Why Assad Believes That Syria Would Not Survive a Transition to a Federal System

Why Assad Believes That Syria Would Not Survive a Transition to a Federal System

DMITRY MININ | 11.12.2017 | WORLD / MIDDLE EAST

Why Assad Believes That Syria Would Not Survive a Transition to a Federal System

The idea that the protracted civil war in Syria might be resolved by restructuring the country into a federation has been on a lot of minds lately. At first glance, it does seem tempting to try to reconcile the warring sectors of the population and all the various factions by granting broad rights of autonomy based on ethnicity and religion.

The draft of the new constitution that was originally pitched to the Syrians by the international community was in fact premised on the idea of granting such status to the “nationalities living in the country.” That manifested itself, for example, in the proposal to establish a bicameral parliament in Syria. Only relatively recently did the Syrian Congress on National Dialogue (soon to convene) begin going by that name. Previous attempts were seen to call it the Congress of Syrian Peoples. But President Assad was firmly against that version from the very beginning. He feels that because of the nature of the local environment in the Middle East, the states there that fly the flag of federalism are inevitably forced to watch their territorial integrity and sovereignty slipping away. It seems to the president of Syria that, by touting federalization, the West is resorting to political and subversive means to achieve the goals it has been unable to attain militarily. For example, without waiting for a final resolution of the matter, the Americans have already urged the Kurds, whose cause they so champion, to unilaterally proclaim the establishment of the Federation of Northern Syria in the territories they occupy. And that’s only the beginning.

History has shown that no federation has been viable in that area and that eventual collapse is inevitable. The Syrians themselves must see a lesson in the story of their own short-lived federation with Egypt, known as the United Arab Republic.

Nor did Libya’s repeated attempts to create a federation with some of its neighbors meet with any success. The efforts to merge Ethiopia and Sudan into a federation – initially backed by the West – ultimately ended once Eritrea and South Sudan won their independence and pulled out. Baghdad’s willingness to grant Iraqi Kurdistan an even higher status than that of merely a constituent region of a federation resulted in Kurdish attempts to secede from Iraq. It took a massive military intervention to put a stop to that. And should Syria take that path, there is even less hope that it might escape such a fate.

The projects to federalize states in that region are tied to the initiatives to completely redraw the borders of those territories. The campaign to alter national boundaries in the “Greater Middle East” really picked up steam with the arrival of the Arab Spring in 2011. The new map of the Middle East that was proposed in the journal Foreign Affairs in 1992 by Bernard Lewis, a professor of Near Eastern Studies and advisor to George W. Bush, has regained its popularity. In 2006, this map was updated by the retired military-intelligence officer Ralph Peters in Armed Forces Journal.

The Lewis-Peters map

The intention of these exercises in “applied cartography” is to strengthen American positions in the region by weakening those national states. To this end, a “Balkanization” of the Middle East was planned along the fault lines of religious, ethnic, and clan divisions. And stirring up the animosities between the Shiites and Sunnis was to play a key role.

Syria at that time was not seriously viewed as a target for those efforts, as it seemed like a rock of stability amidst its restive neighbors. It took almost two years for the “ripple effect” from the Arab Spring to reach Syria. Once the Syrian conflict began, a map surfaced in the media (which let’s call “the Israeli version”) showing the potential breakup of that country once it became a federation.

It featured a powerful Druze sector that was to be carved out on the Syrian-Israeli border. Once Syria’s boundaries were redrawn this way, its Druze population – due to fears of Sunni fundamentalism – would be favorably positioned for an alliance with Tel Aviv, which would offer a permanent solution to the problem of the Golan Heights and give Israel a buffer zone that would greatly shore up its security in the north. In addition, the residents of that entire territory might want to “reunite with their compatriots” inside of Israel.

However, the war didn’t go that way. The Druze proved completely loyal to Damascus and distinguished themselves with their heroic exploits to defend Syria’s territorial integrity. Nevertheless, the flavor of Israel’s military operations near that border shows that it has not entirely abandoned those notions. Tel Aviv might try again under favorable circumstances. And one circumstance that might fit that bill would be the federalization of Syria under international control.

A “Kurdish version” of Syria’s future national and state configuration was also widely circulated.

It is not difficult to see that at that time the Kurds had not yet even started to dream of the many territories they have now seized with the Americans’ help. The biggest challenge for them was unifying all the Kurdish cantons in the north into a single zone. As a result, despite gaining control over a quarter of Syrian territory – as far west as the Euphrates – the Kurds have by no means resolved the question of their nationhood. The Kurdish-occupied Arab settlements haven’t demonstrated any particular loyalty to Rojava. And the more economically-developed Afrin canton remains cut off from the greater part of the Kurdish stronghold. Outside of Rojava there are still about 250,000 Kurds living in the city of Aleppo (primarily in the Sheikh Maqsood district), a group that includes the most prominent cultural figures and businessmen of Kurdish ethnicity in Syria. Thus the Syrian Kurds’ appetites for new territory have not yet been sated.

If you look at the map of Syria’s ethno-sectarian makeup, it becomes clear that any attempts to demarcate certain federal or administrative zones along ethnic lines can only lead to fierce new clashes in this “war of all against all.”

The main problem is that the various ethnic and sectarian factions are all sprinkled throughout Syria. It is extremely difficult to clearly demarcate their boundaries. The claims of some will collide with the ambitions of others, forming permanent flash points where they converge. Who should own the uninhabited and oil-rich Syrian desert, which makes up half the country’s territory, is a completely open question. This is in fact a much uglier and more complicated version of the civil war in the former Yugoslavia. However, this is not the only problem.

Any hypothetical plan to impose a federal system on the country elicits the question: what are the criteria for identifying “the nationalities of Syria” and their right to independence? Given the plethora of sects and movements that exist in Syria, this would be an overwhelming task. For example, the West and the countries of the Persian Gulf have long dreamed of driving the Alawites, the Assad family’s tribe, into the “ghetto” of the province of Latakia. But are they not Arabs and Muslims, like their Sunni brothers? Using that approach, the country could be splintered into dozens of micro-states. Among the Sunnis in particular, one might point to the strong collective identity of the Bedouins as a reason to hand all of the desert over to them, and so on. And that might please some, but not Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

He has renounced ethno-sectarian discord and proposed a completely modern version of a civil Syrian nation that would respect the distinctive traits that distinguish the cultures and civilizations of all the groups living in the country. Assad believes that the problems of Syria’s national and state configuration can be resolved with the help of the ideology of pan-Arabism.

Speaking recently at a forum in Damascus attended by representatives from Arab countries, the Syrian president proclaimed that pan-Arabism is a conceptual notion of a civilization that includes “all ethnic groups, religions, and communities” and allows them to develop. And the cultural heritages of all of them have made an invaluable contribution to the historical development of pan-Arabism. According to Assad, an attempt was made during the war to impose a false choice on Syria: to either abandon its own identity and kowtow to foreign powers or to become a society of “communities in conflict.”

