SYRIAN WAR REPORT – APRIL 1, 2019: US SAYS SYRIAN ARMY MUST WITHDRAW FROM GOLAN HEIGHTS’ CONTACT LINE

SOUTH FRONT

01.04.2019

Over 50 ISIS members were eliminated by strikes of the US-led coalition in the outskirt of the town of al-Baghuz al-Fawqani in the Euphrates Valley over the past few days, local sources reported. The airstrikes were a part of the operation of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the coalition in the area, which is ongoing despite a formal US statement declaring defeat over ISIS.

According to local sources, a notable number of ISIS members is still hiding in a network of caves and underground tunnels in the area.

Besides this, ISIS cells within the SDF-held area have recently carried out a series of attacks killing at least 10 SDF members near the town of Diban and in the area of the Omar oil fields, on the eastern bank of the Euphrates.

On March 28, General Commander of the SDF Ferhat Abdi Sahin claimed that the group, which includes the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and their all-female faction, the Woman’s Protection Units (YPJ), had made a decision to capture the area of Afrin from Turkish forces.

“We are preparing and making arrangements in order to liberate Afrin … Because this is a military matter, everyone should know that when the time is suitable, the liberation phase will begin,” he said in an interview with Sterk TV.

Currently, the SDF has no land route to Afrin from northeastern Syria while YPG and YPJ control only a few positions to south and southeast of the area. Therefore, SDF statements regarding the military advance on Afrin should are just a political move designed in an attempt to buy support of the Syrian population. The group, which deeply relies on the foreign support to control northeastern Syria, is currently facing notable problems with the control over the Arab-populated areas seized from ISIS.

While the SDF has no real chances to capture Afrin itself, YPG and YPJ cells conduct attacks on Turkey-led forces on a regular basis. On March 31, a Turkish service member was killed and one was injured an attack by Kurdish rebels, according to Turkey’s Ministry of National Defense.

Following the announcement, the Turkish military artillery fired more than 100 shells at YPG positions in the towns of Tatmrsh and Shuargha. No casualties as a result of the shelling were reported.

The US-led coalition and its proxies from the so-called Revolutionary Commando Army continue to prevent evacuation of civilians from the Rukban refugee camp. They even held a live-fire drill involving High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems near the US garrison of al-Tanf located in the same area.

The situation in the Idlib de-escalation zone remains unchanged. The ceasefire regime is violated almost on a daily basis. Firefights and artillery dues are especially intense in northern Hama and southern Idlib.

On March 28, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came with a new statement claiming that his  country will continue working against Iranian presence in Syria. The statement shows that the Israeli military is set to continue its military campaign in Syria.

In own turn, the US did not limit its recent actions in support of Tel Aviv to recognizing the Golan Heights as Israeli territory. It also demanded the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) to withdraw from the separation line area established in the framework of the 1974 Disengagement Agreement. US-Israeli efforts to force the SAA to do so could easily turn the Golan Heights into a new hot point and fuel the Syrian conflict further.

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SYRIAN WAR REPORT – FEB. 19-20, 2019: TOP MILITANT COMMANDER IS IN COMA AFTER BLAST IN IDLIB

South Front

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham leader Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani received a shell fragment wound to the head in an explosion in Idlib city on February 18 and was evacuated to a hospital in Antakya in the Turkish province of Hatay, Russian state media reported on February 19 citing a Turkish medical source. According to the report, the terrorist group’s leader is in a coma.

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) has not commented on these claims so far. The terrorist organization is currently the most influential “opposition group” within the Idlib de-escalation zone. It controls about 80% of the area despite the fact that it’s formally excluded from the ceasefire regime.

If Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani is in fact severely injured, this may open an opportunity for Turkish proxies to reclaim at least a part of the area in the Idlib de-escalation zone from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. Then, they would be able to continue pretending that there are still some moderate rebels in the area. This is in the interests of Ankara. Some experts already speculated that Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization may have staged this incident in an attempt to bring the situation in Idlib under its control.

In the countryside of Damacsus, pro-government forces seized a large number of weapons and ammunition, including hundreds of Grad rockets and a large number of US made anti-tank missiles and Israeli 128 mm rockets, in the framework of the ongoing security operation in the area.

On February 19, Israel’s Image Sat International company released a fresh satellite image showing positions of the Syrian military’s S-300 system in the area of Masyaf. According to the provided image and the company’s assessment, three of four S-300 launchers are “probably” operational.

Previous satellite images of Masyaf were released by the same company on February 5. This was the first image showing S-300 launchers in an upright position. Therefore, it was suggested that the Russia-supplied system was becoming operational.

While the ISIS-held pocket in the Euphrates Valley is still not fully eliminated, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have already started preparations for a new round of Syria standoff. Recently, the group released a new statement in which it:

  • claimed that it will work to eliminate existing ISIS cells;
  • described Turkey as an occupier, but declared readiness to resolve the issues with Ankara via negotiations;
  • said that it’s ready for the establishment of a safe area in northeastern Syria under “international supervision”;
  • said that it’s ready for negotiations with Damascus, but that the Syrian government should take into account the SDF’s specificity and recognize the “self-declared and effective autonomy in the northeast”;
  • and in which it vowed to recapture Afrin.

