Ziad Fadel 

Qatar continues to use its vast stores of money to sponsor terrorism in Syria.  It is, therefore, hard to understand why Iran has not been able to convince the derelicts in Doha to stop their insane and self-destructive policies aimed at “regime change” in Damascus.  With the Saudis leading a coalition of Gulf countries-cum-Egypt that aims to end Qatari connivance with Turkey and the Muslim Brotherhood,  one would think that Iran could exploit Qatar’s isolation to bring it around to a more rational pattern of behavior.

Turkey’s rapid move to assist Qatar paralleled Iran’s maneuver to frustrate Saudi Arabia, its chief nemesis in the Gulf.  Turkey is led by a card-carrying MB member, Erdoghan, who jealously protects the interests of Sunni fundamentalist anti-primogeniture movements like the MB, a position not terribly unlike Iran’s anti-royalist attitudes.  But, that’ where all the similarities end.  Iran is committed to a full liberation of Palestine while the Turks are lingering in a world of Zionist appeasement.  Iran is working toward building a Shi’ite Crescent across the northern Near East while Turkey is planning to annex whole parts of it in an effort to interdict Kurkish plans for a new republic on its southern border.

This all makes for great subject matter for rap sessions in college on the weekends.  However, it also represents an intractable problem for those trying to end the carnage in both Syria and Iraq.

Witness events in the South-Eastern Ghoutaa.  Yesterday, the Qatari-funded and armed “Faylaq Al-Rahmaan” initiated a large-scale assault on SAA positions in the area of Waadi ‘Ayn Turma.  The major assault concentrated on the villages of Al-Muhammadiyya and Aftarees and in the area of Al-Lahma Company.  The terrorists came at Syrian soldiers with new TOW anti-tank missile launchers acquired by the terrorist group through MOK, or the formerly U.S.-led terrorist supporting command-control HQ in Jordan.  Their operation was called “Wa Laa Tahzanoo” or “And don’t be sad”, if you can believe it.  ولا تحزنوا

The TOWs have been rendered useless by Syria’s own domestically developed Saraab 1 Interception Device now found on all SAA tanks.  The device sends out signals to the anti-tank rockets toppling them from their course.  It has had a revolutionary effect on SAA combat operations all over the country.  And, now, with the U.S. backing off its support for all terrorist groups, coupled with Saudi Arabia’s shift in policy over Syria, the terrorists are finding the combat conditions increasingly perilous.  And so, yesterday, Faylaq Al-Rahmaan lost 29 of its rodents with over 120 wounded, some critically.

With terrorists complaining openly about the way the attack was conducted, there is chatter being picked up indicating a complete breakdown in confidence in the group’s leader, ‘Abdul-Naasser Shameer,  a former captain in the Syrian Army who deserted and joined the terrorism inflicted upon Syria sometime in 2012.  Moreover, Faylaq Al-Rahmaan is not a part of the “De-Escalation Agreements” worked out in Astana, Kazakhstan, or by Messrs. Putin and Trump during their tete-a-tete at the last G-20 Summit.

As we wrote before, U.S. CIA terrorist-enablers are leaving the sinking ship, taking back trays of Baklava and souvenir backgammon tables manufactured in Damascus.  What is left behind is a skeleton crew of “independent contractors”, mostly former spooks and mid-level retired army officers who receive their paychecks from Qatar.  This will not augur well for the remnant terrorist groups in the Ghoutaa.  Especially since the Syrian Army has now eradicated the ISIS presence in Al-Suwaydaa` leaving close to 15,000 troops free to return to the Damascus Front with thousands of Iranian-trained volunteers to keep Al-Suwaydaa` Ratten-Rein.

I frankly believe that the operation at Waadi ‘Ayn Turma was meant to please the Qataris – to keep the Qatari money flowing by showing that the group was still operational.  In looking at the way the group carried out its mission, it would seem it had no distinct purpose other than to kill as many SAA soldiers as possible.  As it turned out, no Syrian soldiers were killed in the fighting.  This is probably due to the air force response at key locations which blunted the assault and forced the terrorist rats to cede over more territory in the farm areas to the advancing Syrian Army.  Once can see why the leader of Faylaq Al-Rahmaan might be heading for the chopping block very soon.

ISIS is in even worse shape.  The SAAF pounded them into mush in the Qalamoon area, specifically at Al-Hasheeshaat Heights, Al-Jaraajeer, Qaarra foothills, Meera Crossing, Martabiyya and Shumays where command-control centers were destroyed.  ISIS took a big hit too in Hama, where the SAA liberated all hilltops around the town of Salba.  One would think that somebody in that group could read the handwriting on the walls.

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«Israeli» Energy Projects & The Fuel For Regional Instability

Theories related to Qatar’s role in the Syrian war and Doha’s desire to construct a natural gas pipeline that runs through Syria and supplies Europe have preoccupied analysts throughout the last five years.

Natural gas

But “Israel’s” energy ambitions have received far less media attention.

Within the space of ten years, the “Israelis” went from hardly even consuming natural gas to being a major producer, now eyeing significant export opportunities.

The real game changer was the discovery of the Leviathan field in the Mediterranean, which is estimated to hold at least 500 billion cubic meters of natural gas.

The December 2010 find was conveniently followed by the Syrian conflict just three months later.

However, the failure to oust the Damascus government ruled out prospects for the construction of overland pipelines – the cheapest delivery system to potential markets.

Instead, the “Israelis” had to turn to other more expensive alternatives to deliver their so-called ‘trapped gas’ to customers in Europe.

In early April, “Israel’s” energy minister, Yuval Steinitz, signed a preliminary agreement with Cyprus, Greece and Italy to pump natural gas across the Mediterranean, with costs estimated to run up to a whopping USD 7 billion.

Aside from being extremely pricy, the seabed pipeline would also be the world’s longest and deepest, extending for over 2,200km from “Israeli” and Cypriot offshore gas fields, to Greece and Italy.

But most experts agree that this supposed bold gambit on the part of Tel Aviv is nothing more than a tactic in negotiations with Turkey, where the “Israelis” are eyeing a much shorter, safer and most importantly, cheaper pipeline.

