Talk of Western intervention in the Black Sea is pure fantasy

January 19, 2019

by Pepe Escobar (cross-posted with The Asia Times by special agreement with the author)Talk of Western intervention in the Black Sea is pure fantasy

Crimea is essential to Russia strategically and economically, but speculation over Ankara helping to boost the US presence in the Black Sea is far-fetched given Turkey’s energy deals with Moscow.

A power struggle over the Black Sea between Russia and the US plus NATO has the potential to develop as a seminal plot of the 21st century New Great Game – alongside the current jostling for re-positioning in the Eastern Mediterranean.

By now it’s established the US and NATO are stepping up military pressure from Poland to Romania and Bulgaria all the way to Ukraine and east of the Black Sea, which seems, at least for the moment, relatively peaceful, just as Crimea’s return to Russia starts to be regarded, in realpolitik terms, as a fait accompli.

After a recent series of conversations with top analysts from Istanbul to Moscow, it’s possible to identify the main trends ahead.

Just as independent Turkish analysts like Professor Hasan Unal are alarmed at Ankara’s isolation in the Eastern Mediterranean energy sphere by an alliance of Greece, Cyprus and Israel, Washington’s military buildup in both Romania and Bulgaria is also identified as posing a threat to Turkey.

It’s under this perspective that Ankara’s obstinance in establishing a security “corridor” in northern Syria, east of the Euphrates river, and free from the YPG Kurds, should be examined. It’s a matter of policing at least one sensitive border.

Still, in the chessboard from Syria and the Eastern Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf, Turkey and Crimea, the specter of “foreign intervention” setting fire to the Intermarium – from the Baltics to the Black Sea – simply refuses to die.

Ukraine Russia map

‘Russian lake’?

By the end of the last glacial era, around 20,000 years ago, the Black Sea – separated from the Mediterranean by an isthmus – was just a shallow lake, much smaller in size than it is today.

The legendary journey of Jason and the Argonauts, before the Trojan war, followed the Argo ship to the farther shore of Pontus Euxinus (the ‘Black Sea’) to recover the Golden Fleece – the cure for all evils – from its location in Colchis (currently in Georgia).

In Ancient Greece, steeped in mythology, the Black Sea was routinely depicted as the boundary between the known world and terra incognita. But then it was “discovered” – like America many centuries later – to the point where it was configured as a “string of pearls” of Greek trading colonies linked to the Mediterranean.

The Black Sea is more than strategic, it’s crucial geopolitically. There has been a constant drive in modern Russian history to be active across maritime trade routes through the strategic straits – the Dardanelles, the Bosphorus and Kerch in Crimea – to warmer waters further south.

As I observed early last month in Sevastopol, Crimea is now a seriously built fortress – incorporating S-400 and Iskander-M missiles – capable of ensuring total Russian primacy all across the eastern Black Sea.

A visit to Crimea reveals how its genes are Russian, not Ukrainian. A case can be made that the very concept of Ukraine is relatively spurious, propelled by the Austro-Hungarian empire at the end of the 19th century and especially before World War I to weaken Russia. Ukraine was part of Russia for 400 years, far longer than California and New Mexico have been part of the US.

Now compare the reconquest of Crimea by Russia, without firing a shot and validated by a democratic referendum, to the US “conquests” of Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya. Moreover, I saw Crimea being rebuilt and on the way to prosperity, complete with Tatars voting with their feet to return; compare it to Ukraine, which is an IMF basket case.

Crimea is essential to Russia not only from a geostrategic but also an economic point of view, as it solidifies the Black Sea as a virtual “Russian lake”.

It’s immaterial that Turkish strategists may vehemently disagree, as well as US Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker who, trying to seduce Turkey, dreams about increasing the US presence in the Black Sea, “whether on a bilateral basis or under EU auspices.”

Under this context, the building of the Turk Stream pipeline should be read as Ankara’s sharp response to the rampant Russophobia in Brussels.

Ankara has, in tandem, consistently shown it won’t shelve the acquisition of Russian S-400 missile systems because of American pressure. This has nothing to do with pretentions of neo-Ottomanism; it’s about Turkey’s energy and security priorities. Ankara now seems more than ready to live with a powerful Russian presence across the Black Sea.

It all comes down to Montreux

Not by accident the comings and goings on NATO’s eastern flank was a key theme at last summer’s biennial Atlanticist summit. After all, Russia, in the wake of reincorporating Crimea, denied access over the eastern Black Sea.

