Syrian MP to ST: There is no other choice but to launch a large-scale operation to liberate Idleb from terrorists

ST

The Syrian Member of Parliament Safwan Qurabi has underscored that Idleb file represents a mixture between warfare and policy and it could be called a ‘postponed battle’- from a military perspective, but it is هinevitable.

He told the Syriatimes e-newspaper that it is difficult to liberate through policy a large area that includes different groups of terrorists, who have been military and intellectually prepared by the intelligence agencies of Syria’s enemies.

“This operation requires professionalism, intelligence and strength at the same time… Any gain that could be made without the shedding of blood is a gain. But according to our analysis, we have no other choice but to launch a large-scale operation to liberate Idleb due to the existence of extremist terrorists , who came to Syria just to die,” the MP said.

He believes that Turkish silence will make the liberation of Idleb easy for the Syrian state and its allies.

“Syria’s friends are trying to buy Turkey’s silence and to convince it to re-organize the regional situation peacefully for the benefit of all countries, and to return to Adana agreement which is being amended to take the interests of all countries into consideration,” Qurabi stressed.

He added that that Russia and Iran are trying to convince Turkey that it is in the eye of the US storm and it will pay a high price in the future if it does not go along with regional compatibility.

“They [Russia and Iran] hope that the current arrogant and irrational Turkish regime will listen to their advice and they insist on exerting every possible effort to convince it,” the parliamentarian clarified, indicating that despite slow progress at these attempts, there are good indicators for the possibility of witnessing -in the near future- changes in Tukey’s behavior- even if that happened behind the curtain.

“Moving and liberation by fire”

Moreover, Qurabi affirmed that the recent military operations carried out by Syrian army on the outskirts of Idleb province broke the terrorist groups’ solid wall and created a social environment opposing the thought and behavior of the armed terrorist groups.

“Actually, the operations have caused a rift between the Syrian persons living in Idleb province on the one hand and the armed terrorist groups and the Turks on the other. My take is that this rift was clear, so we witnessed unprecedented alert and participation by the Turkish regime in the recent military operations. Add to that, the Russian involvement in the operations was at a very high level and for the first time there was a Turkish-Russian clash behind the curtain on the outskirt of the province [Idleb].”

The MP described the patience of Syria with the Turkish regime as the patience of prophet Ayyoub .

“Turkey puts off the implementation of its Sochi commitments that guarantee the return of large area peacefully and friendly under the patronage of the guarantor countries. Turkey has signed the deal reached on Idleb but it still procrastinating and fabricating pretexts,” Qurabi, whose hometown is Idleb, stated.

He indicated that “Moving and liberation by fire” is the title of the recent military operations carried out in Hama countryside on the outskirts of Idleb in order to secure the areas that were under terror rocket attacks and to liberate some strategic points.

“The military operation is a ‘rolling operation’ in accordance with the facts on the ground . Syria was following up regional and world reactions towards the liberation of Idleb and the possibility of expanding the military operations,” Qurabi said.

He underlined that the decision of liberating Idleb was taken by the axis of Syria’s friends, especially in the light of Ankara’s current policy in the north of Syria.

“Turkey seeks to put down roots for a long term in the Syrian region through making the Turkish language popular in the northern side of Syria and keeping this cultural effect there after the departure of the Turkish occupation forces from the area. It wants the Syrian people who learn the Turkish language to be Turkey’s mouthpiece in Syria,” the MP added.

He concluded by saying: “Idleb will definitely be recaptured by the Syrian state but we may disagree on the number of talks and military operations to reach this goal.”

Interviewed by: Basma Qaddour

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America’s Agendas are in Decline

ST

The Israeli entity reiterates its ruthlessness and aggression against Syria whenever it feels that the terrorist organizations that it trained and funded in cooperation with the United States and the colonial West are on the verge of being defeated. The more they feel that the destructive chaos that they spread is going to fall, the more Washington is in harmony with this aggressive entity and continues to support separatist militias and extremist organizations In Syria for the same purpose.

The two sides continue to create the pretexts of aggression, especially after the failure of the Bahrain workshop to achieve its goals of passing the sin of the century, which aims to liquidate the Palestinian cause under the cloak of development, peace and prosperity.

Not only did Trump’s aggressive administration attempt to legitimize the Israeli occupation of the Syrian Arab Golan through its decision, the recognition of the so-called Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Syrian Golan, but also encouraged the usurper to build more illegal settlements over its territory and build air fans to serve the settlers and applauded him when he attacked Syria under the pretext of the security of the racist entity.

The American failure in the Syrian scene, and even the whole region, prompted Washington to devise more aggressive policies that it believes serve its interests, such as declaring its intention to form a so-called maritime alliance comprising the Israeli entity and some oil monarchies seeking to free normalization with the latter. It is as if the idea of the Arab-Israel “NATO” does not want to leave the imagination of the neo-conservative in Washington.

From the alleged NATO, which did not see the light, to the new naval alliance through the policies of supporting terrorism and covering up the crimes of “Da’ish”, “Qasad” and ‘al -Nusra” and ending with the attempt to ignite the Arab Gulf with a new war that burns the green and the dry , the American strategy is reeling on the ropes of tricks, arrogance, lies and deceit and all kinds of misleading to achieve some of their suspicious agendas thanks to the steadfastness of the Syrians and the peoples of the entire resistance region.

In the north of Syria, the scene is clearer. The more Idlib’s liberation becomes closer, the greater the level of insomnia and anxiety at the terrorist system increases. The Turkish regime is trying to divert the Syrian Arab Army’s victories from its occupation by dealing with humanitarian situations. Washington is also repeating false accusations against the Syrian state under weak excuses and continuing to support the militias of the forces of separatism, whereas the sponsors of terrorism don’t realize that the Syrians will fold the pages of terrorism and the agendas of their operators, no matter how much it costs them.

