Trump”s Confused Middle East Foibles Are Actually Pushing Assad and Erdogan into each other”s arms

Trump’s Confused Middle East Foibles Are Actually Pushing Assad and Erdogan into each other’s arms


Trump’s Confused Middle East Foibles Are Actually Pushing Assad and Erdogan into each other’s arms

Trump’s foreign policy gambles in the Middle East just continue to shake the region up, causing confusion, betrayal and, more recently, a new arms race which is all heading towards more bloodshed there, as ISIS appears to be in decline and Russia, Iran and Turkey continue to look like stronger players.

Despite Iran sanctions, Tehran continues to show its strength in its sheer resilience and its brash cavalier attitude towards other countries in the region; barely days after if foreign minister resigns – but then withdraws it – Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani takes a trip to Iraq, to remind the Americans that Tehran still wields considerable power and influence there, as well as Syria, Lebanon and also Qatar and Turkey.

The shake-up which is as a direct result of Trump’s erroneous decisions in the region has led though to an arms race starting, amid rumours of Trump wanting to sell nuclear arms to Saudi Arabia – despite Riyadh going rogue recently on arms procurement and looking more to Russia and China. In recent weeks we heard of reports of Hezbollah’s new missiles in Lebanon having updated heads fitted which makes them even more precise than previously thought, which is a chilling thought for the Israelis who have been mulling the timing of Hassan Nasrallah’s threat to use them if Israel continues to target Hezbollah fighters in Syria. More recently, American THAAD missiles were sent to Israel, as a direct consequence of the Nasrallah comment, as the Hezbollah leader never does empty threats; but it’s also about Iran’s missile capability which is making the Israelis a tad skittish.

And they’re right to be, but not exclusively because of the Iran sanctions and its missile capabilities.

It’s also about Turkey. In January, a secret document revealed that Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE considered Turkey to be the real threat to their power in the region, which has changed the focus of their aggression and, in part, is responsible for a number of embassies reopening in the Syrian capital. The West believes that a softening of isolation might bring Assad farther away from Iran and Russia and align itself more with the Arab super powers in the region.

This idea, on its own, had some feasibility, until just very recently when it looked like Turkey’s firebrand leader had fired the starter’s pistol on a new level of difficult relations with Washington by making it clear that Ankara’s new accord with Russia over missiles – the revered S-400 system – is a done deal. President Erdogan has made it clear that nothing will stop this deal going ahead which means for Israel that he is edging closer to the Russia-Iran powerbase and, critically, towards a situation which the author has been arguing for months is inevitable: a thaw of relations with Assad.

Given that part of the Saudi-Israeli plan was to support the Kurds in Northern Syria in a new campaign to clear Turkish forces of their large enclave – perched in between Al Qaeda extremists on one side and Kurdish fighters on the other – it has pushed Erdogan to do what many would argue would be a no brainer, which is to consider cooperating with Assad, as both have a common objective of hitting the Kurds, Israelis and the Saudis at the same time. A triple whammy for both of them.

This scenario, if it pans out (as so far we have only heard reports of back channel talks between Ankara and Damascus) would be devastating for Israel, which is struggling presently with having Russia as an Assad ally to bypass before it hits Hezbollah targets; but for Turkey to be even a distant ally of Assad could spell disaster for Israel, which cannot afford to clash with Turkey – itself the premise of a completely new conflict which has been brewing for years, given the acrimonious and vociferous exchange of insults both leaders have flung at one another last year; Erdogan attacks Netanyahu over the latter’s appalling treatment of Palestinians, while the Israeli leader uses Erdogan’s unparalleled fondness of locking up journalists as return-fire ammo.

In reality, both of them are tarnished with an abysmal human rights record but both have used one another for political capital. That arrangement, until now a verbal one, might change if Assad were to actually let bygones be bygones and strike a deal with Erdogan.

If that were to happen, Trump would also completely slam the door on Turkey and make it also a target of hatred and ridicule – as no one but Trump will take it as personally as the US president, who has shown remarkable resilience towards the Turkish leader who has tested his patience on a number of occasions in the last two years. An Assad-Erdogan pact could spark a crisis within NATO and make Russia and Iran bolder than ever before in the region as Trump’s refusal to stop arming Kurdish factions in northern Syria – along with suspending the F-35 fighter jet program – is likely to reach a tipping point between Ankara and Washington. For Erdogan to play the ace card – Assad – would be a smart move to put Trump in his place, assert Turkey’s power in Syria and weaken the Kurds in one blow.


سورية تواجه الترك وعينها على الأميركيين في الشرق

مارس 15, 2019

د. وفيق إبراهيم

تعرف الدولة السورية أنها قضت نهائياً على المشروع الإرهابي الذي حاول انشاء خلافة متطرفة على أراضيها في السنين الست الفائتة.

وتعرف أكثر أنها تنتقل الآن من مرحلة قتال الإرهاب الإسلاموي إلى محاربة القوى الخارجية التي تغطيه، وتواصل احتلال أراضِ سورية.

من أهم هذه القوى، الأتراك الذين يطرحون أسباباً ملفقة لمواصلة نشر قواتهم في مناطق سورية من الحدود مروراً بعفرين وإدلب إلى جانب هيمنة التنظيمات الإرهابية الموالية لها على امتدادات واسعة.

هناك أيضاً الأميركيون المدركون أن المشروع الكبير بإسقاط الدولة السورية ولىّ إلى غير رجعة.. حتى وجدوا أن تغطيتهم لهذا الإرهاب أصبحت عائقاً يحول دون استمرار دورهم، فالإرهاب خسر وخسروا معه.

وما شجّعهم على إسناد مهمة القضاء على بقايا الإرهاب في الفرات إلى قوات«قسد» الكردية المعززة بقوات أميركية ـ أوروبية، وغارات جوية متواصلة.. حتى بدا أن الهدف الأميركي أكبر من مجرد إنهاء الإرهاب بات محاصراً ومن غير اسناد أو تغطية..