NATO, though, is a large mixed bag of geopolitical agendas. So, in the end, there’s no cohesive strategy to deal with the Black Sea, apart from a vague, rhetorical “support for Ukraine” and also vague exhortations for Turkey to assume its responsibilities.

But because Ankara’s priorities are in fact the Eastern Mediterranean and the Turkish-Syrian border, east of the Euphrates river, there’s no realistic horizon for NATO to come up with permanent Black Sea patrols disguised as a “freedom of navigation” scheme – as much as Kiev may beg for it.

What does remain very much in place is the guarantee of freedom of navigation in the Dardanelles and Bosphorus straits controlled by Turkey, as sanctioned by the 1936 Montreux Convention.

The key vector, once again, is that the Black Sea links Europe with the Caucasus and allows Russia trade access to southern warm waters. We always need to go back to Catherine the Great, who incorporated Crimea into the empire in the 18th century after half a millennium of Tatar and then Ottoman rule, and then ordered the construction of a huge naval base for the Black Sea fleet.

By now some facts on the ground are more than established.

Next year the Black Sea fleet will be upgraded with an array of anti-ship missiles; protected by S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile systems; and supported by a new “permanent deployment” of Sukhoi SU-27s and SU-30s.

Far-fetched scenarios of the Turkish navy fighting the Russian Black Sea fleet will continue to be peddled by misinformed think tanks, oblivious to the inevitability of the Russia-Turkey energy partnership. Without Turkey, NATO is a cripple in the Black Sea region.

Intriguing developments such as a Viking Silk Road across the Intermarium won’t alter the fact that Poland, the Baltics and Romania will continue to clamor for “more NATO” in their areas to fight “Russian aggression”.

And it will be up to a new government in Kiev after the upcoming March elections to realize that any provocation designed to drag NATO into a Kerch Strait entanglement is doomed to failure.

Ancient Greek sailors had a deep fear of the Black Sea’s howling winds. As it now stands, call it the calm before a (Black Sea) storm.


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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Syria: Kurds Reject Turkish ‘Safe Zone’ Agreed With Trump

Local Editor

Senior political Kurdish leader Aldar Khalil said Syrian Kurds rejected the US-proposed “security zone” under Turkey’s control in northern Syria, AFP reported.

Khalil said that the Kurds would only accept the deployment of UN forces along the separation line between Kurdish fighters and Turkish troops to prevent an offensive.

On Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that he and his American counterpart Donald Trump reached a “historic understanding” on Syria in their latest phone call.

“Other choices are unacceptable as they infringe on the sovereignty of Syria and the sovereignty of our autonomous region”, the Kurdish official added.

Following a phone conversation with Trump, Erdogan announced Tuesday that Ankara would create a 32-kilometre safe zone in northern Syria.

Erdogan’s spokesperson later elaborated that the security zone would be controlled by Ankara.

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team

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

January 15, 2019

South Front

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Russian-Kurdish Negotiations in Moscow: Turkey Has Defined Its Options and Washington Is Trying to Gain Time

By Elijah. J. Magnier

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Secret negotiations are ongoing in Moscow and Damascus between representatives of the Syrian Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Russian officials concerning the fate of Kurdish militants in Syria. The Kurdish delegation is hoping that Russia – and not the US – will adopt the role of guarantor of their safety and is trying to gain a few more concessions to reduce their losses when the Syrian government forces regains complete control of al-Hasaka province in Northeast Syria.

This will happen only when the US establishment finally decides to pull out its last soldier and ends its occupation of al-Hasaka. PKK representatives have offered a “road map” meant to include promises of protection, the sharing of wealth and the security of borders with Turkey. The US is trying to offload responsibility for the Kurds’s safety onto Turkey, while Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has rebuffed US requests to offer this kind of protection to his PKK enemies in Syria. Erdogan is evidently putting his strategic-commercial alliance with Russia ahead of his turbulent NATO alliance with the USA.

The Kurdish militant group known variously as YPG, the People’s Protection Units, and the PKK (Syrian branch) is convinced the time has come to climb off the US’s shoulders onto Russian ones since Washington has decided to drop them off the Turkish cliff. Nevertheless, Syrian officials are also determined to give no concessions to the Kurds notwithstanding the Russian mediation with Damascus.


The militant Kurds of Syria have only now begun to realise how vulnerable their position is: they are weaker than ever due to the US decision to withdraw and the naïve requests – formulated by both US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton – for Ankara to offer protection to its sworn enemies. It looks like officials in Washington have no plans for the Kurds. Indeed, while the US is expressing concern about the Kurds it would like somebody else to look after them. The US shows little appreciation for the sacrifices made by YPG militants – who have acted as human shields for the American forces during their time in al-Hasaka province in northeast Syria – and the thousands of casualties they have suffered. Even worse, Trump laughed about Kurdish fighting capabilities by sarcastically saying the Kurds “fight better when we fight with them and when we send 30 F-18’s in front of them”.

