Difference between Russian ‘no-fly’ & US ‘we fly/you don’t’ zones

May 06, 2017

Here is a pretty good commentary.

Also, Russia AWACS (A-50U) have been seen in the skies over Syria.  That provides Russia with a quantum leap in the detection of low-flying (cruise missiles) and low-RCS (stealth) objects.

Advertisements

Memorandum Creating De-Escalation Zones in Syria

By Stephen Lendman

May 06, 2017 “Information Clearing House” –   The agreement reached by Russia, Iran and Turkey, created four de-escalation zones effective May 5, prohibiting ground and aerial operations by all parties.

Washington isn’t part of the agreement, the fly in the ointment, likely undermining it because it wants endless war and regime change, not diplomatic resolution.

The Pentagon supports halting all aerial operations except its own, saying it’ll continue combating ISIS, the scourge it supports – pretending otherwise, fooling no one.

According to Russia’s Defense Ministry, its chief of General Staff Gen. Valery Gerasimov and US Joint Chiefs chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford discussed the de-escalation plan by phone.

US agreements aren’t worth the paper they’re written on or verbal commitments made. Following their discussion, a Russian Defense Ministry statement left unexplained what Dunford may or may not have said about Moscow’s de-escalation plan.

It takes a giant leap of faith to think US policy will turn a new leaf in Syria, what it rejects in all its war theaters – seeking conflict resolution, ceasing support for ISIS and other terrorist groups, along with cooperating with Russia in combating them.

Below is the memorandum agreed to by Russia, Iran and Turkey on establishing de-escalation zones in Syria – as it appears on Russia’s Foreign Ministry web site.

It’s represents a forthright commitment by Moscow and Tehran. Turkey is consistently unreliable. Washington and its other rogue allies can never be trusted.

Memorandum on the creation of de-escalation areas in the Syrian Arab Republic
The Islamic Republic of Iran, the Russian Federation and the Republic of Turkey as guarantors of the observance of the ceasefire regime in the Syrian Arab Republic (hereinafter referred to as “Guarantors”):

— guided by the provisions of UNSC resolution 2254 (2015);

— reaffirming their strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic;

— expressing their determination to decrease the level of military tensions and to provide for the security of civilians in the Syrian Arab Republic, have agreed on the following.

  1. the following de-escalation areas shall be created with the aim to put a prompt end to violence, improve the humanitarian situation and create favorable conditions to advance political settlement of the conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic:

— Idlib province and certain parts of the neighbouring provinces (Latakia, Hama and Aleppo provinces);

— certain parts in the north of Homs province;
— in eastern Ghouta;

— certain parts of southern Syria (Deraa and Al-Quneitra provinces).
The creation of the de-escalation areas and security zones is a temporary measure, the duration of which will initially be 6 months and will be automatically extended on the basis of consensus of the Guarantors.

  1. Within the lines of the de-escalation areas:

— hostilities between the conflicting parties (the government of the Syrian Arab Republic and the armed opposition groups that have joined and will join the ceasefire regime) with the use of any kinds of weapons, including aerial assets, shall be ceased;

— rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access shall be provided;

— conditions to deliver medical aid to local population and to meet basic needs of civilians shall be created;

— measures to restore basic infrastructure facilities, starting with water supply and electricity distribution networks, shall be taken;

— conditions for the safe and voluntary return of refugees and internally displaced persons shall be created.

  1. Along the lines of the de-escalation areas, security zones shall be established in order to prevent incidents and military confrontations between the conflicting parties.
  2. The security zones shall include:

— Checkpoints to ensure unhindered movement of unarmed civilians and delivery of humanitarian assistance as well as to facilitate economic activities;
— Observation posts to ensure compliance with the provisions of the ceasefire regime.

 

The functioning of the checkpoints and observation posts as well as the administration of the security zones shall be ensured by the forces of the Guarantors by consensus. Third parties might be deployed, if necessary, by consensus of the Guarantors.

The Guarantors shall:

— take all necessary measures to ensure the fulfillment by the conflicting parties of the ceasefire regime;

— take all necessary measures to continue the fight against DAESH/ISIL, Nusra Front and all other individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with Al-Qaeda or DAESH/ISIL as designated by the UN Security Council within and outside the de-escalation areas;

— continue efforts to include in the ceasefire regime armed opposition groups that have not yet joined the ceasefire regime.

  1. The Guarantors shall in 2 weeks after signing the Memorandum form a Joint working group on de-escalation (hereinafter referred to as the “Joint Working Group”) composed of their authorized representatives in order to delineate the lines of the de-escalation areas and security zones as well as to resolve other operational and technical issues related to the implementation of the Memorandum.

The Guarantors shall take steps to complete by 4 June 2017 the preparation of the maps of the de-escalation areas and security zones and to separate the armed opposition groups from the terrorist groups mentioned in para.5 of the Memorandum.