The content and working of the statement shows that the SDF is no longer expecting a rapid and inevitable US forces withdrawal from the war-torn country. So, it has once again hardened its stance towards other key players and started speaking in the language of ultimatums.

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الأميركيون والروس عاجزون عن الجمع بين الترك والكرد؟

يناير 29, 2019

د. وفيق إبراهيم

اصطدمت مساعي الأميركيين في شمال سورية بحائط تركي مسدود يرفض أيّ دور للكرد في الشمال والشرق، لأنه بداية لمشروع الدولة الكردية المستقلة، التي تهدّد وحدة الكيان التركي نفسه كما يزعم.

في الإطار نفسه لم تتمكن روسيا من إقناع الرئيس التركي أردوغان بضرورة التخلي عن منظمة النصرة الإرهابية في محافظة ادلب وضواحي حلب وحماة.

هنا يتذرعُ «الرجب» بضرورة القضاء المسبق على المشروع الكردي ما يعني إرجاء أي حل للانتشار العسكري التركي في سورية الى المراحل النهائية من المفاوضات.

هذان الرفضان التركيان يهدّدان فعلياً المشروع الأميركي في الانسحاب من سورية والتنظيم المسبق للأدوات البديلة التي يريدها «البنتاغون» في منطقة تمتدّ من الحدود الشمالية حتى الجنوبية والشرقية مع العراق.

لم ترفض انقرة ما عرضه عليها المستشار الرئاسي الأميركي بولتون في زيارته الأخيرة لها، كان يحمل خارطة ملوّنة لمناطق الشمال والشرق السورية تبدأ بمنطقة حدودية من جرابلس حتى المالكية والقامشلي شرق العراق تشكل منطقة آمنة برعاية الجيش التركي وبعمق يتوغلُ ثلاثين كيلومتراً داخل سورية، على أن تليها منطقة للتحالف الدولي «العربي» تكون فاصلة بين النفوذ التركي الحدودي والكانتون الكردي الذي يُفترض أن يصل الى حدود العراق جنوباً وشرقاً وتنتصب على مقربة منه قاعدة التنف الأميركية التي قد تتراجع مئات الأمتار فقط بضغط روسي، لكنها تحافظ على مهمتها من داخل حدود العراق وهي عرقلة التعاون السوري – العراقي من طريق الانتقال البري.

روسيا بدورها عرضت على أردوغان الخروج من إدلب وعفرين مقابل ضمان تسوية سياسية للمشروع الكردي، مع حق الجيش التركي بملاحقة «اي معتدٍ» على أراضي بلاده بالتوغل حتى الـ 15 كيلومترات داخل الحدود السورية، وهذا ما تلحظه اتفاقية «اضنة» في 1998 حول ملاحقة الإرهابيين من حزب العمال الكردستاني بموافقة من الطرفين الموقعين سورية وتركيا.

لكن التطرّف العثماني الأردوغاني تشبث بمضامين اتفاق اضنة انما مع رفضه المطلق لضرب جبهة النصرة أو سحب قواته من محافظة إدلب ومنطقة عفرين مركزاً على أن هذا الأمر مرتبط بالحل النهائي للأزمة السورية، ما يكشف التلازم بين عدوانيته العسكرية وطموحات بلاده السياسية المصرّة على دور ملحوظ في المؤسسات السياسية السورية الجديدة من خلال الاخوان المسلمين والتركمان السوريين وما تسميه «معارضة معتدلة» تتنقل بين أنقرة وتل أبيب وتدعو الى مصالحة وتطبيع كاملين مع الكيان الغاصب.

هذا الرفض التركي فرض على روسيا الإعلان الصريح بأن أنقرة لا تلتزم كلياً باتفاق إدلب الناتج عن مؤتمرات آستانا التي تجمع روسيا وتركيا مع إيران، ويجنحُ موقف موسكو الى المزيد من رفض هذا الدور التركي المفضوح الذي يريد الاستفادة من كل عناصر الأزمة السورية، فيأخذ من الأميركيين شيئاً ولا ينسى «دغدغة» الروس مستعملاً أهمية بلاده في سورية فيتدلّع لمزيد من الابتزاز.

اما مع إيران فيؤدي أردوغان دور الحريص عليها من الهجوم الغربي الأميركي الخليجي الذي يستهدفها محاولاً شراء صمتها في الميدانين السوري والعراقي.

ويواصل الأتراك استعمال منظمات الإرهاب متخلّين عن داعش المهزومة لمصلحة «النصرة» التي انتشرت بالقوة العسكرية في مناطق كانت تديرها منظمات موالية لتركيا تحت نظر ورعاية المخابرات التركية والوحدات العسكرية والأقمار الاصطناعية الأميركية والتحالف الدولي.