Erdogan’s dream of a pipeline crossroads

Last week, “Israel’s” Steinitz visited Ankara for a meeting with his Turkish counterpart, Berat Albayrak. The two agreed to speed up the adoption of an agreement for the construction of a pipeline that would carry “Israeli” natural gas to Europe through Cypriot waters, and onto Turkey.

The project, which directly undermines Europe’s main gas supplier – Russia – has already seen four rounds of negotiations between Ankara and Tel Aviv.

For the European Union and the bloc’s obsession with not becoming a ‘hostage’ to Russia’s Gazprom, the prospect of being able to rely on “Israeli” gas is welcome news in Brussels.

“We highly value gas supply from the region… that can make a valuable contribution to our strategy to diversify our sources and suppliers,” said the EU’s climate and energy commissioner, Miguel Arias Canete, after the “Israelis” and the Europeans reached their preliminary agreement in April.

Turkey’s motivations are equally ambitious.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has always dreamt of turning his country into a strategic pipeline crossroads; serving as a transit route for Russian, Caspian, Iraqi, Iranian, and, of course, Persian Gulf oil and gas to Europe.

His role in fueling the Syrian conflict was partly about turning this dream into reality, until the costs began to outweigh the benefits.

But despite the setbacks, Erdogan has still managed to clinch key agreements; the Trans Adriatic Pipeline [TAP] as well as the Turkish Stream, which will be transporting Caspian and Russian gas to the European continent via Turkey.

Hoping to bolster its role as a key gas portal for European states, Ankara now has its eye set the “Israeli” pipeline. The realization of these projects would undoubtedly transform Turkey from a regional to a global energy corridor.

Meanwhile, the “Israeli” energy minister and Premier Benjamin Netanyahu, have promoted the pipeline as a ‘win-win’ for both countries.

Naturally, for the increasingly isolated Tel Aviv, the benefits are far from just economic.

Becoming a leading energy exporter comes with obvious geostrategic advantages, which would also elevate foreign support for the “Israeli” occupation of Arab lands, as well as Tel Aviv’s frequent and bloody military adventures in the region.

That is an enticing prospect for the political and military establishment in Tel Aviv, and one worth going the extra mile for.

The “Israeli”-Lebanese maritime dispute

The recent natural gas discoveries are not confined to “Israeli” shores, but stretch across the eastern Mediterranean.

According to experts, the reserves are sizable, and the region has enormous potential to transform itself into an important supplier of the natural recourse.

Tel Aviv, though, is not exactly keen on having regional competitors.

If the “Israelis” are to fulfill their ambition of being crowned as a new global energy exporter, they need more than just the reserves found off their coast thus far, which pales in comparison to true gas giants – Russia, Iran and Qatar.

So, when the government in Lebanon, led by President Michel Aoun, published a tender in March to explore untapped gas and oil reserves that lie off the Lebanese coast, Tel Aviv was quick to react.

The “Israelis” laid claim to the 860 square-kilometer zone, which is believed to be flushed with natural gas reserves.

The move was described as a “declaration of war” by Lebanon’s parliament speaker, Nabih Berri.

Speaking to al-Jazeera on condition of anonymity at the time, an official from the Lebanese Ministry of National Defense estimated “that there are approximately 865 million barrels of oil and 96 trillion cubic feet of gas in that area”.

“This is something that “Israel” will fight tooth and nail for,” he said.

Although tensions have been rising for years between “Israel” and Lebanon over the contested waters, the likelihood of a military confrontation remains low.

However, it is important to point out that the leader of the Lebanese Resistance movement, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, repeatedly vowed to defend Lebanon’s natural recourses. He sent a very clear message – that Hezbollah was ready to take all necessary steps including the use of force, in order to prevent the “Israelis” from stealing the underwater reserves.

Meanwhile, Lebanese political factions have shown their willingness to cooperate in protecting the country’s gas and oil wealth.

The Lebanese state has also managed to adopt a pragmatic approach when challenging Tel Aviv’s claims, combining legal, political and economic measures.

The discoveries in the eastern Mediterranean certainly have the potential to help Lebanon attain higher energy security, improve its industry, transportation and power sectors.

Furthermore, the oil and gas revenues would have a very positive effect on the country’s public finances and the economy as a whole, while helping to reduce the cost of local goods and services.

Such prospects are unlikely to go down well in Tel Aviv. The “Israelis” are certainly more than just prone to employing the use of natural gas discoveries as a tool – not just to further their own economic interests – but to sabotage those of Lebanon.

Source: Al-Ahed News

22-07-2017 | 09:48

Qatar Crisis: Origins and Consequences

The current crisis surrounding Qatar represents the most severe conflict among Gulf Arab states since the end of the Cold War. While these oil-rich, autocratic OPEC members have historically been at the most allies of convenience united by common fears (USSR, Saddam Hussein, Iran, etc.), their mutual mistrust has arguably never escalated to the point of demanding to what amounts to a complete surrender by one of its members. Several interesting features of this crisis immediately jump out.

First of all, the breaking off of diplomatic relations by Saudi Arabia and several other major regional powers including Egypt, and depriving Qatar of the ability to use land and air transport routes through or over the territory of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, including Egypt came suddenly and without any warning. There was no ongoing visible dispute between Qatar and any of its neighbors, no major recent provocative policy moves. This suggests it was a premeditated and planned move by Saudi Arabia and its partners.

While the US role in the crisis is still ambiguous, it is unlikely in the extreme that Saudi Arabia would have undertaken something so drastic without coordination with the US, particularly since this action comes literally on the heels of President Trump’s high-profile visit to Saudi Arabia.  While initially silent, President Trump ultimately took to Twitter to back Saudi Arabia against Qatar, even as the US still maintains major military presence in that country.

The nature of the accusations leveled at Qatar is nothing short of extreme. Both US and Saudi leaders accused Qatar of about the worst offense currently available, namely supporting violent Islamic extremism. Trump went so far as to say that Qatar’s change of policies would be a major step toward resolving the problem of terrorism.

The nature of the crisis suggests it represents tensions that long bubbled under the surface but now have finally burst into the open.  The Qatari-Saudi falling out, and the make-up of the pro-Saudi faction, suggests that several factors at work here.