The Joint Working Group shall prepare by the above-mentioned date the maps of the de-escalation areas and security zones to be agreed by consensus of the Guarantors as well as the draft Regulation of the Joint Working Group.

The Joint Working Group shall report on its activities to the high-level international meetings on Syria held in Astana.

The present Memorandum enters into force the next day after its signing.
Done in Astana, 4 May 2017 in three copies in English, having equal legal force.
Signatures

Islamic Republic of Iran    Russian Federation    Republic of Turkey   

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net – His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html – Visit his blog site at www.sjlendman.blogspot.com

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.

Safe Zones in Syria: Astana’s Key to Political Settlement?

Global Research, May 06, 2017
Inside Syria Media Center

According to the director of the Kazakh MFA Department for Asia and Africa Aidarbek Tumatov, the Astana process of signing a new memorandum on tensions de-escalation zones will allow to stop bloodshed in Syria and initiate a new political dialogue.

The main points

According to the document at our disposal, 4 zones of the escalation of tensions are to be created in Idlib governorate, to the north of Homs, Eastern Ghouta and in the south part of Syria. The exact coordinates of the zones will be determined by guarantor states May 22. The working group will be created within five days.

It is expected that the usage of arms will be prohibited inside the zones and the humanitarian organizations will be provided with all the necessary assistance. The measures on restoring urban infrastructure, water supply and other life support systems will be also taken.

Along the de-escalation zones borders it is planned to create lines of demarcation to prevent ceasefire violations. There also should be checkpoints for civilians, delivery of goods and humanitarian aid.

It was also said that Iran, Russia and Turkey act as a guarantor of peace and security in the region and at the same time support the territorial integrity and independence of Syria.

Opposition’s view

Inside Syria Media Center tried to find out opposition’s point of view on this issue.

Qadri Jamil

The head of the Syrian opposition’s Moscow Group Qadri Jamil said, that all sides support the idea of creation such zones and their presence can actually stop bloodshed and create favorable conditions for political settlement in Syria.

Mahmoud al-Hamza

Mahmoud al-Hamza, a member of the Syria National Council also stated that he welcomes any steps aimed at reducing violence as the Syrians are tired of war and yearn for peace. He stressed that such an initiative should be implemented.

Along with this, some analysts express their concern regarding that it’s not clear which foreign troops may be placed in Syria to provide security for the four-zone perimeter in the country. Some observers call upon strengthening the security for civilians not only inside the safe zones.

Analogies

Not so long ago the U.S. put up an initiative to create “no-fly zones” and “safe zones” in Syria while Turkey offered to set up refugee zones along the Syrian-Turkish border. However, there were concerns that Washington and Ankara may support the Syrian opposition under the pretext of a humanitarian operation. According to CNN, Donald Trump is ready to discuss and even adopt the initiative.

 

The two previous scenarios of informal zones of influence according to ISMC and XAirForces

Conclusion

To sum up, such zones is a decisive step towards the settlement of the conflict. It’s important that their creation goes side by side with the political dialogue. Meanwhile, a lot will depend on how scrupulously the parties will comply with the memorandum.

Sophie Mangal is a special investigative correspondent and co-editor at Inside Syria Media Center.

روسيا ترفض دور الدولة الإقليمية

د. وفيق إبراهيم

تعرف الولايات المتحدة الأميركية أنّ قصف مطار الشعيرات لا يعطّل قدرات الجيش السوري ولا حركة طائراته الحربية.. الدليل ليس غامضاً، فالطائرات السورية تواصل القصف حتى من المطار المقصوف نفسه، والوحدات العسكرية تواصل تحرير القرى والبلدات من دون خوف.

هذا استنتاج يحظى بإجماع عام…

لذلك يجب التفتيش عن أسباب أخرى لتفسير القصف الأميركي؟

كانت روسيا تُمسك بزمام المبادرة في سورية تدعم الجيش السوري وحلفاءه بالقصف والتخطيط والدعم بالسلاح، ما أتاح فرصة تحرير مناطق واسعة.

وتجلّى هذا التعاون في مفاوضات جنيف، مخلّفاً أثراً على مستوى التماسك داخل المعارضة المسلّحة، فكادت أن تنهار رغم الدعم التركي والغطاء الأميركي، وتبادلت مكوّناتها الشتائم كما تلقّت سلسلة اتهامات بالعمالة تزامنت مع هجمات عسكرية من تنظيمات أكثر تكفيرية موضوعة على لوائح الإرهاب في مجلس الأمن الدولي.