ماذا يريد الترك وتمسكهم بالشمال السوري والشمال الغربي؟ وما هي الأهداف الأميركية في شرق الفرات؟ وكيف تتعامل سورية وحلفاؤها مع هذا الجزء الأخير من الأزمة السورية؟

للأتراك صلتان استراتيجيتان يحاولون استغلالها لتمتين دورهم في سورية. الأولى هي علاقتهم التاريخية بالأميركيين وحلفهم الأطلسي المنتسبين إليه.. والثانية عضويتهم إلى جانب إيران وروسيا في مؤتمر آستانا وسوتشي.. الذي يقدم نفسه آلية لتنظيم تدريجي للحل السياسي في سورية.

هناك سبب ثالث لا يقل استراتيجية، فتركيا تمتلك حدوداً واسعة مع سورية بطول لا يقل عن الألف كيلومتر ولديها مواطنون سوريون من أصول تركمانية، إلى جانب سيطرتها على«الاخوان المسلمين» السوريين الذين يشكلون مع حزب العدالة والتنمية التركي جزءاً من فدرالية الاخوان المسلمين في العالم… الأمر الذي يمنح تركيا تأثيراً شبه دائم في الأزمة السورية.. إلا أنّ المشروع الكردي في الشرق يؤرقها بشكل فعلي لاتصاله الجغرافي بنحو 15 مليون كردي تركي لديها.

بالإضافة إلى أن روسيا لا تقبل باحتلالهم أراضي سورية حتى ولو كان هدفها هو الاستفادة الحصرية من تصاعد الخلاف الأميركي ـ التركي حول المشروع الكردي المغطى أميركياً لتقريب انقرة من موسكو بمعدل أكبر.

ويحاول أردوغان إرجاء تحرير الدولة السورية لإدلب بأبداء تخوف بلاده على مصير مليوني مدني مقيمين في إدلب وفي ضواحيها ولتعقيد أكبر لهذه المشكلة يطلق اردوغان تساؤلات أن بلاده لا تعرف إلى أين يتشرّد أهل إدلب إذا هاجمهم الجيش السوري؟ مبدياً قلقه من انتقالهم إلى اوروبا!!

أما الأهداف التركية فأصبحت جلية ولا تبتعد عن السيطرة على منطقة على طول الحدود السورية قد تصل مساحتها إلى 11 ألف كيلومتر مربع من الأراضي السورية، وتريد على المستوى السياسي اشتراك المعارضات الموالية لها من الاخوان والتركمان في المؤسسات السياسية السورية.

كيف ردت الدولة السورية؟

بدأ الجيش السوري بقصف عنيف على مواقع الإرهاب في إدلب بمواكبة غارات جوية استهدفت بدورها مواقع الأعداء والتخزين للإرهاب المتحالف مع تركيا في تلك المنطقة.

فبدأ هذا القصف على شكل رسالة سورية إلى الأتراك بأن أهدافهم في سورية لا قيمة لها عند دولتها.

والنتيجة الآن عند الحلفاء الروس، فإما أن يتواصلوا مع الأتراك حول ضرورة اخلاء إدلب من القوات التركية والتنظيمات الإرهابية المتعاونة، أو أن الجيش السوري بمعونة من حلفائه الإيرانيين والروس وحزب الله مستعدون لشن هجمات عسكرية دقيقة تؤدي إلى تحرير المدنيين في إدلب من هيمنة الإرهاب والترك معاً. وهذا موعده لم يعد بعيداً إذا لم يكن قد بدأ فعلياً.

أما بالنسبة للأميركيين فيعلمون أن المراهنة على الإرهاب سقطت. وهوى معها مشروع السيطرة على الدولة.. ما دفعهم إلى الاندفاع نحو تفتيتها بواسطة الطموح الكردي من جهة والاحلام العثمانية من جهة ثانية، لذلك دعموا هجوماً كردياً بقواتهم الجوية والبرية والأوروبية في مناطق للإرهاب منعزلة عن بعضها بعضاً في شرق الفرات.

استفاد الكردي من نقاط عدة: التباعد بين بؤر الإرهاب في شرق الفرات.. وقف عمليات دعمهم الذي كان الأميركيون يوفرونه لهم بوسائل جوية أو من خلال الحدود التركية والعراقية، انسداد طرقهم نحو غرب الفرات حيث الدولة السورية وحلفاؤها.

لكن سيطرة الأكراد على مناطق واسعة للسوريين العرب، جعلت الأميركيين يتنبّهون لصعوبة بناء كانتون كردي يُصرّون على وصوله إلى الحدود العراقية ـ السورية جنوباً، وإلا فإن لا قيمة له بالنسبة للأهداف الأميركية. باعتبار أن حصرهُ في مناطق محاذية لكردستان لا تفيد الأميركيين لأن الجهات المسيطرة على كردستان العراقية موالية لهم.. وهم يريدون كانتوناً يسيطر على الحدود مع العراق ويعرقل التنسيق العراقي ـ السوري المرتقب لذلك وجد الأميركيون حلاً لهذه المعضلة، فدمجوا بضع مئات من أبناء العشائر العربية في جنوب سورية مع قوات«قسد» الكردية، وأخذوا يروّجون في الإعلام أن قوات قسد هي سورية تدمج فريقين متحالفين: سوريون عرب وسوريون أكراد، فهذا يعطي برأيهم مشروعية سياسية لكانتون يمتد من مناطق القامشلي والشمال السوري حتى أبو كمال والحدود العراقية.

هذا ما يحض الأميركيون على التمهيد لثلاث مناطق مستقلة تبدأ بكانتون حدودي تسيطر عليه تركيا مع قوات شرطة روسية إذا قبلت بذلك موسكو. تليها منطقة أميركية ــ أوروبية تفصل الترك عن الكانتون الكردي الكبير.. هذا عن الطموح التركي وخطط الأميركيين التي تجهر بأن مشروعها الجديد لتفجير الشرق السوري، قابلة للتنفيذ سلماً أم حرباً… معتقدين حسب تحليلاتهم أن إيران ذاهبة نحو تصدع داخلي يؤدي إلى تفجيرها وإنهاء دورها، أو بواسطة حرب يقول الوزير السعودي الجبير إن السيناريو الخاص بها ينتظر التنفيذ فقط.