Not the least trivial of them is the drop in energy prices in recent years.  Saudi Arabia’s costly wars in Syria and Yemen only make that problem worse. Since Qatar’s main line of business is natural gas whose production is outside OPEC’s purview, it may be that Saudi Arabia is attempting to force Qatar, whose per-capita GDP is the highest in the world, to share some of its wealth with the failing Saudi monarchy

This drastic step would likely have not been needed had the Saudi and Qatari ambitions in Syria been realized by now. The objective was, after all, the laying of pipelines through the territory of Syria and also seizing Syria’s oil fields using ISIS as a proxy, all very much with the tacit approval of the Obama Administration. While the outcome of the war in Syria is still uncertain, it is all too clear the Saudi and Qatari efforts to expand their wealth at Syria’s expense have failed.

The Saudis are also attempting to establish their political dominance within the region, as part of the “Sunni NATO” concept. Qatar’s independent foreign policy which often ignored or even undermined Saudi aims in Syria and Libya, was naturally an obstacle in reaching that objective. Moreover, Qatar’s freelancing also appears to be the reason why countries like Egypt and Israel have backed Saudi moves. Qatar is a major sponsor the Muslim Brotherhood and of Hamas which are major irritants for these two countries, respectively.

The other major show of Qatari independence has been its Iran policy, where it is also sharply at odds with the hard-line Saudi approach. Since the “Sunni NATO” is aimed squarely at Iran and should Saudi Arabia succeed in crushing Qatar’s independence, it will establish itself as the unquestionably dominant political power within the Arabian Peninsula. The harsh disciplining and humiliation of Qatar would also serve as a long-term warning for any other minor Gulf power which might attempt to pursue a foreign policy independently of Saudi Arabia. The importance of Iran to the Saudi-Qatar conflict has been starkly demonstrated by Iran’s willingness to supply Qatar with food to overcome Saudi blockade, and the terrorist attack in Tehran that was attributed to Saudi Arabia by Iranian authorities. Tehran also opened its airspace for Qatar Airways aircraft and expanded unofficial efforts to draw Doha into own sphere of influence.

With that in mind, Trump’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia which culminated with the rather bizarre “glowing orb” ceremony, acquires a new meaning. While we do not yet know just how much leeway Washington is giving Riyadh in its dealings with Doha and how much coordination and communication there are between the two powers, Trump’s behavior while in Saudi Arabia was likely intended to send a message that Saudi Arabia has the full faith and confidence of the United States, though evidently Qatar had failed to heed the warning. If the Saudi action does result in Qatari abandonment of Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, it will help the US restore some of its political standing in the region by drawing both Israel and, especially, Egypt, closer toward the US. Qatar’s emasculation furthermore promises to bring the wars in not only Syria but also Libya to a closer conclusion by eliminating a significant player pursuing an independent objective. Last but not least, Qatar also enjoys rather better relations with both Russia and Turkey than Saudi Arabia, which no doubt raised additional fears in Washington that Russia is about to take the US’ place as the most influential external power in the Middle East. The emergence of a Russia-Iran-Turkey-Qatar constellation as a result of Russian diplomacy and Turkey’s own regional ambitions is a nightmare scenario for both Riyadh and Washington.

It is not yet clear whether the Trump Administration compelled Saudi Arabia to undertake this course or whether Trump had no choice but to endorse and acquiesce in the Saudi course of action, with some accommodations made to respect US interests outlined above.  On the one hand, Trump could have easily used the same “support for terrorism” cudgel on the Saudis that in the end he used on the Qataris. On the other hand, the power of the Saudi lobby in Washington and the absence of a proxy power capable of doing to Saudi Arabia what Saudi Arabia is doing to Qatar means that the Saudis are not simply following Washington’s orders.

However, in light of Trump’s upcoming visit to Poland and the participation in the so-called Three Seas Initiative summit, one must also entertain the possibility that the US saw in Qatar an unwelcome competitor for the liquid natural gas (LNG) market. It is becoming apparent that the US will continue to expand its role as hydrocarbon exporter in the future, which will naturally bring it into conflict with not only Russia, but also Qatar, and even Saudi Arabia. It is also becoming apparent that at least some of that expansion will take place in Europe, or the market which Qatar had hoped to access by sponsoring jihadists in Syria who would ultimately pave the way for its gas pipelines into Europe.

The falling out between the US and Qatar appears to have had a sobering impact on Qatar’s leaders who, evidently fearing that any show of weakness might lead to their overthrow and even death, have dug in their heels and began to seek support from unorthodox sources. That process, in turn had shown both the extent of anti-Saudi sentiment in the region and the limits of US influence. Turkey’s President Erdogan came out strongly in support of Qatar, and went so far as to reaffirm the Turkey-Qatar military alliance and send troops to Qatar. Pakistan similarly decided to send a military force to Qatar, and collectively these actions are likely sufficient to dissuade any Saudi military adventurism, possibly with cooperation with dissatisfied factions of Qatari military. At this stage, it would take a direct US military intervention to bring down the Qatari government, but the US clearly prefers to do its dirty work through proxies. Moreover, there is no sign of an effort to interdict or block Qatar’s LNG tanker traffic. Even though Egypt had joined the anti-Qatar coalition, it has not blocked LNG tankers carrying Qatari gas from passing the Suez Canal.

Even so, Qatari leaders were concerned enough to send their Foreign Minister to Moscow for consultations. Nevertheless, considering that Saudi Arabia responded to Turkey’s support of Qatar by expressing its own support for the Kurdish cause–so far only verbal–it does appear that Russia, Turkey, and many other countries in the region do not wish to see Qatar brought to heel. Russian military spokesmen also noted that in the meantime the war in Syria had greatly diminished in its intensity as the Qatar- and Saudi Arabia-backed militants now find themselves in a very confused situation where it’s not clear who is supposed to be their enemy, Syrian forces or other rebel groupings. However the situation evolves in the future, it is unlikely in the extreme Qatar will be close collaborator in any Saudi schemes. Instead it is more than likely Qatar will gradually drift further away from Saudi policies and bolster its ties with Turkey, and therefore indirectly also with Russia and Iran.

