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham Work To Defend ‘Syrian Revolution’

January 15, 2019

South Front

Leader of Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham Abu Mohammad Al-Joulani declared his support to an expected Turkish military operation against Kurdish armed groups in northeastern Syria during an interview with Amjad Media on January 14.

He stressed that his group supports “the operation to liberate the eastern Euphrates”. He also rejected criticism from his militant counterparts that the recent Hayat Tahrir al-Sham expansion within the Idlib de-escalation zone opens a route for a Russian-backed military operation in the area. He recalled that Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, which just recently was the official branch of al-Qaeda in Syria, is an important part of the so-called “Syrian revolution” thus justifying its further actions.

Recently, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham de-facto established a full control of the most of the Idlib de-escalation zone by defeating the Turkish-backed National Front for Liberation and forcing it to accept own rule across the area.

Now, the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham leadership is working to consolidate its gains in security and media spheres. Experts say that the main idea of Al-Joulani and his inner circle is to become an irreplaceable partner of the Turkish government in Idlib-related issues and this approach has worked so far.

On January 14, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlet Cavusoglu stressed that Turkey is doing what is required to maintain peace and prevent violations in the Idlib de-escalation zone. He even claimed that the Idlib de-escalation deal has been “successfully” implemented despite difficult conditions and that the Syrian government and the countries that support it are to blame if Idlib becomes “terrorist nest”.

Cavusoglu somehow forgot to mention that Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, which is the internationally designated terrorist group, was excluded from the ceasefire regime established in the Idlib zone and is a legal target of military actions, which were expected to be undertaken in the framework of the deal. However, now it became clear that Turkey’s attempts to prevent the further military successes of the Damascus government in northwestern Syria openly contributed to the expansion of al-Qaeda and al-Qaeda-like entities there.

Meanwhile, the political leadership of the Syrian Kurds was once again encouraged by harsh statements of US President Donald Trump towards Turkey and announced that it had paused talks with the Damascus government.

An official representative of the Syrian Kurds in Moscow, Rshad Bienaf, told the Russian media that there was a “dialogue”, but no results were achieved because the Damascus government is not ready to change the constitution in the favor to the so-called “democratic system” established in the US-occupied area of northeastern Syria.

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