اما مظاهر الازمة بين كل من روسيا وأميركا مع الاتراك فواضحة في الإعلان الروسي عن هذا الخلاف وتوقف العروض الأميركية التي كانت تتهافت على اردوغان الى جانب اشتباكات اندلعت في محافظة دهوك الكردية العراقية بين متظاهرين أكراد هاجموا معسكراً تركياً في منطقة شيلادزي احتجاجاً على قصف الطيران التركي لمناطق أكراد العراق في المنطقة، للإشارة فإن المتظاهرين الذين سقط منهم قتلى وجرحى اجتاحوا المعسكر ودمّروه، علماً ان هناك قاعدة أميركية في المنطقة نفسها كانت تتابع ما يجري باهتمام وصولاً الى حدود التشجيع.

يدلّ هذا الخلاف على صعوبتين غير مستحيلتين: الانسحاب الأميركي السريع من شرق سورية وبداية التعثر في أدوار مؤتمر استانا.

لكن البديل عنهما ليس بعيداً وبإمكانه رعاية انسحاب أميركي سريع وتطوير للدور الروسي في آن معاً، هذا ما لاحظته موسكو وتعمل على إقراره، إنما وسط استياء أميركي واضح، لقد اعتبر الروس أن ما يضمن ضبط المشروع الكردي هو الدولة السورية القادرة على احتواء المطالب الذاتية في مناطقهم في «بعض» الشرق وقسم من الشمال مع حقهم باستعمال لغتهم الكردية الأم الى جانب العربية في الإدارات والتعليم. وفي هذا الصدد هناك مفاوضات تبدأ في اليومين المقبلين بين الطرفين للتوصل الى اتفاق نهائي بإمكانه خفض منسوب التوتر الكردي عند الترك. هذا إذا كان الأمر صحيحاً، أما لجهة اتفاق «اضنة» فأنقرة هي التي دمّرته، بفتح حدودها لمئة ألف إرهابي دخلوا سورية ودمّروها برعاية المخابرات العالمية منذ 2012، لذلك تعرض دمشق انتشار جيشها في المناطق الحدودية بشكل يضمن أمن سورية وتركيا على السواء، وقد ترضى بشكل مؤقت بنشر قوات روسية إذا شعر الأتراك بحاجتهم اليها في هذا الوقت بالذات للمزيد من الاطمئنان.

الدولة السورية اذاً هي الحل لكل من تركيا والكرد وروسيا وإيران، لكن الفريق الأميركي الاسرائيلي وبعض العربان يرون أن الاستمرار في إنهاك سورية «فرصة» لتجديد الهيمنة الأميركية في المنطقة وهؤلاء حالمون لأن الزمن لا يعود الى الوراء ودمشق تجتاز الأميال الأخيرة في رحلة الألف ميل التي اثبتت ان سورية المستقرة القادرة حاجة استراتيجية لكامل منطقة الشرق الاوسط.

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SYRIAN WAR REPORT – DEC. 4, 2018: 270 SYRIAN ARMY ELIMINATED 270 ISIS MEMBERS IN AL-SUWAYDA PROVINCE

South Front

Government forces have eliminated more than 270 ISIS members as well as seized a large amount of weapons and munition, including 12 TOW anti-tank guided missiles, in the province of al-Suwayda since middle November, Oleg Makarevich, a spokesman for the command of the Russian task force in Syria, announced on December 3.

“The terrorists had been there for a long time, flocking to the area for several months. Among them were militants who were able to leave Yarmouk and Damascus in advance and also arrived from al-Tanf. Another difficulty was that tanks and heavy artillery have very limited maneuverability there, while the militants had many grenade launchers, anti-tank missiles and 82mm mortars,” the spokesman stated.

380km2 in eastern al-Suwayda was declared fully liberated from ISIS by the Syrian state media on November 17. Despite this, according to local sources, some number of ISIS cells still hide in the desert area south of al-Safa. Furthermore, a large presence of ISIS can observed in the Homs-Deir Ezzor desert. Therefore, claims of some pro-government sources that the terrorist group was fully eliminated on the western bank of the Euphrates are premature.

The US-controlled zone of al-Tanf is being actively used by ISIS terrorists as a safe haven to hide from Syrian Army attacks and to re-locate its forces in eastern Syria. While it exists, it’s not likely that ISIS cells could be fully wiped out in this part of the country.

From its side, the US-led coalition is contributing every possible effort to prevent any security operations of the Syrian Army near the al-Tanf zone. On December 2, the coalition shelled Syrian Army positions near the al-Ghurab mount at the border with Iraq. The US-led force reportedly employed M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) deployed at the al-Tanaf base.

The formal reason of the attack is unknown but US forces had repeatedly attacked Syrian Army units pursuing terrorists in the area on the edge of the so-called security zone near al-Tanf.

On December 3, the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) released a statement claiming that 11 Turkish-backed militants had been killed by the group in two fresh attacks in the Syrian area of Afrin.