As a final note, one cannot but help reflect on the fact this is a severe and potentially very dangerous confrontation between, after all, two important US allies.  Considering that both Qatar and Saudi Arabia are members of the “Free World” (sic) of which the US is the undisputed leader, the fact that a few policy disagreements among these members can no longer be managed by means short of blockade and threats of war does not speak highly of the US ability to continue to maintain its empire. While the Saudi-Qatari conflict is unprecedented in its intensity, it is far from being the only internal “Free World” conflict which the US is apparently powerless to resolve. We have already seen Brexit, the looming “two-speeds EU”, the Turkey-EU and Turkey-NATO spats, the failure of TTIP and TPP multilateral US-centric trade deals, and other signs of US weakness. The use of Saudi Arabia against Qatar suggests the US might be moving toward a different model of imperial governance, namely “divide and rule” among its own client states. In the short term this may well be successful. However, it is US client states’ awareness that is driving them to seek help from Moscow, which in turn gives us narratives of “Russian meddling”, including now in the case of Qatar.

The chemistry between Putin and Macron…. and Syria كيمياء بوتين ماكرون… وسورية


The chemistry between Putin and Macron…. and Syria

يونيو 15, 2017

Written by Nasser Kandil,

كيمياء بوتين ماكرون… وسورية

The Russian circuits closer to the President Vladimir Putin talk about a chemistry that he discovered through his relation with an international political leader, then it is shown that this leader has a position on the chess map which is run by the professional player Putin, and that this role starts from reading the important influence of his country on the main file in the Russian agenda, a role that is drawn by the same ability to bear the dispute and the crises, along with the ability to tolerate and to grant opportunities. The basis depends on a quiet reading of the interests of the country and the well-established status of the leader, and on the paths which Russia will impose on the file which it wants a partnership in it, a reading of how the concerned leader adapts to the variables, and the ability to take his country by the force of his influence towards the choices which he finds them interact with his interests and aspirations towards the historic leadership between leaving the imprint which he looks for it on one hand, and between the interests of his country and their effective forces in it on the other hand.

This has happened with the Turkish President Recep Erdogan and the French President Emanuel Macron, in case of Erdogan, the beginning was not through the convergence of the Russian and the Turkish polices on the pivotal issue of the foreign policy of the two countries, namely the war on Syria, however the chemical relationship started between Putin and Erdogan, in other words, it means a Russian aspiration to attract Turkey to play a role, while Turkey was leading the war axis on Syria against the bank led by Russia, but when the collision occurred by a Turkish decision, Putin seemed firm and resolving, but he soon showed tolerance and presented the inducements to pave the way for the new role.

By virtue of the geography of the Middle East, Putin’s vision seems to be inclined to establish two strategic partnerships in managing the solution in Syria, one with a Turkish –Iranian bilateral from Astana, it manages the security file in its political and military dimensions to prevent the division of Syria, and to  arrange the integration of the armed groups which are sponsored by Turkey into a apolitical solution that ends with a unified government under the leadership of the Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, in preparation for a new constitution and parliamentary and presidential elections according to the UN resolution 2254. The second partnership is still in the beginnings, it may be under crises and disputes as the first one, but it opens up to tolerance and paving the role for a new role, it revolves around the files of reconstruction and the return of the displaced,  it is a French-Chinese bilateral. The funding imposed by the file of reconstruction and the displaced along with its economic and security importance to Europe and France in particular is not possible for the Gulf which is bankrupt and divided to offer, and it cannot be thought of without China. France which complains from the absence of the European vision and the fragmentation of its forces and interests, and from the US political weakness is anticipating to reserve a role and a seat, since it sees the Gulf and what it suffers, and it sees the opposition and its divisions, so it is not obliged to enter in the direct political search under conditions that alienate it from its allies, but on the contrary they will follow it if there is a path that is similar to Astana that is open on the planned negotiation paths that remain Russian and American in essence.

Macron studies the call for an international regional Syrian conference about the reconstruction and the displaced, hosted by Paris and in which the Syrian government and figures from the private sector whether loyalists or from the opposition, the experts, the United Nations and its bodies, the donor countries from Europe, the Gulf, Japan, the funds, and the concerned international banks, along with China participate. This role requires to open the French embassy in Damascus, and to benefit from the revenues of that in having a Syrian cooperation in the file of terrorists from French ancestries which exerts pressure on Paris as a dire necessity. There will not be a problem if France adopts a diplomatic speech that commensurate with an acceptable role by all the concerned parties in the Syrian crisis to reserve a role for itself.

It is the beginning of the chemistry between Putin and Macron that produces an interaction in Syria!

Translated by Lina Shehadeh,

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كيمياء بوتين ماكرون… وسورية

يونيو 15, 2017

ناصر قنديل

كيمياء بوتين ماكرون… وسورية

– عندما تتحدّث الدوائر الروسية القريبة من الرئيس فلاديمير بوتين عن كيمياء اكتشفها في علاقته بزعيم سياسي دولي، لا يلبث أن يظهر أنّ لهذا الزعيم موقعاً على خارطة الشطرنج التي يديرها اللاعب المحترف بوتين، وأنّ هذا الدور يبدأ من قراءة تأثير هامّ لهذه الدولة في ملف رئيسي على جدول أعمال روسيا، وأنه دور يرسم بنفس طويل وقدرة على تحمّل الخصومة والأزمات، ولكن معها قدرة على التسامح ومنح الفرص، وأنّ الأساس مبني على قراءة هادئة لمصالح الدولة ومكانة الزعيم الراسخة فيها، وعلى المسارات التي ستفرضها روسيا للملف الذي تريد شراكة فيه، وقراءة لتكيّف الزعيم المعني مع المتغيّرات وقدرته على أخذ بلده بقوة تأثيره نحو الخيارات التي يراها تقاطعاً بين مصالحه وطموحاته نحو الزعامة التاريخية وترك البصمة التي يبحث عنها من جهة، وبين مصالح بلده والقوى المؤثرة فيها، من جهة أخرى.