Sharif Al -Khatib
Editor-in-Chief
sharifalkh@gmail.com

Turkey Will Get a Chunk of Syria: An Advantage of Being in NATO

Source

July 14, 2019

by Eric Zuesse for The Saker Blog

The success of Turkey’s takeover of Syria’s most pro-jihadist province, Idlib, is making less and less likely that Syria will be able to continue maintaining Idlib as being a part of Syria. (This is something I had predicted, back on 14 September 2018, to be possible or even likely, and now it is actually happening.) On July 10th, Reuters headlined “Assad hits a wall in Syrian war as front lines harden”, and reported that, “More than two months of Russian-backed operations in and around Idlib province have yielded little or nothing for Assad’s side. It marks a rare case of a military campaign that has not gone his way since Russia intervened in 2015. While resisting government attacks, the insurgents have managed to carve out small advances of their own, drawing on ample stocks of guided anti-tank missiles that opposition and diplomatic sources say have been supplied by Turkey.” It continues:

Moscow has appeared keen to preserve its ties with Ankara even as its air force bombs in support of Assad: Turkey says Russia has intervened to stop attacks on Turkish forces from Syrian government-held territory. … The Idlib area is dominated by Tahrir al-Sham, the jihadists formerly known as the Nusra Front. [And before that, they were called Al Qaeda in Syria, but Western news-agencies, such as Reuters, prefer not to mention that fact, especially because the U.S. used_Nusra to train ‘our’ proxy boots-on-the-ground ‘moderate rebels’ in Syria to bring down Syria’s Government. Elsewhere, the Reuters article calls them ‘insurgents’.] Some 300,000 people fleeing bombardment have moved toward the Turkish border since April, prompting the United Nations to warn that Idlib was on the brink of a “humanitarian nightmare”.

For Ankara, the Syrian opposition’s last major state sponsor, preventing another major influx of Syrian refugees is of paramount importance: Turkey already hosts 3.6 million of them. …

A Russian private military contractor who was based near Idlib province told Reuters that rebel fighters there are far more professional and motivated than their adversary. Pro-government forces cannot win the battle for Idlib unless Moscow helps them on the ground, he said. …

Of course the regime [that’s the legitimate Government, but Western ‘news’-agencies such as Reuters call it ‘the regime’, and most of their audience don’t even recognize that their own intelligence has just been insulted by calling Syria’s Government a ‘regime’ while calling the invading regimes, Turkey and U.S., not that] has the desire to recover Idlib by force [as if the sovereign Government of Syria doesn’t have this right], but … without the Russians it can’t[those nasty Russians, who are defending Syria from U.S.-Saud-backed proxy-armies that are led mostly by Al Qaeda in Syria], because there are many militants and the Russians are completely committed to the Turks,” the source said.

Syria’s Government is fighting hard against jihadist forces in Idlib who meet Turkey’s standard of being ‘moderate rebels’ against Syria’s Government, but unless Russian forces there — which were invited in by Syria’s Government, instead of being invaders there like Turkey and the United States are — will commit far more forces for the defense of Syria (which seems increasingly unlikely), Turkey will win Idlib as being a part of Turkey.

Consequently, Turkey is already starting to build infrastructure even immediately to the north and east of Idlib in order to stake its claim to a yet larger portion of Syria than just Idlib. This might not have been part of the deal that was worked out by Russia’s Putin, Iran’s Rouhani, and Turkey’s Erdogan, in Tehran, on 9 September 2018, which agreement allowed Turkey only to take over — and only on a temporary basis — Idlib province, which is by far the most pro-jihadist (and the most anti-Assad) of Syria’s 14 provinces. Turkey was instead supposed to hold it only temporarily, but the exact terms of the Turkey-Russia-Iran agreement have never been publicly disclosed.

Until that 9 September 2018 Tehran conference, Idlib had been the province to which Syria’s Government was busing defeated jihadists who had surrendered instead of choosing to stay and die where they were. Syria’s Government had given its surrounded jihadists this final option, in order to reduce as much as possible the numbers of jihadists’ civilian hostages who would also likely be killed in an all-out bombing campaign there. So, the existing population of Idlib, which was already the most pro-jihadist in Syria, was now starting to overflow with the additional thousands of defeated jihadists who had chosen to surrender instead of to be immediately killed.

At that time, just prior to the Tehran conference — and this was actually the reason why the conference was held — the U.S. and its allies, and the U.N., were demanding that an all-out invasion of Idlib, which had been planned by the Governments of Syria and of Russia, must not take place, for ‘humanitarian’ reasons. There was all that ‘humanitarian’ concern (led by the United States) for the world’s biggest concentration of Nusra and Nusra-led jihadists — and for Syria’s most jihadist-supporting civilian population. So much ‘kindness’, such ‘admirable’ ‘humanitarianism’. Furthermore the U.S. Government was threatening to greatly increase its forces against Syria if that invasion by Syria and by Russia into Idlib (which is, after all, part of Syria — so, what business is it, even of the U.N., at all?) were to be carried out. The Tehran conference was meeting in order to resolve that emergency situation (mainly America’s threats of a possible war against Russia), so as to forestall this attack.

However, now that it’s clear that Erdogan will not  follow through on his generally understood promise that this would be only a temporary military occupation of Idlib, the question is: what can Syria and Russia and Iran do to keep Idlib inside Syria, and whether they even want to do so. If Syria loses those jihadists, then not only will it lose the perhaps hundred thousand surviving jihadists there — many of whom came from other countries in order to fight against Syria’s secular Government — but also will lose some of those Idlib natives, who were always against Syria’s secular Government. Since those people would no longer be voting against Bashar al-Assad, because they would become Turks, this would actually be a Syrian political advantage for Assad. Yet, he has been resisting it, in order to hold Syria together. He has always been committed to holding Syria together.