So the Kurds have finally learned their lesson and would like to be part of the Syrian state. They have seen the world watching – impotently, unwilling to intervene against Turkey – the exodus of hundreds of thousands from Afrin. They have heard Trump’s decision to abandon them. With his departure, their dream of Rojava, the long-awaited Kurdish state, evaporates.

For Damascus, had Turkey occupied the north of Syria, it would have been possible to exert diplomatic and international leverage on Ankara to force its departure from Syrian territory. At the same time, it would have been almost impossible for the Syrian government to force an early departure of the US forces had these established themselves in Afrin or al-Hasaka, offering a platform for Israel to use the Levant by benefitting from American infrastructure in the area.

President Bashar al-Assad has said to the Russian negotiators that “Syria belongs to all Syrians and the Kurds are part of Syria. Therefore they should not enjoy more or fewer rights than any other citizens. They will be given identities but are not entitled to any special concessions”. Moreover, Assad has agreed not to consider the Kurds as traitors despite their protection of the US occupation forces. He has insisted that the only force operating on the national territory be the one belonging to the Syrian army under the control of the central government.

The Kurds welcomed the Syrian army in the area still under their control. Turkey has accepted to keep its forces and those of its Syrian proxies away from Manbij as long as the Kurdish militants are disarmed. Russia proposed and obtained the withdrawal of the Kurdish forces, re-establishing its observation posts, patrolling west of Manbij. Erdogan still hopes to reach a deal over North Syria during his forthcoming meeting with President Putin, expected sometime in January. The presence of thousands of Syrian jihadists and armed proxies at the gates of Manbij is further weakening the Kurdish negotiation position. They have no other place to seek refuge but in Damascus.

Screenshot 2019 01 09 at 14.43.07 79f63

President Erdogan has managed to keep a balance between his relationships with Moscow and Washington even if his choices in Syria seem already made. Russia offers a stable durable and equal economic and strategic partnership with Turkey whereas the US has no consistent friends at all, only common interests. Moreover, the US forces have armed the Kurdish militants, the enemies of Turkey, where Russia will agree to disarm them and put an end to their military power. Trump’s apparent willingness to revoke any deal (the Iranian nuclear agreement) or give up on his allies (the Kurds) is helping to push Turkey into Russia’s arms.

If the US agrees to donate the weapons it has equipped the Kurds with, this arsenal will happily end up in the Syrian army inventory. If not, the Kurds will be vulnerable to the 1500 remaining ISIS fighters on the Euphrates river, particularly if the US disarms the Kurds and pulls out before the arrival of the Syrian army. The forces of Damascus and their allies have eliminated tens of thousands of ISIS militants in various cities, villages and in the Syrian steppe, and this without the benefit of 30 US F-18’s. The end of ISIS control of Syrian territory will be a game-changer in the Levant even if its “hit and run” insurgency will not disappear so easily. The dream of establishing an “Islamic State” in the Levant and Mesopotamia is, like “Rojava”, an unachievable and abandoned objective.

The US says it will remain around the al-Tanf crossing between Iraq and Syria. The establishment’s excuse for this presence has been to stop the Tehran-Baghdad-Damascus-Beirut bridge. Iran has been supplying Syria with weapons for over seven years of intensive multi-front continuous war. It has supplied Hezbollah with weapons and finance from 1982 until now. The US presence may disturb a possible railway or land road between Iran and Lebanon but cannot disrupt the established supply of weapons. The cost of air or sea shipment is indeed higher but so too are the costs of a prolonged US presence at al-Tanf, in the middle of the Syrian-Iraqi desert. The US is trying to gain time in Syria: in fact it is just wasting it.

Remember: The American withdrawal by the end of 2018 تذكروا: الانسحاب الأميركي نهاية 2018


Remember: The American withdrawal by the end of 2018

يناير 15, 2019

Written by Nasser Kandil,

The issue is not related to specific dates, as the end of a year and the start of another, but as we said repeatedly it is related to the linkage between the war on Syria and the fate of the American forces in Afghanistan, which their stay was extended from the end of 2016 to the end of 2018, after the battles of Aleppo and the victories achieved by the axis of the resistance and Russia and within a bet accepted by the Russian and the Syrian Presidents, that would end with the exit of Iran and Hezbollah, and imposed by the Israeli strikes and the US sanctions. The linking between them was the deal of the century that would end the Palestinian cause with a Palestinian acceptance of selling Jerusalem and pave the way for the announced alliance between the Gulf and Israel against Iran. But after the bet fell, the decision becomes between two options either a new extension of a new bet or the withdrawal.