– حدث هذا مع الرئيس التركي رجب أردوغان ويحدث مع الرئيس الفرنسي إيمانويل ماكرون. وفي حالة أردوغان لم تكن البداية بتلاقي السياسات الروسية والتركية تجاه القضية المحورية في السياسة الخارجية للبلدين، وهي الحرب في سورية، بل بدأت العلاقة الكيميائية بين بوتين وأردوغان، وهي هنا تعني تطلعاً روسياً لجذب تركيا للعب دور، فيما كانت تركيا تقود محور الحرب على سورية بوجه الضفة التي تقف عليها روسيا وتتصدّرها. وعندما وقع التصادم بقرار تركي، بدا بوتين حازماً وحاسماً، لكنه لم يلبث أن أظهر التسامح وفتح الباب لطيّ الصفحة، وتقديم المغريات لفتح الباب أمام الدور الجديد.

– بحكم الجغرافيا الشرق أوسطية تبدو رؤية بوتين متّجهة نحو إنشاء شراكتين استراتيجيتين في إدارة الحلّ في سورية، واحدة بثنائية تركية إيرانية تنطلق من أستانة، تدير الملف الأمني بأبعاده السياسية والعسكرية، منعاً لتقسيم سورية وتمهيداً لدمج الجماعات المسلّحة التي ترعاها تركيا في حلّ سياسي ينتهي بحكومة موحدة في ظلّ الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد تمهيداً لدستور جديد وانتخابات نيابية ورئاسية، وفقاً للقرار الأممي 2254. أما الثانية التي لا تزال في البدايات، وتحتمل كالأولى مرور أزمات وخلافات، لكنها مفتوحة الأبواب لاحقاً على التسامح وطيّ الصفحة وفتح الباب للدور الجديد، فتدور حول ملفات إعادة الإعمار وعودة النازحين، وهي ثنائية فرنسية صينية، فالتمويل الذي يفرضه ملف الإعمار واللاجئين، بأهميته الاقتصادية والأمنية لأوروبا، وفرنسا في قلبها، لا يملك الخليج المفلس والمنقسم قدرة تقديمه، ولا يمكن التفكير به من دون التطلّع نحو الصين، وفرنسا التي تتذمّر من غياب الرؤية الأوروبية وتشتت قواها واهتماماتها، ومن الضعف السياسي الأميركي تتطلع لحجز دور ومقعد، وترى الخليج وما يعانيه والمعارضة وانقساماتها، وليست مضطرة للدخول في حقل ألغام البحث السياسي المباشر بشروط حلّ قد يبعدها اليوم عن حلفائها، لكنه سيجعلهم يلحقونها إنْ أنشات طاولة تشبه طاولة أستانة مفتوحة الأفق على مسارات التفاوض المقرّرة التي تبقى في جوهرها روسية أميركية.

– ماكرون يدرس الدعوة لمؤتمر دولي إقليمي سوري حول الإعمار واللاجئين، تستضيفه باريس وتشارك فيه الحكومة السورية وشخصيات من القطاع الخاص معارضين وموالين، وخبراء، والأمم المتحدة وهيئاتها، والدول المانحة من أوروبا والخليج واليابان والصناديق والبنوك العالمية المعنية، لكن مع الصين، وما يستدعيه هذا الدور يبدأ بفتح السفارة الفرنسية في دمشق، والإفادة من عائدات ذلك في الحصول على تعاون سوري في ملف الإرهابيين من أصول فرنسية الذي يضغط على باريس كحاجة ملحّة، ولا يفترض أن تكون هناك مشكلة إن اعتمدت فرنسا خطاباً دبلوماسياً يتناسب مع دور مقبول من كلّ الأطراف المعنية بالأزمة السورية لتحفظ لنفسها هذا الدور.

– بداية كيمياء بين بوتين وماكرون تنتج تفاعلاً في سورية!

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Will Turkey freeze its membership in the NATO? هل تجمّد تركيا عضويتها في الأطلسي؟

Will Turkey freeze its membership in the NATO?

يونيو 8, 2017

Written by Nasser Kandil,

The Russian announcement of discovering a conspiracy between the Democratic Forces of Syria and ISIS that depends on handing over the area of Raqqa by ISIS peacefully in exchange of securing the withdrawal to the Syrian Badia under the auspices of the US flight formed an expression of the political fall of all the armed Kurdish groups and its sponsor Washington, which announced coincidently its supplying them with new qualitative weapons quantities. Thus the question posed by the Turkish National Security Council; if Raqqa will be given without fight, so why this weapon?

There is a Russian-Turkish-Iranian discussion about the premise of an implicit US decision to establish a strong unannounced Kurdish entity in a constitutional and legal way that provides the cover for a long-term presence of the US troops in Syria and on the borders with Iraq and Turkey, in coincidence with the prevention of the Syrian-Iraqi connection across the borders, and disabling the efforts of the political settlements through transferring the reference of the political opposition which participates in the negotiations from Ankara to Riyadh, and raising its ceiling to prevent any settlement. Thus leaving Syria without a political solution through a suspended project of forming capable recognized country internationally as a recovered country, breaking up its relation with the Eastern depth especially Iran through dominating groups affiliated to Washington and thus the Kurdish entity will allow the cover of the US stay under the title that the war on terrorism is not over, ISIS withdrew to Badia and the war will continue there.

Russia and Iran are approaching the fears and the considerations in terms of sticking to a serious concept of the war on ISIS, a similar concept of the political solution, and the establishment of the Syrian state. The certainty of the US manipulation in the two concepts raises a question about the status of the armed Kurdish groups in the war on terrorism and in the political solution. It is the main subject for the dispute of Russia and Iran with Turkey, but it seems to be disappearing after the Russian announcement of the plot of the safe corridors which Moscow was obliged to bomb with caliber cross-continental missiles.

Moscow and Tehran seem concerned in closing the Syrian Badia in front of ISIS; the military battles covered by air by Moscow and where Iran mobilizes allied forces in them are taking place to resolve the countryside of the eastern of Hama towards Salamieh and the countryside of Homs towards Al Sokhneh to secure a coherent land closure that prevents any military displacement of ISIS from Raqqa to Badia. Moscow and Tehran with a similar seriousness and determination provide the elements for a fierce war to reach the borders between Syria and Iraq at an opposite point for each of the Syrian army and the Popular Crowd which each one of them is advancing and ISIS in front of it. In the areas of the Syrian Badia the Syria army is proceeding towards Al-Anbar where is ISIS, while the Popular Crowd is proceeding in the western of Mosul opposed by the Democratic Forces of Syria in Syria, so the only point that must be reached by the two parties is Al-Kaem from the Iraqi side, and Boukamal from the Syrian side, while the Americans are racing them from the points of Tanf and Hasaka through armed groups supported by Washington, and which were bombed by Russia yesterday.