فهل هذا ممكن؟ اختراق الرئيس الإيراني الشيخ روحاني الحصار الأميركي على بلاده بزيارته الأخيرة للعراق هي الإجابة الساطعة على المزاعم الأميركية. وبدورها الدولة السورية لن تتوانى عن التحرير التدريجي لمناطقها المحتلة في الشمال والشرق… أليس هذا ما تفعله منذ سبع سنوات.. كما أن لروسيا مصلحة كبرى بدعم الخيارات السياسية والعسكرية للدولة السورية فالعدو الأميركي واحد، وصمود الدور الروسي العالمي يبدأ من دولة سورية محرّرة، يؤمن ميدانها العسكري ومصالح سورية أولاً وأهداف حلفائها الإقليميين فيه، مقاومة الإمبراطورية الأميركية العدوانية ثابتاً.

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قواعد الدور التركي في سورية تتراجع

مارس 6, 2019

د. وفيق إبراهيم

دخول الأزمة السورية، في مرحلة حاسمة من الصراع الأخير بين قواها الأساسية المتورّطة، يفرض على تركيا، اختيار فريق من محاورها المتناقضة.

وبذلك تختم فصلاً طويلاً مستمرّاً من المراوغات بين عثمانيتها البائدة وأطلسيتها المتذبذبة وروسيتها الطارئة.

راكمت تركيا قواعد دورها السوري من سنين سبع من التدخل العسكري والسياسي المكشوف في الأراضي السورية، رعت خلاله عملية الإشراف على دخول مئات آلاف الإرهابيين من حدودها الى عموم الجغرافيا السورية، فاستفاد دورها من خمسة مصادر للقوة، منحته إمكانات عدوانية واسعة، تكاد تكون الأولى بين الدول الأجنبية المتورّطة.

استفادت أولاً من جوارها الجغرافي المباشر لسورية المبنية على علاقات تاريخية واسعة، تتجلى في استعمار عثماني لها دام أربعة قرون، وتركت في بعض أنحاء سورية مئات الآلاف من ذوي الأصول التركمانية.

اما تنظيمات الإرهاب من داعش والقاعدة والنصرة والأحزاب الأخرى فتمكنت أنقرة من الإمساك بها إلى حدود التوجيه والقيادة ورسم الخطط وكلذ الأعمال اللوجستية بموافقة أطلسية ـ خليجية.

بالإضافة إلى أنّ إخوانية الدولة التركية حزب العدالة والتنمية أتاحت لها قيادة الاخوان المسلمين في العالم وإدارة فرقهم الإرهابية في الميدان السوري.

في هذا المجال، لا يمكن أيضاً تجاهل قوة الجيش التركي التي استخدمها لاحتلال منطقة سورية حدودية سرعان ما تمدّد منها إلى عفرين وإدلب، داعماً انتشاراً إرهابياً في أرياف حلب وحماة واللاذقية.

و»لتعريب» دورها العدواني، استعملت تركيا دولة قطر لإسقاط الدور العربي للدولة السورية. والدخول إلى المنطقة العربية من بوابة الفتنة السنية ـ الشيعية على خطى «إسرائيل» والأميركيين والخطاب الطائفي للإرهاب.

للتوضيح فقطر التركية ـ الأميركية والسعودية الأميركية، أصرّتا على طرد سورية من جامعة الدول العربية، وترفضان اليوم عودتها إليها بذريعة عدم تقدّم الحلّ السياسي.

لكن الحقيقة في مكان آخر، وتتعلق بضرورة استمرار الحصار على سورية لتحقيق أكبر قدر ممكن من المكاسب السياسية وفي مرحلة انتصار الدولة السورية وحلفائها، وذلك بالضغط الأميركي في شرق الفرات والشمال والدور التركي والجامعة العربية وإعادة الإعمار ومقاطعة الدولة السورية.

للتذكير فقط فإنّ إعلان الرئيس الأميركي ترامب عن بدء انسحاب قواته من سورية قبل شهرين، أدّى إلى عودة البحرين والإمارات والسودان وعمان والكويت إلى سورية، وكانت السعودية نفسها تتحضّر للعودة، لولا ولادة ضغط أميركي جديد أرغمها على التوقف.

وكادت تركيا تتضعضع في ذلك الوقت من احتمال عودة التضامن العربي، فرفعت وتيرة خطابها عن مقتل مئات آلاف «السنة» بيد «النظام العلوي»، وهو خطاب مستهلك لم يعد يصدّقه أحد، وبذلك يتساوى الدور التركي في إثارة الفتنة بين العرب مع الأميركيين و»الإسرائيليين».

ولهذا الدور مقوّمات أطلسية ويستفيد من التناقضات الروسية ـ الأميركية في الميدان السوري، فتركيا عضو أساسي في الحلف الاطلسي، أدّى دوراً في مواجهة لجم نفوذ الاتحاد السوفياتي من ناحية البحر الأسود لكنه تراجع بعد انهيار الاتحاد السوفياتي 1989 حتى انّ الاتحاد الأوروبي رفض انتسابها إليه.

لكن الأهمية التركية في الميدان السوري جعلت الأميركيين لا يقطعون معها على الرغم من اختلاف أهداف مشروعهم مع طموحاتها.

فيتناقضون معها تارة ويجهدون للعثور على قواسم مشتركة جديدة ومرة أخرى وهكذا دواليك.

اما النقطة الأخيرة الداعمة للدور التركي فهي الصراع الأميركي ـ الروسي الحادّ الذي يتصاعد مرتدياً شكل تحوّل الأحادية الأميركية المتسلطة على العالم إلى ثنائية روسية ـ أميركية أقلّ ضرراً.

هذا ما منح الترك أهمية إضافية، فارضاً إفساح الطريق لهم ليصبحوا جزءاً من حلف أستانة وسوتشي مع الروس والإيرانيين.