Turkey’s negotiating position is exceptionally strong, because Turkey now is riding the fence between the U.S. alliance, NATO (of which Turkey has been the only predominantly Muslim member ever since it joined in 1952), versus Russia. According to a major report in English from Iran’s Fars News Agency — which had translated from published Arab sources in many countries and which report hasn’t been denied by any of them — Russia had saved Erdogan’s life on 15 June 2016, when there was a coup-attempt to get rid of him. Headlining on 20 July, just five days after the failed coup, “Erdogan Warned of Incoming Coup by Russian Alert”, Fars said that,

Several Arab media outlets, including Rai Alyoum, quoted diplomatic sources in Ankara as saying that Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization, known locally as the MIT, received intel from its Russian counterpart that warned of an impending coup in the Muslim state.

The unnamed diplomats said the Russian army in the region had intercepted highly sensitive army exchanges and encoded radio messages showing that the Turkish army was readying to stage a coup against the administration in Ankara.

The exchanges included dispatch of several army choppers to President Erdogan’s resort hotel to arrest or kill the president.

In any case, after that event, Turkey’s foreign policies definitely switched away from being clearly U.S.-allied, to being on the fence and calculated purely to serve Turkey’s advantage, no longer tied, at all, to NATO or the U.S., and, in many important respects, very much contrary to the U.S. regime. In fact, Erdogan has been emphatic that this coup had been led by Fethullah Gulen, a billionaire Muslim cleric, formerly allied with Erdogan, who since moving to the U.S. in 1999 has been his bitter enemy. In fact, some of NATO’s forces in Turkey were participating in the attempted coup. However, Erdogan holds on tenaciously to that NATO membership, because it gives Turkey enormous leverage it can use in order to grab territory from Syria, which the U.S. regime wants Turkey to do.

Here is how Erdogan has clearlly committed Turkey to taking at least parts of Syria’s northeast:

On 6 June 2018, Reuters headlined “Turkish university to open campus in northern Syria” and reported that, “Turkey’s Harran University, in the southeastern province of Sanliurfa [Turkey], said it is preparing to open a faculty in Al-Bab [Syria] for students in towns under Turkish control. … The Turkish cabinet has also approved opening a vocational high school in Jarablus [Syria] affiliated with Gaziantep University, Turkey’s official gazette said on Tuesday.”

On 30 July 2018, Syria.LiveuaMap headlined “Turkey start[s] to build highways starting from Cobanbey-al-Bab to Jarablus-Manbij in Syria” — all of which is in the parts of Syria’s north that Turkey controls.

On 23 May 2019, Gaziantep University posted an announcement of “The Global Syrian Refugee Crisis” conference to be held in Gaziantep, Turkey, on 14-18 October 2019, and also announced that: “The medium of instruction of our university is entirely English in %80 of faculties and Turkish in some faculties. However, after the ferocious civil war in Syria, we opened four departments (Engineering, Architecture, Administration and Theology) that teach in Arabic language. This was achieved by hiring Syrian academic staff in these programs which created opportunities for refugee students who want to continue their studies in Arabic.” So, it does seem to be Erdogan’s intention that directly across the border in Syria, this part of what has, until recently, been a part of Syria, is to be instead a part of Turkey. This would be the chief favorable outcome for the U.S. regime resulting from the Syrian portion of the CIA-planted “Arab Spring” rebellions in 2011.

On 27 May 2019, the Daily Sabah headlined “Turkey to Build New Faculties to Promote Higher Education in Northern Syria” and reported that

Gaziantep University, located in southern Turkey close to the Syrian border, decided to offer education for Syrians living in the northern part of the war-torn country, the areas that were liberated by Turkey’s two cross-border operations. … 

The university applied to Turkish education officials to set up four faculties in northern Syria’s al-Bab, Azaz and Mare districts, which is planned to focus on economics, business, teaching and engineering; some 2,700 prospective students have already taken proficiency exams. The faculties will be the second move by Gaziantep University as it previously opened a vocational school last year in Aleppo’s Jarablus district. While vocational education currently continues in five departments, the university is planning to expand it with four more and to provide education for 500 students.

In 2016, Turkey launched Operation Euphrates Shield and cleared about 2,000 kilometers of area in northern Syria, which was once dragged into darkness by the Daesh terrorist organization.

This seems to reflect Syria’s actual capitulation to Turkey, which henceforth is to control that area — permanently. The only question now is how large the seized area will turn out to be.

The first person, it seems, who recognized quickly the significance of this takeover was the tweeter “domihol” who on 28 May 2019 posted

Turkey is also throwing serious money at its seemingly permanent slice of Syria.

You don’t build universities just so Damascus can take it over soon.

Right below that is his:

I’m sorry to say – my prediction for Syria’s near and possibly medium term future still holds …

Dominic | دومينيك added,

[15 December 2018]  prediction:

TRUMP gets the oil & gas

ERDOGAN gets the water

PUTIN gets the “mission accomplished” moment …

9:49 AM – 28 May 2019

However, his predictions there (as is routine for tweets, which are good for communicating only bumper-stickers) are unsupported by anything. For example: Where is Turkey’s oil and gas? Is it actually anywhere near to the Turkish border? Here’s a map which shows where it is, and that’s certainly not near the Turkish border.

In addition, the U.S. regime is evidently preparing to assist Turkey’s takeover of parts of Syria, but focuses it specifically against Iran. On 24 May 2019, the U.S. State Department advertised a “Grant Opportunity” for NGOs to be “Supporting Local Governance and Civil Society in Syria” and are offering up to $75 million to each, in order to “Counter extremism and disinformation perpetuated by Iranian forces” and “End the presence of Iranian forces and proxies in Syria” and otherwise support America’s war against Iran. Perhaps the U.S. and Turkey have agreed that U.S. operations against Syria will continue in the Turk-seized areas after the U.S. occupation of the remaining parts of Syria has ended.