On the Turkish side, a strategic reading of the critical moment is being read, where Ankara which seems after it invested everything with America has been dealt by Washington according to the equation of the poker players either everything or nothing, this was applied by Washington on the former Qatar Prince before his resignation, so either Turkey wins in Syria along with America and forms its Ottoman Sultanate in which it includes Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and elsewhere, or it loses everything substituted by a mysterious Kurdish entity on its borders to prolong the US presence in Syria, there is a hidden war to expel Turkey from all the region, so this explains what is going on with Qatar, Libya, and Gaza.

Today in Ankara they are wondering about the presence of US plan that is implemented successively to isolate Turkey, Saudi Arabia participated in it against Qatar, Egypt against Libya, and Israel against Gaza, and where the armed Kurds in Syria form its front, they wonder whether the presence in the NATO becomes a burden on Turkey, because it is the time to turn the table and to participate with Russia and Iran in Astana under the title of the war on terrorism and the political solution, provided with the unity of the Syrian territories under the leadership of the current Syrian state and its president and postponing the issues of the Syrian internal dispute after removing the threat which the Turks consider it a danger on their national security that worth the risk, and maybe freezing the Turkish membership in the NATO.

Translated by Lina Shehadeh,

هل تجمّد تركيا عضويتها في الأطلسي؟

يونيو 1, 2017

ناصر قنديل

 شكّل الإعلان الروسي عن اكتشاف مؤامرة بين قوات سورية الديمقراطية وداعش يقضي بتسليم داعش منطقة الرقة سلمياً مقابل تأمين خط انسحاب آمن إلى البادية السورية برعاية الطيران الأميركي، تعبيراً عن السقوط السياسي لكلّ من الجماعات الكردية المسلّحة وراعيتها واشنطن، التي أعلنت بالتزامن تزويدها بكميات سلاح جديدة ونوعية، ليصير السؤال الذي طرحه مجلس الأمن القومي التركي، ما دامت الرقة ستسلّم بلا قتال، فلماذا هذا السلاح؟

– يدور نقاش روسي تركي إيراني حول فرضية وجود قرار أميركي ضمني بإقامة كيان كردي قويّ وغير معلن بصيغة دستورية وقانونية، يوفر الغطاء لبقاء مديد للقوات الأميركية في سورية وعلى حدود العراق وتركيا، بالتزامن مع منع التواصل السوري العراقي عبر الحدود، وتعطيل جهود التسويات السياسية بنقل مرجعية المعارضة السياسية المشاركة بالمفاوضات من أنقرة إلى الرياض ورفع سقوفها لمنع التوصل لأي تسوية، فتبقى سورية بلا حل سياسي بمشروع معلّق لقيام الدولة القادرة والمعترف بها دولياً كدولة متعافية، وتقطع صلتها بالعمق الشرقي، خصوصاً إيران بسيطرة جماعات تابعة لواشنطن، ويصير للكيان الكردي الرمادي ما يمنح تغطية البقاء الأميركي، تحت شعار أنّ الحرب على الإرهاب لم تنته، فقد انسحب داعش إلى البادية والحرب ستستمرّ هناك.

– روسيا وإيران تقاربان المخاوف والحسابات من باب التمسك بمفهوم جدّي للحرب على داعش ومفهوم مشابه للحلّ السياسي وقيامة الدولة السورية. ويشكل التيقن من التلاعب الأميركي بالمفهومين باباً للتساؤل حول مكانة الجماعات الكردية المسلحة في هذه الحرب على الإرهاب وفي الحل السياسي. وهو الموضوع الرئيس لخلاف روسيا وإيران مع تركيا. وهو ما يبدو في طريقه للزوال بعد الإعلان الروسي عن مؤامرة الممرّات الآمنة التي اضطرت موسكو لقصفها بصواريخ الكاليبر العابرة للقارات.

– على خط موازٍ تبدو موسكو وطهران معنيتين بإغلاق البادية السورية أمام داعش وتدور معارك عسكرية تغطيها موسكو جوياً بقوة وتزجّ فيها إيران قدرات حليفة لها، لحسم ريف شرق حماة تجاه السلمية، وريف حمص تجاه السخنة، لتأمين إغلاق بري متماسك يقطع أي فرص نزوح عسكري لداعش من الرقة إلى البادية. كذلك تقوم موسكو وطهران بجدّية وحزم مشابهَيْن بتوفير مقومات حرب ضروس لبلوغ الحدود بين سورية والعراق في نقطة متقابلة لكل من الجيش السوري والحشد الشعبي، اللذين يتقدّم كل منهما ومقابله داعش. ففي مناطق البادية السورية يتقدم الجيش السوري قبالة الأنبار حيث داعش، بينما يتقدّم الحشد الشعبي غرب الموصل وقبالته على الجانب السوري قوات سورية الديمقراطية. والنقطة الوحيدة التي يجب أن يبلغها الطرفان ليلتقيا هي القائم من الجهة العراقية والبوكمال من الجهة السورية، بينما يسابقهما الأميركيون من نقطتي التنف والحسكة بالجماعات المسلحة المدعومة من واشنطن والتي نالت نصيبها من القصف الروسي أمس.

– على الجانب التركي تجري قراءة استراتيجية للحظة الحرجة، حيث تبدو أنقرة وقد وضعت بيضها في السلة الأميركية قد عوملت من قبل واشنطن وفقاً لمعادلة لاعبي البوكر إما كل شيء أو لا شيء. وهو ما سبق وطبّقته واشنطن على أمير قطر السابق قبل تنحيته، فإما تنتصر تركيا في سورية وتنصر أميركا معها وتقيم منها سلطنتها العثمانية وتضمّ مصر وتونس وليبيا وسواها، وإما تخسر كل شيء ويكون كيان كردي غامض على حدودها هو البديل لإدامة الحضور الأميركي في سورية، وتدور حرب خفية لطرد تركيا من المنطقة كلّها، يفسّر هذا ما يجري مع قطر وفي ليبيا وغزة.