Paradoxically, the bulk of the opposition groups that take their cues from Riyadh fully agree with the Syrian president’s approach per se. They are also opposed to a federal system being foisted upon the country and make their arguments from a position of pan-Arabism. But Assad views this principle in a more secular light. It should be noted that under pressure from the opposition, the international mediators led by Staffan de Mistura have already altered their version of the future Syrian constitution, no longer referring to the country as the Syrian Republic, but as the Syrian Arab Republic, which still remains the state’s official name. The tensions between the opposition and Damascus have just about been reduced to one thorny issue – the continued hold of Bashar al-Assad and his entourage on the reins of power in that country. But if the pressure to federalize Syria keeps growing, then – who knows? – perhaps it might even motivate the opposition and the government to find a mutually acceptable solution to this issue as well.

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Zionists Form Group to Promote Kurdish Statehood

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By Richard Edmondson

Perhaps at some point we’ll see a sly Zionist pop up somewhere claiming the Kurds are an “ancient biblical people.”

(And doubtless, if so, he’d have plenty of money to buy off plenty of historians to “verify” his claim).

And maybe in the not-so-distant future we could even anticipate publication of a brand new modern English translation of the Bible with a rewording of the Book of Genesis to include the following: “So Abraham and his wife Sarah and his nephew Lot set out from Harran, but on the way they stopped off and got down and partied with their cousins, the Kurds, before heading off to conquer the land of Caanan.”

Don’t laugh. In the world we’re presently living in absurdities of this nature are well within the possible.

A group of prominent Zionists have now formed the Jewish Coalition for Kurdistan–an organization with the stated objective of promoting “the legitimate rights of the Kurdish people to self-determination”–which may sound like a reasonable goal, but of course establishment of a Kurdish state would likely result in the breaking off of parts of Syria and possibly Iraq, and maybe even Turkey or Iran as well.

In other words, depending upon how successful this new group turns out to be, there’s a high likelihood we could see more bloodshed and violence in the Middle East with more waves of refugees flooding into Europe.

The JCFK is headquartered in Belgium. Its president is Joël Rubinfeld, who has served as secretary-general of the Belgium-Israel Friendship Society, president of the Jewish Community of Belgium, and vice-president of the European Jewish Parliament.

However prominent American Jews are involved with the JCFK as well. Rabbi Abraham Cooper serves on its Honorary Board. Cooper is with the Simon Wiesenthal Center, based in Los Angeles, an organization now building a “Museum of Tolerance” on top of a Palestinian cemetery in Jerusalem. And another member of the Honorary Board is Alan Dershowitz, Harvard law Professor Emeritus and regular contributor on CNN and Fox News.

I posted an article about Dershowitz last week discussing a recent piece he published attacking Congresswoman Betty McCollum over her sponsorship of the “Promoting Human Rights by Ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian children Act” in Congress. Dershowitz appears to have something of a bi-polar view of the Middle East (hate the Palestinians/love the Kurds), and while he has been described as a “civil liberties lawyer,” he has also publicly clashed with civil libertarians such as Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, and Alice Walker. (The latter he accused of “bigotry”–for refusing to allow an Israeli publisher to publish her book, The Color Purple.)

Kurds have long enjoyed support from Israelis as well, although in the past that support has often been kept under wraps for political reasons. Now, however, it is coming out in the open–big time. On Wednesday, November 29, the Israeli Knesset hosted an international conference entitled “Kurdistan and Israel: Together Towards Peace and Stability in the Middle East” (notice the use of the word “Kurdistan,” as if such a state already exists).

The event took place, significantly, on the 70th anniversary of the UN resolution on the partitioning of Palestine, and one of the participants was Rubinfeld, who was there along with a delegation from the European Kurdish Society. A host of prominent Israelis, including Tzipi Livni and Michael Oren, also attended, and the occasion sparked the introduction of a Knesset bill calling for the right of Israelis to travel freely between Israel and Kurdish-controlled areas. The following is from a report here that discusses the bill (emphasis added):

The bill, a copy of which was given to The Times of Israel, makes no explicit distinction between Kurdish-controlled areas in Iraq–known as the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), where Israelis can travel fairly safely–and other Kurdish areas, whether in northern Syria or in Iran.

The vagueness is intentional, the bill’s author told The Times of Israel. The legislation is currently meant to refer just to Iraqi Kurdistan, though that could change in the future.

On Tuesday, November 28, one day prior to the Knessett event in Jerusalem, a number of pro-Kurdish events were held in New York as well. One of these was a screening at the UN of a documentary entitled “Peshmerga,” directed by French-Jewish “philosopher” Bernard Henri-Levy. Peshmerga is the name of the troops operating under the aegis of the Kurdish Regional Government of Northern Iraq. Sponsored by the  French and British missions to the UN, the film screening was attended by some 700 people, while François Delattre, France’s UN ambassador, spoke of the “historic rights of the people of Kurdistan.”

The Kurds, it may be remembered, held a referendum for independence back in September. Three days after the vote,  The Forward published an article under the headline “The Secret Friendship Behind Israel’s Support of Kurdish Independence.” Discussing the “deep affinity” between Israel and the Kurds, the writer notes that:

In some ways, Israel’s view is pragmatic. The Middle East could do with another secular democracy.

Yes, the Middle East could do with another secular democracy, but of course the writer, one Michael Goldfarb, omits any mention of the fact that Israel has been trying to overthrow the democratic, secular government of Syria. The piece nonetheless is somewhat revealing, for Goldfarb offers up a quote from an Israeli by the name of Eliezer Gheizi Safrir, described as “Mossad’s station chief in Kurdistan in the mid 1970s.”

“They [Kurds] called me Kak Gheizi,” he said proudly.  Kak or kaka means brother. It is a term of friendship. “These are good people, ” says Gheizi. “They share the same values as Jews.”

The fact that a former Mossad chief is a fan of the Kurds might not be all that surprising. Back in mid-to-late summer of this year, Sarah Abed published a series of articles about the Kurds that focused on, among other things, the close ties that have developed over the years with Israel. In one of the articles, here, she writes:

Documents leaked by WikiLeaks in 2010 suggested that Israeli Mossad Chief Meir Dagan wanted to use Kurds and ethnic minorities to topple the Iranian government. The Israeli spy service was aiming to create a weak and divided Iran, similar to the situation in Iraq, where the Kurds have their own autonomous government, the spy chief told a U.S. official.

The Partiya Jiyana Azad a Kurdistane (PJAK), a militant Kurdish nationalist group based in northern Iraq, has been carrying out attacks on Iranian forces in the Kurdistan Province of Iran (Eastern Kurdistan) and other Kurdish-inhabited areas. Half the members of PJAK are women. The PJAK has about 3,000 armed militiamen. They represent yet another example of the Kurds finding themselves in the middle of a conflict and being used as a pawn by the West.