وابتدأ الروس يرعون مصالحات داخلية بين الدولة وقسم من المتمرّدين عليها، حتى أنّهم ذهبوا أبعد من ذلك بنسج علاقات مع قسم من الأكراد من جهة، وفصائل من المعارضة السورية من جهة ثانية، فارضين على تركيا تفاهماً حصرها في نطاق ضيّق، لكنّه حقق لها جزءاً من حركتها التاريخية المتعلقة بلجم إمكانية تشكيل دولة كردية في شرق سورية. أما الجزء الآخر «العثماني» فأصيب «بشلل روسيّ». هذا بالإضافة إلى نجاح موسكو برعاية «منصة معارضة سورية» موالية لها، إلى جانب نجاحها بمهادنة السعودية في اليمن وتوثّبها لأداء دور في العراق، وانفتاحها على مصر واستعدادها للقفز إلى ليبيا باستقبالها اللواء حفتر…

ولموسكو علاقات مع الجزائر تتمتّع بشيء من العمق التاريخي. وهكذا جمع الروس بين القوة العسكرية والتمدّد السياسي، أمّا الذي استثار الأميركيين وجعلهم يعيشون وهم عودة الحياة إلى الاتحاد السوفياتي، فهو الدور الروسي النشيط في فنزويلا وبوليفيا والبيرو، إلى جانب علاقة موسكو بالبرازيل العضو في مجموعة «بريكس»، والتي تتحيّن الفرص لإعادة الحيوية إلى أعمالها الاقتصادية وبالتالي السياسية المناهضة للأحادية الأميركية.

ومع تولّي دونالد ترامب الرئاسة الأميركية، شعر الأمن القومي الأميركي بهذا التطوّر في الدور الروسي الذي يتّخذ من سورية محطة لمعاودة الإقلاع نحو أهداف أخرى. فقدّم البيت الأبيض قراءة بضرورة تفكيك كلّ العناصر الداعمة للدور الروسي، أو مستفيدة منه أو قد تشكّل بالتحالف معه «قوة كونية لا تُنافس»، لذلك أطلق ترامب أهدافاً اعتبرها الأكثر عداءً لبلاده، منتقياً المسلمين والصينيّين، وكان بذلك يحاول تجريد الروس من وسط العالم النفطي والاستراتيجي حيث يوجد العرب، ويعرقل انطلاقة الصين المنافس الاقتصادي الجدّي والمخيف. ألم يقل الكاتب الأميركي صموئيل هنتنغتون في كتابه صدام الحضارات: «إنّ الإسلام والكونفوشيوسيين هم أعداء الحضارة الغربية»؟! وللإشارة، فإنّ كونفوشيوس هو فيلسوف صيني يؤمن الصينيون بمبادئه إلى حدود القداسة.

أما وسط العالم فهو «الشرق الأوسط» العربي، لكن لماذا استثنى الأميركيون الروس من خطّتهم؟ لأنّ مكاتب الأمن القومي تعتقد أنّ روسيا دولة ضعيفة اقتصادياً، تراجعت صناعاتها غير العسكرية، لذلك تبيع الغاز لتغطية أربعين في المئة تقريباً من موازناتها. أمّا بكين، فتكاد موازنتها تعادل الأميركية، وقد تسبقها في عقد فقط أو أقلّ.

بالإمكان إذاً كما استدلّ الأكاديميون إيقاف الزحف الروسي بالمكابح الاقتصادية، على شاكلة خلق منافسات قوية في أسواق الغاز والنفط مع «الشرق الأوسط»، فينهار الاقتصاد الروسي أو قد يؤدّي إلى تمرّد داخلي على إدارة بوتين محدثاً كارثة سياسية، فتجد موسكو نفسها مضطرة للعودة إلى عصر يلتسين الذي أدار روسيا ورائحة الخمر تفوح من فمه ويكاد لا يستطيع الانتصاب على قدميه. إلّا أنّ حسابات المكاتب الأنيقة لم تتقاطع مع نتائج الميادين، وتبيّن أنّ التساهل الأميركي مع الدور الروسي في سورية لم يعطِ المراد منه… كادت المعارضة أن تتشرذم وتسقط تحت ضربات الحلفاء السوريين والروس والإيرانيين.

ولم تُبدِ الصين أيّة إشارات وهن أو ضعف أو مجرّد تراجع صغير. ظلّت مصرّة على مبادئ التجارة الحرّة التي يعتبر الرئيس ترامب أنّها أساس التراجع الاقتصادي الأميركي، أو ما يسمّيه «البلاء الكبير». هذا البلاء الذي يدعم كوريا الشمالية التي تابعت تجاربها الصاروخية، بطريقة توحي وكأنّها رسائل صينية إلى الكاوبوي الأميركي وعنوانها رفض الامتثال والانصياع.