On December 2, a YPG unit attacked a Jaysh al-Islam patrol in the village of Dermishmishe, near Afrin city. 5 Jaysh al-Islam members were reportedly killed and 3 others were wounded in the attack. Their vehicle was also destroyed.

On the same day, YPG fighters destroyed a military vehicle stationed at the headquarters of Ahrar al-Sham in the town of Jinderese. 6 Turkish-backed militants were killed and 8 others were wounded, according to the YPG report.

YPG attacks in Afrin will likely continue until the Turkish military and its proxies establish an effective security network in this part of Turkish-occupied Syria. However, a widely known incompetence and corruption within Turkish-backed militant groups delay and in some case even sabotage these Ankara-led efforts.

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Alliance Between Syria and YPG Deepens Ahead of Idlib Offensive, Provoking an Unpredictable Turkey

Whitney Webb 

https://www.mintpressnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/AP_18087815881235.jpg

ALEPPO, SYRIA — With military forces from the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and Russia gathering around Syria’s rebel-held Idlib province, the last major military offensive of Syria’s seven-year-long war may only be weeks away. As the noose tightens around Idlib, the last hold-out for majority of terrorist fighters still active in Syria, the Syrian army seems to have secured the help of a new military ally: the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).

Turkish media reported on Sunday that 1,300 YPG fighters have been transferred to Aleppo over the course of the past two weeks to take part in the upcoming Syrian military offensive against the rebel-controlled Idlib province. According to those reports, the last of the YPG convoys arrived in Aleppo from Manbij on Saturday.

The Turkish newspaper The Daily Sabah, citing a report from the Turkish state-funded outlet Anadolu News Agencystated that the YPG’s participation in the upcoming offensive would mark the first time that YPG forces have allied with the Syrian Arab Army on the battlefield since the conflict began. The report also asserted that the YPG “plans to strengthen good relations with the regime and Russia by supporting the [Syrian] regime’s attacks on the opposition.” However, it is worth noting that the YPG expressed interest in battling terror groups within Idlib long before its new alliance with the Syrian government emerged.

News of a YPG-SAA military alliance may come as a surprise as the YPG and related Kurdish groups in Northern Syria chose to ally themselves with the United States early on in the conflict. Indeed, the YPG have long formed the backbone of the U.S. proxy force in occupied northeastern Syria known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in hopes of using the U.S.’ desire to partition Syria to transform that territory into an independent Kurdish-dominated state, long a goal of some elements within Syria’s Kurdish community.

The YPG’s collaboration with the U.S. and its international coalition in Syria has been used by the latter as a common justification for its illegal occupation of around 30% of Syrian territory, claiming that U.S. ground troops in the area were only present in the area to aid the YPG in fighting the terror group Daesh. Thus, this alliance has largely facilitated the U.S. coalition’s occupation of a considerable amount of Syrian territory, a territory that accounts for the majority of Syrian oil, gas, freshwater and agricultural resources.

However, the U.S. has increasingly abandoned its protection of the Kurds, having allowed Turkey, which regards the YPG as a terrorist group, to attack YPG-held territory earlier this year, resulting in the YPG’s loss of Afrin and the surrounding area to the Turks. Adding insult to injury, since June, the U.S. military presence in the area has been involved in joint patrols with the Turkish military near Manbij as part of a deal that Turkish media reports have claimed is “aimed at purging the area of the YPG/PKK presence.”

Given that the U.S. military has long justified its presence in the area by claiming to support the YPG’s and SDF’s offensives against Daesh (ISIS), the U.S.’ increasing cooperation with Turkey has forced the Kurds to take a long hard look at their alliance with American forces.

Unsurprisingly, over the past few months, the Syrian Kurds have been distancing themselves from the U.S. military presence in Syria and steadily increasing coordination with the Syrian government, a direct consequence of the U.S.’ apparent embrace of Turkish military operations in Syria and increased local resistance to the U.S. occupation.

Indeed, in June, over 70 tribes — whose territory is either partially or entirely under occupation by the United States and the YPG-dominated SDF — expressed their commitment to rejoining the Syrian state, re-establishing Syrian territorial integrity, and creating a joint military force with the SAA that would seek to expel foreign troops and militants from Syria. Facing increased local resistance, along with the apparent duplicity of their American allies, the Kurds have increasingly turned to the Syrian government.

First, in July, a military alliance began to take shape as the YPG and the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) reached a preliminary agreement that led to increased SAA influence in areas under YPG control in the al-Hasakah region. Per the agreement, the YPG also allowed the SAA to reopen recruitment offices throughout the region. Since then, the YPG has agreed to hand over several of Syria’s most lucrative oilfields — a devastating strategic loss to the United States. And it further reportedly agreed to form a joint “police force” with the Syrian Army to protect Manbij from a potential Turkish invasion, given that the Turkish government has suggested that a military operation to take Manbij continues to be on the table.