The party is closely linked to the PKK. Iran has often accused PJAK and other Kurdish nationalist groups from Iran of being supported by Israel. Journalist Seymour Hersh has also claimed that the U.S. supported PJAK and other Iranian opposition groups. However, both the U.S. and Israel have denied supporting PJAK. In fact, the U.S. Treasury branded PJAK as a terrorist organization in 2009.

As Hersh noted in 2004: “The Israelis have had long-standing ties to the Talibani and Barzani clans [in] Kurdistan and there are many Kurdish Jews that emigrated to Israel and there are still a lot of connection. But at some time before the end of the year [2004], and I’m not clear exactly when, certainly I would say a good six, eight months ago, Israel began to work with some trained Kurdish commandos, ostensibly the idea was the Israelis — some of the Israeli elite commander units, counter-terror or terror units, depending on your point of view, began training — getting the Kurds up to speed.”

You’ll recall the comment of Eliezer Gheizi Safrir, the Mossad station chief, as quoted by Goldfarb in The Forward article. Recall also that Gheizi served in his post in the mid 1970s. Interestingly, a man by the name of Abd al-Aziz al-Uqayli, who was Iraq’s defense minister in the 1960s, made some rather revealing remarks concerning efforts under way at that time to create a “second Israel” in his own country. According to a report here (emphasis added):

In 1966, Iraqi defense minister Abd al-Aziz al-Uqayli blamed the Kurds of Iraq for seeking to establish “a second Israel” in the Middle East. He also claimed that “the West and the East are supporting the rebels to create [khalq] a new Israeli state in the north of the homeland as they had done in 1948 when they created Israel. It is as if history is repeating itself.”

Perhaps, on top of all his love for secular democracies, Goldfarb might delight even more at the creation of a “second Israel”–although there are plenty of people who would likely shudder at the thought. Among these are Middle East Christians who have had some nightmarish run-ins with Kurds. This is something discussed by Abed in a separate article here:

On the Nineveh plains of northern Iraq, the Kurds dwell in cities such as “Dohuk” (formerly known by the Assyrian name of Nohadra). But these cities are “theirs” only in that they have established a relatively recent presence there.

Employing the criteria of cultural identity and thousands of years of historical authenticity, these lands are, and have been, uniquely Assyrian. The Kurds were essentially “given” these lands in the early 1970s as a means of drawing their eyes away from the oil-rich lands in and around the Iraqi city of Kirkuk. To this end, there were large migrations of Kurds into Dohuk which displaced, often forcibly, Assyrians who had far greater legal and historical claims to these lands.

This is a tactic commonly employed by the Kurds when attempting to ascribe validation to their “sacred quest” of establishing a Kurdish state – something which has never existed at any point in recorded history. By defining “Kurdistan” as any place where Kurds happen to dwell at any given point, they seem to be going by the maxim “possession is nine-tenths of the law” – which may work well in determining criminal liability, but not so well in determining one’s homeland….

In 2011, imams in Dohuk encouraged Sunni Kurds to destroy Christian churches and businesses. In response, shops were attacked and clubs were besieged by mobs of people numbering in the hundreds. Hotels and restaurants were attacked with small arms fire.

In recent years, Kurds have continued acting disingenuously towards Christian minorities, including Assyrians and even Yazidis…This was also seen when they took refuge in northern Syria in the early 19th century and proceeded to drive Arabs and Armenians out of numerous towns.

In July 2014, as Daesh began its incursion into Iraqi territory, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) began its systematic disarmament of Assyrians and several other ethnic groups so that it could use their weapons in its own struggle.

Notices were circulated threatening severe punishment for noncompliance. Assurances were given that the Peshmerga would provide some degree of protection.

But as Daesh advanced, the Peshmerga took the weapons and fled, following the same example as the Iraqi Army.

This left the Assyrians and Yazidis with no means to resist or defend themselves against Daesh. Reports even surfaced of these same Peshmerga gunning down Yazidis who tried to prevent them from fleeing with all the weapons.

Haydar Shesho, a Yazidi commander who managed to procure weapons from the Iraqi government, was then arrested by KDP authorities for organizing an “illegal” militia.

This scene was repeated elsewhere throughout the country, as 150,000 Assyrians were forced to flee the Nineveh plains, their ancestral land.

These actions can only be seen as a deliberate ploy by the Kurdish leadership to allow foreign forces to violently cleanse these areas of all non-Kurdish residents and then, with the help of their U.S. allies, retake and “liberate their lands.”

Abed also reports that Kurds “have a centuries-long history of persecuting minority groups,” and she supplies a link to a web page entitled Genocides Against the Assyrian Nation, documenting attacks against Assyrians (not all of them carried out by Kurds) dating all the way back to the fall of Ninevah in 612 BC (the title “ancient biblical people”–were one to conjure up such a laurel–would seem rather more meritoriously applied to the Assyrians than the Kurds).

Moreover, it would appear that the Kurds also participated in the genocide against the Armenians (see inset below).


New York Times–Sept. 24, 1915:

The records of the State Department are replete with detailed reports from American Consular officers in Asia Minor, which give harrowing tales of the treatement of the Armenian Christians by the Turks and the Kurds. 

__________

During the exodus of Armenians across the deserts they have been fallen upon by Kurds and slaughtered, but some of the Armenian women and girls, in considerable numbers, have been carried off into captivity by the Kurds.


One would think that, rather than making common cause with the Kurds, Jews would be at the forefront demanding Turkish and Kurdish reparations for the Armenians, but we don’t seem to hear much about that. In fact, in 2015, when the rest of the world was marking the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, Israel pointedly refused to recognize that the genocide had even occurred.

“It’s important to differentiate between Kurdish people who have assimilated in the countries they now reside in and reject the idea of establishing an illegal Kurdistan and those who are power hungry and are allowing themselves to team up with the West and Israel to assist in the destabilization of the region,” says Abed–and this for sure is an important point to consider. In other words, one is wise not to paint with too broad a brush stroke.

The Feyli Kurds are cited by Abed as a prime example. She comments that this particular Kurdish faction, located in northern Iraq, opposed the September referendum, fearing that “it could lead to an escalation of the area’s ongoing crisis.” Perhaps we could think of the Feylis as the “self-hating Kurds.” But judging from the results of the referendum–with more than 90 percent voting in favor of “Kurdish independence”–they seem to be in the minority.

The establishment of a Kurdish state is consistent with the goals outlined more than 30 years ago in Israel’s Oded Yinon plan — that is to say the goals of breaking up or balkanizing Muslim countries into smaller, weaker statelets. This seems to have been the motivation behind Israel’s support of Sunni extremist forces in Syria over the past six years or so, and now, with that effort having largely been scuppered (thanks to help from Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah), the strategy seems to be shifting in the direction of an all-out drive toward formal establishment of a Kurdish state…presumably in Iraq, although “that could change in the future,” as the author of the Knesset bill seems to feel.