وكذلك فعلت إيران التي واصلت بدورها إطلاق صواريخ باليستية بدافع التجربة من دون أن تعبّأ بالتهديدات الأميركية والغضب السعودي الخليجي، وتابعت بتعميق نفوذها الإيجابي من آسيا الوسطى إلى سواحل لبنان. وهكذا لم تمضِ أشهر معدودة على ولاية ترامب حتى تكوّنت الصورة التالية:

تراجعت ثقة الأصدقاء في فرنسا وبريطانيا بالإدارة الأميركية، حتى أنّهم بدوا كـ»الرواديد» يهاجمون حين تهاجم واشنطن، ويتراجعون بعد تراجعها. ما أظهرهم أمام العالم مجرّد مقلّدين من فئة الكومبارس يحاول التقاط ما يرميه أصحاب الأدوار الأساسية من أدوار هامشيّة تنفع للأفلام الكوميدية فقط في بلدان العالم الثالث. ينطبق الأمر أيضاً على ألمانيا.. لكن ما أخافَ واشنطن هو انطلاق موجة خوف في دول أوروبا الشرقية والقوقاز وآسيا الوسطى التي كانت قد انتقلت من المحور السوفياتي القديم إلى العباءة الأميركية. هؤلاء أُصيبوا بهلع لنموّ الدور الروسي وما يعنيه هذا النموّ من عودة «الكماشة الروسية» التاريخية.

أمّا تركيا، المستاءة من إهمال واشنطن لطموحاتها، فأخذت تقترب من الروس لابتزاز الأميركيين واستيعاب غضب موسكو في آنٍ معاً، مع محاولة كبح مشروع الدولة الكردية من جهة ثالثة. هذا المشروع الذي يرعاه الأميركيون ويمنعون الأتراك من القضاء عليه أو حتى الاقتراب منه بشكل عدائي.

يتبقّى دول الخليج التي لا تزال تنوح منذ تشكّل الدولة الإسلامية في إيران العام 1979، والأسباب ليست واضحة.. وإلّا كيف نفسّر دعم هذه الدول لصدام حسين بغزو إيران قبل بدء إيران بإنتاج وقود نووي؟ الحجة النووية إذن باطلة، ما يكشف أنّها تؤدّي دوراً لخدمة الأميركيين و«الإسرائيليين» متقاطعاً مع خلفيات سياسية خاصة بها، فهي لا تريد نموذجاً إسلامياً متطوّراً قبالتها على الشاطئ الآخر للخليج، وتفضّل حرباً أميركية ضدّ إيران وتحالفاتها في سورية والعراق واليمن.

هذه هي الصورة التفصيلية التي وضعها الأمن القومي الأميركي أمام ترامب لوضع بلاده، ولا بدّ أنّهم «أفهموه» أنّ عودة روسيا إلى «الشرق الأوسط» لا تعني إلا تراجع الدورين السياسي والاقتصادي للولايات المتحدة وبقوّة. ولا بدّ أنّهم «أفهموه» أنّ تقاطع هذه التراجعات الأميركية الخارجية مع نموّ المعارضة الداخلية، من شأنه دفع واشنطن إلى مواقع صعبة في عالم مضطرب قد يكسر حاجز الخوف ويتمرّد على هيمنتها الكونية.

قد تبدو المخاطر المعروضة أكبر من حجم قصف مطار الشعيرات، لكنّ المتعمّق يدرك أنّ محاولة إيقاف العجلة الروسية في سورية لا يمكن تفسيرها إلا بمحاولة للجم التدحرج الروسي العالمي، وذلك عن طريق إعادة إنعاش «المعارضة» السورية والحيلولة دون انهيارها، مع الإيعاز للطرفين التركي والأردني بتمرير سلاح وإرهابيين وتدريب التكفيريين بأموال خليجية كما يحدث.

المطلوب إذاً، إيقاف التمدّد العسكري السوري وإيقاع الروس في خضمّ حرب شرسة ترتدي طابع حرب العصابات، ما يسمح لقوات كردية وعشائر عربية وجيش أردني وعسكريين أميركيين بهندسة المنطقة السورية من الرقة وحتى الحدود العراقية والأردنية، بما يخدم «أسر» التقدّم الروسي ضمن إطار الدولة السورية فقط وبإطارها الحالي.

لذلك، يعتبر قصف مطار الشعيرات رسالة مزدوجة.. قسم منها إلى المعارضة وحلفائها بالعودة إلى التحرّك العسكري، والآخر إلى روسيا لإفهامها بأنّ انتقالها من وضعية دولة إقليمية إلى مرحلة مرجعية عالمية غير مسموح أميركياً، وواشنطن ستعرقله في سورية والعراق، ولن تسمح بعد اليوم لحليفتها تركيا بمغازلة موسكو.

وتعتبر واشنطن أنّ الخط الذي يجب أن تقف عنده موسكو في سورية، هو خط تدمر حتى حلب. وهذا الأمر يمنع روسيا من العودة إلى فضاء الاتحاد السوفياتي وتبقى واشنطن المرجعية العالمية الوحيدة.

هذا ما يريده البيت الأبيض، لكنّه ليس قدراً محسوماً، وبإمكان الحلف الروسي الإيراني السوري المبارك بأدعية صينية أن يؤكّد للأميركيين أنّ مرحلة الأحادية قد ولّت إلى غير رجعة، والميدان السوري الذي يتهيّأ لهبّات ساخنة هو الدليل على صحة هذه المقولة المرتقبة.