If Assad were to give a press conference now, the first question to ask would be: “Is Syria going to allow Turkish universities and highways to be built on Turk-seized Syrian territory?” Because, if the answer to that is anything like yes, then not only would it seem that Turkey has won against Syria and Russia and Iran, but so too has the U.S., whose fall-back position, ever since it first tried a coup in Syria in 1949, has been to at least break off a piece of Syria, when and if it failed to take the whole thing. The construction of a Turkish university, highway, and/or etc., in Syria, would be a huge apparent win for Donald Trump, but an even bigger apparent victory for Tayyip Erdogan, who now seems to be, yet again, a member of America’s alliance against Russia. (And Iran, too, would seem to be endangered by Syria’s apparent defeat in that part of Syria. But maybe not: is Turkey going to end altogether its alliance with the U.S.?)

Usually, successful aggression is impossible without allies, and the U.S., again, seems to have Turkey as one — and as an extremely important one (more important, perhaps, than ever before).

The U.S. Government wants to remove land from Syria’s Government. The Turkish Government wants to be the Government that actually takes it. So, U.S. and Turkey seem to have made a deal. Turkey took Syrian territory while promising (as the Qatar regime’s Al Jazeera headlined on 5 June 2018 — “YPG confirms withdrawal from Syria’s Manbij after Turkey-US deal”). Al Jazeera reported there that, “The Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) said its military advisers would leave the town of Manbij a day after Turkey and the United States said they reached an agreement on the armed group’s withdrawal.” Those two foreign invaders against Syria (Turkey and U.S.) came to this agreement in Washington DC, regarding their respective invasions: Turkish forces won’t conquer YPG (separatist-Kurd) forces in any part of Syria unless and until that part has already become instead a part of Turkey — swallowed-up by Turkey. The U.S. will be protecting those Kurds until the U.S. ends its military occupation of Syria. After that, those Kurds will be on their own.

Back on 10 January 2018, Elijah J. Magnier had commented,

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad also considers Turkey to be another occupying force in northern Syria. He would like to liberate the entire Syrian territory, which is not the case with Russia, which would prefer to end the war as soon as possible and undertake the work at the negotiating table.”

Magnier seems to have been correct: Russia appears not to be objecting to Turkey’s land-seizures in Syria. Therefore, Turkey is a “middle-man” between both U.S. and Russia — strategizing with both.

On 19 January 2018, Tony Cartalucci commented,

The Syrian government with support from its Russian, Iranian, and Lebanese allies has embarked on a major military operation to retake parts of Syria’s northern governorate of Idlib. As it does so, the US and its regional allies are rushing to position themselves to ensure the permanent partition of Syria is achieved.”

He continued (all of which has likewise subsequently been borne out):

It should be noted that Afrin is located between [Idlib and] territory Turkey is currently occupying. Turkish troops, should they seize Afrin [which they soon did], would effectively have expanded Turkey’s “Euphrates Shield” by 30 miles (53 km) and present an opportunity for its troops to link up with troops of Turkey’s “Idlib Shield.” This would create a large, singular buffer zone within which US-NATO forces could harbor militants driven back by Syria’s most recent offensive.

Depending on Turkey’s success, the zone could be expanded even further, even as far as including Idlib city itself[which happened in September of that year] – thus granting the US an opportunity to present it as a second Syrian “capital” much in the way Benghazi was used in Libya during US-led regime change there. There remains, however, the fact that Idlib is openly occupied and administered by Al Qaeda, making the proposal of transforming it into an “opposition capital” particularly dubious.

Meanwhile, the US itself continues its own uninvited, illegal occupation of Syrian territory east of the Euphrates, having previously justified the invasion and occupation of Syrian territory under the guise of fighting the so-called “Islamic State” (ISIS). …

The US occupation of Syrian territory will be difficult for Damascus and its allies to contest without being drawn into a direct military confrontation. Turkey’s occupation may be easier to confound, but if sufficient political will exists to maintain it along with US backing, it could effectively result in a Golan Heights-style occupation of Syrian territory [by Turkey] that provides a long-term geopolitical pressure point versus Damascus for years to come.

And while US efforts to destroy Syria have fallen short, the US now permanently occupies territory within one of Iran’s closest and most important regional allies. Like a splinter under the skin turning septic, the US occupation will remain a constant potential source of wider infection both for Syria and the rest of the region.

Perhaps Cartalucci was the first person publicly to recognize what has been happening here.

On 8 February 2018, Russia’s RT bannered, “US-led coalition conducts ‘defensive’ airstrikes against Syrian forces”, and reported,

The US-led coalition has also firmly stressed its ‘non-negotiable right to act in self-defense,’ since its service members are embedded with the [anti-Syrian] ‘partners’ on ground in Syria. … ‘It’s very likely that the Americans have taken a course of dividing the country. They just gave up their assurances, given to us, that the only goal of their presence in Syria – without an invitation of the legitimate government – was to defeat Islamic State and the terrorists,’ Lavrov said.

All of this, likewise, has since been borne out. Key was the September 2018 Tehran summit of Erdogan, Putin and Rouhani (Syria not even being represented there), to decide how to handle Syria’s most pro-jihadist province: Idlib. (It’s even more jihadist than Raqqah, where ISIS was headquartered, and which is the second-most-jihadist.)

On 9 September 2018, the Turkish-Government-controlled (and this also means anti-Syrian) Daily Sabah newspaper bannered “The outcome of the Tehran summit” and reported that:

We know for a fact that Erdoğan’s goal was to prevent the Russians and the Assad regime from carrying out a comprehensive operation in Idlib. In this sense, he got what he wanted. At the joint press conference, the Russian president announced that the three countries, at the request of President Erdoğan, urged all parties to lay down their arms. As such, it became possible to prevent another humanitarian disaster, a new influx of refugees, the collapse of the Astana process [which Putin had established to replace the U.N.’s peace process immediately after Obama bombed on 17 September 2016 Syria’s Army at Deir Ezzor, thus violating the ceasefire agreement that his Secretary of State John Kerry had just signed with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on 9 September 2016and the radicalization of moderate opposition, who would have moved closer to the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) [Al Qaeda in Syria]. At the same time, a clear distinction was made between ‘terrorists’ and opposition groups. At the same time, there is no doubt that the Iranian president’s proposal to remove the United States from the east of the Euphrates river was in line with Erdoğan’s own agenda.