By the way, the bill’s author is Ksenia Svetlova, a member of the Zionist Union party who was instrumental in organizing the gala Kurdistan-in-the-Knesset affair on November 29 and who also outlined her air castle of dreams for a Kurdish state in an article that appeared in the Huffington Post on September 25–the same day of the Kurdish referendum.

Wholly ignoring the Oded Yinon plan and Israel’s regime-change schemes in Syria and elsewhere, Svetlova claims that one of the main reasons Israelis support the Kurds has to do with “morality”– informing Huff-Po readers that “many Kurds identify their own suffering with that of persecuted Jews.”

So now we have another “suffering” people, it seems.

Svetlova also asserts that if the Kurds get a state then “Iran’s dream of extending hegemony over the Kurdish region will be ruined,” and she accuses the Iranians of “imperial ambitions in the Middle East” and of endeavoring to “rule over the vast territory between Tehran and Quneitra (Syria).”

You may perhaps have heard of the “Greater Israel Project,” but Svetlova seems to be hoping to foster the notion of a “Greater Iran Project” almost.

This seems to be the hokum being sold by Benjamin Netanyahu as well in a video, here, uploaded recently by RT’s Ruptley video service and in which the Israeli prime minister can be seen comparing Iran to Nazi Germany. Of course, leaving aside the “Nazi” Doppelganger, one might do a simple comparative analysis between, say, Iran and Israel, in which case the proneness  to peaceful coexistence with neighbors seems well on the side of Iran, which has not invaded another country in more than 230 years.

An Israeli singer by the name of Hadassa Yeshurun has also taken up the Kurdish cause, this in the belief that the “Peshmerga deserves more support as they fight evil on behalf of the world,” and you can go here to see a video of her singing and waving the Kurdish and Israeli flags while dressed in combat fatigues.

Also Google supplies plenty of photos of Kurds waving Israeli flags (and to some extent vice versa), and Rubinfeld, the director of the JCFK, has a theory about all this ostentatious flag waving. In an interview with the JTA, he proffers the opinion that the Israeli flag is a second national symbol to many Kurds “because they identify with Israel and the Jews.”

And apparently Kurds, unlike Palestinians, are popular with the Israeli general public as well. According to Rubinfeld, “widespread understanding” as to the “rightfulness of the Kurdish cause” can be found throughout the Zionist state’s populace. Whether that includes West Bank settlers as well he leaves unstated.

But it definitely does seem to apply to Goldfarb, author of The Forward piece quoted above and who adds a personal note to his thesis on the matter:

“I first reported from Kurdistan in 1996 and felt this inexplicable affinity for the place. Don’t laugh when I say it felt like my ancestors must have passed through 1500 years ago on their way north to the Black Sea and into the heartlands of Ashkenaz.”

I opened this article by suggesting, somewhat half tongue-in-cheek, that we may at some point see a Zionist pop up and proclaim the Kurds to be an “ancient biblical people,” and in that regard, you may be unsurprised to learn that a study conducted by Hebrew University has purported to find a “close genetic connection between Jews and Kurds.”

Whether the same astonishing “genetic similarities” were found between Kurds and descendants of the Khazars, as presumably may exist between Kurds and Mizrahi Jews, or whether this even figured at all in the researchers’ data, is unclear from the Haaretz report on the study. But then why bother the public with details like that? The world is in dire need of a Kurdish state, and perhaps that’s all we really need to know.

Moreover, should a “Kurdistan” incubus of some sort actually be born, Israel would likely be one of the first countries to establish formal diplomatic ties with it, but this doubtless would be founded upon political considerations much more so than upon any presumed blood ties.

Propensity for acts of brutality after all have far more to do with ideology than with genetic composition. Self love and a sense of chosenness can create oceans and rivers of blood, whereas genes as a general rule do not.

***

Please Help Support this Website

It is time once again for our twice-yearly fundraising drive. If you would like to make a donation please click the button below. My purpose in maintaining this website is two-fold: I try to call people’s attention to political issues, such as the efforts under way now to create a Kurdish state, but I also endeavor to animate the teachings of Christ, and to awaken people to the dire need–particularly at this dangerous hour we’re living in–for spirituality and faith in God. The Creator of every living thing is God. In a poem I wrote some twenty years ago I referred to Him as “The Flower Maker.”

Pleases and thank-yous
Mill about his flower stand,
Green-studded DNA
Caught in the stems,
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Taller than the mind
Perfuming
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After they killed
The flower maker’s son
They took thirty
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Purchased a field
To be used
For a cemetery.

The poem as I say is an old one–far older than this website. (It originally appeared in a book I published in 2002 entitled American Bus Stop: Essay and Poems on Hope and Homelessness.) But in a strange way I kind of view this website as a small, modest little flower stand. And maybe, with help from the master flower maker, we–all of us together–can find a way to change things for the better…before we end up turning this world into a mass cemetery.

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السبهان رجل المخابرات… فشلت المهمة

السبهان رجل المخابرات… فشلت المهمة

ديسمبر 6, 2017

ناصر قنديل

– قد يرمز اسم ثامر السبهان للكثيرين بالاستخفاف من دون أن ينتبهوا إلى أنّ الرجل الذي يتولى منصب وزير الدولة لشؤون الخليج في السعودية، هو أعلى من مرتبة وزير وفي مهمة أهمّ من المناصب الحكومية. فالسبهان المنتمي لقبيلة شمر العربية ذات الامتداد في سورية والعراق ودول الخليج، وصولاً لمنطقة البقاع اللبنانية، هو ضابط برتبة عميد ركن منتدَب للعمل الدبلوماسي كتغطية للمهام الأمنية التي تُناط به. وهو في التصنيف العسكري أحد أبرز الحائزين على دورات وتنويهات بالمهام في صفوف زملائه الضباط السعوديين الكبار. ومن أبرز ما في سجله العلمي، نيله ماجستير القيادة والأركان من الكلية الملكية الهاشمية بالأردن التي يشرف على التدريس فيها ضباط بريطانيون وأميركيون، قبل أن يُعيّن مساعداً لقائد الشرطة العسكرية كمسؤول عن مهمة الحماية والدعم، فمساعد للملحق العسكري في لبنان قبل تعيينه ملحقاً عسكرياً في السفارة السعودية في لبنان، لينتقل بعدها سفيراً إلى بغداد، قبل أن يعود وزيراً إلى بيروت وبغداد والرقة.