But why to link the withdrawal with the American presence in Afghanistan? Because this presence is no longer useful militarily and unable to lead to political solutions. The Russian-Chinese- Iranian- Pakistani shelter has become the regional environment for Afghanistan. Therefore, the American presence has become no more than to prevent the ground connection across Afghanistan between China and Russia on one hand, and between them and Iran, and between Iraq and Syria and the Mediterranean on the other hand. The withdrawal from Afghanistan and Syria is interconnected, because the withdrawal paves the way for the Chinese-Russian connection with the Mediterranean across Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, and Syria, after Iraq has been turned into a station of supervision, control, and negotiation on the limits of the Chinese-Russian presence on the Mediterranean Sea and the limits of the Iranian movement towards Syria and Lebanon. This is just be used to justify the negotiation on the major compromises, so that the American presence in Iraq does not turn into a target that leads to undesirable confrontation again.

America announces the start of the withdrawal, it grants the others one hundred days to be ready for the gradual withdrawal of their forces. This grants us the logical interpretation of the fall of the American vetoes which the Turkish President wanted to inspire us that he caused their fall through the announcement of his intention to enter the eastern of the Euphrates region, while he is seeing what is allowed in front of the American presence. The Arab presidential visits to Damascus and the search to restore its taken seat from the Arab League and the invitation of its president to attend the Arab Summit in Tunisia have their interpretation in an American equation to the allies in Turkey, the Arab countries, and Israel. We know the new secret of Netanyahu on the borders, the shield of the north and the tunnels’ photos; they are attempts made by the first enemy “America” the owner of the decision of the war on Syria and through it on Iran and Russia to cope with the new situation imposed by the victory of Syria and its allies,.

The fall of the vetoes one by one was striking, the veto on a Yemeni settlement that preserves a pivotal status of Ansar Allah as a resistance, the veto on the ministerial and presidential visits to Damascus, the veto on forming a government that comforts the resistance in Lebanon and Iraq. These vetoes are falling as the domino stones as the fall the source of these vetoes. The command of the Central Forces in the  American armies are no longer here, the General McGurk quitted his job, exactly as when we hear the line is not in service. Is not it the situation of Washington’s allies?

What will the leaders of the Kurdish groups do, those whom we have long asked to bet on their Syrian patriotism, not on external irreplaceable developments. What will the Turks who bet on the mutual benefit between them and the Americans do, and what the Israelis who thought that they have convinced Washington with a permanent partnership in fate regarding the future of Syria will do, and what the Arabs who linked their hostility to Syria, Iran, and the forces of the resistance will do due to the illusions of American military intentions?

Only those in Syria, Russia, Iran, and the resistance forces know what they will do, thee image is clear, there is no revenge, no prizes, but no forgiveness. The forgiveness depends on the announced review and the practical retreat.

Those who argue with us that there will be no withdrawal, they will argue with us today that withdrawal is a conspiracy, so do not listen to them, they misjudge, they talk about the interest of Syria and the resistance, but due to their mission they try to affect the morale and to distort every victory.

Translate by Lina Shehadeh,


تذكروا: الانسحاب الأميركي نهاية 2018

ديسمبر 20, 2018

ناصر قنديل

– ليست القضية في تواريخ مفصلية كنهاية عام وبداية عام آخر، بل في ما سبق وقلناه مراراً عن الربط بين مستقبل الحرب على سورية، ومصير القوات الأميركية في أفغانستان، التي مدّد بقاؤها من نهاية عام 2016 إلى نهاية عام 2018 إفساحاً في المجال للبقاء في سورية، رهاناً على ما بعد معارك حلب والانتصارات التي حملتها لمحور المقاومة وروسيا، على تسوية تنتهي بخروج إيران وحزب الله يرتضيها كل من الرئيسين الروسي والسوري، وتستخدم لفرضها الضربات الإسرائيلية والعقوبات الأميركية، وعقدة الوصل بينهما صفقة القرن التي تنهي القضية الفلسطينية بتوقيع فلسطيني على بيع القدس، وتفتتح عهد التحالف المعلن بين الخليج و«إسرائيل» بوجه إيران. أما وقد سقط الرهان، فالقرار بين إثنين، تمديد جديد لرهان جديد أو انسحاب. فالاستحقاق يدق باب القرار.