– يستاءلون في أنقرة اليوم عن وجود خطة أميركية لعزل تركيا تنفذ بالتتابع، ويشترك في حلقاتها كل من السعودية ضد قطر ومصر في ليبيا و»إسرائيل» في غزة، ويشكّل المسلحون الأكراد في سورية رأس الحربة فيها، ويتساءلون ألم يصبح الوجود في حلف الأطلسي عبئاً على تركيا، وقد آن الأوان لقلب الطاولة وخوض غمار التشارك مع روسيا وإيران في مظلة أستانة، تحت عنوان الحرب على الإرهاب والحل السياسي، ولكن بشرط وحدة التراب السوري تحت مظلة الدولة السورية الحالية ورئيسها، وتأجيل ملفات الخلاف الداخلي السوري لما بعد إبعاد شبح التهديد الذي يعتبره الأتراك خطراً على أمنهم القومي يستحق المجازفة، وربما تجميد العضوية التركية في الأطلسي.

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“No Kurdish entity in Syria” is the title of the next Astana لا كيان كردي في سورية عنوان أستانة المقبل

“No Kurdish entity in Syria” is the title of the next Astana 

يونيو 7, 2017

Written by Nasser Kandil,

The deal disclosed by the Russian Caliber missiles and the declarations of the Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov between ISIS and the armed Kurdish groups through a barter of peaceful handing over of Raqqa in exchange of ensuring secure withdrawal corridors to the Syrian Badia revealed the priority of the formation of a local Kurdish authority in the provinces of Raqqa, Deir Al Zour, and Hasaka according to these Kurdish groups to their belonging to Syrian national auspices, that includes the right of participation in making the form of the new regime and constitution based on the sticking to the unity of the Syrian territories. The threats issued by these groups to the Popular Crowd not to enter the Syrian territories in the provinces of Hasaka and Deir Al Zour even through an understanding with the Syrian state to fight ISIS emphasize this priority on one hand, and the exclusiveness of the US reference in formulating orientations of these groups on the other hand, even at the expense of their Syrian identity and the credibility of the war on ISIS at the same time.

During the war years, the Kurdish armed groups have got a special sponsorship and a distinctive treatment from the Syrian country and from Russia. Despite the special relationship with Washington which was apparent from a long time, the Syrian state did not hesitate to overlook the bloody events which affected it by these groups in the province of Hasaka, on the contrary it tried to protect them in Manbej against the Turkish threat at the moment of the apparent US abandonment, it facilitated opening the road Al Qamishli-Aleppo-Damascus-Beirut, while Russia has waged battles to impose the participation of these groups in the rounds of the negotiation in Geneva despite the absence of the US pressure on its allies to impose the Kurdish component and its presence, till the scandal of the deal with ISIS occurred, so it was as “the straw that broke the camel’s back”.

The deal with ISIS at the expense of the war with the organization which took the title of the Kurdish armed formations and the title of the American occupation of part of Syria is bigger than a tactical event or field performance, it is an expression of US strategy that accepted by the Kurds, and which draws the priorities according to the Russian and Syrian reading, it based on the priority of forming Kurdish military economic and political privacy inspired by the experience of Iraqi Kurdistan with which the efforts of the political solution have been disrupted, it expands the war on ISIS by transferring the organization from one place to another through which Washington gets a coverage for its occupation as an associate of a local group that has legitimacy, rights, and privacy. In the north east of Syria there are oil and agricultural wealth and a limited number of populations that will be reduced with the hegemony of one part of the region components. This makes it more attractive to the Americans as an alternative of the failure in having control over all of Syria. The unannounced Kurdish state in Syria is useful for the Americans through its connection with the project of the seeking to expand through other groups to complete having control of the Syrian-Iraqi borders even in a short depth of the Kurdish dominance areas, so what is the need of Washington for a political solution in Syria while the management of chaos seems more useful?

Strategic shifts will result from the Syrian, Russian, and Iranian clarity for what is going on, it is a clarity that seems Turkish as well, so this will make next Astana meeting more important than before with a priority entitled the prevention of turning the Kurdish privacy into a project of targeting the unity of Syria. This is the significance of the speech of the Russian President about the concern of the risks of dividing Syria, as it is the significance of using the strategic caliber missiles to send a message that the matter is a red Russian line.

The equation since Geneva I till Geneva XI was under the title of no political settlement except the priority of the war on terrorism. Today the equation became no credibility of the war on terrorism without sticking to the unity of Syria. As the seeking was for an alliance based on the partnership in the war on terrorism as an entrance for the partnership in the political solution in Syria, the seeking becomes for an alliance based on the sticking to the unity of Syria as a condition for the partnership in the alliance of the war on terrorism and the political solution in Syria, Astana seems a title that indicated to the next task.

Translated by Lina Shehadeh,

لا كيان كردي في سورية عنوان أستانة المقبل

يونيو 3, 2017

ناصر قنديل

– كشفت الصفقة التي فضحتها صواريخ كاليبر الروسية وتصريحات وزير الخارجية الروسي سيرغي لافروف بين داعش والجماعات الكردية المسلحة بمقايضة تسليم سلمي للرقة بتأمين ممرات انسحاب آمن منها إلى البادية السورية، أولوية قيام سلطة كردية محلية في محافظات الرقة ودير الزور والحسكة لدى هذه الجماعات الكردية على انضوائها في ظلال وطنية سورية، تتضمّن حق المشاركة في صياغة شكل نظام الحكم والدستور الجديدين من ضمن منظومة التمسّك بوحدة التراب السوري. وجاءت التحذيرات الصادرة عن هذه الجماعات للحشد الشعبي بعدم دخول الأراضي السورية في محافظتي الحسكة ودير الزور ولو من ضمن تفاهم مع الدولة السورية لقتال داعش، تأكيداً على هذه الأولوية من جهة، وعلى حصرية المرجعية الأميركية في صياغة توجّهات هذه الجماعات، ولو على حساب هويتها السورية وصدقية الحرب على داعش في آن واحد.