Actually, however, the truthfulness of that last sentence is still very much in doubt.

The ultra-reliable Al Masdar News reported on 10 September 2018 that

Russia and Iran have already informed Turkey that they will not accept any jihadist factions inside of Idlib; however, the latter is attempting to convince Moscow and Tehran to avoid carrying out the attack in favor of Ankara clearing these groups.”

Putin and Rouhani accepted Erdogan’s promise there (of “Ankara clearing those groups”), and consequently allowed Turkey’s troops to handle Idlib. But, evidently, Erdogan had been lying about that. He didn’t eliminate the jihadists — he has instead been protecting them (except that his forces attack the Kurdish-independence forces against Syria’s Government, the anti-Assad fighters whom Erdogan authentically has been obsessed to kill).

The very next day, on September 11th, Paul Mansfield at Syria News headlined “Erdogan Buys Time for Terrorists at the Tehran Summit” and he observed that

The Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah released the components of Turkey’s plan for Idlib. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out it effectively means annexing Syrian territory, entrenching Turkish proxy Free Syrian Army forces, while falsely legitimizing their presence through a trilateral agreement, one made (it should be mentioned) without the presence of the country it concerns: Syria.

On 18 September 2018, another of the Turkish regime’s major newspapers, Yeni Safak, headlined “Turkey tells 50,000 FSA fighters to be ready for deployment as tensions rise in Idlib” and reported that,

As the Assad regime and Russian warplanes viciously attack the last opposition-held stronghold of Syria’s Idlib, Turkey ramped up its military reinforcements in northern Syria and instructed over 50,000 Free Syrian Army (FSA) [that being the Turkish-led anti-Assadfighters stationed in Afrin, Azaz, Jarabulus, al-Bab and al-Rai to ‘be ready for military deployment.’”

This anti-Syrian report continued, “The Bashar al-Assad regime recently announced plans to launch a major military offensive in Idlib, which is controlled by various armed opposition groups.” It didn’t mention that those “armed opposition groups” were the members of Al Qaeda-led forces defeated elsewhere in Syria who had chosen to be bused by the Syrian Government into the most pro-jihadist Syrian province, Idlib, instead of to be outright shot to death on-the-spot by Syrian troops, where they had been fighting. Such crucial information was left out of Western news-reports.

It went on: “An attack on Syria’s Idlib, the last opposition-held stronghold, would be a massacre,” and (since this newspaper reflected Erdogan’s anti-Assad, meaning anti-Syrian, viewpoint) it alleged that “Russia and Assad regime target civilians” instead of try to exterminate jihadists — especially now in Idlib itself, to which Syria’s Government had, indeed, been busing the surviving defeated jihadists. (As was previously noted, the only alternative that Syria’s Government had had regarding those hold-out fighters would have been simply to go in and slaughter not only them but the human shields behind whom they were fighting, which would have enormously increased the civilian casualties, which the ‘barbaric’ Assad-led Government was always trying to avoid doing. So: that’s how and why so many of the Al Qaeda-led forces came to be collected inside Idlib to begin with.)

NOTE:

Erdogan might be a double-agent here. But how could Turkey be building infrastructure in Syria and not be permanently taking that land? All of those “seems to be” could be wrong, but it’s hard to see how Syria’s Government could accept any such blatant grab of land away from their nation. I had written on 14 September 2018 about Erdogan’s duplicity, headlining “U.S. Protects Al Qaeda in Syria, Proven”:

Erdogan is in both camps — America’s and Russia’s — and playing each side against the other, for what he wants. But he could turn out to be the biggest loser from ‘his’ success here.

If he exterminates Idlib’s jihadists, then the U.S. side will condemn him for it. But if he instead frees those jihadists to return to their home-countries, then both sides will condemn him for having done so.

The biggest apparent ‘winner’ from all this, Erdogan, could thus turn out to be the biggest real loser from it. And the biggest apparent ‘loser’ from it, Assad, could turn out to be the biggest real winner from it.

Then, three days later, on September 17th, I argued that the big winners from this will probably be Putin, Erdogan, Rouhani, and Assad. The headline of that was “Putin and Erdogan Plan Syria-Idlib DMZ as I Recommended”, and the basic case was presented that this would turn out to be only a feint on Erdogan’s part, and that he and Putin and Rouhani (and Assad) would all benefit from this feint by Erdogan, and take home the win. It still could be that. But only Erdogan himself probably knows. And who can read his mind? The main sign I would look at is whether Putin and Rouhani just ignore, as much as possible, Turkey’s ‘seizures’ of Idlib and of the most-jihadist parts of Aleppo province bordering Idlib to Idlib’s immediate east. (For example, this fundamentalist-Sunni family from Sweida — which is perhaps the most pro-jihadist southern province — migrated during the war to Al-Bab, which is Turk-controlled.) If Putin and Rouhani ignore Turkey’s solidification of its control over those areas of northwestern Syria, then this is how the U.S. side and proxy forces — jihadists and Kurdish fanatics — might lose in Syria, and be forced out of there. This Turkish ‘win’ would entail a loss for both the U.S. and its proxy-forces, especially the Kurds. But it would also entail Syria’s loss of the areas that were always the greatest thorn in Assad’s side. In that case, America’s former proxy-forces in northwest Syria — Al Qaeda’s surviving Syrian forces, plus the separatist Kurdish forces — would henceforth be under Erdogan’s control. If Putin, Rouhani and Assad won’t object to that, then the main loser could be the U.S. regime, which would cede to Erdogan not only America’s last holdout in Syria but also all of its proxy-forces in Syria, henceforth to be totally subject to whatever Erdogan has in mind for them. However, the biggest losers could still be the Turkish and the American regimes. But that would be true only if the surrounded U.S. forces in Syria’s northeast become forced out. If the U.S. occupation stays in Syria, then the U.S. and Turkey will have taken all of northern Syria. But no oil or gas is there, either. (It’s south of there.) What, consequently, is this war even about, any longer? Is it about contending national leaders who refuse to acknowledge defeat? Is that now the only real reason for all of this ongoing death, and destruction? Is it just pure ego?