Now, the YPG-SAA alliance has only deepened ahead of the Idlib offensive, as confirmed by reports of YPG deployments to Aleppo in preparation for the upcoming military operation alongside the Syrian Arab Army. The YPG’s participation in the upcoming Idlib offensive on the side of the Syrian government would essentially cement its realignment in the Syrian conflict, greatly weakening the U.S.’ justification as well as its motivation for its continued military presence in Syria, while also potentially provoking an increasingly unpredictable and reactionary Turkey.

Turkey’s motives and choices

Just one day after news of the YPG’s participation in the Idlib offensive was reported, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced that Turkey was in “the last stage of preparations for increasing the number of regions in Syria, where we have provided stability through ‘the Euphrates Shield’ and ‘the Olive Branch’ operations. With God’s help, we will liberate new territories in the near future and bring security there.”

Though it is unknown exactly what the targets of this upcoming military operation will be, past Turkish military operations have largely targeted Kurdish militants, making it likely that either parts of Idlib or Kurdish-controlled areas elsewhere, like Manbij, will soon be targeted by the Turkish military.

Indeed, Erdogan had mentioned both areas as the sites of future Turkish military operations earlier this year. In January, Erdogan stated that Turkey would soon control Idlib, ostensibly to clear out terrorist groups in order to allow Syrian refugees living in Turkey to return to Syria. However, Turkey has consistently supported rebel groups within Idlib, such as the Free Syrian Army and even Daesh itself, making it almost certain that any Turkish effort to “clear out” terrorists would only target select groups that Ankara dislikes and allow the other terrorist groups of which it approves to proliferate.

Since Erdoğan first mentioned the plan to take Idlib, Turkey has set up several “military observation posts” surrounding Idlib, which were agreed under the Astana deal with Russia and Iran to create “deconfliction” zones in Syria. These Turkish military outposts have given Turkey territorial control over parts of Idlib and a role of one kind or another in the upcoming offensive. It seems likely that Turkey will only seek to expand its influence in the region and not sit idly by during the upcoming Syrian government offensive — particularly if the Syrian military is joined by the YPG, which Turkey wishes to see eliminated.

However, it is unlikely that Turkish troops would attack the YPG troops active in the Idlib offensive directly, particularly if they are embedded with Syrian or Russian troops. Indeed, given Turkey’s crumbling relations with the U.S. and the associated economic ills that have accompanied that for Ankara, Turkey is reconsidering its alliance with the United States, not just in Syria but entirely — making it unlikely that Turkey would seek to make enemies of the Syrian government, or Syria’s powerful allies like Russia, in order to target a little over a thousand YPG soldiers.

A tangle of contingencies

Yet, Erdoğan has also spoken of wresting Manbij from Kurdish control, stating in March that Turkey would attack Manbij unless Kurdish forces immediately and unconditionally withdraw. Given that the Syrian government and its allies — along with over a thousand YPG soldiers — will be focused on the Idlib offensive, the opportunity may arise for Erdoğan to make good on his promise to target the Kurdish-held city and the surrounding area. If so, the U.S. is unlikely to defend the Kurds at this point, especially in light of the fact that the YPG has given Syria control over its most lucrative oil fields and is increasingly abandoning the U.S. alliance.

However, the joint “police force” combining YPG and SAA fighters could deter Turkey from taking Manbij. If that proves to be true, Turkey may set its sights elsewhere in Kurdish-controlled areas of Syria, given that Erdoğan has also stated a plan to invade Kurdish-held territory as far as Qamishli, the most easterly Syrian town held by the YPG before the Iraq border.

Though Turkey is unlikely to occupy permanently any territory it controls, the more territory it controls the greater its ability to bargain with the Syrian government once the conflict has ended. This would potentially give Turkey the opportunity to push for concessions regarding the Kurdish territories and a severe reduction in the autonomy the Kurds in Syria are seeking.

Ultimately, the upcoming offensive on Idlib and Turkey’s reaction to the YPG’s role in that fight will force Turkey to reassess its alliances in the Syrian conflict — given that Turkey, ironically like the Kurds, is now second guessing its alliance with the United States. Yet, Turkey — with or without the United States — may seek to continue acting as a maverick within Syria, remaining one of the conflict’s most potent and troubling wild cards.

 

SYRIAN KURDISTAN: FROM “OLIVE BRANCH” TO “FALLEN STATE”

South Front

26.04.2018

Syrian Kurdistan: From "Olive Branch" to "Fallen State"

Kurdish fighters raise flag of PKK leader in centre of Raqqa

Written by Maksim Alexandrov; Originally appeared on warsonline.info; Translated by AlexD exclusively for SouthFront

Not long ago in Washington at the Institute of National Strategic Studies of the National Defence University the round table on “The Multimodal Threats in the Kurdish Region” took place, a continuation of the “NATO and Regional Military and Political Alliance in 2018” Council.

The organisers of the meeting, taking place on April 9 to 11, were the Institute of National Strategic Studies, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), the intelligence community and the commanders of the Special Forces of the US. The main agenda of the event was focused on clarifying the conceptual and analytical foundations of American policy in the framework of topical issues of the “Kurdish question”, the problem of improving the coordination of regional allies, as well as military and political modeling of crisis systems that fall under the topology of “fallen state”.