– لماذا الربط مع الوجود الأميركي في أفغانستان؟ لأن هذا الوجود بات عديم الفائدة عسكرياً وعاجزاً عن توليد حلول سياسية، والحضن الروسي الصيني الإيراني الباكستاني بات هو البيئة الإقليمية لأفغانستان، ولم يعد للبقاء الأميركي هناك سوى حجز الجغرافيا منعاً للتواصل البري عبر أفغانستان بين الصين وروسيا من جهة، وبينهما عبر أفغانستان مع إيران براً، وعبرها مع العراق فسورية فالبحر المتوسط. والانسحاب من أفغانستان وسورية مترابط، لأنه إفراج جغرافي عن فرص التواصل الروسي الصيني مع البحر المتوسط عبر جسر برّي يمتد من افغانستان فإيران فالعراق فسورية، بعدما يتم تحويل العراق إلى مصفاة رقابة وتحكم وتفاوض في حدود الحضور الروسي الصيني على المتوسط، وحدود الحركة الإيرانية نحو سورية ولبنان، مصفاة نظرية لن تستعمل إلا لتبرير التفاوض على التسويات الكبرى، كي لا يتحوّل الوجود الأميركي في العراق هدفاً يستدرج المواجهة غير المرغوبة مرة أخرى.

– ها هو الأميركي يعلن بدء الانسحاب، ويمنح مئة يوم للآخرين لترتيب الأمور يتمّ خلالها السحب التدريجي للقوات، فيمنحنا التفسير المنطقي لتساقط الفيتوات الأميركية، التي أراد الرئيس التركي إيهامنا أنه يقوم هو بإسقاطها بالإعلان عن نيته دخول منطقة شرق الفرات، بينما هو يجسّ نبض المسموح وحدود الوراثة المتاحة أمامه للوجود الأميركي. وها هي الزيارات الرئاسية العربية المتدفقة على دمشق وما يليها من تسارع البحث في إعادة مقعدها المسلوب من الجامعة العربية ودعوة رئيسها لحضور القمة العربية في تونس، تجد تفسيرها هي الأخرى، بمعادلة أميركية للحلفاء في تركيا والبلاد العربية وأولاً «إسرائيل»، رتبوا أموركم خلال مئة يوم فنحن راحلون، وها نحن نعرف سراً جديداً لبهلوانيات بنيامين نتنياهو على الحدود ودرع الشمال وصور الأنفاق، كلها محاولات تأقلم مع الجديد المتمثل بإعلان نصر سورية وحلفائها، بتوقيع العدو رقم واحد، وهو أميركا صاحبة قرار الحرب على سورية، وعبرها على إيران وروسيا.

– تساقط الفيتوات واحداً تلو الآخر كان لافتاً، من فيتو على تسوية يمنية تكرس مكانة محورية لأنصار الله كقوة مقاومة، إلى فيتو على الزيارات الوزارية والرئاسية إلى دمشق، إلى فيتو على تشكيل حكومة تريح قوى المقاومة في لبنان والعراق، حجارة دومينو تتهاوى مع سقوط مصدر الفيتوات، قيادة القوات الوسطى في الجيوش الأميركية ليست على السمع بعد الآن، والجنرال ماكفورك يترك مهامه، تدبّروا أموركم، تماماً كالمجيب الآلي، الخط غير موضوع في الخدمة، راجع الاستعلامات، أليس هذا هو حال حلفاء واشنطن الآن؟

– ماذا سيفعل قادة الجماعات الكردية الذين طالما خاطبناهم بالدعوة للرهان على وطنيتهم السورية، وليس على مستجدّ خارجي قابل للزوال وحاضر للمتاجرة؟ وماذا سيفعل الأتراك الذين راهنوا على الإفادة المتبادلة بينهم وبين الأميركيين من التذرع بعضاً ببعض؟ وماذا سيفعل الإسرائيليون الذين ظنوا انهم أقنعوا واشنطن بصورة نهائية بشراكة في المصير في مستقبل سورية؟ وماذا سيفعل العرب الذين ربطوا عداءهم لسورية وإيران وقوى المقاومة بوهم نيات حربية أميركية؟

– وحدهم في سورية وروسيا وإيران وقوى المقاومة يعرفون ما سيفعلون، فالصورة واضحة، لا انتقام، لكن لا نسيان، لا جوائز ترضية لأحد، والتسامح مشروط بالمراجعة المعلنة، والتراجع العملي.