If Turkey quits NATO, then the biggest loser from the end-part of the Syrian war would be the U.S. and its allies. But, of course, the biggest losers from the entire war are the Syrian people. There’s no doubt, whatsoever, about that.

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

سورية واستراتيجية استكمال التحرير والتطهير

يوليو 9, 2019

العميد د. أمين محمد حطيط

في خريف العام الفائت كان المراقبون جميعاً ينتظرون إطلاق عملية تحرير إدلب على يد الجيش السوري وحلفائه ويتوقعون دعماً نارياً روسياً ملائماً لهذه العملية المعقدة والتي يعترضها الكثير من العوائق والصعوبات الناتجة عن ظروف شتى عملانية وسياسية واستراتيجية وحتى ديمغرافية.

لكن روسيا التي وقفت على هذه العقبات وما يرافقها أيضاً من مخاطر التدخل الأميركي والغربي ومع ما تستلزمه من تضحيات وحاجة إلى تحشيد قدر كبير من القوى والطاقات للتنفيذ، روسيا هذه رأت ان تبحث في خيار أخر يؤمّن تحقيق الغاية السورية من جهة، ولا يمسّ بالسعي الروسي إلى تهيئة الظروف المسهّلة لاستعادة دورها الدولي في عداد الصف الأول من القوى الدولية الفاعلة من جهة أخرى.

وقد رمى الخيار الروسي إلى تجنّب التحرير بالعمل العسكري الصاخب والوصول اليه بعملية متدرّجة مركبة تعتمد على تركيا في بعض وجوهها دون إسقاط الدور المركزي للجيش العربي السوري، ولأجل ذلك استبقت روسيا إطلاق عملية تحرير إدلب بعقد اتفاق سوتشي مع تركيا، الاتفاق الذي شاءته بديلاً مرحلياً للعمل العسكري وتوطئة له في نهاية المطاف لكن في ظروف وبيئة مختلفة.

هنا أدركت تركيا حاجة روسيا إليها لتجنّب العمل العسكري، فأبرمت الاتفاق مع نية الانقلاب عليه او إفراغه من مضمونه منذ لحظة توقيعه، ورغم انّ روسيا أدركت هذا الانقلاب والغدر التركي فإنها ولأسباب ذاتية وإقليمية ودولية امتنعت عن مواجهة تركيا وراهنت على إمكانية إعادتها إلى الاتفاق بالقدر المتيسّر لانّ لروسيا مصالح استراتيجية مع تركيا ترى انّ عدم تحقيقها الآن قد يعني استحالة تحقيقها مطلقاً في المستقبل.

فروسيا تدرك انّ فشل تركيا في مشروعها الإقليمي العام المتضمّن سيطرة الإخوان المسلمين بقيادتها على كامل المنطقة، وانّ برودة العلاقة مع الغرب الأوروبي حتى وجفافها انْ لم نقل أكثر، وانّ شبه العزلة الإقليمية التي تعاني منها تركيا نتيجة تشكل العداوات التي تصبغ علاقاتها مع كلّ دول المنطقة إلا القليل منها قطر مثلاً روسيا تدرك ظروف تركيا هذه وتتصوّر أنها اللحظة المناسبة لجذب تركيا اليها وتجميد موقعها في الحلف الأطلسي وتحييدها في الصراع بين الشرق والغرب، أهداف إذا تحققت تكون قد أحدثت انقلاباً استراتيجياً في العلاقات الدولية ومستقبل النظام العالمي برمّته، انقلاب يكون طبعاً لصالح روسيا على حساب أوروبا وأميركا.

لهذه الأسباب رأت روسيا انّ مسايرة تركيا او ممالأتها وغضّ النظر عن تراجعها في تنفيذ الاتفاقات حول إدلب وسواها في سورية هو أمر متسامَح به إذا تمّ النظر اليه من باب المصالح الاستراتيجية الروسية الكبرى التي يحققها هذا التسامح او التساهل، وفي الوقت نفسه رأت تركيا انّ بإمكانها استثمار الحاجة الروسية تلك إلى الحدّ الأقصى من أجل منع عملية تحرير إدلب ومنحها الوقت اللازم لفرض مشروعها الخاص او تحقيق أكبر قدر من المكاسب في سورية، مكاسب تعوّل عليها لحجب أو تخفيف مفاعيل فشلها الاستراتيجي الإقليمي العام الذي لم يبق لها تقريب سوى الميدان التونسي محلاً لتحقيق الربح والميدان الليبي محلاً للمناورة.

في ظلّ هذا الوضع، ومع توجه الإرهابيين في إدلب وبدعم تركي لجرّ الجيش السوري إلى حرب استنزاف في أرياف حماة وحلب وإدلب، لحرفه عن عملية التحرير وإشغاله عن الخطة العدوانية التركية، اتخذت سورية قراراً ترجمت به استقلالية القرار السوري وعملت وفقاً لجدول الأولويات العسكرية السورية مع مراعاتها للإمكانات الميدانية والظروف الإقليمية والدولية، واعتمدت في ذلك استراتيجية مطوّرة تقوم على مقومات أربعة هي:

1 ـ الحركة الدائمة والمتواصلة والمدروسة في الميدان وتجنّب الوقوع في فخ حرب الاستنزاف كما تجنّب إعطاء الذرائع للقوى المعادية ومكوّنات معسكر العدوان بقيادة أميركية، الذرائع التي تستغلّ من أجل العدوان المباشر على قوات وتشكيلات ومراكز الجيش العربي السوري.

2 ـ اقتياد التجمّعات الإرهابية إلى حرب تستنزفها وتضعفها وتشتّت قواها وتدمّر مراكزها النارية والقيادية بما يمنعها عن شنّ عمليات عسكرية واسعة تمكّنها من احتلال أرض وإفساد أمنها.