(Visited 131 times, 130 visits today)

The Trump administration goes Neocon-crazy

The Trump administration goes Neocon-crazy

Oh boy, that did not take long.  As I wrote in February, the Neocons and the US deep state have completely neutered Trump.  Just look at these two headlines from RT (and read the articles):

 ‘It crossed a lot of lines’: Trump on alleged chemical gas attack in Syria

‘We are compelled to take own action’ if UN fails in Syria – US envoy

Frankly, I feel like saying “QED – I rest my case” and stop writing here.  But I won’t – this is too serious.

First, let’s set the context.  The Syrians gave up their chemical weapons three years ago (courtesy of Russia).  The Syrians have also pretty much defeated the Anglo-Zionist-Wahabi aggression against their country (courtesy of Russia, again). There is a new (kind of) US Administration in power (some say that this was also courtesy of Russia) which appeared to have given up on overthrowing Assad.  And right at this moment in time, in what is supposed to be a *pure coincidence*.

  1. The Syrian forces used chemical weapons
  2. In a location filled with children
  3. and a lot of folks with cameras

How stupid do they think we are?

But, of course, it’s not about us.  It’s about Trump.  And he, alas, is proving to be the overcooked noodle he has been since, well, pretty much day 1 and ever since:  flaccid, confused and spineless.  And yeah, he appears be stupid alright, especially so-called “plan” to defeat Daesh (more about that below).

And nevermind that Russian experts have been warning for along time that the “good terrorists” had chemical munitions. Nah!  Who cares?  besides, these are the same evil Russkies who have now been “unmasked” courtesy of a CIA report about “foreign agents”.

We all know that Anglo-Zionists are peace loving, shy and generally kind people.  This is why we think of them as the “Axis of Kindness”.  The only way to really force their hand and make them use their “best military in the world” is to show them dead children.  Like in Kuwait, in Bosnia, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and now Syria.  That, and women raped for political reasons (Bosnia, Libya – soon in Syria I suppose).  Good thing that the latest atrocity of the “Syrian regime” came in daylight and involved lots of horribly dying children!

Now the Americans will get to destroy the village to save it.

Except they won’t.

There have been plenty of articles speculating about what the “Trump plan” for defeating ISIS/Daesh will be.  I won’t even bother listing them here.  In plain English his plan is, how should I put it, not very complex:

  1. Increase the number of US troops already present in Syria
  2. Offer the Kurds their own autonomous region in exchange for acting like cannon-fodder for Uncle Sam
  3. Liberate Raqqa as a tangible sign of success

In truth, there is nothing new here.  It’s is just a re-heated version of the very same plan Obama had(great minds think alike, and so do the not so great, apparently).

Can you see the problem with this plan?

Let me help here.  Problem #1 – no UNSC Resolution will back it.  Neither will the Syrian government.  But who cares, right?  We already know that Nikki Haley thinks about that: once again the US will arrogantly violate international law under the pretext of “being compelled to take action”.  Welcome back to Bosnia and Croatia!  It’s 1994 again!  We now live in the era of the “RTP – responsibility to protect”.  International Law, RIP.  But that is only a ‘minor’ problem.  The real problem is simple:

Besides the Syrians themselves, the Russians, the Iranians and the Turks are categorically against such a plan.  And these four countries just happen to represent the overwhelming military force in Syria, and all of them *already* have boots on the ground (and air defense systems).  For Turkey especially, such a plan is a casus belli, they have said so many times.  I am no big fan of Turkey or Erdogan (although I do like the Turkish people themselves), but I have to admit that should Trump go ahead with this goofy plan he will live no other choice then to chose between war or civil war.  Mostly likely a combo of both.

Then there are the Kurds.  Actually, in many ways I feel sorry for them and I admire them.  But they have to realize the enormous dangers of accepting the US plan.  First, that means that they will be the frontline cannon-fodder against Daesh which happens to be one of the best trained and experienced infantry force in the region.  But worse, do the Kurds really commit the same historical mistake as the Albanian of Kosovo who have 100% linked their future with Camp Bondsteel and who will be instantly re-invaded by the Serbia as soon as NATO or the US leave (which they will, sooner or later, inevitably).

There is a reason why the US always supports minorities everywhere: because by accepting and relying on that support these minorities always become completely dependent upon the USA.  That, in turn, means that the US can then use these minorities in any way they want “or else”.  And, since sooner or later the Americans leaves, the “or else” inevitably and always happen.

I submit that it would be the hight of folly for the Kurds to commit the same mistake.  Yes, sure, they want their autonomy and/or their own country.  But they have to realize that the only viable way to achieve either objective is by negotiations with their neighbors, not some ignorant US official who will forget about them as soon as he is done promising them the moon.  I would remind the Kurd of a time-honored US tradition here: as soon as things get ugly, the Americans “declare victory and leave”.