– الذين كانوا يجادلوننا بأن لا انسحاب أميركي، سيجادلون اليوم بالقول إن الانسحاب مؤامرة، فلا تصغوا إليهم، فهم في كل مرة يسيئون التقدير ويجلسون بيننا للتحدث بلغة المصلحة عن سورية والمقاومة، ولكن بسبب طبيعة مهمتهم أو ضعف بصيرتهم، تراهم ينصرفون لتدمير المعنويات وتنغيص كل نصر.

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Disparity of security necessities among allies America, Turkey, Europe, and Israel تفاوت مقتضيات الأمن بين الحلفاء: أميركا وتركيا وأوروبا و«إسرائيل»

Disparity of security necessities among allies America, Turkey, Europe, and Israel

يناير 15, 2019

Written by Nasser Kandil,

It is surprising that some analysts in the world and the region accept to consider the decision of the US President’s withdrawal from Syria as an expression of the mood of Donald Trump. The issue is not in discussing the presidential powers constitutionally; rather it is the ability of the President to deal practically alone with such decision. The US debate about the benefit of the military presence in Syria is neither new, nor governed by considerations related to Syria alone. The principle of the withdrawal from the whole Asian mainland was in circulation in the US decision-making centers for ten years after Baker Hamiliton report 2006 and after the decision of the President Obama in 2010 to withdraw from Iraq in 2011 and the deadline to withdraw from Afghanistan in 2013, which was extended twice to 2016 and to the end of 2018 according to the requirements of the war on Syria and the new bets to win it.

The absolute American consensus on refusing the engagement in a military confrontation with Russia and Iran led to the thinking of how to manage the failure in wars between narrow equations, their first aspect is the turning into a boxing bag that receives blows respectively without a decision to go to war, while their second aspect is the withdrawal, imposing sanctions, and linking the engagement into settlements with conditions that meet the US interests. This aspect is more effective than the military presence according to many in Washington. Since the Battle of Aleppo and the fall of the bet on the Turkish disruption of the geographical expansion of the Syrian army supported by Russia, Iran, and the resistance forces the US decision of withdrawal has become ready, but it was delayed by another bet entitled Saudi-Israeli bilateral that is militarily capable of blowing in Syria and Yemen, and able to launch a political qualitative path entitled ending the Palestinian cause through the deal of the century that besieges Iran and the resistance forces in order to make a settlement with Russia that ends with the exit of Iran and the resistance forces from Syria as a condition for its stability and the Western involvement.

With the emergence of the limited Israeli ability to protect the aggressive interventions on Syria after the Russia decisions to deploy the S-300 missiles network, the development of the Syrian ability to combat the Israeli raids, the abject failure of Saudi Arabia in the war on Yemen and its turning into a burden militarily and politically, the fall of the bet on the credibility of the success of the deal of century in finding a Palestinian partner, the emergence of a collective Palestinian will to refuse it, and the expansion of the popular and military Palestinian resistance movement and its imposing new equations, America had to decide to stay militarily face –to-face against Russia, Iran, and Syria in protecting the project of the Kurdish secession, although this project provokes a crisis with Turkey, the Atlantic ally of Washington, but it wants to protect the Israeli desire to barter the US withdrawal with the Iranian withdrawal.

The years of war led by Washington on Syria and its failure led to disparity in the requirements of security between it and its allies. Europe’s understanding of the concept of security starts with the issue of the displaced and the threat of its targeting through the infiltration of terrorists groups from the burning Middle East, while it ends with the concern about any open confrontation with Iran, whether through its military repercussions or its risks to the energy market. Europe did not hesitate to talk publicly about the US policies as a source of concern, whether through the withdrawal from the nuclear understanding with Iran or in managing the Palestinian cause. Turkey tried to search for new positioning that expresses its privacies; it found in Astana path its target through the cooperation with Russia and Iran and what was called by the Turks as the “Third option”. Therefore, the Turkish role in Syria was linked with a ceiling entitled “the concept of the national security” that considers the American –Kurdish relationship the first danger.