 – خلال سنوات الحرب حظيت الجماعات الكردية المسلحة برعاية خاصة ومعاملة مميّزة من الدولة السورية ومن روسيا. فرغم العلاقة الخاصة بواشنطن التي بدت ظاهرة منذ زمن غير قصير لم تتردّد الدولة السورية في التغاضي عن أحداث دموية أصابتها على يد هذه الجماعات في محافظة الحسكة، وفتحت الباب لحمايتها في منبج بوجه التهديد التركي في لحظة تخلٍّ أميركي بائن، وسهّلت فتح طريق القامشلي حلب دمشق بيروت بالتنسيق معها، بينما حرصت روسيا على خوض معارك فرض مشاركة هذه الجماعات في جولات التفاوض في جنيف، رغم الغياب الأميركي عن ساحة الضغط على حلفائها لفرض المكوّن الكردي وحضوره، حتى وقعت فضيحة الصفقة مع داعش فكانت القشة التي قصمت ظهر البعير.

 – الصفقة مع داعش على حساب الحرب مع التنظيم المتخذ عنواناً للتشكيلات الكردية المسلحة وللاحتلال الأميركي لجزء من سورية، أكبر من حدث تكتيكي أو ممارسة ميدانية، بل هو تعبير عن استراتيجية أميركية يرتضيها الأكراد ترسم الأولويات وفق القراءة الروسية والسورية، تقوم على أولوية نشوء خصوصية كردية عسكرية اقتصادية سياسية تستوحي تجربة كردستان العراق، تعطّل معها مساعي الحلّ السياسي، وتمدّد لحسابها الحرب على داعش بنقل التنظيم من بقعة إلى بقعة، وتحصل خلالها واشنطن على تغطية احتلالها بصفتها معاوناً لجماعة محلية ذات مشروعية وحقوق وخصوصية، وفي الشمال الشرقي لسورية ثروات نفطية وزراعية وعدد محدود من السكان سينقص أكثر مع هيمنة لون واحد من مكونات المنطقة على سائر الألوان، ما يجعلها أشدّ إغراء للأميركي كبديل عن الفشل في الإمساك بكلّ سورية. فالدويلة الكردية غير المعلنة هي سورية المفيدة بنظر الأميركيين، بالتواصل مع مشروع السعي للتمدّد بجماعات أخرى لإكمال الإمساك بالحدود السورية العراقية، ولو بشريط رقيق يستند عمقه لمناطق السيطرة الكردية، وعندها ما حاجة واشنطن لحلّ سياسي في سورية، بينما تبدو إدارة الفوضى أشدّ فائدة؟

– تحوّلات استراتيجية سينتجها الوضوح السوري والروسي والإيراني لما يجري، وهو وضوح يبدو أنه تركي أيضاً، ما سيجعل لقاء أستانة المقبل أشدّ أهمية من قبل لأولوية سيصير عنوانها منع تحوّل الخصوصية الكردية إلى مشروع استهداف لوحدة سورية. وهذا مغزى كلام الرئيس الروسي عن القلق من أخطار لتقسيم سورية، كما هو مغزى استخدام صواريخ كاليبر الاستراتيجية لإيصال رسالة مفادها، أنّ الأمر خط روسي أحمر.

– كانت المعادلة منذ جنيف 1 حتى جنيف 6 تدور تحت عنوان لا تسوية سياسية إلا بأولوية الحرب على الإرهاب. واليوم يبدو أنّ المعادلة صارت لا صدقية للحرب على الإرهاب بلا تمسّك بوحدة سورية. ومثلما كان السعي لحلف قوامه الشراكة في الحرب على الإرهاب كمدخل للشراكة في الحلّ السياسي في سورية، سيصير السعي لحلف قوامه التمسك بوحدة سورية شرطاً للشراكة في حلف الحرب على الإرهاب والحلّ السياسي في سورية، وتبدو أستانة عنواناً يرمز للمهمّة المقبلة.

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Iran and Turkey vow to boost bilateral trade and deepen cooperation

BEIRUT, LEBANON (5:17 P.M.) – The Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and the Turkish President Tayip Erdogan, agreed on a plan to deepen the bilateral cooperation and boost their trade volume. The two Presidents held a conversation via phone in which the ambitious goal of reaching a 30 billion USD annual trade volume was proposed by Rouhani.

He told Erdogan, that “over the past four years big steps have been taken to deepen Iran-Turkey ties, but a leap must be made […] toward reaching an annual trade volume of $30 billion”. Furthermore he called for more cooperation in the banking sector.

Erdogan agreed with these goals, mentioning that he saw no obstacles for the deepening of bilateral ties. This is not the first time for the trade partners set out this target. In June 2016 the Turkish trade Minister Bulent Tufenkci stated, “my country has serious plans to triple trade with Iran to 30 billion.”

Despite Iran already being sanctioned, the trade volume with Turkey reached 20 billion in 2012, but drastically dropped, after harsher sanctions were implemented the same year. The sanctions excluded, financial institutions and banks implicated in Iran’s oil trade from the SWIFT bankig system, which was the only system to enable transactions between banks until 2015.

As big parts of the sanctions were gradually lifted due to the nuclear agreement reached in 2015, the bilateral trade volume had already halved to only 10 billion, but was set to rise fast again. But despite an additional trade agreement with a wide array of 300 tariff cuts, the trade volume diminished furher by 100 million the next year, as can be seen in the graphic below:

Henri Feyerabend | Al-Masdar News

Nevertheless a lot seems to have changed recently and the Turkish Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci could announce March this year, that the trade volume is now increasing by 30% each month.

This development reflects improved relations between the two countries, which despite supporting opposite warring parties in the Syrian conflict, have recently agreed together with Russia on plans to implement de-escalation zones in Syria, which could prove as a first step, for ending the now 6 year long conflict.

In the talk with Rouhani Erdogan emphasized the importance of this political agreement, reached May 4 this year in the Astana talks. Further details and steps for the concrete implementation of the de-escalation zones in Syria are to be set out in a new round of talks early in June.

The conflicts in Iraq and Syria, threaten state control in the region. Both Turkey and Iran had securtiy issues in their border regions, close to these two conflict zones, especially with kurdish groups. Territorial control by the various groups in Iraq and Syria is shown in the map below:

Henri Feyerabend | Al-Masdar News
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