That also means that the Kurds might have to settle for less than what they want.  Politics is the art of the possible.  But if the choice is some viable limited autonomy vs full independence followed by an inevitable war against Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria then I think that the former is the best possible outcome.  But even if we assume that the Kurds decide to try the “Kosovar option”.

Iran is the number one military power on the ground.  And Hezbollah.  The Syrians are struggling, I will admit to that.  But they are holding and making incremental efforts, some of their best units are actually pretty good.  As for the skies over Syria – they are Russian.

So far, the Americans have not re-heated the “no fly zone” concept, but they might as well, since their entire plan is idiotic to the extreme.  Besides, I simply cannot imagine US generals agreeing to deploy their forces in Syria without air cover (in case you did not know, the US solider cannot fight without air cover.  He just won’t.  It’s “air cover for me or I don’t fight”).  However, air cover for the US forces in Syria imply either a tacit agreement with the Russians and the Syrians, something like what the Israelis apparently have, or an immense risk for the USAF and USN aircraft.  So we are back to negotiating with the Russians and via the Russians, with the Syrians.

In fact, I bet you that this is what the Americans are doing right now.  Quietly negotiating with the Russians.  Problem: the Neocons hate Russia and everything Russian.  And they loathe Putin.  So how does the State Department or the White House negotiate with the Russians while, at the very same time, Congress, the US media and the CIA are all engaging into a hysterical and paranoid hate-campaign against Russia?

So here is Trump’s conundrum: he desperately needs the real enemies of Daesh – Russia, Iran and Syria – to agree to his plan but at the same time, he is too much of a whip to tackle the hate campaign against, well, Russia, Iran and Syria inside the United States.

The Neocons, apparently backed by the CIA and the Pentagon, want to go at it solo: just shoot up all of Syria “OK Corral” style and they seem to be convinced that they can somehow scare the Russians, the Iranians and the Syrian into submission.  If so, then they are both stupid and ignorant.  Or, there is even a worse possibility: the Neocons *know* that this plan will end up in disaster, but they want Trump to go to war anyway because that will destroy his presidency.  That is almost elegant, in a perverted way.

What is sure is that you will never see a Neocon in frontline combat.  Neither they nor their kids will die no matter what they do.  Or so they think.  This is one of the main reasons why these Neocons are the single biggest danger for the United States and the American people: they despise the real American people and they won’t hesitate to sacrifice them, in large numbers if needed (9/11 anybody?).

This is why so many Americans voted for Trump and his promise “to drain the swamp”.

Alas, the swamp drained Trump and all is back to “normal”.

So what happens next?  My fervent hope: nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  As long as the Americans are all talk and as long as they don’t actually do anything, there could be real progress in Syria (Daesh is already loosing the war!).  I hope that the Kurds will, you know, “kinda, sort of, give it a try” and then stop before things go critical.  Should the Kurds really decide to fight for Uncle Sam, I hope that they will keep in mind that the US will dump them as soon as Raqqa is liberated simply because really creating some kind of autonomy for the Kurds against the will of Syria, Iran and, most importantly, Turkey could result in Erdogan really slamming the door on NATO and Turkey leaving the alliance.  Should that happen the only option left for Turkey would be some kind of understanding, and maybe even alliance, with Russia and Iran.  The various domino effect scenarios are almost infinite and nothing is really impossible.

Right now the Americans are still sort of busy liberating Mosul.  I suppose if they stay at it long enough they will eventually succeed, at least for a while.  I don’t see them really controlling the city for very long.  They might build a US ‘consular fortress’ like in Bagdad or Kabul, but that will not mean that they control the city.  If they intend to liberate Raqqa as long as they took to liberate Mosul then this can continue for a long, long while.

There is a scarier possibility: the US begins its operation in Syria, runs into problems, and then begins the endless cycle of escalations and doubling-down.  Sooner or later, that means clashing with the Russians and that could turn ugly very fast.  A direct clash with Iran with equally unpredictable consequences.  If that happens, a lot of Americans will die.

Assuming that there still is somebody rational and sane left in the Trump administration with enough influence, then all this madness can still be stopped.  There is also the very real possibility that the current fight inside the US elites will drain so much energy that nobody will really have to time and energy to engage in very risky foreign military operations.  And if all else fails, maybe somebody will suggest to Trump that a unilateral military intervention in Syria is pure folly and will cost him his presidency.  Maybe this is an argument which he will understand.

2018 will be a very tough year.  I don’t think that there is any hope left for a real change in US policies and I am afraid that we are going to have to learn how to live with some kind of Obama 2.0 or some other form of “neo-neoconism”.

It felt really good to hope for a while.  Now we have to accept that our hopes never materialized and resume the struggle.

The Saker

PS: I just learned that, just as I had predicted, Bannon has been removed from the US National Security Council.  See for yourself: https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-04-05/bannon-removed-from-national-security-council-role-in-shakeup.  Now the coup against Trump is fully completed.  And Bloomberg celebrates “Intelligence director, Joint Chiefs chairman elevated”.  Yeah, no kidding!  It’s over folks, the Neocons have totally crushed Trump. And he did not even given them a halfway decent fight…

Commentary Mag is already celebrating: https://www.commentarymagazine.com/politics-ideas/step-toward-rational-national-security-council/ like it’s Purim all over again.