Washington lost its European and Turkish allies, while it stoke to its Saudi and Israeli allies. It found that it has to pay costly bills with imminent benefits, the most prominent of which is the American security which starts from Afghanistan. The American intervention was not as tactical as the American presence in Syria. Moreover, the condition of the Iranian cooperation with the requirements of the American security in Afghanistan in ensuring a secure withdrawal is governed by a political equation that was set at the Russian-Chinese- Pakistani- Iranian- Afghani meeting three weeks ago and which was related to the abandonment of the insistence on the Iranian withdrawal from Syria. This led to a set of American decisions under the title of a new concept of the national security that is not governed by the Saudi and Israeli ceilings, rather it sees that the security of Israel and Saudi Arabia is something and the concept of security according to Saudi Arabia and Israel is something else. The Yemeni settlement was the most prominent outcome of these decisions, because it means the acceptance of Iranian gains in the Gulf. This step has been followed by the withdrawal from Syria under the title of handing over the security in the Asian mainland to Russia to ensure the security of Israel and Saudi Arabia which differs from the concept of security to Israel and Saudi Arabia, this will be illustrated later maybe through the withdrawal from Iraq, and then American strict administration of the  negotiation on settlements and lifting of sanctions  and the moving to fight from inside the political and economic structures resulting from settlements.

It is a new stage in the crystallization of the new concepts of security, where the West is no longer a west and the Atlantic is no longer the Atlantic, rather they are separated issues according to interests, where Europe as Turkey has privacies and where Iran as a European and Turkish necessity it turned into American necessity in Afghanistan despite the Saudi and Israeli reservations. It is important to understand the speech of the Turkish President about the turning of the challenge of the American sanctions on Iran into an opportunity for negotiations between them and where Turkey is betting on playing a role of mediator in.

Translated by Lina Shehadeh,

تفاوت مقتضيات الأمن بين الحلفاء: أميركا وتركيا وأوروبا و«إسرائيل»

ديسمبر 21, 2018

ناصر قنديل

– من المستغرب أن يرتضي بعض المحللين في العالم والمنطقة، إلا لاعتبارات التوظيف السياسي، النظر لقرار الرئيس الأميركي بسحب قواته من سورية، كتعبير عن مزاجية وانفعالية دونالد ترامب، فالمسألة ليست في مناقشة حدود الصلاحيات الرئاسية دستورياً، بل في قدرة الرئيس عملياً وواقعياً على التصرف منفرداً بقرارات بهذا الحجم، والنقاش الأميركي حول جدوى البقاء العسكري في سورية ليس وليد اليوم، ولا تحكمه حسابات مرتبطة بسورية وحدها، بل إن مبدأ الانسحاب من البر الآسيوي برمته ملف مطروح في التداول في دوائر صنع القرار الأميركي منذ أكثر من عشرة أعوام، بعد تقرير بايكر هاملتون عام 2006، وقرار الرئيس أوباما في عام 2010 الانسحاب من العراق عام 2011 وتحديد موعد الانسحاب من أفغانستان في 2013 الذي جرى تمديده مرتين لعام 2016 ثم لنهاية العام 2018، وفقاً لمقتضيات الحرب على سورية والرهانات الجديدة للفوز بها.

– الإجماع المطلق أميركياً على رفض الدخول في مواجهة عسكرية مع روسيا ومع إيران، يحصر البحث الأميركي في كيفية إدارة الفشل في الحروب، بين معادلات ضيقة، قطبها الأول التحول كيس ملاكمة يتلقى الضربات تباعاً دون قرار حرب، وقطبها الثاني الاحتماء وراء الجدار، وهذا يعني الانسحاب، وبناء جدار العقوبات وربط الانخراط بالتسويات التي تزيلها بشروط تلبي المصالح الأميركية، وهو جدار أشد متانة وفعالية من جدار الوجود العسكري، بنظر الكثيرين في واشنطن، ومنذ معركة حلب وسقوط الرهان على التعطيل التركي لمسار التوسع الجغرافي للجيش السوري مدعوماً من روسيا وإيران وقوى المقاومة، صار قرار الانسحاب الأميركي على الطاولة، والذي أخّره رهان آخر عنوانه ثنائية سعودية إسرائيلية مقتدرة عسكرياً في الضرب بقسوة في سورية واليمن، وقادرة على إطلاق مسار سياسي نوعي عنوانه إنهاء القضية الفلسطينية عبر ما سُمّي بصفقة القرن يحاصر إيران وقوى المقاومة. والهدف لهذه المعادلة المفترضة الذهاب لتسوية مع روسيا تنتهي بخروج إيران وقوى المقاومة من سورية كشرط لاستقرارها، وارتضاء الدخول الغربي على خط التسوية فيها.