3 ـ تحرير الأرض بالقضم المتتابع المتدرّج وإنتاج بيئة عملانية ملائمة لإطلاق عملية التحرير الإلزامية النهائية التي لا يمكن إغفالها في مسيرة استعادة إدلب إلى حضن الدولة والوصول إلى الحدود الدولية مع تركيا بعد إجهاض المشروع التركي في سورية.

4 ـ تحييد القدر الأكبر من المدنيين في المنطقة وإتاحة الفرص لهم للانتقال إلى مناطق آمنة وتجنيبهم مخاطر الحرب.

لقد انطلقت سورية في تنفيذ خطتها تلك مع علمها الكامل باهتمامات الآخرين ومصالحهم، ووقوفها على وجهتي النظر القائمتين حول تحرير إدلب… وجهة النظر الداعية إلى الحلول السياسية مع ضغط عسكري ووجهة النظر الرامية إلى العمل العسكري المنتج لحلول سياسية، في مواجهة خطط معسكر العدوان المتمثلة في الاستراتيجية الأميركية الرامية إلى إطالة أمد الصراع ومنع تحرير إدلب وشرقي الفرات في الوقت الراهن، والخطة التركية الرامية إلى إنشاء مناطق نفوذ في الأرض السورية تحت تسميات متعدّدة تتقاطع كلها عند فكرة السيطرة التركية الميدانية على قطاع من الأرض يمكن تركيا من التأثير في القرار السوري المركزي.

لكن سورية التي عرفت كيف تخوض المواجهة وأخذت بعين النظر ما يشتمل عليه الميدان والإقليم من مؤثرات، واختارت ما يناسبها، حيث أثبتت الوقائع القائمة أنها نجحت في خيارها الاستراتيجي وحققت حتى الآن مكاسب لا بأس بها تستطيع ان تبني عليها خلال الأسابيع المقبلة لتتوسّع في عملية التحرير بالقضم المتتابع، وتفكيك فصائل الإرهاب وإعاقة لا بل منع المشروع التركي من تحقيق أهدافه، ويبدو أنّ هناك محطة مهمة في شهر آب المقبل تتمثل في الاجتماع الثلاثي الروسي الإيراني التركي، اجتماع قد يعوّل عليه من أجل مزيد من كشف الخطط التركية العدوانية وللتأكيد على انّ الوقت شارف على النفاذ ولن يكون بوسع تركيا أن تناور بشكل إضافي.

وعليه نرى وربطاً بين ملفي تحرير ما تبقى في سورية، وإنقاد الاتفاق النووي الإيراني، نرى انّ مطلع أيلول المقبل سيكون تاريخاً للخيارات الاستراتيجية الهامة، فإما تكيّف دولي مع إرادة سورية في التحرير وإيرانية في ممارسة الحقوق الوطنية المتصلة بملفها النووي ورفض الحرب الاقتصادية، أو تصعيد ومواجهة ستكون منطقة إدلب محلاً لها لانطلاق التحرير عسكرياً، مع احتمال احتكاك محدود مسيطر عليه بين إيران ومن يستهدفها يكون الخليج بشكل خاص ميدانه الأكثر احتمالاً وبهذا سيؤكد مجدّداً نجاح الصبر الاستراتيجي الذي مارسته إيران في استراتيجية النقطة نقطة ومارسته سورية باستراتيجية القضم المتتابع.

أستاذ جامعي ـ باحث استراتيجي

Resistance report: Iran cuts is obligations under the JCPOA and Syrian ceasefire talks collapse once again

July 07, 2019

Resistance report: Iran cuts is obligations under the JCPOA and Syrian ceasefire talks collapse once again

by Aram Mirzaei for The Saker Blog

On Sunday morning, the Islamic Republic cut its latest obligations to the JCPOA by enriching uranium to a higher purity than 3.67%, Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Abbas Araqchi stated. He said that Iran would increase uranium enrichment to the level that fulfils the needs of its power plants.

He also noted that the country had not yet decided on the level of enrichment for the Tehran research reactor. This comes after Tehran had given the remaining signatories a 60 day deadline to offset the adverse impacts of the unilateral pull-out by Washington. Of course, Europe, being the chained lapdog of Washington with no will of its own, couldn’t satisfy Tehran’s demands since Europe doesn’t dare to stand up to their masters, so this move was very much expected.

Western media have been quick to write their headlines: “Iran violates JCPOA”. This kind of headline lays the blame on the Islamic Republic, accusing Tehran of violating a deal which Washington pulled out of. Nobody in Europe seems to be placing any blame on Washington for totally reneging on the deal, this shows how “impartial and free” western media and its political institutions are.

Meanwhile, another signatory to the JCPOA, namely Britain has decided to engage in sea piracy at the behest of Washington when earlier this week an oil tanker heading for Syria was hijacked by British special forces near Gibraltar. This is part of Washington’s economic warfare on Syria where the recent sanctions are aimed at preventing Syria from receiving and importing any kind of fuel. Washington reasoning is that if it cannot control Syria, then it will destroy Syria altogether, and London will follow Washington without hesitation to whatever hell Washington is heading for.

This was also evident in the aftermath of the downing of the US RQ-4A drone and the false flag attacks on the oil tankers in the Persian Gulf last month, when Jeremy Hunt “warned” that the UK would join the US in a war against Iran since according to the him the UK has done some “independent intelligence assessments” to determine that Tehran was behind the oil tanker attacks.

“We have done our own intelligence assessment. We have got videos of what happened. We have seen evidence. We don’t believe anyone else could have done this,” he said.

With regards to Iran’s recent threat that it will suspend Tehran’s obligations to the JCPOA, Hunt responded that:

“We want to preserve that deal because we don’t want Iran to have nuclear weapons but if Iran breaks that deal then we are out of it as well.”

