Sayyed Nasrallah Warns Israeli Enemy against Provocative Measures on Lebanese-Palestinian Border

January 19, 2018

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Mohammad Salami

Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah on Friday warned the Zionist enemy against constructing a separation wall at the 13 controversial positions along the Lebanese-Palestinian border, stressing that the Islamic Resistance backs the government which rejected the Israeli measure.

“After liberating the Lebanese occupied territories from the Zionist enemy in 2000, the UN demarcation of the national border with the Palestinian territories left 13 controversial positions, and the Lebanese government informed the UNIFIL about its rejection for any Israeli measure in this concern. The Islamic Resistance backs the Lebanese government and army, and the Zionists must take Lebanon’s warning seriously.”

Delivering a speech during Hezbollah ceremony to mark the 40th day after the death of Hajj Fayez Moughniyeh and the anniversary of the Islamic Resistance’s martyrs in the Syrian province of Quneitra, Sayyed Nasrallah maintained that the recent blast which targeted one of Hamas commanders in southern Lebanon (Sidon) indicates a dangerous Israeli prospect of tampering with the country’s security, adding that the Lebanese political officials must deal with the incident seriously and hailing the efforts made the national security agencies in face of this development.

“When the investigations into the blast are concluded and the Israeli involvement is confirmed, all the political factions must take a serious stance against the Zionist escalation.”

Stressing the importance of avoiding all the forms of normalizing ties with the Zionist entity Hezbollah leader also warned against the attempts made by some Lebanese, especially after the recent events in the occupied Palestine, to take certain initiatives in this context after they gain support from some Lebanese officials.

Sayyed Nasrallah called on banning all the movie productions of the American director Steven Allan Spielberg who paid one million dollars to the Zionist enemy in 2006 to support it in its war on Lebanon.

“The Post is about Vietnam, yet the money paid to watch the movie may be used by Spielberg to fund any Zionist war against Lebanon.”

“We aren’t against art, cinema or TV, but don’t simplify things. There is a Lebanese decision to boycott Israel so commit to your decisions.”

Sayyed Nasrallah said that the US accusations against Hezbollah of being involved in drug trade are baseless, stressing that the party considers it as religiously prohibited even in dealing with the enemy.

Sayyed Nasrallah also underscored that Hezbollah has always avoided all the forms of commercial and business investments, adding that US Justice Ministry aims at starting an investigation into Hezbollah involvement in criminal acts to classify it as a criminal organization.

The US accusations aim at deforming Hezbollah reputation according to Sayyed Nasrallah who stressed that the American themselves are involved in drug dealing crimes committed to destroy various communities.

On the upcoming Lebanese parliamentary elections, Sayyed Nasrallah considered that the political tension caused by the democratic event must be kept regulated, adding that Lebanon can never be ruled according to the principle of the majority and minority.

“This country can only continue through dialogue, integration and coexistence, not through elimination and marginalization.”

Sayyed Nasrallah said that US plans to keep its military deployment in Iraq and Syria under the pretext of preventing the return of ISIL terrorists, while all the world knows that the US administration was behind establishing the takfiri group, stressing that the Syrians and Iraqis are worthy of preventing the return of ISIL terrorists.

Hezbollah described the claims made by the US officials as hypocritical, calling on them to stop asking their allies to fund ISIL takfiri group.

As we reject to describe the US terror as Christian, the Christians must reject the term “Islamic Terror” which is deliberately used by Trump to stigmatize Islam and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as terrorist, according to Sayyed Nasrallah.

Since Trump Jerusalem recognition, the US administration seeks eradicating the Palestinian cause in alliance with some Arab ruling dynasties who exert pressures on the Palestinians to abandon their rights and accept the so-called “The Century’s Deal” which gives them only crumbs, Sayyed Nasrallah said.

His eminence added all the bets are on the Palestinians and their Intifada as well as what happened in Nablus in Jenin to frustrate the US schemes.

Sayyed Nasrallah started his speech by stressing that the sacrifices made by the martyrs and fighters as well as their families across the regional countries in face of the US-Zionist schemes and the takfiri terror have led to all the gained achievements, including security, stability and liberation.

“Lebanon has fortified its security thanks to the martyrs’ sacrifices.”

His eminence also highlighted the role of Hajj Fayez Moughniyeh in supporting the resistance as he sacrifices all his three sons as martyrs: Imad, Jihad and Foad, adding that the late father belonged to the generation which used to spread the religious and moral values and strive to provide families with basic needs.

Sayyed Nasrallah finally stressed that Hezbollah will always confront the US-Zionist schemes and achieve victories whatever the sacrifices required are.

Source: Al-Manar Website

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Syrian War Report – January 19, 2018: Syrian Troops Almost Closed Eastern Idlib Pocket

South Front

On January 18, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and Iranian-backed militias liberated the village of Qaytal fom Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra) in southern Aleppo and almost closed the eastern Idlib pocket.

Late on the same day, ISIS reportedly captured thirty villages, including Rasm al-Dhaba, al-Muwaylah, abu Ajwa, Muakar Shamali, Huma, Najm Al-Zuhur, Umm Qurun and Rasm Arira, in northeastern Hama and southwestern Aleppo from Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS).

According to reports, some of HTS members withdrew from the area to avoid being encircled by the SAA while the rest of them just joined ISIS.

The pro-opposition news outlet Enab Baladi also reported that ISIS fighters started an advance to reach the SAA-held village Tell Daman in order to open a route towards Idlib province.

The ISIS Hunters of the SAA’s 5th Assault Corps have repelled a suicide vehicle borne improvised explosive device attack by ISIS in the Euphrates Valley. According to the unit’s media wing, the attack was an attempt to break the blockade imposed by government forces on ISIS units in the Homs desert.

On January 18, two ISIS VBIEDs attacked the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Gharanij in southeastern Deir Ezzor, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR). The ISIS-linked news agency Amaq added that ISIS fighters targeted a gathering of SDF fighters and destroyed a Humvee with an ATGM.

According to SOHR, ISIS still controls the villages of Abu Hassan, al-Bubadran, al-Baghuz, al-Susah and al-Shaafah as well as large parts of Hajin, Gharanij and al-Bahra on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson decided to say that Washington has no plans to create a 30,000-strong border force in northern Syria and claimed that the issue has been “misportrayed”. “We are not creating a border security force at all,” he said.

However, just few days ago, the Pentagon officially announced the creation of this border force.

“The Coalition is working jointly with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to establish and train the new Syrian Border Security Force (BSF). Currently, there are approximately 230 individuals training in the BSF’s inaugural class, with the goal of a final force size of approximately 30,000,” spokesman for the US-led coalition Colonel Thomas F. Veale said. “The base of the new force is essentially a realignment of approximately 15,000 members of the Syrian Democratic Forces to a new mission in the Border Security Force as their actions against ISIS draw to a close.”

Meanwhile, Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar and National Intelligence Organization (MİT) Undersecretary Hakan Fidan met in Moscow with Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu and other officials for talks on Syria.

It does not look like Ankara is ready to see the US as a reliable partner in this conflict.

MILITARY SITUATION IN SYRIA ON JANUARY 19, 2018 (MAP UPDATE)

This map provides a general look at the military situation in Syria on January 19, 2018:

Military Situation In Syria On January 19, 2018 (Map Update)

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INTO THE BLAST FURNACE: THE WAR AGAINST IDLIB’S TERRORISTS AND THE KURDISH DILEMMA

 

All eyes are on Idlib today and the American fall-back position in the northeast.  The Syrian government’s strategy of making truces with terrorists and offering them safe passage to Idlib where they were heaped up has paid dividends.  What is amazing is that so many of the terrorist commanders could not see this coming.  Today, even with Turkish collusion, terrorist jihadists are bracing for their apocalypse.  As terrorist propagandists describe it, “it’s the most violent air campaign we have ever seen in Syria!”  Gee.  Surprise!  That they could not imagine this happening is a good sign of the enemy’s naivete.  It was obvious to all my readers that this was going to happen.

Turkey is conflicted about this largely Syrian-Russian-Iranian stratagem.  While valuing their relationship with Russia and Iran, the Turks are unwilling to break away from their Assado-phobia.  It might be that they feel a sense of shame for promoting the war so openly, but, now seeing no path out but to cling to the tired mantras that have justified their own involvement in the dissemination of terror throughout the Fertile Crescent, they persist in prolonging the war against Damascus  The Turks and their foreign policy are adrift in a sea of contradictions.

Erdoghan is reportedly enraged by the Zionist moves on Jerusalem inspired by Trump’s lunacy.

Erdoghan is reportedly enraged by the U.S.A.’s unwillingness to extradite Fethullah Gulen to Turkey to face charges of seditiion and treason – not to mention his involvement in an attempt to overthrow the government in Ankara.

Erdoghan is enraged by the U.S.A.’s support for the Kurdish SDF, a group the Turks equate with the PKK with whom they have fought an endless insurgency which aims to establish a Kurdish state in Turkey.  He has punished the U.S. and NATO by purchasing an S-400 anti-aircraft system from Russia.

Erdoghan is enraged by Saudi Arabia’s efforts to chastise Qatar for its cuddling up to Iran.  He has sent troops to Qatar to help defend that nation if KSA decides to repeat another blunder on its own borders.

Erdoghan is enraged by KSA’s and Egypt’s hostility to the Muslim Brotherhood, a group it is said to which Erdoghan either belongs or is supporting wholeheartedly.  He is even more enraged by Egypt’s mistreatment of Hamas officials and troops – Cairo’s efforts to blunt Hamas’s military capabilities – destroying tunnels, seizing weapons and killing fishermen.  Hamas is, of course, a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Erdoghan is miffed at everybody.  He’s even enraged by Dr. Assad’s durability.

Erdoghan has also expressed rage at the massive military operation aimed at exterminating the entire structure of Alqaeda in Idlib.  He has railed against the Syrian Air Force’s bombardment of Alqaeda bases, labeling the air attacks as “murder of civilians”.  It has been reported that the Turkish military gave aid to Alqaeda terrorists in their counter-offensive to halt the Syrian Army’s advance on the Abu Dhuhoor Air Base.  That advance has recommenced and the SAA has recaptured all villages lost to the terrorist/Turk counter-attack.

Well, that’s just too bad.  And it makes no sense for him to involve his country in a losing effort to keep the terrorist groups in Idlib on life support while cutting his ties to the Americans and Europeans.  I don’t know what Macron is thinking now, but it must be something along the lines of cursing the world for imposing crackpot Trump and even loonier Erdoghan upon what should have been a more rational world. Erdoghan doesn’t sense it, but, his options lessen with each gambit he makes.  He has now threatened to invade northeastern Syria to tamp down the moves toward solidifying the American plan to establish a state for the Kurds (remember my post on that subject). If he does do that, he will be ordering his forces to fire on a fellow NATO member, the United States, which has over 10,000 troops on the ground helping the Kurds to set up the requirements of statehood.  A mess is in the making.  Whenever the United States develops  very clever plans, you can already figure its going to get mired in a new overseas war.

I have received information that the plan to establish a Kurdish rump state in the northeast was initially suggested by the Zionist entity.  According to my source, Mossad developed the plan on orders from Mileikowski (a/k/a Netanyahu) to give the Americans a fighting chance at blunting the rapid proliferation of Iranian influence in the region.  We now know, that the new Kurdistan in the north and the endless training in the south at Al-Tanf are meant to squeeze any efforts by Iran to project its economic power by extending a natural gas pipeline across Syria to the Mediterranean and its military power by roadways across Iraq and Syria to South Lebanon, Hizbollah’s home territory.

There can be no more screw-brained a plan than this one.  And if the U.S. is counting on Turkey to keep up its end by continually aiding and abetting the terrorists of Hay’`at Ahraar Al-Shaam (read: Alqaeda), it appears that kind of expectation is the stuff of delusion. The Turks are increasingly moving away from NATO and have little respect for the United States, as I wrote earlier.  They have, since 2015, closed their borders to Syrians coming from Idlib.  They have tightened controls over supplies to the Alqaeda terrorists.  The one thing they have not done completely is block smugglers from delivering much-needed material to the thugs who populate Idlib.  This is how the terrorists were able to manufacture the drones that attacked the Russian base at Humaymeem.  The state which gave them the basic design is clearly the Zionist Settler State.

Russia quickly retaliated against the terrorists by striking their factory and killing most of those who were responsible for the manufacture and design of the drones.  The intelligence they received identifying the location of the factory was, reportedly, from Turkey.  And Russian vengeance was most sweet.

Syrian Air Force bombing of Idlib is intensifying exponentially, as the terrorist propagandists admit.  The Syrian Air Force has been 100% revamped and modernized.  The army is much stronger.  Even with the American-made TOW anti-tank system, the terrorists have no chance because Syrian engineers developed the Saraab 1 and 2 which have effectively neutralized the efficacity of the TOWs.  With no new technology to help them, the terrorists are simply flipping their hour glasses until the final moments.

Saudi Arabia has ceased all funding to the Alqaeda led by Muhaysini.  There are no smugglers with briefcases full of money to pay salaries to the terrorists whose families have now become sorrowful characters in a Greek tragedy eerily unfolding every day.  With a Europe unwilling to accept them, the smuggling business is seeing a brisk upturn as families spend every item of jewelry on a passage to Greece and, hopefully, to Europe. I cannot envision a scenario more deprived of hope than what these wretches are facing.  It is only a matter of time.

The Americans have given the PKK MANPADs.  That’s going to make Erdoghan real happy.  There is already talk that the Turkish offensive at Afrin will begin today, Wednesday, January 17, 2018.  I hope the Kurds and the Turks blow each other up.  I pray for a bloody encounter that will teach the Turks about supporting terrorism and the Kurds about overreaching and treason.

In the meantime, another drama is taking place in the Eastern Ghouta.  The Army of Islam is still receiving its salaries from KSA.  But, as I understand it, the Saudis have given the ‘Alloosh brothers a limit.  They have been told to negotiate at Geneva or Sochi or get left out.  Don’t believe the nonsense spewed out by fake-news organizations about how popular the terrorists are in the Ghouta.  They are not popular.  They are only tolerated by a population of drudges. The decision has been made to beat the terrorists into the ground with air power.  Watch carefully the position taken by ‘Alloosh at Sochi – we predict a sudden abandonment of entrenched positions and an acceptance of Dr. Assad’s leadership.  They have no other choice.  And so little time.  ZAF

Mikdad: Syria Will Confront any Turkish Aggression on Its Territory by Appropriate Response

 January 18, 2018

Deputy Foreign and Expatriates Minister Faisal Mikdad affirmed on Thursday that Syria will confront any Turkish aggression or military action against its territory with appropriate response.

“We warn the Turkish leadership that in the event of initiating hostilities in the area of Afrin, this will be considered an act of aggression by the Turkish army on the sovereignty of the Syrian Arab Republic’s territories in accordance with the international law known to the Turkish side,” Mikdad said in a statement read to journalists at the Ministry HQ.

“We note that the Syrian Air Defense has regained its full strength and is ready to destroy the Turkish air targets in the skies of the Syrian Arab Republic. This means that in the event of Turkish airstrikes on Syria, the Turkish side should realize that it is not going in a picnic,” he added.

“I confirm and hope that the Turkish side will listen well and I also hope that this message will be clear to all whom this may concern that Afrin in particular and the northern and northeastern region of the Syrian Arab Republic has always been a Syrian Arab territory as it will always be,” Mikdad noted.

SourceSANA

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سوتشي وجنيف بين عفرين وإدلب

يناير 18, 2018

ناصر قنديل

– كانت عند الدعوة الروسية لمؤتمر سوتشي بموازاة محادثات جنيف أهداف محدّدة، تتصل أوّلاً بعدم حصرية مسار جنيف الذي يعني حصرية تمثيل المعارضة بوفد جماعة الرياض من جهة، وعدم حصرية مرجعية الرعاية الدولية بالشراكة الروسية الأميركية، بل جعلها واحدة من مرجعيات بينها مرجعية رعاة مسار أستانة وخصوصاً الشراكة التركيّة الإيرانية لروسيا، من جهة مقابلة، وعلى الصعيد السياسي كانت هناك المسافة الفاصلة بين سقف جنيف المبهم والغامض وفقاً لخطابات المبعوث الأممي ستيفان دي مستورا، وسقف سوتشي المحدّد بالانتخابات والدستور، وإخراج مستقبل الرئاسة السورية عن طاولة التفاوض.

– اللافت كان أنّ المعارضة لسوتشي لم تكن أميركية بقدر ما كانت تركية، رغم أن سوتشي يمنح تركيا دوراً في الرعاية لا تملكه في جنيف، ويحرم واشنطن دوراً تحظى به في جنيف ولا يعوّضها عنه في سوتشي، ومعلوم أنّ السبب يعود لكون سوتشي يلحظ ما يعوّض الأميركيين أكثر وهو تمثيل الأكراد، بمثل ما يغيظ الأتراك بهذه الدعوة، وبالقدر ذاته كان ستيفان دي ميستورا يعارض سوتشي ويقاتل لاستبعاده ليس دفاعاً عن دوره الحصري فقط بل لفرض سقف سياسي للحوار يترك الباب مفتوحاً للعبث بمستقبل سورية، وذلك ترجمة لتوجيهات ومصالح سعودية حرص دي ميستورا على حمايتها، وكانت جماعة الرياض تفعل الشيء نفسه تفادياً لخسارة هامش المناورة الذي يمثله بقاء مستقبل الرئاسة السورية فوق الطاولة.

– يمكن القول بعد معارك إدلب إنّ تركيا تلقت الصفعة الروسية السورية الإيرانية، التي جعلتها تنفتح على خيار سوتشي، مقترحة المقايضة تحت شعار إدلب مقابل سوتشي، لكن دون أن تلقى آذاناً صاغية، طالما عرضها يحمي معقل النصرة من جهة ويستبعد الأكراد من جهة أخرى، فجاءت الصفعة الأميركية تكمل الصفعة الروسية، بالإعلان عن جيش حدودي بقيادة كردية ودعم أميركي. ورغم الإعلان الروسي المسارع للتنديد بالهدف الأميركي كان لافتاً أن يكون التوقيت متزامناً مع الجدل حول سوتشي ودور كلّ من الأكراد والأتراك، لتدور جملة من الفرضيات حول مستقبل مدينة عفرين وسيطرة الأكراد عليها وتهديد الأتراك بدخولها، تكاد تنتهي بإعلان منطقة خفض توتر جديدة في عفرين، أو خروج سلمي كردي منها ودخول تركي رمزي إليها، وتصير عفرين بدلاً من إدلب، بالنسبة لتركيا، وسوتشي بشراكة كردية بدلاً من عفرين، بالنسبة للأكراد.

– اللافت بالتزامن أن يعلن كلّ من دي ميستورا وجماعة الرياض مواقف توحي بتغييرات لمواقفهما من سوتشي، فدي ميستورا يوجه الدعوة لتشاور في فيينا لممثلي الحكومة والمعارضة ليناقش سوتشي يقول إن لا مشكلة مكان جنيف أو فيينا أو سوتشي، والمهم هي المحادثات والأمم المتحدة ستشارك على الأرجح وتشجّع على المشاركة. وفي المقابل تقول هيئة الرياض إنها تدرس المشاركة وإنها طلبت لقاء موفد روسي خاص للتباحث معه حول بعض التوضيحات قبل سوتشي.

– معادلة إدلب عفرين سوتشي تبدو سالكة، حتى لو أصرّ الجميع أن لا صلة بين أطراف هذا المثلث. ومن يسمع خطاب وزير الخارجية الأميركي ريكس تيلرسون عن سورية ليل أمس، يعرف أنّ حجم ما تعرفه الخارجية الأميركية عن سياسات حكومتها في سورية يعيش في العموميات، ولا يتعدّى حدود ما تطلبه منها المخابرات العسكرية التي تتولى إدارة السياسة في البلدان التي يوجد فيها عسكريون أميركيون.

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US to (Illegally) Maintain Open-Ended Presence in Syria

US to Maintain Open-Ended Presence in Syria

US Massively Expands Syria Goals to Justify Permanent Occupation

Pentagon officials have been indicating for quite some time that they have no intention of leaving Syria, but Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, on Wednesday, finally set out the new US policy goals aimed at justifying what he described as an “open-ended” deployment.

Rex Tillerson

Instead of a “counter-terror” operation focused on ISIS, the US presence is now also intended to generally fight against Iranian influence, to facilitate refugee returns to Syria and, most scandalously, to “ensure the departure of the Assad regime.”

The US has long insisted on regime change in Syria, but never before suggested that their military deployment in the country was anything to do with that, let alone that the US might try to impose regime change militarily.

With the legal justification for the US deployment in Syria already shaky, at best, with no authorization from the Syrian government, re-positioning the war away from ISIS and toward a war with the Syrian government and its allies makes an open-ended deployment even less tenable.

While US invasions trying to impose regime change are nothing unfamiliar in this day and age, this would be a particularly bizarre variant of that, with the US getting the troops into the country first then announcing the goal long after the fact

Syria – US Traps Itself, Commits to Occupation, Helps to Sustain the Astana Agreement

Syria - US Traps Itself, Commits to Occupation, Helps to Sustain the Astana Agreement

EDITOR’S CHOICE | 17.01.2018

Syria – US Traps Itself, Commits to Occupation, Helps to Sustain the Astana Agreement

The Trump administration policy in Syria is finally coming into daylight. It has decided to permanently separate north-east of Syria from the rest of Syria with the rather comical idea that this will keep Iranian influence out of Syria and give the U.S. a voice in a final Syrian settlement. This move lacks strategical foresight:

The U.S.-led Coalition against Islamic State is currently training a force to maintain security along the Syrian border as the operation against ISIS shifts focus. The 30,000-strong force will be partly composed of veteran fighters and operate under the leadership of the Syrian Democratic Forces, CJTF-OIR told The Defense Post.

“The Coalition is working jointly with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to establish and train the new Syrian Border Security Force (BSF). Currently, there are approximately 230 individuals training in the BSF’s inaugural class, with the goal of a final force size of approximately 30,000,” CJTF-OIR Public Affairs Officer Colonel Thomas F. Veale said.

Veale acknowledged that more Kurds will serve in the areas of northern Syria, while more Arabs will serve in areas along the Euphrates River Valley and along the border with Iraq.

The SDF and the Kurds are under control of the PKK/YPK, a terrorist organization that is nearly daily fighting and killing Turkish forces within Turkey. The Arabs which ostensibly shall seal the area off from the rest of Syria are most likely tribal forces that were earlier aligned with the Islamic State.

The Turks were not consulted before the U.S. move and are of course not amused that a “terrorist gang”, trained and armed by the U.S., will control a long stretch of their southern border. Any Turkish government would have to take harsh measures to prevent such a strategic threat to the country:

Such initiatives endangering our national security and Syria’s territorial integrity through the continuation of cooperation with PYD/YPG in contradiction with the commitments and statements made by the US are unacceptable. We condemn the insistence on this flawed approach and remind once again that Turkey is determined and capable to eliminate any threats targeting its territory.

Russia noted that such a U.S. occupation has no legal basis:

The Russian foreign minister stressed decisions of the kind were taken without any grounds, coming from a UN Security Council resolution, or from some agreements reached during the intra-Syrian talks in Geneva.

Syria warned that any Syrian taking part in this move will be in trouble:

The Ministry considered any Syrian citizen who takes part in the US-backed militia as a traitor to the Syrian state and people and will be treated as one, adding that these militias will hinder reaching to a political solution to the situation in Syria.

The U.S.Congress is concerned about this move:

Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday, David Satterfield, the acting assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, outlined US goals in Syria as finishing off IS, stabilizing northeastern Syria and countering Iranian influence.

“That won’t pass muster,” committee Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., interjected.

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who initially asked Satterfield the question he declined to answer, expressed concerns that eliminating Iranian influence from Syria entirely was a fool’s errandthat could keep US troops tied up in Syria forever.

Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., the top Democrat on the committee, also voiced concern that the Trump administration does not have the necessary legal authorization from Congress to keep US troops in Syria beyond the defeat of IS.

Just two month back, in a phone call with the Russian President Putin, the President Trump seemed to be against such a move:

The Presidents affirmed their commitment to Syria’s sovereignty, unity, independence, territorial integrity, and non-sectarian character, as defined in UNSCR 2254, …

The U.S. move comes at the right time for Syria. The Russian, Turkish, Iranian and Syrian agreement of Astana set up a de-escalation zone in Idleb governorate but committed the parties to continue the fight against al-Qaeda. The agreement was in imminent danger of breaking down as Turkey protested against the current Syrian operation against al-Qaeda in east-Idleb. Turkey cooperates with al-Qaeda to keep its options open for a take-over of some Syrian land. It is also concerned about the north-western Kurdish enclave of Afrin which is protected by Russian forces.

But the U.S.move in the east constitutes a greater threat to Turkey than tiny Afrin. The east is more important to Turkey than Idelb in the west. The whole eastern half of Turkey is now endangered by a Kurdish force at its underbelly. The U.S. move increases Turkey’s incentive to keep the Astana agreement about Idleb intact and to re-unite with Syria, Russia and Iran against the U.S.-Kurdish alliance. Erdogan, with his usual rage, was clear that he can not and will not let the U.S. move stand:

“A country we call an ally is insisting on forming a terror army on our borders,” Erdogan said of the United States in a speech in Ankara. “What can that terror army target but Turkey?”

“Our mission is to strangle it before it’s even born.”

Joshua Landis believes that the U.S. has given up on Turkey as an ally and is solely committed to do Israel’s and Saudi Arabia’s bidding. It is completely concentrated on countering Iran. But there are few if any Iranian troops in Syria and the supply line from Tehran to Damascus is via air and sea and can not be influenced from an enclosed Kurdish enclave. Moreover, the U.S. presence in the north-east is not sustainable.

The north-eastern U.S. held area of Syria is surrounded by forces hostile to it. Turkey in the north, Syria in the west and south, Iraq, with a pro-Iranian government, in the east. It has no ports and all its air-supplies have to cross hostile air space.

Internally the area consists of a Kurdish core but has nearly as many Arab inhabitants as Kurds. The Kurds are not united, there are many who are against the PKK/YPG and support the Syrian government. Probably half of the Arabs in the area were earlier Islamic State fighters and the other half favors the rule by Damascus. What all Arabs there have in common is hatred for their new Kurdish overlords. This all is fertile ground for an insurgency against the U.S. occupation and its Kurdish YPG proxy forces. It will need only little inducement and support from Damascus, Ankara or elsewhere to draw the U.S. presence into a chaotic fight for survival.

Turkey’s wannabe Sultan Erdogan has long tried to play Russia against the U.S. and vice versa. He ordered Russian air defense systems which will enable him to withstand a U.S. air attack. At the same time he allowed U.S. ships to pass the Bosporus Straits into the Black Sea and to threaten Russia in Crimea even when the Montreux Convention would have allowed him to restrict their passages. The U.S. now leaves him no choice. Russia is the one force that can help him to handle the new threat.

The NATO bigwigs in Brussels must be nervous. Turkey has the second biggest army within NATO. It controls the passage to the Black Sea and with Incirlik the most important NATO airbase in the south-eastern realm. All these give Turkey leverage that it can use when Russia offers it a decent alternative to NATO membership.

One wonders who in the White House developed this idea. It goes against everything Trump had said about U.S. engagement in the Middle East. It goes against NATO’s interests. There is no legal basis for the move. It has little chance of being sustainable.

My guess is that National Security Advisor McMaster (pushed by his mentor General Petraeus) is the brain behind this. He has already proven to lack any strategic vision beyond moving military brigades here and there. What will he do next? Order the CIA to restart arming al-Qaeda aka the “Syrian rebels” who just sent their emissaries to Washington to beg for renewed support? Turkey needs Russia and Russia is fighting those “Syrian rebels”. Why should Turkey, which controls the border to Syria, allow new CIA weapons to pass?

It is beyond me how the U.S. expects to sustain its positions in the north-east of Syria. It is hard to understand why it believes that such a position will give it any influence over Iran’s commitment to Syria. The move robs it of any political flexibility. It is a trap of its own design.

 

In the end the U.S. military will have to retreat from the area. The Kurds will have to crawl to Damascus to beg for forgiveness. The strategic shortsightedness of both, the U.S. administration and the YPG leadership, amazes me. What do these people think when they make such decisions?

moonofalabama.org

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