– تخصّص السبهان العسكري هو الحماية للشخصيات الهامة وللمنشآت الحيوية، وخصوصاً للطائرات من مخاطر الأعمال الإرهابية، وهو تخصّص يعلم المهتمون بالعلوم الأمنية أنه يعني عكسياً في حال الحاجة الأمنية لأجهزة المخابرات، إدارة عمليات الإرهاب والاغتيال واستهداف المنشآت الحيوية وتفخيخ وخطف الطائرات. وحظي السبهان ضمن اختصاصه بالقرب من وزراء الدفاع وقادة الجيوش الأميركية، الذين تولى مسؤوليات الحماية لهم خلال زياراتهم التفقدية والعلمياتية إلى المنطقة، خصوصاً، نائب الرئيس الأميركي السابق ديك تشيني وقائد الجيوش الأميركية الجنرال كولن باول وقائدي القوات الأميركية المشتركة بالتتابع الجنرال جوزيف هور والجنرال بينفورد بي، وصار موضع ثقة المخابرات الأميركية منذ دراسته في ولاية جورجيا الأميركية ضمن دورة حماية المنشآت الحيوية عام 1996.

– شغل السبهان مهمة مساعد الملحق العسكري السعودي في لبنان ومن ثم الملحق العسكري في فترة 2013 2015، في ذروة تصاعد الحرب في سورية، تولّى خلالها إدارة الإمداد السعودي للجماعات التي ترعاها السعودية في الحرب، قبل تعيينه سفيراً للسعودية في العراق عام 2016 ليتولى إدارة ما وصفته الحكومة العراقية والبرلمان العراقي آنذاك بإدارة الفتنة، وتأمين التغطية المذهبية لتنظيم داعش. وانتهى به الأمر مطروداً من العراق، ليصير وزيراً لشؤون الخليج، كمنصب فخري يتيح له تولي المهام الخاصة الأمنية ذاتها، فحطّ رحاله في لبنان عام 2016 ليضع التوقيع السعودي على التسوية الرئاسية التي أبرمها رئيس الحكومة سعد الحريري، قبل أن يعود مجدداً في آب 2017 للاشتغال على نسفها، ومثلما غادر العراق ليعود إليه زائراً إلى أربيل في أيلول 2017 محرّضاً على الانفصال، وزائراً إلى الرقة السورية للإعلان عن التعاون مع الجماعات الكردية المسلحة هناك وتنظيم ما يمكن من عشائر العرب وفي طليعتهم من يستطيع التواصل معه من شيوخ قبيلته شمر، للتنسيق مع الأكراد في دير الزور استباقاً لبلوغ الجيش السوري وحلفائه شرق الفرات.

– تولّى السبهان إدارة خطف الرئيس الحريري وكتابة استقالته، والأهمّ أنه مثلها تولى تنسيق الانفصال الكردي الفاشل قبلها، وتولّى بعدها وفقاً للتقارير اليمنية إدارة ملف العلاقة بالرئيس السابق علي عبد الله صالح، قبل إعلانه الانقلاب، واللافت هو أنّ المواجهة مع قطر كانت ضمن مسؤوليات السبهان الذي تولى بيان الشيخ علي بن عبدالله آل ثاني باعتباره القائد المقبل للانقلاب على الحكم في الدوحة. وتختصر ملفات الفشل الأربعة سيرة السبهان، مع انعقاد مجلس التعاون الخليجي في الكويت بمشاركة قطر وإعلان نهاية الأزمة معها عملياً، وفي اليوم ذاته بالتزامن مع صدور بيان الحكومة اللبنانية المرحّب بعودة رئيسها عن استقالته، وذلك بعد يوم من سقوط انقلاب علي عبد الله صالح في صنعاء، وفيما تقدّم حكومة كردستان العراق كلّ التنازلات الممكنة لتضمن قبول بغداد بفتح الحوار معها بعدما ضحّت على مذبح النظريات السبهانية بكلّ ما راكمت من إنجازات ومكاسب لأعوام، بينما دفع علي عبد الله صالح حياته ثمناً لهذه النظريات، ونجا رئيس الحكومة اللبنانية كما نجا أمير قطر، لأنّهما أحيطا برعاية محور المقاومة، بالطريقة المناسبة، والقضية ليست ضعف مقدّرات السبهان، فهو أفضل ما لدى السعودية، والقضية ليست نهاية السبهان، بل نهاية حقبة كاملة.

– أين هو السبهان اليوم، وأين تغريداته اليومية؟

 

Hassan Nasrallah: the US keep supporting ISIS in every possible way

November 29, 2017

click on ‘cc’ to see the English subtitles

Translation by: http://sayed7asan.blogspot.com

Transcript:

[…] When we get to the point where Iraqi leaders will announce their final victory against ISIS and Syrian leaders will announce the final victory against ISIS, we will have to sit and talk, we will need to make calls, organize conferences and studies…

Of course, we will also need real festivities to celebrate the victory because it will be a great victory, a victory against the organization representing the greatest danger (for all) that soiled more than anyone the religion of Muhammad b. Abdillah, peace and blessings be upon him and his family, since 1,400 years. This will be the victory of humanistic and moral values against horrific bestiality, cruelty and violence. A victory that will have a huge impact on the cultural, religious, humanitarian, military, security, political levels, as well as on the very image (of Islam and Muslims) and at all levels.

And at that moment, we will have to repeat that the Iraqi people, the Syrian people, the Lebanese people, all the elites and all the leaders and peoples of the region should reflect, weigh and return to the question of the identity of the creators, supporters, advocates and promoters of ISIS, that enabled them to commit these terrorist massacres [US, UK, France, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar…], and the identity of those who have stood against ISIS, fought them, offered martyrs in this fight [Iran, Syria, Irak, Hezbollah, Russia] and inflicted a defeat on ISIS and all those who stand behind them. This is a discussion to be held with depth and strength so that the (Muslim) believers do not become victims twice of the same ills.

Returning to the victory of Abu Kamal [last important ISIS bastion in Syria, retaken by Syrian, Iran, Hezbollah and Russian forces]. What did the Americans do? As this will also be useful in the discussions that will take place then. In the battle of Abu Kamal, Americans did everything they could to help ISIS, except for one thing: open fire directly on the allied forces who worked for the liberation of Abu Kamal. It’s the only thing they have not done, they did not open fire on us. The US Air Force did not hit the Syrian and allied forces liberating ISIS – sorry, liberating Abu Kamal from ISIS. Let’s see some examples of what they did.

First, they provided air cover to ISIS throughout the whole region east of the Euphrates River, between the river and the Iraqi border. In this region, ISIS moved freely and openly with its strengths, tanks, heavy weapons, missiles, front lines, everything was secured by the Americans. The US Air Force has never struck them, while they claim to be at the head of an international alliance to fight ISIS, and they prevented the Russian and Syrian aircraft from approaching the area. And they threatened that in case of Russian or Syrian strikes East of the Euphrates, they would strike West of the Euphrates and therefore hit the allied forces attacking Abu Kamal. That is the first point: US coverage and comprehensive aerial protection for ISIS East of the Euphrates, and thus their front lines during our attack and when they retreated.