“Today, the USA, as never before, is faced with the destructive position of the Syrian regime and its allies, the Russian Federation and Iran. We met qualitatively new challenges and hybrid threats to freedom and democracy in Syria (SAR)”, with these words the special representative of the Department of Military and Political Modeling began his presentation, specialist in the field of pre-emptive analysis and the Greater Middle East of the Agency for the reduction of military threats Ray Ross.

During the discussion, experts highlighted the most complex structure of the problems that cause the revision of operational resources, and as a consequence, reducing operational sustainability and “window of response” to the crisis situations. First, such challenges include the issue of harmonisation of positions and approaches.

As an empirical base, analysts cite examples of the destructive positions of the Turkish Republic regarding the “united Kurdish space”, the inconsistent/punctual nature of the work of the UK, France and Germany in providing and preparing the Kurdish militia after the October operations in Iraq’s Kirkuk. During the meeting, the coalition failed to ensure prompt withdrawal of 140 Bundeswehr instructors and 30 specialist of the Special Aviation Service of the British Armed Forces.

Second, comes the imbalance of the asymmetric military and political education within the framework of the international coalition. The fragmentation of Kurdish troops and militia (YPG) during the events related to the referendum on the independence of Iraqi Kurdistan and the subsequent military and political crisis, the split of the Peshmerga and other Kurdish armed groups controlled by Erbil; the growth in popularity of the Movement for Change or “Goran”, are a ready counter-rally against ex-President Massod Barzani’s block, the “Democratic Party of Kurdistan” and the “Patriotic Union of Kurdistan”.

As a result, there is a curtailment of the potential of “Kurdish National Councils” in the Syrian Kurdish Supreme Council, in other words, the growing influence of the Democratic Union Party of Salih Muslim, supporter of the autonomy within the SAR, and the national Councils of Western Kurdistan, which may cause a potential strengthening of Moscow’s and Iran’s positions in the region.

The disagreements between the Kurdish and Arab (Sunni, 23 movements) ethnic and religious components are, in particular the revolt of the Arabs in Syria’s Raqqa, armed conflicts within “independent” groups in North-Eastern Syria, caused by both “humanitarian” and military-political aspects, systemic shortcomings of the previous presidential administration to unite the projects of the “Kurdish Zone”, “Syrian Democratic Forces” and the “Free Syrian Army”.

The data formed the need for duplication of “territorial formations” by independent structures, the creation of Kurdish security forces that are not included in the YPG during the last year. Along with this, it allowed partial substitution and assumption of the contingents of the Arab countries in the area of responsibility of the Alliance. Preliminary rounds of talks with Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are now been held.

“The newly formed security forces, along with the implementation of substitution approaches are certainly a guarantee for stability and security in the North-East of Syria”, stated Ray Ross.

Third, the current problems required operational support for the concept “Balance of deterrence and engagement”, as described in previous submissions.

Thus, according to analysts, the greatest actual problems are:

  1. Security in the North East of Syria;
  2. Containment of Ankara;
  3. Exclusion of the growing influence of Damascus, Moscow and Tehran;
  4. Revision of the allies system, accompanied by a “balance of deterrence and engagement”.

Thus, the methods to achieve a “balance of deterrence and engagement” through the support and expansion of special measures aimed at the integration of non-system actors of the military and political process are of greatest interest. “We conduct constant monitoring of the military-political process and its dynamics. It has already been six months that we monitor the escalation of the conflict in the north of Syria, which we repeatedly inform our allies, Turkey and other countries. Today within the framework of the modeling, we understand the need to involve all parties in the settlement process. Potentially, it may include the Kurdish Workers’ Party and the Democratic Union”, said the representative of DTRA.

According to data received from the source “occupying a high position” in the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) since November 2017, personnel changes have begun, accompanied by an intra-party conflict. With the beginning of the Turkish operation “Olive Branch” the group “Will to Freedom” stood out, actively cooperating with the YPG troops, coordinated with the United States and its allies. The unit, numbering up to 5000 personnel, advocates for the change of the party’s leadership course and the formation of the “common Kurdish space”. “However, we must work to ensure that this organisation does not engage in destructive activities on Turkish territories”.

In addition, in the ranks of the PKK, according to intelligence, in December last year a “right-oriented core” was formed, which began the extradition of previously left in Afrin intra-party opponents of the “new forces” with Salih Muslim. “The United States have actively watched this process, today we have a unique opportunity to unite these PKK platforms into a new, powerful force that can affect the entire region. These processes are very complex, but positive for national security”, commented Ray Ross.

During the talks held at the end of December 2017, between the “new forces” and the Democratic Union Party, the parties could not agree on “extradition”, but agreements were reached in exchange for the deployment of seven training camps in North Africa in exchange for full support from the “right forces” in the PKK.

The personnel trained at these facilities were intended for deployment on the neighbouring Turkish territory. However the Turkish side took these processes as a strengthening, an attempt to unite the Kurdish Workers’ Party and on January 20 launched the army operation “Olive Branch”, which ended with the capture of the city of Afrin and the division of the canton into Turkish and Syrian-Russian areas of responsibility.

During the Turkish operation, with the support of the US, talks were held between the YPG and the Afrin security forces on the limited material and technical support, as well as sending a number of volunteer units subordinate to the military council of Manbij. Also, the “special contact mission” guaranteed full support in the case of coordination of the Afrin security forces, the dissolution of the HPX battalion and the “Desert Scorpion” brigade.

De facto, this process should be seen as providing an alternative resource base, aimed at the involvement of the security forces and councils of Afrin in the structure of the YPG and the expansion of cooperation with the International coalition, i.e. the removal of Iran and Russia from the northern province of Aleppo. However, cooperation between Moscow, Tehran and Ankara did not allow the formalisation of this union.

At the same time, analysts noted that the division, the failure of “involvement”, allowed to restore the balance of forces in the “Kurdish zone”, since after the military and political crisis caused by the “collapse” of Iraqi Kurdistan and the departure of Masoud Barzani as President, the “Democratic Union Party” significantly strengthened its position, “threatening the integrity of the Syrian Kurdistan”. However, after the division of Afrin, its potential, through natural processes, decreased, opening up new opportunities for the American side and the security forces that were created.

Thus, turning to the conclusions, we can say that the American side is now involved in the processes of operationalization of the concept of “containment and engagement”, considering factor projects of unification of multidirectional forces through the chaos of existing crisis systems and territorial associations. The growing military presence in the area of Al-Tanf, and the disparate information of the transfer of Arab-Kurdish troops to the area, could potentially mean the unification of the YPG, the security forces and the new Syrian Army into a single structure.

With the completion of operation “Olive Branch”, an extensive media company was launched to discredit the positions of Moscow, Tehran and Damascus in resolving the “Kurdish issue”.

In mid-March 2018 in north-eastern Syria, a “Syrian popular Resistance” was formed, advocating the liberation from occupation by a coalition led by the United States.

On April 15, 2018, the Department of Military and Political Modeling of the US agency for reducing military threats adopted the programme of development of the north-east of Syria, labelling this territory as “fallen state”.

ماذا في قمة بوتين روحاني أردوغان؟

 

أبريل 4, 2018

ناصر قنديل

– لا تبدو القمة التي ستجمع الرؤساء فلاديمير بوتين وحسن روحاني ورجب أردوغان سهلة المراس مع قضايا تعبّر عن تموضع تركي مخالف للموقع الروسي الإيراني في سورية، التي تشكّل وفقاً لتصريحات المسؤولين الروس والأتراك والإيرانيين موضوع القمة الأوّل، ورغم أن هذا الخلاف ممتدّ منذ تشكّل لقاء أستانة، إلا أنه يبلغ المرحلة الأعقد هذه المرّة، لأنّ ما بين تشكّل مسار أستانة والقمة تراكمت حقائق قدرة الدولة السورية على تكرار نموذج حلب الذي جلب تركيا للإطار الثلاثي مع روسيا وإيران، وجاءت معارك الغوطة مؤخراً لتقول ما لم يكن في الحساب التركي وارداً بهذه السرعة وهذا الحجم، بحيث صار التصادم محتملاً وقريباً للتوقع بين الأداء التركي الذي يغلب عليه التوغّل العسكري المباشر في سورية، والدولة السورية الذاهبة لاستكمال استرداد جغرافيتها من أيدي الذين توزّعوها خلال سنوات الحرب، والأتراك يقفون في طليعتهم.

– منذ معارك حلب حتى معارك عفرين، كانت التسوية بين مفهومي روسيا وإيران من جهة، وتركيا من جهة أخرى، حول سورية ممكنة، فقد كان مهماً بالنسبة لروسيا وإيران انتقال المقاربة التركية للحرب في سورية من سقف إسقاط الدولة تحت شعار نصرة المعارضة، إلى سقف الأمن القومي التركي والقلق من قيام كيان كردي انفصالي يستثمر عليه الأميركيون من ضمن رؤيتهم لمفهوم الحلّ السياسي الذي تضمّنته وثيقة الخمسة التي قاموا برعايتها، ما يجعل تركيا كمتضرّر أوّل من هذا المشروع على خط الاشتباك المباشر مع المشروع الأميركي من جهة، وعنصر إنضاج للموقف الكردي نحو قبول معادلة التسوية السياسية تحت سقف دولة سورية موحّدة، من جهة مقابلة، وما يتيح لاحقاً مناقشة تركيا بمفهوم للحلّ السياسي يحقق لها أمنها القومي، وحرمان أنقرة من فرصة المجاهرة بطلب الوصاية على السوريين ومنحها أسوة بما يفعله حلفاء تركيا السابقون في الحرب على سورية بربط دعم الحلّ السياسي بمنحهم سلطة التدخل في تحديد طبيعة الحكم الذي يناسب سورية والسوريين.

– مع تحرير الدولة السورية للغوطة والاحتلال التركي لعفرين، بلغ كلّ شيء سقفه إلى حدّ التصادم، وتبلورت النتائج التي ترسم معادلات الغد، وما عاد ممكناً تجاهلها، فمشروع الحرب الأصلي الذي شكلت تركيا قاعدته وركيزته الرئيسية لسنوات طوال حتى معارك حلب، وافترقت عن حلفائها وخصوصاً الأميركي والسعودي والإسرائيلي لتفضيلهم خيار التقسيم على خيار تسوية تعترف بالدولة السورية الموحّدة، طالما كان ثمن ذلك الاعتراف بأحادية الدور العسكري للجيش السوري، وبالمكانة الدستورية والسياسية للرئيس السوري، بينما وقفت تركيا في منتصف الطريق بين المشروعين الأميركي السعودي الإسرائيلي للتقسيم، والسوري الروسي الإيراني القائم على مفهوم دولة موحّدة برئيسها وجيشها، فتموضعت ضدّ مشروع التقسيم دون الانضمام لمشروع التسوية، وراهنت على فرض الوقائع لرسم مسارات تراكمية تحسّن وضعها دون امتلاك تصوّر شامل يحتوي قوى الحرب المتقابلة وأدوارها، ويقطع الصلة بالكيانات الإرهابية، ويقدّم رؤية واقعية لمناقشة سبل الحلّ السياسي لقيام دولة سورية موحّدة تتيح فرصة الخروج التركي من الجغرافيا السورية، وفقاً لما كانت نصائح الرئيس الروسي لنظيره التركي دائماً.

– مع لحظة تحرير الغوطة واحتلال عفرين، دخلت السياقات الثلاثة، الأميركي السعودي الإسرائيلي، والسوري الروسي الإيراني، وبينهما التركي، في ذروة الخيارات الصعبة، حيث تكفّل تحرير الغوطة بإبلاغ واشنطن والرياض وتل أبيب بنهاية لعبة التقسيم، ورهانات إسقاط الجيش والرئيس والدولة في سورية، وبدأت رسائل الإقرار بنتائج هذا التحوّل بالظهور أميركياً في كلام الرئيس دونالد ترامب عن انسحاب قريب من سورية، وإقرار ولي العهد السعودي بزوال زمن الرهان على إسقاط الرئيس السوري والتسليم ببقائه، والتهيّؤ الإسرائيلي لإقفال خط التدخل في سورية الذي تجسّد باللعب بدور وحدات فصل القوات الأممية «الأندوف» عبر طلب إعادة نشرها، ما جعل احتلال عفرين يظهر كركيزة بديلة لمشروع تقسيم آخر تقوده تركيا، وصار الحليفان الروسي والإيراني للمرة الأولى وجهاً لوجه أمام تركيا، التي تبدو موجودة بين سطور كلام ترامب عن ترك آخرين يتولّون الأمور، وتأتي القمة لتكون مرة أخرى مفترقاً خطيراً، سيقرّر ما إذا كانت تركيا ستعود إلى المربع الصعب الذي دخلته مع قيادتها لمعارك حلب حتى هزيمتها وتموضعها اللاحق، أم ستقرأ من معارك الغوطة ومن مواقف الآخرين، أنّ اللعبة تشارف على النهاية والخاسر الأكبر سيكون الذي يتأخر في التقاط التوقيت المناسب للخروج المشرّف.

– تسعى روسيا وإيران لمنح تركيا هذا التوقيت للخروج المشرّف، بربط دورها في سورية بتشجيع تسوية سياسية تضمن دوراً للجماعات العاملة تحت رايتها، والتسليم بأنّ انتشار الجيش السوري حتى الحدود يشكل ضماناً لأمنها القومي من مخاطر كيان كردي انفصالي، ودعوة القيادات الكردية لقراءة متأنية للمتغيّرات تضعهم شركاء كاملين في مفاوضات جنيف، وجعل الحديث عن الانسحاب الأميركي والتموضع الإسرائيلي خلف حدود الجولان المحتلّ، والتسليم السعودي بفشل مشروع التقسيم ومشروع إسقاط الرئيس السوري، مدخلاً لانطلاق عملية سياسية تحجز تركيا فيها مقعداً حاسماً كراع لدمج الجماعات المسلحة التي تجمّعت تحت وصايتها في هذه العملية، بدلاً من أن يكون كلّ ذلك فخاً نصبه حلفاء الأمس لتركيا ورئيسها، رهاناً على عنجهيته وسوء حساباته، لاحتلال المقعد الذي حجزه له الروس والإيرانيون، وإمساك مفاتيح التسوية بدلاً منه.

– على طاولة القمة معادلة السيادة السورية وضمان وحدة سورية، ستكون هي الأهمّ، كما صرّح معاون الرئيس الروسي، ولا بدّ أنّ أردوغان ومعاونيه قد قرأوا النص مرات عديدة قبل دخول القمة.

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