Pathetic statements by the foreign minister indeed, he truly shows that the UK parrots whatever bullshit Washington spews and has no will of its own. And so two out of 6 signatories are out and I expect France and Germany to follow the same path soon as well since they are in the same vassal position as Britain is.

Luckily, the threat of war seems no longer as imminent as it was just a couple of weeks ago, especially after the downing of the US drone over the Persian Gulf. According to reports in Iran, Washington asked Tehran to be allowed to bomb mock targets inside Iran, to save face after the humiliating incident. Tehran responded that this would be considered a declaration of war and denied Washington this bizarre request. This would explain why Trump behaved so incoherently in the aftermath of the incident, speculating that the downing of the drone could have “been a mistake by an individual” in the Iranian armed forces. I believe that this shows that the Iranian analysis of this escalation has been correct all along, Washington wants to intimidate Iran with threats but wont make good on them as they know what the consequences of these threats would be. I’ve said before that the Zionist state would be the biggest loser of a potential war between the US and Iran and last week Mojtaba Zolnour, the chairman of the Iranian parliament’s National security and Foreign policy commission confirmed that Israel would indeed be the main target of Iran’s response to any kind of US aggression by declaring that only half an hour of Israel’s lifespan would remain if Iran was attacked.

Elsewhere, Syrian and Russian military commanders are said to be discussing a new offensive in northwestern Syria after reports of collapsed ceasefire talks between Ankara and Moscow. This report comes as Moscow has resumed heavy airstrikes over the Idlib, Hama and Latakia provinces, targeting both Jihadists and Turkish backed “rebels”.

The offensive is said to be aimed at expanding the Syrian Army’s presence around the Al-Zawiya mountain region and the Al-Ghaab plains bordering Hama and Idlib. The months of May and June were bloody as the Syrian Army and the jihadists traded many blows, mainly due to Turkish interference. The Turkish Army has been very active lately, using all the previous ceasefires as opportunities to re-arm and regroup the jihadist forces, thus saving them from their imminent destruction. Meanwhile this report is also accompanied by allegations that Turkey is seeking to annex the Idlib province and other areas in northwestern Syria. Fars News reported that Ankara’s continued military presence, including new reinforcements sent on a weekly basis are indications of preliminary steps taken by Ankara to permanently occupy these areas. It should be noted that Ankara has installed a puppet government in this area under the flag of the so called “National Liberation Front” (NLF), a collection of Turkish backed militants. The main obstacle for Ankara would reportedly be the presence of Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham terrorists, the main rival group of the so called NLF. The Fars News report added that Turkish officials are contemplating to have the HTS terrorist group dissolved through either war or peace to leave Moscow and Damascus with no more excuses to continue military operations in the area.

Fars News added that the interim government affiliated with the militants would gain control of the bordering corridors between Syria and Turkey and the residents of these regions would be provided with main services with the revenues of these passageways. The likelihood of this happening, however, is very slim as Moscow looks to reunite the country and Damascus would never accept such an outcome.

Despite the odds of Ankara annexing Idlib and other northern provinces in Syria, Damascus and Moscow would do well to remain wary of Ankara’s treacherous motives in Syria and should proceed with military operations to liberate these occupied territories.

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Turkey allegedly seeking to annex Idlib, northern Aleppo: report

BEIRUT, LEBANON (6:00 P.M.) – Turkey is allegedly seeking to annex the Idlib Governorate and the northern region of Aleppo, Iran’s Fars News Agency reported, citing the Arab-language publication Al-Arabi Jadid.

According to the Fars News report, Turkey is taking preliminary steps to install their political rhetoric and military occupation of these areas.

They continued that the main obstacle for Turkey is the presence of Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham (the Levant Liberation Board or the Al-Nusra Front) terrorists, noting that the Turkish officials have told them that this jihadist group will be dissolved by the year-end, through either war or peace to leave the Russians with no excuse to continue their military operations in the region.

Fars News added that the interim government affiliated to the dissidents will gain control of the bordering corridors between Syria and Turkey and the residents of these regions will be provided with main services with the revenues of these passageways.

The likelihood of this happening, however, is very slim, given the fact that both Russia and Turkey are pushing for a constitutional committee and the reopening of the highways between the government and opposition areas.

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Dozens Militants Killed In Airstrikes On Greater Idlib

South Front

Six improvised-explosive devices (IEDs) exploded on a part of the Kirkuk–Ceyhan oil pipeline passing near Iraq’s Mosul on July 3. The IEDs attack caused a major fire on the 970km long pipeline with a capacity of 1,600 thousand barrels per day. According to the Iraqi side, the fire was contained after a short period of time.

This was a second attack on oil sector-related facilities in Iraqi within a month. In June, a rocket struck the Burjesia residential and operations headquarters west of Basra, which is home to a number of international oil giants, including US firm ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell PLC, and Italian Eni SpA. Then, mainstream media rushed to blame “Iranian proxies”, but no evidence to confirm these claims were provided.

At least 50 members of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the National Front for Liberation and the Turkistan Islamic Party were eliminated by Syrian and Russian airstrikes on Khan Shaykhun, Hobit, Madaya and other targets in Greater Idlib, according to pro-government sources.

At the same time, units affiliated with the  al-Qaeda-affilated “Wa Harid al-Muminin” operations room raided positions of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in al-Masharie in northern Hama. According to militants 7 SAA soldiers were killed. Additionally, 2 children were killed by militant shelling on the settlements of Aziziyah and al-Rasif.

Late on July 3, a booby-trapped motorcycle exploded in the city center of al-Suwyada. The governorate’s health director told the SANA that three civilians were killed and seven others were injured as a result of the terrorist attack.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, yet. However, ISIS remains the main suspect. The terrorist group’s cells are reportedly highly active in the Damascus desert, north of al-Suwyada. Comprehensive operations in these desert are not effective as long as militants always have an opportunity to hide from the SAA in the US-controlled area of al-Tanf. In turn, the US-led coalition demonstrated that, while it is not seeking to combat ISIS presence, it’s ready to attack any government units entering the area.

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