Second, the Americans sent their drones over the Allied forces that liberated Abu Kamal and provided – these are not frivolous charges, but clear data and highly sensitive information – ISIS with accurate information which then allowed them to hit the targets identified by the US drones.

Third, they conducted an intense electronic warfare that worked to blur all electronic devices used by offensive forces.

(Fourth), when finally ISIS was defeated in Abu Kamal, they did everything they could to help ISIS to withdraw, to protect them and save their lives. It’s always the same story, it’s not worth repeating. All they could do to facilitate and protect the retreat of ISIS, its officers and capacities from Abu Kamal to the East of the river, the Americans did. And ISIS was also welcomed and advised in areas controlled by the Kurds, the so-called Syrian democratic forces.

Sidebar: we will have to – it is a legitimate hypothesis – expect in the more or less far future that ISIS residues are reformed and become battalions of the “Syrian democratic Forces” directed, supported and now led by US forces in Syria.

And finally, during the battle and after it, US helicopters landed in the ISIS regions and extracted leaders, people (among the ranks of ISIS to save them). We should wonder about their role, their actions, the orders they received from Americans with ISIS. And it happened in many places and many times, especially in Deir Ezzor and in Iraq. This is what the Americans did.

And their real concern was that ISIS resists at Abu Kamal until the end, and that this offensive from Syrian and allied forces against Abu Kamal fails. And this is further evidence of the extent of US interference, of their support and protection for ISIS as long as possible.

We should remember that the Americans said that eliminating ISIS will require 30 years according to some, 25 years according to others, and 10 years for the most optimistic, but the Resistance Axis in the region managed to inflict a (near-final) defeat to ISIS in just a few years. This is a humiliation for American leaders and US policy. And this highly harmful interference continues until now. These American lies and deception must be revealed publicly to our peoples.

A few days ago, a friend and ally of the United States – it is not an Iranian official –, the President of Turkey Erdogan, openly accused the United States to continue to financially support ISIS. I tell him that they do not only help them with money. But let us be content with this statement. He is the President of a large and powerful state, and stated publicly, in a speech before the people – these are not the statements recorded in secret – that the United States continue to this date to support ISIS financially because the United States is still committed to using ISIS.

And the danger is that ISIS is restored again by the Americans in the next stage, with a new name, new slogans and new forms to accomplish the same missions accomplished by ISIS. […]

 

Syria war, Sochi peace

 

November 23, 2017

Syria war, Sochi peace

In a well choreographed Sochi summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin defines a peaceful future for Syria after the liberation of the country from militants

by Pepe Escobar of the Asia Times (cross-posted by special agreement with the author)

The main take away of the trilateral, two hour-long Russia-Iran-Turkey summit in Sochi on the future of Syria was expressed by Russian President Vladimir Putin:

“The presidents of Iran and Turkey supported the initiative to convene an All-Syrian Congress for national dialogue in Syria. We agreed to hold this important event at the proper level and ensure the participation of representatives of different sectors of Syrian society.”

In practice, that means Russian, Iranian and Turkish foreign ministries and defense departments are tasked to “gather delegates from various political parties, internal and external opposition, ethnic and confessional groups at the negotiating table.”

syriamap

Putin stressed that “in our common opinion, the success on the battlefield that brings closer the liberation of the whole of Syrian territory from the militants paves the way for a qualitatively new stage in the settlement of the crisis. I’m talking about the real prospects of achieving a long-term, comprehensive normalization in Syria, political adjustment in the post-conflict period.”

So many red lines

Diplomatic sources confirmed to Asia Times much of the discussions in Sochi involved Putin laying out to Iran President Hassan Rouhani and Turkey President Recep Erdogan how a new configuration may play out in a constantly evolving chessboard.

Behind diplomatic niceties, tensions fester. And that’s how the current Astana peace negotiations between Russia-Iran-Turkey interconnect with the recent APEC summit in Danang.

In Danang, Putin and Trump may not have held a crucial bilateral. But Sergey Lavrov and Rex Tillerson did issue a joint statement on Syria – without, crucially, mentioning Astana; instead, the emphasis was on the slow-moving UN Geneva process (a new round of talks is scheduled for next week).

An extremely divisive issue – not exactly admitted by both parties – is the presence of foreign forces in Syria. From Washington’s perspective, Russian, Iranian and Turkish forces must all leave.

But then there’s the Pentagon, which is in Syria without a UN resolution (Russia and Iran were invited by Damascus).

There’s no evidence the Pentagon plans to relinquish military bases set up in territory recaptured by the US-supported Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), contiguous to Syrian oil and gas fields. Defense Secretary James Mattis insists US forces will remain in Syria to “prevent the appearance of ISIS 2.0.” For Damascus, that’s a red line.

Then there are Ankara’s red lines. For Erdogan, it’s all about the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its People’s Protection Units (YPG), who lead the SDF. Erdogan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin takes no prisoners; “The question of the PYD-YPG remains a red line for Turkey.”

Unlike Ankara, Moscow does not consider the PYD/YPG as “terrorist organizations.” The PYD will certainly be invited to Sochi. And there’s not much Ankara – which is under tremendous economic pressure – can do about it.

On the Iranian front, what Tehran wants in Syria is not exactly what Moscow-Washington may be bargaining about.

Lavrov has strenuously denied there has been a US-Russia deal to expel Iranian-supported forces from southwestern Syria – stressing they were legally invited by Damascus. Since July the official position of the Iranian Foreign Ministry is that the current cease-fires should be extended to the whole nation, but “taking the realities on the ground into account.” No word on Iranian forces leaving Syria.

A well-timed affair

The Sochi summit was choreographed to the millimeter. Previously, Putin held detailed phone calls with both Trump and Saudi King Salman (not MBS); the emir of Qatar; Egypt’s Sisi; and Israel’s Netanyahu. Parallel to a meeting of Syria-Russia military top brass, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad dropped in; a non-surprise surprise Sochi visit to tell Putin in person that without Russia’s military campaign Syria would not have survived as a sovereign state.

The facts on the ground are stark; the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) – fully expanded, retrained, re-equipped and re-motivated – recaptured Aleppo, Palmyra, Deir Ezzor and almost the whole southeast; borders with both Iraq and Lebanon are open and secured; cease-fires are in effect in over 2,500 towns; Turkey desisted from years of weaponizing and supporting “moderate rebels” and is now part of the solution; ISIS/Daesh is on the run, now no more than a minor rural/desert insurgency.

Daesh is almost dead – although there could always be a Return of the Walking Dead, with some obscure neo-al-Baghdadi posing as Caliph-in-exile. Iranian President Rouhani has declared the end of Daesh. Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi was more realistic, saying Daesh has been defeated militarily but he will only declare final victory after jihadi goons are conclusively routed in the desert.

The final showdown will be the Battle of Idlib – where thousands of Jabhat al-Nusra remnants/cohorts are holed up. Turkey has troops in idlib. Putin and Erdogan have certainly negotiated Ankara’s stance. So it’s up to the Turkish Ministry of Defense to convince opposition outfits not allied with the Nusra nebulae to be sitting on the table in Sochi.

On an operational level, as I ascertained in Baghdad earlier this month, this is what’s happening; IRGC advisers; the Iraqi Army; Hashd al-Shaabi, known as the People Mobilization Units (PMUs); the SAA; and Hezbollah have been working in synch, as part of the “4+1” mechanism (Russia, Syria, Iran, Iraq, plus Hezbollah). Their counter-terrorism HQ is located in Baghdad.

Pipelineistan all over again

Putin told Rouhani and Erdogan in Sochi about the “commitment of the Syrian leadership to the principles of peaceful settlement of the political crisis, its readiness to carry out constitutional reform and stage a free, UN-supervised election.”

This tall order will be open to vast scrutiny. And that brings us to the key opposing party; the House of Saud, and more  specifically MBS’s stance.

The so-called High Negotiations Committee (HNC) – which is essentially the Syrian opposition factions regimented by the House of Saud – is in disarray. Its leader, Royad Hijab, was recently fired in murky circumstances. These factions met again in Riyadh, parallel to Sochi, with the Saudis basically reduced to screaming “Assad must go.”

MBS’s war on Yemen is a disaster – not to mention creating a horrendous humanitarian crisis. The blockade of Qatar degenerated into farce. The blatant interference in Lebanon via the Hariri-as- hostage saga also degenerated into farce. Saudi Arabia lost in both Iraq and Syria. MBS’s next foreign policy moves are wildly unpredictable.

Capping it all up, a key dossier apparently was not discussed in Sochi; who’s going to finance the rebuilding of Syria’s economy/infrastructure.

Turkey and Iran can’t afford it. Russia might help only marginally. China has made it clear it wants Syria as a Levantine hub in the New Silk Roads, known as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – but that’s not a priority compared to Pakistan or Iran. The EU is focused on its massive internal psychodrama. And the Gulf – essentially Saudi Arabia and the UAE – are fiercely anti-4+1.

With Sochi in mind, a further joker in the pack is how a Trump-Putin possible entente will be regarded by the Pentagon, the CIA and Capitol Hill – which will always refuse the notion of a Putin-led peace process and no “Assad must go” to boot.

Most of what lies ahead hinges on who will control Syria’s oil and gas fields. It’s Pipelineistan all over again; all wars are energy wars. Damascus simply won’t accept an energy bonanza for the US-supported SDF, actually led by the YPG.

And neither would Russia. Apart from Moscow holding on to a strategic eastern Mediterranean base, eventually Gazprom wants to be an investment partner/operator in a newly feasible Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline, whose main customer will be the EU. Beyond Sochi, the real – Pipelineistan – war has only just begun.

الوجود الأميركي في سورية إلى زوال

الوجود الأميركي في سورية إلى زوال

نوفمبر 24, 2017

ناصر قنديل

الوجود الأميركي في سورية إلى زوال

– لا يشكّل الكلام الأميركي عن الرغبة بالبقاء في سورية حتى التحقق من مسار التسويات كلاماً استراتيجياً عن تموضع يحتاج أعمق من هذا الغطاء، بحجم دعم كيان كردي مستقلّ، وخوض حرب حماية تقسيم سورية، أو خوض حرب إسقاط الرئيس السوري والمجيء بحكومة تشرعن الوجود الأميركي في سورية، وما عدا ذلك هو وجود في زمن الحرب يبحث عن غطاء، ويدرك أصحابه كلما بدا أن قوى الحرب إلى اضمحلال وذرائعها إلى زوال، سيتكلمون عن البقاء للتفاوض على أشياء أخرى. وهذا هو الحال بالنسبة للأميركيين اليوم، التفاوض على ترتيبات جنوب سورية، والتفاوض على رفع سقف الخصوصية الكردية، والتفاوض على مستقبل الممر الاستراتيجي بين إيران وقوى المقاومة عبر العراق وسورية، وحجم التدفقات العسكرية عبره وتأثيراتها على توازنات المنطقة، وكلما اقترب توقيت خيار الأكراد بين الانخراط في العملية السياسية والتنازل عن الخصوصية العسكرية، أو مواجهة خيار الحسم العسكري، ضعفت أوراق التفاوض الأميركية ونزل سقفها.

– القوى الممسكة بالجغرافيا السورية اليوم، وهي رباعي الدولة السورية والمقاومة وإيران وروسيا ليست بينها تباينات، خصوصاً تجاه قضيتي، رحيل الأميركيين، ومنع بقاء السلاح الكردي وخصوصية جغرافيا تحت السيطرة الكردية في سورية. وهذه القوى لا حسابات لديها منعتها في الماضي من الاصطدام بخطوط حمراء رسمتها واشنطن، كانت أشد حيوية من الخصوصية الكردية في الحساب الأميركي، وأهمها كان مصير الحدود السورية العراقية. وقد خاضت هذه القوى معركتها لإمساك الحدود وهي تضع فرضية التصادم الكبير مع وشانطن أمامها، وتمضي قدماً مهما كان الثمن. وهذا تعلمه واشنطن، ولذلك تضع في حسابها، ما سبق وقاله روبرت فورد سفيرها السابق في دمشق، إنه مع نهاية داعش تبدأ واشنطن بحزم حقائبها، لأن لا خيار آخر أمامها، ومن تخلَّ عن مشروع دولة كردية في العراق لأنه لا يريد حرباً مع إيران وحلفائها، فلن يذهب للصدام تحت عنوان دولة كردية في سورية.

– سقوف أميركية مستعارة تجري فكفكتها تباعاً، كحال المعارضة السورية، فسوتشي موجود كبديل لجنيف ما دام جنيف غير جاهز لإنتاج الحل الذي رسم بحكومة موحدة ودستور فانتخابات تحت سقف بقاء الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد. ومثله الوفد الموحّد للمعارضة مؤجّل لحين نضج الخيار السياسي على قياس صناعة تسوية، واكتمال النزول المتدرج عن الشجرة، وبالتوازي مع جنيف الباهت سينعقد لقاء سوتشي بدرجة أعلى من الحرارة، مفتوحاً للأكراد شرط إعلان الاستعداد للتخلي عن خصوصية السيطرة على جزء من الجغرافيا السورية، ومثله استانة مفتوح لهم، ومفتوح لينجز الأتراك مهمتهم بإنهاء جبهة النصرة في إدلب وريفها، لكن المهل ليست مفتوحة، فنهاية العام ستكون موعد الجواب العملي للأكراد والأتراك، وبعدها إما انتعاش للعملية السياسية، بانضمام الأكراد والجماعات التي ترشحها تركيا، أو حسم يُنهي وضع النصرة كما انتهت داعش ويُنهي التمرّد الكردي شمالاً.

– يعرف الأميركيون ذلك، لكنهم لا يستعجلون، فكما قالوا إن الحدود السورية العراقية خط أحمر، وبقوا يرددون ذلك ويحاولون فرضه حتى اللحظة التي صار ثمن الإصرار مواجهة كبيرة فتراجعوا خطوة إلى الوراء، سيفعلون اليوم، فما دامت حروب صغيرة لم تحسم بعد لماذا يستعجلون الإعلان عن الاستعداد للانسحاب، فقد يطرأ ما يعطل خطة استرداد الدولة السورية جغرافيتها بدعم حلفائها، وهم مستعدون لتشجيع ودعم كل عناصر الإعاقة بما في ذلك تشجيع الأكراد على التصعيد ودعم جبهة النصرة، كما كان دعم داعش من قبل، حتى لحظة اقترابهم من الاختيار بين التراجع خطوة إلى الوراء أو خوض المواجهة الكبرى، فيفعلون ما سبق أن فعلوه مع الحدود السورية العراقية، وحتى ذلك التاريخ سيقولون باقون حتى التحقق من مسار التسويات، وسيبقون بنظر سورية وحلفائها احتلالاً، يُشهَر بوجهه سيف المقاومة متى دنت لحظة التلاقي وجهاً لوجه.

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HOW WILL IRAN, RUSSIA AND TURKEY REACT TO U.S. DECISION TO STAY IN SYRIA AFTER DEFEAT OF ISIS?

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How Will Iran, Russia And Turkey React To U.S. Decision To Stay In Syria After Defeat Of ISIS?

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Translated from Russian. Originally appeared at colonelcassad blog

Following the meeting of Russia, Iran, and Turkey in Sochi, where the end of the war was announced and the beginning of the post-war regulation process meant to decide Syria’s future took place, the US media began reporting on the fact that the US plans to stay in Syria despite the collapse of ISIS, and also will use the Kurds to pressure al-Assad’s government.

  1. This has been mentioned repeatedly: despite officially supporting Syria’s territorial integrity, unofficially they try to strike back for their strategic failure at toppling al-Assad’s government, which was unsuccessful mainly thanks to Russia and Iran. Washington repeatedly voiced its dissatisfaction with the way war in Syria went, along with anxieties regarding the consequences for the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia concerning the growing role of Russia and Iran in the region.
  2. The White House does not state this officially, as the US understands the tenuity of its positions in Syria, because as far as international law is concerned, this is just another case of US aggression against a sovereign state. On the other hand, the US couldn’t care less about international law and sovereignty other than its own. But some things shouldn’t be said as they are out loud or you’ll look bad. You have to camouflage what you say, like inviting the unrecognized government of Rojava or inventing a non-existent UN permission to invade. The reporting mentioned above is useful, because it demonstrates real US intentions, and not declarative ones. This is useful because it shows there is no point in hoping that the US wants to negotiate and show “goodwill”.
  3. Russia has led an informational and diplomatic campaign with the intent of driving the US forces out of Syria. The accusations by Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defense are officially supported by Syria, Turkey, and Iran as they are also interested in driving out the Americans out of Syria, because the US is the main obstacle to ending the war. Besides having common goals linked to keeping al-Assad in power and keeping Syria’s territory intact, Turkey and Iran pursue their own goals. Iran wants to secure the Shi’ite bridge between Tehran and Beirut (which may be hindered by the Syrian Kurdistan project), and Erdogan wants to weaken Kurdistan Workers’ Party and stop the Syrian Kurdistan from forming under control of Kurdistan Workers’ Party-affiliated organizations. Nobody wants to go to a full-fledged war with the US, but the now popular hybrid wars leave many avenues of combating the hegemon.
  4. For now, the main strategy is involving reasonable Kurdish Rojava leaders in the conversation, so that the Kurds will be represented in the negotiations allowing them to find contact points with al-Assad regarding the future of the Kurds as a part of Syria. That’s why Russia put a stop to Erdogan’s ambitious plans regarding Afrin and tries to persuade Turkey that the Kurds can be negotiated with, and that nothing bad will come out of sitting with the Kurds, when you already sit down with much more radical organizations, which are considered “moderate terrorists” due to current political climate. Compared to them, some Kurdish groups are much more reasonable and legal, but only until the situation escalates past the point of no return.
  5. If negotiations with the Kurds fall through, and the US will be successful in cultivating Kurdish separatism, than Plan B comes into action, which entails pressuring the Kurds with the following:
    • Syria, Turkey and Iraq can block the oil exports from Rojava, and ban imports to it, the very same threats previously used for trying to keep Iraqi Kurdistan in line. The US won’t be able to provide Rojava with all necessary supplies by air.
    • The Kurdish-Arab conflict can be escalated on the territories under the Kurdish control with the majorly Arab populace. This will sow disarray in Rojava, with possible creation of SDF opposed forces.
    • The Kurdish groups involved in the US plans can be designated as terrorist organizations (this will also lead to improving Russia’s and Syria’s relations with Turkey).
    • Russia can stop protecting Afrin. Iran and Iraq can block the border crossing at Faysh Khabur and cut economic and logistic ties between Iraqi Kurdistan and Rojava.
    • The Syrian Army and Shi’ite units can do a repeat of Iraqi Kurdistan: they will make a deal with the reasonable organizations, and unreasonable ones will be crushed like Barzani.
    • The final solution: they can “release the Kraken” by letting the Turkish Army into Rojava under the pretense of “fighting terrorism”. This is an undesirable option, as it would make “friend Recep” stronger, but it isn’t out of the question completely.

In the end, there is a considerable amount of options to put pressure on Rojava if the US escalates the situation up to the level of unavoidable conflict, which, as the US periodically demonstrates, it seems to hope for, despite all the claims that they have no hidden agenda in Syria.

So far Russia and friends try to persuade the Kurds that they shouldn’t follow Barzani’s example and risk a scenario they will regret. You can yell “America is with us” and photograph girls holding assault rifles all you want, but when push comes to shove, the situation will escalate to a conflict completely out of the Kurds’ depth. As far as the US is concerned, the Kurds are only a means to an end, a fact that Washington doesn’t even hide anymore. The US wants to use the Kurds as fuel for the continuation of the war in Syria, showing no concern over the losses among the Kurds.

From this perspective, it would be best for everyone, including the Kurds, if Russia can make the Kurdish chiefs see the things the way it does. And if al-Assad and Erdogan soften their stances regarding the Kurdish question, they may find a compromise that would satisfy all sides.

Whether this is possible we’ll see in 2018. Russia is not interested in prolonging the Syrian war. Quite the opposite: the successful results should be diplomatically secured as soon as possible, which the US tries to hinder. This conflict demonstrates that despite the military collapse of ISIS, Syria still has a lot of problems that will have to be solved with the help of Iran and Turkey. But nobody said it would be easy.

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