– مع ظهور محدودية القدرة الإسرائيلية على حماية التدخلات العدوانية على سورية بعد القرارات الروسية بتوضيع شبكة صواريخ الـ»أس 300»، وتبلور القدرة السورية على التصدي للغارات الإسرائيلية، وظهور الفشل الذريع للسعودية في حرب اليمن وتحولها عبئاً عسكرياً وسياسياً، وسقوط الرهان على صدقية نجاح صفقة القرن في إيجاد الشريك الفلسطيني، وتبلور إرادة فلسطينية جامعة في رفضها، واتساع حركة المقاومة الفلسطينية الشعبية والعسكرية وفرضها معادلات جديدة، صار على أميركا أن تقرّر البقاء عسكرياً للوقوف وجهاً لوجه امام روسيا وإيران وسورية في حماية مشروع الانفصال الكردي. وهو مشروع يثير أزمة موازية مع تركيا الحليف الأطلسي لواشنطن، وذلك فقط لحماية الرغبة الإسرائيلية بفرض مقايضة الانسحاب الأميركي بالانسحاب الإيراني.

– بعد سنوات الحرب التي قادتها واشنطن على سورية، ترتب على الفشل ظهور تفاوت في مقتضيات الأمن بينها وبين حلفائها، سواء أوروبا التي باتت نظرتها لمفهوم الأمن تبدأ بقضية النازحين وتمر بخطر استهدافها عن قرب من تسلل الجماعات الإرهابية من الشرق الأوسط المشتعل، وتنتهي بالقلق من أي مواجهة مفتوحة مع إيران، سواء بمترتباتها العسكرية إذا حصلت، أو بمخاطرها على سوق الطاقة، ولم تتردد أوروبا بالتحدث علناً عن النظر للسياسات الأميركية كمصدر قلق، سواء بالانسحاب من التفاهم النووي مع إيران أو بطريقة إدارة الملف الفلسطيني، بينما ذهبت تركيا تبحث عن تموضع يعبر عن خصوصيتها، ووجدت في مسار أستانة ضالتها المنشودة، بالتعاون مع روسيا وإيران وما يسميه الأتراك بالخيار الثالث، وربط الدور التركي في سورية بسقف عنوانه مفهوم للأمن القومي يرى العلاقة الكردية الأميركية خطراً أول.

– خسرت واشنطن حليفيها الأوروبي والتركي وبقيت متمسكة بالحليفين السعودي والإسرائيلي، ووجدت أن عليها دفع فواتير باتت مكلفة مع استحقاقات داهمة، أبرزها الأمن الأميركي الذي يبدأ من أفغانستان، حيث التدخل الأميركي لم يكن تكتيكياً كما هو حال البقاء الأميركي في سورية، وحيث شرط التعاون الإيراني مع مقتضيات الأمن الأميركي في أفغانستان بتأمين انسحاب آمن تظلله معادلة سياسية ظهرت في الاجتماع الخماسي الروسي الصيني الباكستاني الإيراني الأفغاني قبل ثلاثة اسابيع، يرتبط عضوياً بالتخلي عن وهم الإصرار على انسحاب إيراني من سورية، فرأينا حزمة قرارات أميركية عنوانها التموضع على خطوط مفهوم جديد للأمن القومي لا يتبع السقوف السعودية والإسرائيلية، ويرى أن أمن «إسرائيل» والسعودية شيء ومفهوم السعودية و»إسرائيل» للأمن شيء آخر، وكانت التسوية اليمنية العلامة البارزة في هذه الحزمة، وما تحمله من تقبل لفكرة تحقيق مكاسب إيرانية في الخليج، وتبعتها خطوة الانسحاب من سورية بصورة موازية ومشابهة، والعنوان هو تسليم الأمن في البر الآسيوي لروسيا بما فيه ضمان أمن «إسرائيل» والسعودية بغير مفهوم «إسرائيل» والسعودية للأمن، وهو ما ستوضحه المراحل اللاحقة، ربما بالاستعداد للانسحاب من العراق، وبعدها إدارة أميركية أشد صعوبة للتفاوض على شروط التسويات ورفع العقوبات، والانتقال للقتال من داخل البنى السياسية والاقتصادية الناشئة عن التسويات.

– هي مرحلة جديدة في تبلور مفاهيم جديدة للأمن، لم يعد فيها الغرب غرباً، ولا الأطلسي أطلسياً، بل محاور منفصلة وفقاً لحسابات المصالح في كليهما، حيث لأوروبا كما لتركيا خصوصيات، وحيث إيران كضرورة أوروبية وتركية تتحول في أفغانستان ضرورة أميركية، رغم التحفظات السعودية والإسرائيلية، ولعله من المهم قراءة كلام الرئيس التركي عن تحويل تحدي العقوبات الأميركية على إيران إلى فرصة للتلاقي بينهما بمفاوضات تراهن تركيا على لعب دور الوسيط فيها..

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