Syria – Erdogan’s Lost Bet – Trump Likely To Follow A Cautious Strategy

By Moon Of Alabama

March 02, 2017 “Information Clearing House” –  “Moon Of Alabama” – The last Syria thread noted:

South of Al-Bab the Syrian army is moving towards the Euphrates. It will cut off the Turkish forces path to Raqqa and Manbij.

That move concluded. The Turkish invasion forces are now blocked from moving further south. They would have to fight the Syrian army and their Russian allies to move directly onto Raqqa. They would have to fight the Syrian-Kurdish YPG and its U.S. allies to move further east.

For the first time since the start of the war the supply lines between Turkey and the Islamic State are cut off!
map by Peto Lucem bigger
map by South Front bigger

Erdogan is still hoping for U.S. support for his plans for Raqqa but I doubt that the U.S. military is willing to give up on their well regarded Kurdish proxies in exchange for an ill disciplined Turkish army in general disarray and with little fighting spirit. Erdogan removed any and all officers and NCOs that he perceived as not being 100% behind his power grab. That has now come back to haunt him. He is lacking the military means to pursue his belligerent policies.

Last year Erdogan had allied with Russia and Iran after a (U.S. supported?) coup attempt against him failed. He felt left alone by the U.S. and its reluctance to support his plans in Syria. After Trump was elected Erdogan perceived a coming change in U.S. policies. He exposed himself as the ultimate turncoat and switched back to a U.S. alliance. His believe in a change of U.S. policy drives his latest moves and announcements.

Elijah Magnier reports that his sources in Damascus have the same impression of Trump as Erdogan. They believe that Trump will strongly escalate in Syria and will support the Turkish moves against the Syrian state.

But it is the U.S. military that drives the strategy in the Trump cabinet. The Pentagon has no appetite for a big ground operation in Syria. The plan it offered Trump is still the same plan that it offered under Obama. It will work with Kurdish forces to defeat the Islamic State in Raqqa. Notable is also that a director of the Pentagon financed think tank RAND Corp publicly argues for better cooperation with Russia in Syria. The old RAND plan of a decentralized Syrian with zones under “international administration” (i.e. U.S. occupied) is probably no longer operative.

Recently Erdogan announced that his next move in Syria would be to towards Manbij, held by the YPK. Shortly thereafter pictures of U.S. troops in Manbij displaying U.S. flags were published on social networks. The message was clear: stay away from here or you will be in serious trouble.

On Monday planes from the Iraqi air force attacked Islamic State positions within eastern Syria. The attack followed from intelligence cooperation between Syria and Iraq. It is easier for Iraq to reach that area than for Syrian planes stationed near the Mediterranean. This cooperation will continue. In western Iraq militia integrated with the Iraqi military are ready to storm Tal Afar. This is besides the besieged Mosul the last big Islamic State position in the area. The U.S. had planned to let the Islamic State fighters flee from Mosul and Tal Afar towards Syrian and to let them take the Syrian government positions in Deir Ezzor. Syrian-Iraqi cooperation blocked that move. The U.S. attempt to separate the war on the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq failed. Any attempt to again use the Islamic State as a means to destroy Syria will meet resistance in Iraq where the U.S. is more and more engaged. U.S. commanders in Iraq will be well aware of that threat.

In my opinion Trump’s more belligerent remarks on Syria, on safe zones and military escalation, are rhetoric. They are his negotiation positions towards Russia and Iran. They are not his policies. Those are driven by more realistic positions. Obama balanced more hawkish views supported by the CIA, Hillary Clinton and the neoconservatives against reluctance in the military to engage in another big war. Trump will, even more than Obama, follow the Pentagon’s view. That view seems to be unchanged. I therefore do not believe that aggressive escalation is the way Trump will go. Some additional U.S. troops may get added to the Kurdish forces attacking Raqqa. But any large move by Turkish or by Israeli forces will not be condoned. The big U.S. invasion of Syria in their support will not happen.

Meanwhile the Syrian army is moving on Palmyra and may soon retrieve it from the Islamic State. A new Russian trained unit, the 5th corps, is in the lead and so far makes a good impression. With Palmyra regained the Syrian army is free to move further east towards Raqqa and Deir Ezzor.

Erdogan may still get some kind of “safe zone” in the area in north Syrian his forces now occupy. But Damascus will support Kurdish and Arab guerilla forces against any Turkish occupation. The Turkish forces in Syria will continue to be in a lot of trouble. Erdogan will not get active U.S. support for further moves to capture Syrian land. His change of flags, twice, was useless and has severely diminished his standing.