فموسكو اعتقدت انّ «أستانة» من جهة وعلاقاتهم الاقتصادية مع أنقرة على قاعدة تصدير الغاز الروسي إليها عبر البحر الأسود فأوروبا مع تبادلات اقتصادية وسياحية اعتقدوا أنها عناصر كافية لجذب أنقرة نهائياً. لكن رفض تركيا تطبيق اتفاقيات خفض التوتر في إدلب وأرياف حماة واللاذقية وحلب، بذرائع ضعيفة، ترفع من مستوى تناقضها مع روسيا وإيران، هذا إلى جانب دعمها لهجمات تشنّها التنظيمات الإرهابية على الجيش السوري من خلال أرياف حماة وحلب إلى اللاذقية، تكشف عن محاولات تركية لتعقيد ما تخططه الدولة السورية لتحرير إدلب في وقت قريب وهي عمليات تشبه هجوماً كبيراً يريد بناء مواقع أمامية لصدّ الهجمات الوشيكة للجيش السوري على مواقع الإرهاب.

وهذا يضع تركيا في إطار محاولات أميركية مستجدة لإعادة نصب الأزمة السورية بآليات جديدة تجمع بين دعم أميركي للكرد في الشرق والشمال ورعاية تركية لمنظمات الإرهاب من النصرة إلى جيش العزة والتوحيد والتركمان ومنظمات الاخوان مع حضور مباشر للجيش التركي.

بالاضافة إلى قوات أميركية وأوروبية لها طابع معنوي، أما الأكثر خبثاً فهي تلك المحاولات الاميركية ـ السعودية لإضفاء طابع عربي على «قسد» التركية وذلك عبر ضخ كميات من أجنحة عشائر متورّطة بقيادة الجربا.

في المقابل، هناك تصميم من الدولة السورية على إنهاء إدلب أولاً ومواصلة التقدّم نحو كلّ متر من أراضيها، بتأييد مفتوح من حزب الله وروسيا وإيران، فإنهاء ما تبقى من إرهاب يقضي على معظم الدور التركي في سورية، فيصبح احتلال جيش أنقرة لمناطق حدودية وفي جهات عفرين مكشوفاً لا يمتلك وسائط حماية محلية ومتقدّمة، وكذلك من جهات الحدود.

انّ تحرير سورية بشكل كامل أصبح يتطلب إنهاء الدور التركي فيخسر الأميركيون ما تبقى من أوراقهم دافعاً الكرد نحو دولتهم السورية، الإطار الوحيد الضامن لحقوقهم.

Washington’s War on Syria

Washington’s War on Syria


Washington’s War on Syria

I was recently asked to participate and give a presentation at a closed, and invitation-only, conference in Washington, DC, on February 6th, 2019. The topic was: “Strategic Implications of Recent US Decisions on Syria”. I attended the conference and gave a presentation. The following is a summary of some of the things I said.

Upon my introduction, I informed the audience that I hold dual nationality, Syrian by birth and American by choice. In over five decades of academic work, I was always plagued by a nightmare of a war between the US and Syria, my two countries; unfortunately, this eventually become a reality. However, I should qualify; the ongoing war in Syria is not between the US and Syria, for there is no conflict between the Syrians and the Americans. It is a war waged by Washington against Syria in the service of Israel and some regional powers; Washington is waging a proxy war on Syria.

I briefly introduced Syria and its historic and religious importance. Syria is the cradle of civilization and home of the three monotheistic religions, where they started or flourished. I also reminded the audience that Syria is an archeological treasure; of the five oldest and continually inhabited cities, three are in Syria: Aleppo, the oldest, Damascus, the third and Latakia, the fifth. Following this introduction, I moved to the subject of the conference, dividing it into two sub topics:

  1. Trump Decisions to serve American interests in Syria; and
  2. Strategic Implications for Syria.

1. Trump’s Decisions

The first important decision taken by Trump was the establishment of the Zionist band in his administration made of five senior officials responsible for the formulation of American foreign policy. At no time in American history has there been such a concentration of Zionist power in the top echelon of a presidential administration. At the top of the Zionist band is Trump, the Commander-in-Chief; followed by Jared Kushner, his son in law and senior advisor; then comes John Bolton, national security advisor, Mike Pompeo, the Secretary of State, David Friedman, US Ambassador to Israel and lastly, the recently departed US Ambassador to the UN, ‘Nikki’ Haly. The formation of this Zionist band has had an adverse effect on Syria with further negative implications for Arabs and Muslims.

As for decisions to serve specific American interests in Syria, the White House, and a variety of American officials, have emphasized four American interests in the ongoing crisis in Syria: fight terrorism, protect the Kurds, roll back and contain Iran and Israel’s security.

Regarding the American ‘War on Terrorism’; people worldwide are skeptical of the American contention of waging a war on terrorism. When the uprising began in Syria in March 2011, America, and its regional allies, activated their many sleeper cells and opened their borders for swarms of tens of thousands of terrorists from all over the world to descend upon Syria. Once in, they were organized, equipped and financed to start their mission of rampage for ‘Regime Change’ and to render Syria a failed state. The plan failed and the terrorists became superfluous and a burden. They had to be eliminated and thus the American War on Terrorism in Syria which will conclude soon, says Trump.

As for the Kurds, they are Syrian citizens, who may have been discriminated against at one time or another. With the Syrian uprising, some of the Kurds were seduced by Washington. Unfortunately for them, and for Syria, they took the American bait. Washington will eventually drop them; it has already started the process with sraeli aqueisence. Israel originally supported the Kurdish plan to establish an autonomous state in the Arab region which would legitimize the existence of a Jewish state in the region. However, in view of the ongoing normalization process between Israel and some Arab states, a Kurdish state has become superfluous. Ultimately, Kurds will return to the Syrian fold where they belong. The modern history of the Kurds is victimization, partly due to their own doing; they are divided, prone to making bad decisions and ‘bit more than they can chew’. I recall a meeting I had with a politically active Kurdish group at the start of the Syrian uprising. After a brief introduction, the leader of the group unfolded a map of Kurdistan and put it on the table. I looked at the map and I was shocked at its contents. The western part of Kurdistan on the map, the Syrian Hasakah province, a northeastern province of Syria, in which the Kurds are a minority, was renamed ‘West Kurdistan’. I remember remarking that West Kurdistan is Syria’s Hasakah province, Syrian territory. The leader’s answer was “it is no more Syrian” The Kurds, some of whom are relatively newcomers to Syria escaping Turkish mistreatment during the early decades of the last century, are a component of the Syrian society. For the Kurds to have special consideration in a united and unitary Syria may be possible, but secession or autonomy are fantasies.

The last two presumed American interests in Syria, rolling back and containing Iran and securing Israel, are interconnected. As for rolling back and containing Iran, it is to prevent Iran from establishing a land corridor connecting Iran with Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. In 2004 King Abdullah of Jordan warned the Arabs of the development of such a corridor and dubbed it a ‘Shiite Crescent’, a rather unfortunate provocative sectarian concept. It should be noted that most of this land corridor is known since ancient times as the Fertile Crescent. An appropriate name for the Shiite Crescent could have been the Levant Crescent or better yet, the Levant Cooperation Council, similar to the Gulf Cooperation Council, a pact of four states, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon facing common domestic, regional and international threats.

While the misnamed Shiite Crescent has been well covered and debated among Western intellectual, political, and military circles, another developing crescent, the Zionist Crescent, has escaped converge and debate. The essence of the Zionist Crescent is the neutralization of Egypt to the West of Israel, Syria to the North and Iraq to the East, the three major historic Arab centers of power, which form a crescent around Israel and constitute the thrust of security threats to Israel. Egypt, the first segment of the Zionist Crescent, was neutralized in the 1979 peace treaty with Israel. Iraq, the second segment, was neutralized during the American invasion in 2003. Israel hoped Syria, the last segment of the Crescent, will be neutralized during the uprising in Syria; it was not to be.

Washington claims that rolling back and containing Iran and Israeli security constitute essential American interests; they are not – they are, essentially, Israeli interests. Washington is merely an instrument to serve Israeli interests and even potentially wage a war against Iran in the service of Israel, a la the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Iran is not a threat to America but could conceivably be a threat to Israel. However, Israel and behind it Washington, constitute a clear and present danger to Iran.

2. Strategic Implications for Syria

The original plan Washington and its allies sought was regime change and if successful, Syria a mosaic of religious, sectarian, and ethnic components, would become a failed state divided into Sunni, Alawite, Druse and Kurdish substates fighting continues wars. Thus, the completion of the third and last segment of the Zionist Crescent. The plan failed, thanks to the persistence of the Syrian leadership, the Syrian people, and the help of genuine allies, Russia and Iran. Syria lives and the third segment of the Zionist Crescent is void, for the time being.

Trump, Erdogan and the buffer zone in Syria ترامب وأردوغان والمنطقة العازلة في سورية

Trump, Erdogan and the buffer zone in Syria

فبراير 21, 2019

Written by Nasser Kandil,

The statements of the US President Donald Trump about his decision to withdraw from Syria include that he grants all Syria to the Turkish President Recep Erdogan who was notified that by a phone call with Trump who published that later in a tweet. The US National Security Advisor John Bolton came to the region and he made number of statements after his meetings with Israeli officials, he said that he would inform the Turkish officials and the President Erdogan that attacking the Kurds; the allies of America is something unallowable. Therefore, all of Syria became for Erdogan except the areas under the Kurdish control. When Bolton arrived to Ankara, Erdogan refused to receive him and he told him harsh words that Turkey does not get orders regarding its national security and that Washington does not distinguish between the Kurds and the militants whom it supports. Trump replied that if Turkey attacked the Kurdish militants, its Turkish economy will be collapsed. The Turks responded that they do not care about the US threat. Then a phone call between Trump and Erdogan took place that was followed by an understanding on a buffer zone established by Turkey on the Syrian borders under the consent and the support of Washington. As a result, there was a Turkish promoting campaign about its intention to establish a security buffer zone.

This context is unbelievable as political and operational plans between a super power named America and a major regional country named Turkey. The Tweets and the phone calls by the US President and his issuing statements such as “All of Syria is yours” “Do not approach from the Kurds” “I will destroy the Turkish economy” and “we support a buffer zone” do not indicate only that he is funny, but also that the Turkish President is funny too, because their feeling of inability needs something in media to support them. It is not forgettable the positions which focused on  the American-Turkish serious research in the project of the buffer zone and how the considerations  of the American and Turkish forces lead to dismiss the risk of turning this wish into a realistic project.

Trump wants us to be convinced that he is able to support Erdogan to establish a buffer zone, while he is withdrawing from Syria, although he was unable to do so while his forces were in Syria. While Erdogan wants us to be convinced that he is capable to establish a buffer zone after he fled from the battle of Aleppo and left his group defeated moving to Astana understandings to get the Russian and the Iranian appeal to avoid the confrontation which he fears, although he was unable to establish it when he challenged Russia and dropped its plane while he was leading the armed groups which had control over half of Syria. He may think that after his failure in implementing his commitments in Idlib, he can barter the coverage of the military operation which became an inevitable duty on the Syrian army, with getting a consolation prize to enter to some of the Syrian border villages. He does not understand yet that the Syrian-Russian-Iranian understanding is based on the withdrawal of all the forces which do not have legal understandings with the Syrian country and not to bargain on the Syrian sovereignty and the unity of its territories.

One stable fact approved by the Syrian position towards Erdogan’s statements that the alliance of defeated will not get during in its weakness what he wanted to get during its strength and that the Syrian country is ready for all possibilities including firing if necessary to prevent affecting its sovereignty and unity. His foolish statements have one benefit; to convince the Kurdish leaderships of the nature of their American ally and that the Syrian country is their only guarantor of security of land and people.

Translated by Lina Shehadeh,

ترامب وأردوغان والمنطقة العازلة في سورية 

يناير 16, 2019

ناصر قنديل

– بعد تصريحات للرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب في تفسير قراره بالانسحاب من سورية، تضمّنت قوله إنه يمنح سورية كلها للرئيس التركي رجب أردوغان، بكلمات تبلّغها أردوغان على الهاتف في اتصال مع ترامب، نشر محتواها ترامب في تغريدة يقول فيها «لقد قلت لأردوغان إن سورية كلها لك»، جاء مستشار الأمن القومي الأميركي جون بولتون إلى المنطقة وأطلق بعد لقاءاته بالمسؤولين الإسرائيليين تصريحات يقول فيها إنه سيبلغ المسؤولين الأتراك والرئيس أردوغان بأن المساس بالأكراد كحلفاء لأميركا ممنوع، فصار الموقف الأميركي عنوانه سورية كلها لأردوغان ما عدا مناطق السيطرة الكردية، وعندما وصل بولتون إلى أنقرة رفض أردوغان استقباله وسمع كلاماً قاسياً مضمونه أن تركيا لا تتلقى التعليمات في ما يخصّ أمنها القومي، وأن واشنطن لا تميز بين الأكراد والمسلحين الذين تدعمهم، فردّ ترامب بأنه إذا مسّت تركيا بالمسلحين الأكراد فسوف يدمر الاقتصاد التركي، ورد الأتراك بأنهم لا يأبهون بالتهديد الأميركي، وتم اتصال هاتفي بين ترامب وأردوغان أعقبه كلام مشترك عن التفاهم على منطقة عازلة تقيمها تركيا على الحدود مع سورية بموافقة ودعم من واشنطن، وبدأت حملة تسويق تركية لنظرية قديمة جديدة عن عزمها إقامة منطقة أمنية عازلة.

– هذا السياق يقول إن ما أمامنا هو أقل من أن نصدقه كخطط سياسية وعملياتية بين دولة عالمية عظمى هي أميركا ودولة إقليمية كبرى هي تركيا، فالانتقال بتغريدات على تويتر واتصالات هاتفية من قبل الرئيس الأميركي بمواقف تراوحت من «قلت له سورية كلها لك» إلى «إياك والمساس بالأكراد» إلى «سأدمّر الاقتصاد التركي» إلى «ندعم إقامة منطقة عازلة» لا يدلّ على خفة الرئيس الأميركي فقط، بل وعلى خفة الرئيس التركي أيضاً، وشعورهما معاً بالعجز والضعف حاجتهما لـ»البهورات» الإعلامية لصناعة قوة ليس بين يدَيْ كل منهما، ولم تكن بيدهما معاً يوم كانا معاً، والذاكرة ليست ببعيدة عن المواقف التي شكّل محورها في بحث جدي أميركي تركي في مشروع المنطقة العازلة، وكيف كانت الحسابات المشتركة لمصادر القوة الأميركية والتركية تؤدي لصرف النظر عن المخاطرة بتحويل هذه الأمنية مشروعاً واقعياً.

– يريد ترامب منا أن نقتنع أنه قادر على تقديم المساندة لأردوغان لإقامة المنطقة العازلة وهو ينسحب من سورية، بعدما لم يكن قادراً على ذلك وقواته موجودة في سورية. ويريد أردوغان منا أن نقتنع بأنه قادر على إقامة المنطقة العازلة بعدما هرب من معركة حلب وترك جماعته تُهزم، واستدار إلى تفاهمات أستانة، باحثاً عن الرضا الروسي والإيراني تفادياً للمواجهة التي يخشاها، وهو لم يكن قادراً على إقامتها يوم تحدّى روسيا وأسقط طائرتها وكان في ذروة قيادته للجماعات المسلحة التي كانت يومها تسيطر على نصف سورية، إلا إذا كانت الخفة قد بلغت به حدّ التوهم أنه بعد فشله في تنفيذ تعهداته في إدلب قادر على عرض المقايضة بين تغطية العملية العسكرية التي باتت قدراً حتمياً هناك، على يد الجيش السوري، بالحصول على ما يسمّيه جائزة ترضية بالدخول إلى بعض القرى الحدودية السورية، وهو لم يفهم بعد أن التفاهم السوري الروسي الإيراني قائم على ركيزة على تراجع عنها هي، انسحاب جميع القوات التي لا تربطها تفاهمات قانونية مع الدولة السورية وعدم المساومة على السيادة السورية ووحدة التراب السوري في ظلها.

– الحقيقة الثابتة التي أكدها الموقف السوري من تصريحات أردوغان هي أن حلف المهزومين لن يحصل في زمن الضعف على ما فشل في الحصول عليه في ذروة زمن القوة، وأن الدولة السورية مستعدّة لكل الاحتمالات بما فيها إطلاق النار إذا اقتضى الأمر ذلك لمنع المساس بسيادتها ووحدتها، وأن لتصريحاته الحمقاء فائدة واحدة هي إقناع القيادات الكردية بطبيعة حليفهم الأميركي، وأحادية خيار وضع أوراقهم كلها في عهدة دولتهم السورية كضامن وحيد لأمن الأرض والشعب في سورية.

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Reshaping the Middle East: Why the West Should Stop Its Interventions

Syria: the project of creating a” jungle state” instead gave birth to a powerful Resistance movement

Foreign intervention has pushed many Middle Eastern populations into poverty, at the same time making them more determined to confront and reject the global domination sought by the USA. The number of Middle Eastern countries and non-state actors opposed to the US coalition is relatively small and weak by comparison with the opposite camp, but they have nevertheless shaken the richer and strongest superpower together with its oil-rich Middle Eastern allies who were the investors and the instigators of recent wars. They have coalesced as a Resistance movement attracting global support, even in the face of unprecedented propaganda warfare in the mass media.

The soft power of the US coalition has been undermined domestically and abroad from the blatant deceit intrinsic in the project of supporting jihadist takfiri gangs to terrorize, rape and kill Christian, Sunni, secular, and other civilian populations while allegedly fighting a global war on Islamic terrorism.

The small countries targeted by the US coalition are theoretically and strategically important due to their vicinity to Israel. Notwithstanding the scarcity of their resources and their relatively small number of allies in comparison with the opposite camp, they have rejected any reconciliation on the terms offered by Israel.

Israel itself is progressively revealing more overt reconciliation and ties with oil-rich Arab countries: we see Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu strolling in Warsaw, discussing and shaking hands with Arab leaders. These are obviously not first meetings: recent years have shown a progressively warming rapport and openness between Israel and many Arab leaders.

These Middle East countries have long been supportive of Israel’s aggression against Lebanon and its inhabitants. And in the last decade, this support expanded to include a plot against the Palestinians, Syria and Iraq.

The US has exerted huge pressure on Syria since 2003, following the invasion of Iraq. During Secretary of State Colin Powell’s visit to Damascus in March 2003 he offered long-lasting governance to President Bashar al-Assad in exchange for submission: Assad was asked to sell out Hamas and Hezbollah, and thus join the road map for the “new Middle East”.

When Powell’s intimidation failed, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the US’s main Arab allies and the countries responsible for cash pay-outs to help the US establishment achieve its goals (and those of Israel), promised to inject untold gold and wealth into Syria.

Assad was not willing to comply with this US-Saudi influence and pressure. The influence belonged to the US; Saudi Arabia and Qatar stood behind, holding the moneybags. A war against the Syrian state became essential, and its objectives and prospective benefits immense.

In a few paragraphs, this is what the seven years of war in Syria were about:

The Palestinian cause was pushed to the periphery by the mushrooming of ISIS, a group that terrorised the Middle East and participated in the destruction of the region’s infrastructure, killing thousands of its people and draining its wealth. It was also responsible for numerous attacks around the globe, extending from the Middle East into Europe. ISIS didn’t attack Israel even though it was based on its borders under the name of “Jayesh Khaled Bin al-Waleed.” Nor did al-Qaeda attack Israel, although it also bordered Israel for years, enjoying Israeli intelligence support–and even medical care!

All this was done in order to destroy Syria: dividing the state into zones of influence, with Turkey taking a big chunk (Aleppo, Afrin, Idlib); the Kurds realising their dream by taking over Arab and Assyrian lands in the northeast to create a land of Rojava linked with Iraqi Kurdistan; Israel taking the Golan Heights permanently and creating a buffer zone by grabbing more territory in Quneitra; creating a failed state where jihadist and mercenary groups would fight each other endlessly for dominance; gathering all jihadists into their favourite and most sacred destination (Bilad al-Sham – The Levant) and sealing them into “Islamic Emirates”.

It also involved, strategically, stopping the flow of weapons from Iran through Damascus to Hezbollah in Lebanon; weakening the Iranian-Syrian-Iraqi-Lebanese “Axis of Resistance” by removing Syria from it; preparing for another war against Lebanon once Syria was wiped off the map; stealing Syria’s oil and gas resources on land and in the Mediterranean; building a gas pipeline from Qatar to Europe to cripple Russia’s economy; and finally removing Russia from the Levant together with its naval base on the coast.

At no point in the Syrian war was a single leader proposed to rule the country and replace Bashar al-Assad. The plan was to establish a zone of anarchy with no ruler; Syria was expected to become the jungle of the Middle East.

It was a plan bigger than Assad and much bigger than the Syrians. Hundreds of billions of dollars were invested by Middle Eastern countries – Saudi Arabia and Qatar – to kill Syrians, destroy their country and accomplish the above objectives. It was a crime against an entire population with the watchful complicity of the modern and “democratic” world.

Many pretexts were given for the Syrian war. It was not only about regime change. It was about creating a jungle state. Think tanks, journalists, academics, ambassadors all joined the fiesta by collaborating in the slaughter of Syrians. Crocodile tears were shed over “humanitarian catastrophes” in Syria even as the poorest country in the Middle East, the Yemen, was and still is being slaughtered while the same mainstream media avert their gaze and conceal the nature of the conflict from the general public.

Anyone who understood the game, or even part of it, was called “Assadist”, a designation meant as an insult. The savage irony? This epithet “Assadist” was freely wielded by the US chattering class- who themselves have evidently never publicly counted and acknowledged the millions killed by the US political establishment over the centuries.

So, what has this global intervention brought about?

Russia has returned to the Levant after a long hibernation. Its essential role has been to stand against the US world hegemony without provoking, or even trying to provoke, a war with Washington. Moscow demonstrated its new weapons, opening markets for its military industry, and showed its military competence without falling into the many traps laid in the Levant during its active presence. It created the Astana agreement to bypass UN efforts to manipulate negotiations, and it isolated the war into several regions and compartments to deal with each part separately. Putin exhibited a shrewd military mind in dealing successfully with the “mother of all wars” in Syria. He ventured skilfully into US territory against its hegemonic goals, and he has created powerful and lasting strategic alliances with Turkey (a NATO member) and Iran.

Iran found fertile ground in Syria to consolidate the “Axis of the Resistance” when the country’s inhabitants (Christian, Sunni, Druse, secular people and other minorities) realised that the survival of their families and their country were at stake. It managed to rebuild Syria’s arsenal and succeeded in supplying Hezbollah with the most sophisticated weapons needed for a classic guerrilla-style war to stop Israel from attacking Lebanon. Assad is grateful for the loyalty of these partners who took the side of Syria even as the world was conspiring to destroy it.

Iran has adopted a new ideology: it is not an Islamic or a Christian ideology but a new one that emerged in the last seven years of war. It is the “Ideology of Resistance”, an ideology that goes beyond religion. This new ideology imposed itself even on clerical Iran and on Hezbollah who have abandonned any goal of exporting an Islamic Republic: instead they support any population ready to stand against the destructive US hegemony over the world.

For Iran, it is no longer a question of spreading Shiism or converting secular people, Sunni or Christians. The goal is for all to identify the real enemy and to stand against it. That is what the West’s intervention in the Middle East is creating. It has certainly succeeded in impoverishing the region: but it has also elicited pushback from a powerful front. This new front appears stronger and more effective than the forces unleashed by the hundreds of billions spent by the opposing coalition for the purpose of spreading destruction in order to ensure US dominance.


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The US Syria Withdrawal and the Myth of the Islamic State’s “Return”

February 7, 2019 (Tony Cartalucci – NEO) – At face value – the notion that the US occupation of Syria is key to preventing the return of the so-called “Islamic State” (ISIS) to Syrian territory is unconvincing.

Regions west of the Euphrates River where ISIS had previously thrived have since been permanently taken back by the Syrian Arab Army and its Russian and Iranian allies – quite obviously without any support from the United States – and in fact – despite Washington’s best efforts to hamper Damascus’ security operations.

Damascus and its Russian and Iranian allies have demonstrated that ISIS can be permanently defeated. With ISIS supply lines running out of NATO-territory in Turkey and from across the Jordanian and Iraqi border cut off – Syrian forces have managed to sustainably suppress the terrorist organization’s efforts to reestablish itself west of the Euphrates.

The very fact that ISIS persists in the sole region of the country currently under US occupation raises many questions about not only the sincerity or lack thereof of  Washington’s efforts to confront and defeat ISIS – but over whether or not Washington is deliberately sustaining the terrorist organization’s fighting capacity specifically to serve as a pretext for America’s continued – and illegal – occupation of Syrian territory.

The US Department of Defense Says It Best 

A recent report (entire PDF version here) published by the US Department of Defense (DoD) Inspector General himself would claim:

According to the DoD, while U.S.-backed Syrian forces have continued the fight to retake the remaining ISIS strongholds in Syria, ISIS remains a potent force of battle-hardened and well-disciplined fighters that “could likely resurge in Syria” absent continued counterterrorism pressure. According to the DoD, ISIS is still able to coordinate offensives and counter-offensives, as well as operate as a decentralized insurgency.

The report also claims:

Currently, ISIS is regenerating key functions and capabilities more quickly in Iraq than in Syria, but absent sustained [counterterrorism] pressure, ISIS could likely resurge in Syria within six to twelve months and regain limited territory in the [Middle Euphrates River Valley (MERV)].  

By “continued counterterrorism pressure,” the report specifically means continued US occupation of both Syria and Iraq as well as continued military and political support for proxy militants the US is using to augment its occupation in Syria.

The report itself notes that the last stronghold of ISIS exists specifically in territory under defacto US occupation or protection east of the Euphrates River where Syrian forces have been repeatedly attacked – both by US-backed proxies and by US forces themselves.

The very fact that the report mentions ISIS is “regenerating key functions and capabilities more quickly in Iraq than in Syria” despite the US planning no withdrawal from Iraq seems to suggest just how either impotent or genuinely uninterested the US is in actually confronting and defeating ISIS. As to why – ISIS serves as the most convincing pretext to justify Washington’s otherwise unjustified and continued occupation of both Syria and Iraq.

US DoD’s Own Report Exposes Weakness, Illegitimacy of “Kurdish Independence” 

The report is all but an admission that US-backed militants in Syria lack the capability themselves to overcome the threat of ISIS without constant support from Washington. That the report claims ISIS is all but defeated but could “resurge” within a year without US backing – highlights the weakness and illegitimacy of these forces and their political ambitions of “independence” they pursue in eastern Syria.

A Kurdish-dominated eastern Syria which lacks the military and economic capabilities to assert control over the region without the perpetual presence of and backing of US troops – only further undermines the credibility of Washington’s Kurdish project east of the Euphrates.

The Syrian government – conversely – has demonstrated the ability to reassert control over territory and prevent the return of extremist groups – including ISIS.

Were the United States truly dedicated to the destruction of ISIS – it is clear that it would support forces in the region not only capable of achieving this goal – but who have so far been the only forces in the region to do so.

ISIS as a Pretext for Perpetual US Occupation 

In reality – the US goal in both Syria and Iraq is to undermine the strength and unity of both while incrementally isolating and encircling neighboring Iran. The US itself deliberately created ISIS and the many extremist groups fighting alongside it.

It was in a leaked 2012 US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) memo that revealed the US and its allies’ intent to create what it called at the time a “Salafist principality” in eastern Syria. The memo would explicitly state that (emphasis added):

If the situation unravels there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran).

On clarifying who these supporting powers were, the DIA memo would state:

The West, Gulf countries, and Turkey support the opposition; while Russia, China, and Iran support the regime.

The “Salafist” (Islamic) “principality” (State) would indeed be created precisely in eastern Syria as US policymakers and their allies had set out to do. It would be branded the “Islamic State” and be used first to wage a more muscular proxy war against Damascus – and when that failed – to invite US military forces to intervene in the conflict directly.

Several years onward, and with the abject failure of the US proxy war in Syria all but complete, the shattered remnants of ISIS are sheltered exclusively in regions now under the defacto protection of US forces and are being used as a pretext to delay or altogether prevent any significant withdrawal of US forces.

While many see the announcement of a US troop withdrawal from Syria by US President Donald Trump and attempts to backtrack away from the withdrawal as a struggle between the White House and the Pentagon – it is much more likely the result of a collapsing foreign policy vacillating between bad options and worse options.

The inability – so far – of Israeli airstrikes to even penetrate Syrian air defenses let alone cause any significant damage on the ground in Syria has further highlighted Western impotence and complicated Washington’s plans moving onward into the future.

Turkey’s teetering policy regarding Syria and the prospects of it being drawn deeper into Syrian territory to“take over” the US occupation – as described by the DoD  Inspector General’s report – will only further overextend and mire Turkish forces, creating vulnerabilities that can be easily exploited by everyone sitting at the negotiation tables opposite Ankara.

It is still uncertain what Ankara will do, but as an initially willing partner in US-engineered proxy war in Syria – it is now left with its own unpalatable options of bad and worse.

It is interesting that even the DoD Inspector General’s report mentions ISIS’ continued fighting capacity depends on foreign fighters and “external donations” – yet never explores the obvious state sponsorship required to sustain both. The DoD report and US actions themselves have all but approached openly defending the remnants of ISIS.

While the prospect of violently overthrowing the Syrian government seems to have all but passed, the US is still trying to justify its presence in Syria at precisely the junctions ISIS and other terrorist organizations are moving fighters and weapons into the country through – in northern Syria, in southeast Syria near the Iraqi border, and at Al Tanf near the Iraqi-Jordanian border.

Were the US to seek to consolidate its proxies and initiate a “resurge” of ISIS – the very scenario it claims it seeks to prevent – its control of these vital entry points into Syria and Iraq would be paramount. Allowing them to fall into Syrian and Iraqi forces’ hands to be secured and cut off would – ironically – spell the end of ISIS in both nations.

While Washington’s words signal a desire to defeat ISIS – its actions are the sole obstruction between ISIS and its absolute defeat.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook”.

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