Netanyahoo and the Israel lobby also want a “safe zone”. This one in south Syria and under Jordanian command. This would allow Israel to occupy more Syrian land along the Golan heights. But the areas next to the Golan and towards Deera are occupied by al-Qaeda and Islamic State aligned group. These groups are a serious danger for the unstable Jordanian state. There is nothing to win for Jordan in any “safe zone” move. Likewise the U.S. military will have no interest in opening another can of worms in south Syria. Like Erdogan Netanyahoo will likely be left alone with his dreams.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.

Click for Spanish, German, Dutch, Danish, French, translation- Note- Translation may take a moment to load.

New Military Alliance to Be Formed in Middle East

New Military Alliance to Be Formed in Middle East

PETER KORZUN | 17.02.2017 | WORLD

New Military Alliance to Be Formed in Middle East

Combining available information to get the whole picture, one can see the situation in the Middle East changing drastically, especially as the US strategy is reviewed and new alliances are formed.

The Trump administration is in talks with Middle East allies about forming a military alliance that would share intelligence with Israel to help counter Iran, according to several Middle Eastern officials.

The planned coalition would include countries such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait and Bahrain. Egypt and Jordan have longstanding peace treaties with Israel. For the Arab countries involved, the alliance would have a NATO-style mutual-defense component under which an attack on one member would be treated as an attack on all, though details are still being worked out. The US and Israel will cooperate without full-fledged membership. According to the Wall Street Journal, «one Arab diplomat suggested that the notion that the Trump administration might designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group was being floated as an incentive for Egypt to join the alliance».

US President Donald Trump has assured visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Tehran would never be able to build a nuclear weapon.

«The security challenges faced by Israel are enormous, including the threat of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, which I’ve talked a lot about. One of the worst deals I’ve ever seen is the Iran deal», Trump told reporters at a joint news conference with Netanyahu at the White House. Reading the statement between the lines, it becomes evident that the US is ready to go much further than warnings and sanctions to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear capability.

Russian Izvestia daily reported the US plans to substantially increase its military presence in Iraq. The newspaper cited its own sources in the U.S. Republican Party. The plans include a few thousand troops to arrive in Iraq in the coming months. The reinforcement will continue the policy of the Obama administration, which was gradually expanding the military presence in that country.

It was reported on February 16 that the Pentagon was developing proposals for sending an unspecified number of American military personnel into Syria, conventional ground forces which would augment the 500 combat advisers already there coordinating efforts to destroy the Islamic State (IS).

Military Times reports that multiple US Army sources indicated that about two thousand soldiers with the 82nd Airborne Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team may soon bolster other Army elements already in the region. Currently, about 1,800 paratroopers from the 2nd BCT are in Iraq participating in the US military’s train-and-advise mission. The 82ndAirborne Division is based at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. Citing an unidentified U.S. defense official, CNN indicated additional deployments could happen within weeks. Today, there are about 5,000 US troops deployed to Iraq and another 500 in Syria.

The White House indicated in January that it could task the military with establishing «safe zones» on Syrian soil. A large number of troops would be needed to defend havens, pitting them against pro-government forces as well as rival rebel groups. Without approval by UN Security Council, few nations will contribute leaving the US alone to shoulder the main burden. Hundreds of aircraft will have to be deployed to carry out the mission.

Deploying substantial forces in the Middle East risks putting the US on a slippery slope to further involvement in the war. Safe zones should not become no-fly zones to impede the operations of Russian and Syrian air forces. If the US decides to continue with the idea, it should it become an issue on the agenda for talks with Russia before any practical steps are taken to implement it.

It’s not Arab states only. Army Gen. John Nicholson, the top US commander in Afghanistan, told lawmakers on February 9 that thousands more American or NATO troops are needed to break the «stalemate» between Afghan forces and the Taliban insurgent group while the IS also remains active in the nation. The general did not specify how many additional troops were needed, but did not rule out the potential for up to 30,000.

The strategy, which relied on special forces teams and intensive operations conducted by drones, may become a thing of the past, with the U.S. returning to large-scale presence.

The terrorist activities of the IS go beyond the scope of a regional problem. There are a few options here for cooperation of the military agencies and special services of Russia and the US ranging from intelligence exchange on IS to exercising influence on the countries affected by the war with the terrorist threat.

Whatever are the plans of Trump’s administration aimed at changing the Middle East strategy, the US cannot go it alone there. It needs allies, partners, and friendly pertinent actors to coordinate activities with. This shows how important it is to speed up bilateral and multilateral discussions.

It all goes to show that Russia and the US should speed up launching regular contacts to exchange opinions on the situation in the Middle East. On February 16, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford met face to face with their Russian counterparts Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Chief of General Staff General Valeriy Gerasimov in Bonn and Baku respectively. Hopefully, the first contacts will spur the process and the parties will be engaged in dialogue concerning major security issues. The volatile situation in the Middle East should be addressed without delay as part of preparations for a possible summit in Slovenia.

%d bloggers like this: