Damascus and Moscow Facing the Siege… Economy First! دمشق وموسكو بمواجهة الحصار.. الاقتصاد أولاً!

October 16, 2020 Arabi Souri

Russian Military Presence in Syria - Hmeimim Airbase - Moscow - Damascus

Moscow and Damascus realize after five years of the Russian presence in Syria that if Russia leaves its political and military position in Syria, the consequences will be very dangerous for the region.

Dima Nassif, director of Al-Mayadeen office in Damascus, wrote (source in Arabic) the following piece for the Lebanese news channel about the latest developments in the Russian – Syrian relations in light of the latest visit of the Russian top delegation to Damascus followed by a Syrian delegation visit to Moscow:

The visit of the Syrian Minister of Presidential Affairs to Moscow at the head of an economic delegation, a few days ago, may have slipped from media circulation, despite its close connection with the completion of the Russian-Syrian talks or agreements that were reached during the recent visit of the Russian Deputy Prime Minister Borisov and the Russian delegation. It is possible to build on it to launch a Russian-Syrian partnership paper to confront sanctions, including the US ‘Caesar Act‘.

The crowding of readings and interpretations of the visit of the Russian delegation and the presence of Sergey Lavrov after eight years to Damascus can be interpreted as just a temporary Russian economic bargaining – to cross the psychological barrier left by the American pressure on Moscow, to prevent the return of the political process to Geneva, and to exert Russian internal pressure by a current opposing the policy of Putin in Syria – that final understandings must be reached on the Constitutional Committee before the Syrian presidential elections in June 2021.

This visit, as the results confirm, is no further than full support for the Syrian state politically and economically, as it does not come under the heading of Russian initiatives to barter or compromise Damascus’s positions on the political process, the liberation of Idlib, or even eastern Syria. Lavrov’s presence in Damascus was against the backdrop of the “Caesar Act”, not Astana or any other address.

Among the deficiencies of some in Moscow against Damascus are its rigid positions in the face of Russian proposals, which calls for flexibility in negotiations on the part of the Syrian side, and the easing of some formalities that may be interpreted in the way that the Syrian leadership does not wish to cooperate or make any progress in the political process before the elections, repeating the phrase that there is no agreement without agreeing on everything.

On the other hand, Damascus believes that the political process should be based on a long-term strategy, to avoid the traps that Turkey might place through its groups within the opposition delegation, as President Al-Assad spoke in his recent meetings to Russian media.

Columns of cars crowded in front of petrol stations in Syrian cities two months ago did not allow to feel Russian support to alleviate the consequences of the “Caesar Act” and its impact. Then came the huge losses in forest fires and agricultural lands in the countrysides of Lattakia, Homs, Tartous, and Hama, this was quickly seized by the American embassy in Damascus, calling on the Syrian government to protect its citizens, in a naive attempt and unprofessional rhetoric, to test its ability to incite the incubating environment (of the Syrian state), as Caesar (Act) promised in the folds of its goals, without an American understanding of the peculiarity of this environment, which has stood its positions throughout the war, despite all the living and security pressures on its lives.

Moscow, and with it Damascus, after five years of the Russian presence in Syria, are aware that the consequences of Russia leaving its political and military position in Syria will be very dangerous for the region, as the Russian presence aims to ensure security and make the world order more just and balanced, as President Al-Assad said. Ankara’s transfer of the militants from the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda groups to the Azerbaijan front, and before it to Libya, is only the first sign of the expansion of the Turkish project in the region after its failure in Syria, and it is the basis of Moscow’s involvement in the Syrian war, and will not allow its transfer to its own walls.

Intercontinental Wars – Part 2: The Counterattack

Intercontinental Wars – Part 3 The Open Confrontation

https://www.syrianews.cc/intercontinental-wars-part-3-the-open-confrontation/embed/#?secret=F3H13Q3E96

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ديمة ناصيف 

المصدر: الميادين نت

13 تشرين اول 14:02

تدرك موسكو ومعها دمشق بعد 5 سنوات على الوجود الروسي في سوريا، بأنه إذا ما غادرت روسيا موقعها السياسي والعسكري في سوريا فإن التبعات ستكون خطرة جداً على المنطقة.

تدرك موسكو ومعها دمشق بأنه إذا ما غادرت روسيا موقعها السياسي والعسكري فإن التبعات ستكون خطرة جداً على المنطقة
تدرك موسكو ومعها دمشق بأنه إذا ما غادرت روسيا موقعها السياسي والعسكري فإن التبعات ستكون خطرة جداً على المنطقة

قد تكون زيارة وزير شؤون الرئاسة السورية إلى موسكو على رأس وفد اقتصادي، قبل أيام، قد مرَّت بعيداً من التداول الإعلامي، رغم ارتباطها الوثيق باستكمال المحادثات أو الاتفاقيات الروسية السورية، التي تمّ التوصل إليها خلال زيارة نائب رئيس الحكومة الروسية بوريسوف الأخيرة والوفد الروسي، وبات من الممكن البناء عليها لإطلاق ورقة شراكة روسية سورية لمواجهة العقوبات، بما فيها قانون “قيصر” الأميركي.

ازدحام القراءات والتأويلات لزيارة الوفد الروسي وحضور سيرغي لافروف بعد 8 سنوات إلى دمشق، يمكن تفسيره بأنه مجرد مساومة اقتصادية روسية مؤقتة – لعبور الحاجز النفسي الذي خلّفه الضغط الأميركي على موسكو، ومنع إعادة العملية السياسية إلى جنيف، وممارسة ضغط داخلي روسي من قبل تيار يعارض سياسة بوتين في سوريا – بوجوب التوصل إلى تفاهمات نهائية حول اللجنة الدستورية قبل الانتخابات الرئاسية السورية في حزيران/يونيو 2021.

هذه الزيارة، كما تؤكد النتائج، ليست أبعد من دعم كامل للدولة السورية سياسياً واقتصادياً، فهي لا تندرج تحت عنوان مبادرات روسية تقايض أو تساوم مواقف دمشق حول العملية السياسية أو تحرير إدلب أو حتى الشرق السوري. كان حضور لافروف في دمشق على خلفية قانون “قيصر”، وليس أستانة أو أي عنوان آخر.

ومن مآخذ البعض في موسكو على دمشق، مواقفها المتصلّبة في وجه الطروحات الروسية، ما يستدعي إبداء مرونة في التفاوض من جانب الطرف السوري، والتخفف من بعض الشكليات التي قد تُفسَّر على نحو أن القيادة السورية لا ترغب في التعاون أو إنجاز أي تقدم على صعيد العملية السياسية قبل الانتخابات، وترديد عبارة أن لا اتفاق من دون الاتفاق على كل شيء.

في المقابل، ترى دمشق أن العملية السياسية يجب أن تكون مبنية على استراتيجية مرحلية طويلة الأمد، لتجنب أفخاخ قد تضعها تركيا من خلال مجموعاتها داخل وفد المعارضة، كما تحدث الرئيس الأسد في لقاءاته الأخيرة إلى وسائل إعلام روسية.

ولم تسمح أرتال السيارات المزدحمة أمام محطات الوقود في المدن السورية منذ شهرين بتلمّس الدعم الروسي للتخفيف من تبعات “قيصر” ووطأته، ثم جاءت الخسائر الهائلة في حرائق الأحراج والأراضي الزراعية في أرياف اللاذقية وحمص وطرطوس وحماة، الأمر الذي تلقفته السفارة الأميركية في دمشق سريعاً، لتدعو الحكومة السورية إلى حماية مواطنيها، في محاولة ساذجة وخطاب غير محترف، لاختبار قدرتها على تأليب البيئة الحاضنة، كما وعد “قيصر” في طيات أهدافه، من دون فهم أميركيّ لخصوصية هذه البيئة التي ثبتت على مواقفها طيلة الحرب، رغم كل الضغوطات المعيشية والأمنية على حياتها. 

تدرك موسكو، ومعها دمشق، بعد 5 سنوات على الوجود الروسي في سوريا، أن تبعات مغادرة روسيا موقعها السياسي والعسكري في سوريا ستكون خطيرة جداً على المنطقة، فالتواجد الروسي يهدف إلى ضمان الأمن، وجعل النظام العالمي أكثر عدلاً وتوازناً، كما قال الرئيس الأسد. إنّ نقل أنقرة للمسلحين من المجموعات الإخوانية والقاعدية إلى جبهة أذربيجان، وقبلها ليبيا، ليس إلا أولى ملامح توسع المشروع التركي في الإقليم بعد فشله في سوريا، وهو أساس انخراط موسكو في الحرب السورية، ولن تسمح بانتقاله إلى أسوارها.

War in Nagorno-Karabakh Is a Gamechanger in Russian-Turkish Relations

By Paul Antonopoulos

Global Research, October 17, 2020

After Turkey downed a Russian jet operating in Syria in late 2015, there was a major risk that the Syrian War could explode into a greater conflict between the two Eurasian countries. The Turkish attack resulted in the death of two Russian servicemen and relations between Moscow and Ankara were again tested in December 2016 when Russian Ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov, was assassinated by off-duty police officer Mevlüt Mert Altıntaş. Although Russian President Vladimir Putin accepted the explanation from his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that the assassination was not ordered by the state, Nordic Monitor has published compelling evidence that Altıntaş had strong connections to the so-called Turkish deep state. Despite these major setbacks in Russian-Turkish relations, by the end of 2017 the two countries signed a $2.5 billion agreement for Turkey to acquire the Russian-made S-400 air defence system, considered the most sophisticated of its kind in the world.

As is well-known, this deal resulted in tense relations between Turkey and its NATO allies, and many speculated that with Russian encouragement Ankara would eventually leave the Atlantic Alliance. It is highly unlikely that Turkey will ever leave NATO willingly or be ejected from the organization. Turkey, as a key country connecting East and West and controlling Straits linking the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, knows that it is one of the most important geostrategic countries in the world and can afford to leverage both NATO and Russia to advance its own ambitions.

The Russian-Turkish partnership has seen Ankara acquire the S-400 system, Russia has a critical part in the construction of the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant, and cooperation on significantly reducing conflict in Syria. However, it now appears that Moscow is becoming increasingly frustrated and antagonized by Ankara’s constant escalation of hostilities across Russia’s southern flank and/or areas of interest. Despite Russia and Turkey cooperating in Syria, they support opposing sides in Libya, but this is not considered a major issue between them, or at least not enough to change the course of their bilateral relations. However, the war in Artsakh, or more commonly known as Nagorno-Karabakh, has exposed the fragility of relations between Moscow and Ankara.

Artsakh, despite being an integral part of the Armenian homeland for over 2,500 years and always maintaining an overwhelmingly Armenian majority population, was assigned to the Azerbaijani Soviet Socialist Republic in the early 1920’s. However, in 1989 Armenians in Artsakh demanded unification with the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic. This demand was ultimately rejected by Moscow. However, the final collapse of the Soviet Union in 1992 sparked a war in Artsakh. The Armenians achieved a decisive victory in 1994 and the Republic of Artsakh emerged, although it is still internationally recognized as a part of Azerbaijan.Turkey and Syria Are at War Without a Declaration of War

The OSCE Minsk Group, comprising of France, Russia and the U.S., is the foremost international body attempting to end the decades-long conflict between the de facto independent Republic of Artsakh and Azerbaijan. Although minor wars and skirmishes have been commonplace since 1994, the current war is the most serious escalation, especially when considering the internationalization of the conflict because of Turkey’s transfer of special forces, military advisers, and more importantly, Syrian jihadist mercenaries.

Many within the Syrian government and military have expressed frustration that Russia effectively prevented a Syrian Army offensive at the beginning of the year to liberate more areas of Idlib from Turkish-backed jihadist rule. It is likely that Moscow’s push for a ceasefire in Idlib was to appease Turkey in the hope that it would slowly de-escalate and eventually withdraw from Syria. However, Erdoğan used the lull in the fighting in Idlib to transfer Syrian jihadist mercenaries to fight in Libya. These militants fight on the side of the Muslim Brotherhood Government of National Accords based in Tripoli. They are in opposition to the Libyan National Army, which is based in Tobruk and has ties to Russia.

The transfer of Syrian militants to Libya certainly concerned Moscow, but Libya is not as geopolitically crucial for Russia. However, the transfer of Syrian militants to Azerbaijan brings various terrorists and mujahideen forces right to the very doorstep of Russia in the South Caucasus. Whereas Syrian militants in Idlib and Libya were no real threat to Russia directly, bringing such forces can now easily put them in direct contact with Islamist terrorists based in Dagestan, Chechnya and Ingushetia in Russia’s Caucasus region.

This will likely be a gamechanger in Russian-Turkish relations.

Moscow’s reaction to Turkey transferring Syrian terrorists to Azerbaijan is beginning to reveal itself. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday that Moscow “has never considered Turkey as a strategic ally” and emphasized that Russian military observers should be placed on the line of contact between Artsakh and Azerbaijan. Although Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev repeatedly calls for Turkey to be involved in the Minsk Group or in negotiations, Russia has continually blocked Ankara from being involved in any negotiations.

Russia’s frustration with Turkey can even be felt in the East Mediterranean now. As recently as September 5, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova angered many Greeks when she urged states to be “guided by common sense and take into consideration the geographical peculiarities of a region” when discussing Turkey’s illegal claims against Greece in the East Mediterranean. Zakharova effectively adopted Turkey’s arguments that if Athens enacts its international legal right to extend its territorial waters from six nautical miles to 12, then the Aegean will effectively become a “Greek lake,” and therefore the Turks believe “common sense” has to prevail over this “geographical peculiarity.”

However, only yesterday, it appeared that Moscow now indirectly supports Greece’s position in the East Mediterranean, with the Russian Embassy in Athens tweeting that “Russia’s position as a permanent member of the UN Security Council is the starting point. We consider the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea the ‘cornerstone’ of international maritime agreements. The Convention explicitly provides for the sovereign right of all States to have territorial waters up to 12 nautical miles and sets out the principles and methods for delimiting the [Exclusive Economic Zone]. This also applies to the Mediterranean.”

It was also announced yesterday that Lavrov will be making a working visit to Greece on October 28. Russia’s repositioning on the East Mediterranean issue by firmly supporting a states’ right to extend its territorial waters to 12 nautical miles as permitted by international law, something that Turkey has said would be a “reason for war” if Greece enacts its legal right, is likely part of its retaliation against Erdoğan’s transfer of Syrian terrorists to the doorstep of Dagestan. Although Moscow tolerated Erdoğan’s aggression in Syria, Iraq and Libya, by threatening war on Armenia, a Collective Security Treaty Organization member state, and transferring militants to the border of Dagestan, Turkey has overstepped Russia’s patience and this can be considered a gamechanger in their bilateral relations.

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This article was originally published on InfoBrics.

Paul Antonopoulos is an independent geopolitical analyst.

المواجهة بين الأوهام الأميركيّة والحقائق الميدانيّة…

العميد د. أمين محمد حطيط

ابتغت أميركا مما أسمته «الربيع العربي» عموماً، ومن الحرب الكونية على سورية ومحور المقاومة خصوصاً، إعادة صياغة الشرق الأوسط وفقاً لخرائط استراتيجية جديدة تحصّن الأحادية القطبية التي عملت من أجلها وتزيل أيّ عقبة من أمامها في هذا السياق، شجعها على ذلك أنّ العالم بشكل عام والدول التي تخشى من عرقلتها للمهمة بشكل خاص موزعة بين تابع تملكه (دول الخليج) وحليف تملك قراره (أوروبا بشكل عام) أو مترنّح أزيح من الخطوط الأمامية دولياً (روسيا) أو حذر يخشى على اقتصاده من أيّ مواجهة ذات طبيعة أو بعد عسكري (الصين) أو محاصر يئنّ تحت وطأة العقوبات الاقتصادية والحصار السياسي والتهديد العسكري (إيران وسورية).

أما الخريطة التي توخّت أميركا الوصول إليها فهي صورة لمنطقة تكون «إسرائيل» مديرتها الإقليمية بعد أن تكتمل عمليات «التطبيع» مع جميع البلدان العربية، وبعد أن تضع أيّ دولة بين خيارين أما التطبيع والاستسلام الكلي للمشيئة الأميركية او الحصار والعزل وصولاً الى الانهيار والتدمير الداخلي. فأميركا لا تتقبّل فكرة قيام رأي معارض لمشيئتها أياً كان صاحب هذا الرأي ـ لأنّ أميركا تتصرّف وللأسف وفقاً لنظرية «الحق الإلهي» التي تعتمدها والتي عبّر عنها بوش الابن في لحظة زهو في أوائل القرن الحالي، حيث قال «أرسلني الله لأنقذ البشرية» وإن «العناية الإلهية جعلت من أميركا قائدة للعالم».

وبعد نيّف وعقد من الزمن وبعد المآسي والدمار والقتل والتشريد الذي أحدثته الحرب الإرهابية الأميركية في المنطقة من تونس وليبيا غرباً الى سورية والعراق شرقاً مروراً باليمن طبعاً، اعتبرت أميركا انها حققت ما تريد وأنها أنهكت او دمّرت عدوّها وباتت قادرة على الاستثمار والانطلاق الى جني النتائج التي خططت للوصول اليها وهنا تكمن الخطيئة وسوء التقدير الأميركي الذي إنْ لم يعالج قبل فوات الأوان فإنه سيقود الى مرحلة دموية خطيرة في العالم تتقدّم في مستواها وشراستها عما سبق في العقد الأخير الماضي وتنقلب على أميركا سوءاً بدرجة لا تتصوّرها.

ولانّ أميركا تعتقد او تتصوّر بانّ حربها على العرب حققت نتائجها، فإنها أطلقت «صفقة القرن» في مطلع العام الحالي وراحت تسارع الخطى الى التطبيع بين العرب و«إسرائيل»، وتتوعّد إيران بعقوبات متجدّدة عليها وكأنّ الاتفاق النووي لم يحصل او أنها تمكّنت من الإمساك بقرار العالم كما كانت تمني النفس يوم أطلقت فكرة النظام العالمي القائم على الأحادية لقطبيّة بقيادتها.

تريد أميركا وبكلّ صلف وغرور أن تحمّل كلّ الدول العربية على التطبيع، وبعد أن كان لها تطبيع من دولتين خليجيتين، يروّج ترامب انّ 6 دول أخرى قيد الانتظار وانّ الباقي لن يطول تردّده في الالتحاق بالركب. اما الممانعون وبشكل خاص إيران وسورية ولبنان فقد أعدّت لكلّ منهم نوعاً من الضغوط تقود بالظنّ الأميركي الى الخضوع. وهنا يكمن سوء التقدير الأميركي لا بل الخطيئة الاستراتيجية الكبرى ايضاً.

تظنّ أميركا انّ ضغوطاً على إيران وحزب الله، قد تحملهما على مواجهة عسكرية تبرّر لأميركا استعراض قوتها العسكرية ضدّهما تحت عنوان دفاعي، ما يجعل ترامب يحصد مع كلّ صاروخ يطلقه الجيش الأميركي على «أعدائه» يحصد أصواتاً إضافية في الانتخابات وقد يكون بومبيو ومعه صقور الجمهوريين قد أقنعوا ترامب انّ السبيل الأقصر لربح الانتخابات التي يتأرجح المصير فيها الآن هو حرب محدودة مع إيران وحزب الله يقوم خلالها بضربة سريعة خاطفة ثم يتفرّغ للانتخابات التي ستكون نتائجها حتماً في صالحه.

بيد أنّ التقدير الأميركي يبسط الأمور الى حدّ الخفة والسطحية تقريباً ويتناسى المتغيّرات الدولية التي جعلت من عالم 2020 مختلفاً كلياً عن عالم 2010، وإذا كان المفهوم الاستراتيجي للحلف الأطلسي الذي وضع للعقد الماضي قد حقق شيئاً من أغراضه فإنّ النتائج الاستراتيجية التي كان يرمي إليها بقيت بعيدة المنال. وها هو الحلف الأطلسي يُخفق في اعتماد مفهوم استراتيجي جديد يلتفّ حوله الجميع من الأعضاء كما انّ كيان الحلف بذاته واستمراره بات في الأشهر الأخيرة تحت علامات استفهام ما يعني أنّ الحلف لن يكون شريكاً لأميركا في خططها.

اما أوروبا فإنها وجدت بعد العقد الماضي وعملها العسكري خارج نطاقها الإقليمي، كم هو التباين بينها وبين أميركا في المصالح بخاصة في الشرق الأوسط، ما جعل الدول الأساسية فيها تفكر بسياسة أوروبية مستقلة لا تغضب أميركا في بداياتها، ولكنها ستتمايز عنها في جوهرها ما يجعل أيّ حرب تشنّها أميركا على أحد حرباً أميركية فقط ليس لأوروبا ضلع فيها. وما الموقف الأوروبي في مجلس الأمن في معرض الطلب الأميركي لاستئناف العقوبات على إيران ربطاً بالملف النووي إلا أول الغيث.

وعلى الاتجاه الروسي، فنعتقد انّ أميركا تعاني من المرارة الكبرى فقبل «الربيع العربي» والحرب الكونية كانت روسيا دولة داخلية بعيدة عن مسارح التأثير العالمي، أما اليوم فقد باتت ركناً أساسياً في النظام الدولي قيد التشكل وفاعلاً رئيسياً في الشرق الأوسط لا يقتصر وجودها وتأثيرها على سورية فقط بل يتعدّاها الى أفريقيا (ليبيا) وتستعدّ ليكون لها كلمة في اليمن أيضاً. وبهذا يكون العدوان الأميركي على المنطقة شكّل بطاقة دعوة او استدعاء ذهبياً لروسيا لتخرج من عزلتها وتحتلّ مقعداً أمامياً ينافسها على الصعيد الدولي العام.

اما الصين التي تؤرق أميركا بشكل عميق فقد جعلت من اقتصادها متقدماً على الاقتصاد الأميركي ولم تنفع كل تدابير الإرهاب والحصار الاقتصادي في كبحه، فاجأتها الصين أيضاً حيث قدمت جديداً في مجال الصراع هو ايحاؤها الاستعداد لاستعمال القوة لحماية نفسها واقتصادها وتحضيرها مع حلفائها للاستغناء عن الدولار أيضاً.

وفي إيران التي تعوّل أميركا اليوم عليها لتكون الحقل التي تزرعه قذائف تحصدها أصواتاً انتخابية تثبت ترامب في البيت الأبيض لأربع سنوات أخرى، نرى أنها تتبع سياسة مركبة تهدف الى حرمان ترامب من الأوراق التي يريدها من المواجهة، وحرمان ترامب من إحكام الحصار عليها، وصيانة علاقتها مع الأوروبيين من دون تراخٍ أمامهم وتمتين علاقاتها مع روسيا والصين وتجنب الصدام مع تركيا، هذا من جهة؛ اما من جهة أُخرى فإنها تستمرّ في تحشيد القوة العسكرية الدفاعية التي تفشل أيّ عدوان عليها وتستمر في خوض الحرب النفسية المرتكزة الى عوامل ميدانية مؤكدة التأثير وما مناوراتها العسكرية الأخيرة إلا وجهاً من وجوه عرض القوة الدفاعية المستندة الى فكرة الهجوم بوجه أميركا.

وبالعودة الى سورية، نجد وبشكل يقيني انّ كلّ ما حلمت به أميركا هناك بات في غياهب التاريخ، وأننا ننتظر في الأشهر المقبلة معالجة متدرجة لملفي إدلب والجزيرة (شرقي الفرات) بشكل لا يبقي للمحتلّ الأميركي أو التركي إثراً في الميدان يعيق تثبيت سيادة سورية على كلّ أرضها، معالجة نراها منطلقة من عمل عسكري لا بدّ منه أولاً وتستكمل بتفاهمات وتسويات يضطر اليها الفريق المعتدي وتحرم الأميركي مما يتوخاه.

ونختم بلبنان ونجد أنّ المؤامرة الأميركية لعزل المقاومة وحصار لبنان ودفعه لتفاوض مباشر مع «إسرائيل» بضغط أميركي يقود للتنازل عن المناطق المحتلة في البر وعددها 13 بالإضافة الى الغجر ومزارع شبعا، والتسليم لـ «إسرائيل» بما تريد في المنطقة الاقتصادية في البحر واقتطاع ما يناهز الـ 400 كلم2 من أصل 862 كلم2 متنازع عليها، كلّ ذلك لن يحصل لأن المقاومة لن تتخلى عن حقها في التمثيل الحكومي ولأن قرار لبنان لن يكون كما تشتهي أميركا حتى ولو اشتدّ الحصار وتعاظم الانهيار الذي تصنعه أميركا للبنان.

وعليه نقول إنّ العالم في حقيقته ليس كما تراه أميركا بعينها، وإنّ تطبيع دولتين خليجيتين واهنتين لا يعني نجاح صفقة القرن، وإن وجود 800 جندي أميركي الآن في سورية و3000 في العراق لا يعني انّ الدولتين في القبضة الأميركية، وإن النطق بغير حق باسم مجلس الأمن ضدّ إيران والقول باستئناف العقوبات الأممية عليها لا يعني انّ العالم انصاع للقرار الأميركي. فأميركا توهِم نفسها أنها تربح أو انّ بإمكانها اختزال إرادة العالم، ولكن الحلم الأميركي يصطدم بصخور الحقيقة فيتكسّر وتبقى الحقيقة صارخة لمن يريدها، فأميركا اليوم ليست أميركا 1990 وزمن الطموح لحكم العالم ولّى الى غير رجعة مع اشتداد بأس خصومها وأعدائها وتراخي وضعف أتباعها وابتعاد وتفكك حلفائها عنها.

Syrian, Russian aircraft intensify missions over Idlib as SAA awaits green light for offensive

By News Desk -2020-09-02

BEIRUT, LEBANON (12:00 P.M.) – For the last 48 hours, the Syrian and Russian air forces have been conducting reconnaissance missions over the Idlib Governorate, as their aircraft capture important images of the enemy whereabouts and defensive positions.

According to a source in the Hama Governorate, the Syrian Arab Army and their Russian partners have intensified their reconnaissance missions for the purpose of intelligence gathering, amid reports of a new offensive inside Idlib.

In July, the Syrian Arab Army sent a large number of reinforcements to the Idlib Governorate, which prompted the Turkish military and their allied militants to rush troops to these front-lines in the Jabal Al-Zawiya region.

However, the offensive was put on hold, along with future operations inside the Jabal Al-Akrad region of the Latakia Governorate.

It now appears that the Syrian Army is once again moving forces back to the southern countryside of the Idlib Governorate, as the SAA awaits the green light to launch a new operation along the southern and eastern fronts of Idlib.

Should a new offensive commence, the Syrian Army will likely concentrate on the areas along the M-4 Highway (Aleppo-Latakia), specifically, the key town of Ariha and the Jabal Al-Zawiya region.

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روسيا تَنْصُبُ فخاً لـ «قيصر» في مجلس الأمن الدوليّ!‏

د. وفيق إبراهيم

تشهد أروقة مجلس الأمن الدولي في الأمم المتحدة جدلاً عنيفاً بين روسيا والصين من جهة والأميركيين والأوروبيين والخليجيين من جهة أخرى، حول سبل دعم النازحين السوريين في الشمال الغربي السوري.

انبثقت الخلافات بعد يقين روسي – صيني أن المساعدات المخصصة من الأمم منذ أربعة أعوام على التوالي تذهب بمعدل سبعين في المئة للتنظيمات الإرهابية المسيطرة على المنطقة برعاية تركية، مقابل ثلاثين في المئة إلى المدنيين الموالين لتركيا من التركمان وعائلات الإيغور والإرهابيين الآتين من أوروبا وبعض السوريين.تبين هذه النتيجة أن استمرار منظمات هيئة تحرير الشام والنصرة وحراس الدين وعشرات الكتائب المنبثقة من الإخوان المسلمين والإسلام الصيني والأوروبي الشرقي والخليج وشمال أفريقيا «الشقيقة» مصر، هؤلاء تغطي الأمم المتحدة احتياجاتهم الغذائية مقابل الدعم التسليحيّ من الأميركيين والأتراك والتمويلي من السعوديين وآل زايد الإماراتيين وآل ثاني القطريين.هذه هي الأسباب الوحيدة التي جعلت هذا الإرهاب مستقراً في محافظة إدلب، إنما بتغطية ميدانية من الجيش التركي المتخالط معهم والدعم الأميركي بالتسويات مع الروس وتوفير إسناد ميداني من الشمال الغربي إلى الشرق بالاتجاهين.

هذه الأمور لم تتوضح بجلاء أمام الروس والصينيين إلا بعد إطلاق الأميركيين قانون «قيصر» الإرهابي الذي يصيب بتدابيره نحو 16 مليون سوري في مناطق سيادة دولتهم ونحو ثلاثة ملايين آخرين بشكل غير مباشر، فإذا أضفنا نحو خمسة ملايين نازح سوري منتشرين في بقاع الأرض فلا يتبقى إلا أربعة ملايين فقط يتوزّعون بين مناطق شرقي الفرات من الحدود مع العراق وحتى الحدود مع تركيا بمحاذاة نهر الفرات، هذا إلى جانب سكان الشمال الغربي.فتنكشف هنا اللعبة الأميركية بأن استعمال غطاء الأمم المتحدة لتأمين مواد غذائية واستهلاكية من معابر تركيا والعراق إلى منطقة إدلب إنما هو وسيلة لدعم الإرهاب المنتشر في هذه المناطق بأموال من الأمم المتحدة، وربما هي التي تدفع ثمن السلاح والتدريب منذ أربع سنوات متواصلة.

هناك إذاً مخالفات قانونية كبيرة تواصل الأمم المتحدة ارتكابها وتسيء بها لوظائفها الأساسية القائمة على رعاية العلاقات بين الدول على أساس القانون الدولي، أي أن تعاملها يجب أن يكون حصراً بتغطيات من دول معترف بها دولياً فتتنصل من خلالها بمؤسسات صحية أو طبية واقتصادية أو ثقافية.فلنفترض أن للأمم المتحدة الحق بتوقيع اتفاقات توزيع مواد إنسانية مع تركيا فهل يحق لتركيا توزيع مواد إنسانية في أراضي دولة أخرى ومن دون موافقتها؟

هنا ينبثق سؤال آخر يصرخ بصوت عالٍ متوجهاً إلى أمين عام الأمم المتحدة حول هوية هذا الحق الدولي الذي يبيح للجيش التركي ومخابراته توزيع مواد مختلفة في مناطق سورية تحتلها تركيا؟

الأمر الذي يثير العجب الكبير من تعامل الأمم المتحدة مع دولة محتلة لتوزيع مساعداتها من قبل المحتلين على شعب يتعرّض للاحتلال.وهذا ينطبق أيضاً على معبر اليعربية الذي تسيطر عليه قوات أميركية وأخرى من الإرهاب لنقل معونات أممية إلى تنظيمات الإرهاب وقوات قسد الكردية وتشمل الغذاء والتموين وكميات كبيرة من السلاح.كذلك الحال مع معابر الأردن قبل أن يتمكن الجيش العربي السوري من تحرير مناطقه الجنوبية حتى حدود المملكة الهاشمية، ولم يتبقَ من تلك المنطقة إلا قاعدة التنف عند زاوية الالتقاء بين الحدود السورية والأردنية والعراقية ومخيم الركبان، وهما أكبر مراكز لدعم الإرهاب في البادية والشرق وبعض أنحاء محافظة حوران حول عاصمتها درعا.بالاستنتاج هناك أمم متحدة تتعامل في سورية مع دول تحتل أراضي سورية كالأميركيين والأتراك وبعض القوى الأوروبية، وهذا مناقض للقانون الدولي المنبثق منها والذي يؤكد على أن الدولة المعترف بها في الأمم المتحدة هي الدولة الحصرية الشرعية على أراضيها وفي تعاملاتها مع الخارج.

لذلك منع الروس والصينيون بالاتفاق مع الدولة السورية تجديد المشروع الأمميّ بتزويد منطقة «إدلب المحتلة» بمواد متنوعة، عبر معبري باب الهوى والسلام لأن تركيا هي الموزّع ولأن الإرهاب هو المتلقي والمستفيد، مطالبين بأن تكون الدولة السورية الشرعية هي موقع أي معبرين ينقلان تمويناً للإدلبيين المدنيين بشكل فعلي رابطين أيضاً صدور تقرير عن الأمم المتحدة يشرح أوضاع السوريين الواقعين تحت ظلم «قيصر» واستبداده كل نصف سنة.فكان أن سقط مشروع التجديد الأممي لفتح المعابر التقليدية بإشراف تركي وذلك بفيتو صيني روسي مزدوج.كما لم يمر اقتراح معدل من الصين وروسيا نتيجة لفيتو ثلاثي أميركي – فرنسي – بريطاني مدعوم من الخليج و»إسرائيل».

كما أن مشروع التسوية الألماني – البلجيكي لم ينجح أيضاً بسبب الرفضين الروسي – الصيني.

ماذا يعني هذا الانسداد في الأمم المتحدة؟

تطرح الصين وروسيا تساؤلاً حول الفارق بين سوري إدلبي جائع وبين سوري ينتشر من حلب إلى حماه وحمص ودمشق مع الحدود مع الأردن والعراق المسْتَهدَف بشكل خانق من مشروع قيصر الأميركي، أما الضمانة الثانية التي يطلبها الروس والصينيون هي التأكد من وصول المعونات إلى مستحقيها من المدنيين والفعليين، بما يؤكد أن عصر تموين الإرهاب بواجهة أممية إنسانية وعمق أميركي – إسرائيلي – تركي – خليجي دخل مرحلة التقهقر والتراجع.

وهذا يعني من جهة أخرى وجود روسي – صيني على مجابهة قيصر على طول الخط السوري – الإيراني.وله بعد آخر يتعلق بمستقبل إدلب والتخطيط الروسي – السوري لتحريرها بواحدة من الوسيلتين،

مؤتمر سوتشي وأستانا أي بمفاوضات ثلاثية روسية – إيرانية – تركية، أو بفتح معركة سورية مع تحالفاتها الروسية وحزب الله، لضرب تجمّعات الإرهاب وإبعاد الدور التركي.هنا لا يفهم الأميركيون إلا ضرورة الدفاع عن الإرهاب في إدلب ودعم الأتراك.

لأن تحريرها لا يعني إلا انتقال الجيش العربي السوري إلى الشرق عابراً الفرات وحاملاً أملاً كبيراً بإثارة ذعر الأميركيين المهتمين فقط بسرقة ثروات الشعوب، وهذه سورية والعراق مثلان واضحان للأهداف الأميركية في المنطقة العربية.

مخاض ربع الساعة الأخير… الشرق الأوسط إلى أين؟

د. ميادة ابراهيم رزوق

أثارت تصريحات الجنرال كينيث ماكينزي قائد القيادة الأميركية المركزية الوسطى تساؤلات كثيرة عن نعت منطقة غرب آسيا بالغرب المتوحش، والتحذير من تعاظم القوة الإيرانية، والصعود الصيني المقلق، والدور الروسي الانتهازي الذي أظهر براعة في سورية، وسوْق الملاحظات بضرورة إدارة الولايات المتحدة الأميركية لغرب آسيا المتوحش، وهي في طور التفاوض على طريقة الخروج من المنطقة، وهنا مكمن السؤال في ما قاله أمام التحديات التي تمرّ بها الولايات المتحدة الأميركية من ارتباك في إدارة الملفات الخارجية، والانقسام الداخلي بين إدارة ترامب والقيادة العسكرية، وخلافه مع بعض حكام الولايات، والتظاهرات والاحتجاجات ضدّ التمييز العنصري وعنصرية الشرطة، بدور ترامب الرئيسي في تسريع تظهيرها وتفاقمها، بكذبه وغطرسته وعنجهيته وعنصريته وسياساته الفاشلة الداخلية والاقتصادية وفي مواجهة جائحة كورونا، التي أدّت إلى زيادة العنف وتفاقم الاضطرابات وإفلاس وإغلاق آلاف الشركات، وازدياد نسبة الفقر والبطالة ليكون تعداد العاطلين عن العمل أكثر من 40 مليون مواطن أميركي، رغم استمرار العبث في منطقة الشرق الأوسط من خلال الإصرار على فرض الحصار والعقوبات الجائرة، وتردّي الأوضاع الاقتصادية، وتجويع الشعوب وإثارة الفوضى في غير مكان؛ كسباً للوقت واللعب على عامل الزمن، آملا بتحسين الظروف لتمرير جزءاً من صفقة القرن بضمّ الضفة الغربية، قبل الوصول للحظة انتخابات الرئاسة الأميركية.

تَعتبر أنظمة الدول الخليجية الرجعية وفي مقدّمتها السعودية والإمارات نفسها جزءاً من تلك الأجندة، علّها تحافظ على عروشها التي بدأت معالم انهيارها بالوضوح تحت وطأة الأزمة الاقتصادية والافلاس وانهيار أسعار النفط بالتشبيك مع جائحة كورونا ومشاكلها وانقساماتها الداخلية، وعدم إمكانية الخروج من حرب اليمن بماء الوجه.

ففي ظلّ أزماتها وخسارة مقومات أمنها القومي المالية والدينية فقدت الدعم والحماية الأميركية المباشرة، إلا من صفقات الأسلحة التي تفرغ ما تبقى في الخزائن والاحتياطات بمزاعم درء الخطر الإيراني، وأوراق الاعتماد الوحيدة لضمان الحفاظ على العروش في جعبة كيان العدو الصهيوني، باستمرار ركوب قطار التطبيع بكلّ صفاقة، وليس آخرها مقدار الذلّ في هبوط الطائرة الإماراتية الثانية في مطار بن غوريون بمزاعم تقديم المساعدات لقطاع غزة والضفة الغربية دون تنسيق مع الفلسطينيين الذين رفضوها جملة وتفصيلا بعزة واباء، لمشهد ذلّ آخر فيما فضحته مجلة «ناشيونال انترست» عن رغبة الأنظمة الخليجية بنسج علاقات اقتصادية واستراتيجية أكبر مع (إسرائيل) من وراء الكواليس، وليطلّ صباح يوم الجمعة الوزير الإماراتي يوسف العتيبة بمقالته الحصرية لصحيفة «بديعوت أحرنوت» لمغازلة الكيان الصهيوني بتفاصيل مبادرات بلاده بالانفتاح والعلاقات الاقتصادية والعمل المشترك والدعوة للمشاركة في معرض «الاكسبو» الدولي المخطط إقامته في دبي العام المقبل، وتكريس أسس التطبيع واعتبار (إسرائيل) فرصة وليست عدواً، لدمجها في المنطقة.

يتخلل هذا المشهد المأساوي تنامي الوعي العربي في رفض مشاريع الأجندة الصهيوأميركية، وخاصة في تونس والسودان نحو تغييرات قد يكون، وسيكون الانتصار السوري بالتحرير الكامل حجر الرحى لانتصار خيارات الشعوب العربية المقاومة، وبتبلور قيادات ثورية تقود نضالاتها.

في خضمّ هذه التفاصيل والانشغال الأميركي والأوروبي باضطراباته الداخلية، يتقن أردوغان سياسة اللعب على الحبال، واستثمار فائض القوة التي يشعر بها بعد تقدّم حليفته حكومة الوفاق الليبية بمواجهة الجنرال خليفة حفتر الذي تدعمه روسيا، لاستثمارها بسياسة ديكتاتورية قمعية في الداخل التركي، ومحاولة تكريس احتلال إدلب السورية اقتصادياً وعسكرياً أمراً واقعاً، بضخ كميات كبيرة من العملة التركية وفرض التعامل بها، وربطها بالتعاملات التجارية والرسوم الجمركية للبضائع العابرة من الحدود، وبمسار متصل في تعزيز بيئة حاضنة لوجودها بفرض منهاجها التعليمي المدرسي، وزيارة وزير الداخلية التركي سليمان صويلو في سابقة أولى لمخيمات النازحين في إدلب، بالتوازي مع استمرار التحشيد العسكري التركي بآلاف الجنود والآليات في مناطق التماس مع خطوط انتشار الجيش السوري، ونشر بطاريات دفاع جوي في مطار تفتناز، قد تكون لفرض منطقة حظر جوي في وجه الطائرات السورية والروسية، واستمرار دعم وجود مجاميع العصابات الإرهابية التكفيرية في مناطق قريبة من نقاط المراقبة التركية، وهجومها على مواقع الجيش السوري، ومنع فتح طريق حلب – اللاذقية الدولي (M4)وتسيير الدوريات (الروسية – التركية) المشتركة عليه بحجج واهية بقطع المجموعات المتشدّدة للطريق وتخريب جزء منه، ضاربة بعرض الحائط تعهداتها لروسيا بالالتزام بتنفيذ آليات وبنود بروتكول موسكو واتفاق سوتشي، دون استبعاد الصدام العسكري مع القوات الروسية والجيش العربي السوري.

في كلّ هذا المشهد يحاول رجب طيب أردوغان وكعادته الكذب والمناورة لحجز مكان ودور قادم يوفر له أوراقاً ثمينة على طاولة التفاوض والتسويات، يقدمها كبطاقة اعتماد للداخل التركي وبما يدعي من أمن تركيا القومي.

باعتقادنا أجراس معركة إدلب الأخيرة تقرع لتنهي العربدة الأردوغانية، وتدق ناقوس إنهاء حياته السياسية، مع ما تمّ توقيعه خلال الأيام القليلة الماضية على اتفاق إيطالي – يوناني بشأن ترسيم الحدود البحرية لكبح الجماح التركي وتقويض فرصته بالقرصنة النفطية والغازية البحرية، لنطلّ في الختام وبتنامي وتعاظم قدرات وإمكانيات محور حلف المقاومة على مرحلة عنوانها الخروج الأميركي من غرب آسيا، وتكريس الانتصارات العسكرية والاقتصادية، وتغيير وجه المنطقة، والعين على فلسطين إلى مشهد حزم المستوطنين الصهاينة حقائبهم.

Syrian Army lets loose powerful attack across southwest Idlib

By News Desk -2020-05-13

BEIRUT, LEBANON (7:00 P.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) unleashed a powerful attack across the southwestern Idlib front-lines on Wednesday, targeting the defenses of the jihadist rebels in this mountainous region.

According to a field report from this front, the Syrian Army began the day by launching several artillery shells and missiles towards the jihadist trenches and fortifications in the Jabal Al-Zawiya region, scoring a number of direct hits in the process.

The Syrian Army’s attacks reportedly targeted a number of areas in Jabal Al-Zawiya, including the front-line town of Al-Bara’a, which has become one of the main bases for the jihadists in southern Idlib.

Since the deadly attack on the town of Al-Tanjara by the jihadist rebels, the Syrian Army has stepped up their assault against these militants, launching waves of strikes every few hours to prevent Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS) and their allies from deeply entrenching in this area.

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هل سقط وقف إطلاق النار في إدلب؟ وماذا بعد؟

العميد الركن د. أمين محمد حطيط

. لم نكن نتوقع أن تنفذ تركيا بروتوكول موسكو الإضافي الذي «منحها» هدية كبرى هي وقف إطلاق النار في ريف إدلب وتجميد العمليات القتالية على طرفي خطوط التماس التي رسمتها بنادق رجال الجيش العربي السوري وأقدامهم التي لو تابعت الحركة القتالية لكانت وصلت إلى الحدود مع تركيا وطوت صفحة الإرهاب في إدلب وريفها. فتركيا امتهنت منذ أن فتح لها باب استنة وأعطيت فرصة عضوية المثلث الراعي للمسألة السورية ميدانياً، ومن ثم سياسياً، سياسة النكول والابتزاز وتلمّس الطرق إلى حيث يؤكل الكتف بأقل جهد ممكن.

أما روسيا التي منحت تركيا هذه الهدية العظيمة بعد ان كانت وجهت عبر رئيسها بوتين لأردغان رسائل المهانة والإذلال في قصر الكرملين في موسكو، فقد ظنت ان الرسائل القاسية معطوفة على العطية التي حملها لها بروتوكول موسكو من شأنها أن تغيّر السلوك التركي في سورية وأن تتجه تركيا بشكل جدي هذه المرة ليس إلى تنفيذ بروتوكول موسكو فحسب، بل وكل الاتفاقات السابقة بدءاً من مخرجات استنة وصولاً لاتفاق سوتشي. وهذا يعني بالفهم الروسي توقف تركيا عن السير بمشروعها الخاص في سورية والذي يشمل اقتطاع أرض وتهجير سكان وتغيير ديمغرافي للمناطق الحدودية ووضع اليد على ثروات طبيعية وعرقلة الحركة الاقتصادية والصناعية في الشمال السوري. وكلها أمور تستحق بالفهم الروسي التضحية لضمان حل يحفظ الحقوق السورية دون ان يغضب تركيا او يستفزها.

بيد ان الميدان السوري شهد بعد بروتوكول موسكو مناورات تركية وتذاكياً من نوع جديد، حيث عملت تركيا هذه المرة باستراتيجية الباطن والظاهر المتناقضين او المتعاكسين، ففي خطابها مع الروسي كانت تؤكد المرة تلو المرة على التزامها ببروتوكول موسكو بما في ذلك طي صفحة المطالب بتراجع الجيش السوري بعيداً عن الخطوط التي وصل اليها إثر انتصاراته في عملياته العسكرية الأخيرة، كما وفتح الـ M4 الذي يربط حلب باللاذقية وضمان أمن الحركة عليه بتسيير الدوريات المشتركة الروسية التركية والسير قدماً بتفكيك الجماعات الإرهابية المسلحة المناهضة للحل السياسي، ومن جهة ثانية كانت توجّه جبهة النصرة وغيرها من الإرهابيين المتطرفين من تركمان وإيغور وسواهم لقطع طريق M4 ومنع تسيير الدوريات المشتركة عليها مع ضمان عدم استعمال القوة ضدهم. وفي النتيجة ربحت تركيا بـ»تذاكيها» وأبقت الطريق مقطوعة وجاءت الأيام بعد ذلك لتغيّبها عن جدول الأعمال المشترك لروسيا وتركيا.

لكن تركيا لم تكتف بما حصلت عليها، بل قادها غدرها إلى خرق وقف إطلاق النار ومهاجمة الجيش العربي السوري في سهل الغاب عبر تنظيمات إرهابية متطرفة جلها يعمل بأوامر المخابرات التركية ما يثبت أن تركيا مستمرة في مشروعها الخاص الذي لم تتراجع عنه، حيث لا يوجد أي دليل او أي قرينة تشير إلى هذا التراجع او توحي به، لا بالعكس فإن كل ما تقوم به تركيا ميدانياً يثبت استمرارها على السير قدماً فيه. وهي إذا توقفت فترة فإنما يكون توقفها لعائق ميداني لا علاقة له لا من قريب او بعيد بقرار تركي استراتيجي او مراجعة للسياسة التركية في سورية.

شنّ الهجوم الإرهابي في سهل الغاب شمالي غربي حماه، وإسقاط قرار وقف إطلاق النار عملياً وتمكّن المهاجمون من السيطرة على مساحة جنوبي خط التماس القائم (رغم أنها صغيرة ومحدودة) معطوفة على الإخفاق في فتح طريق الـ M4 مواكبة مع التصعيد التركي ضد الحكومة السورية، كلها وقائع وسلوكيات تدعو إلى وقف الرهان على سياسة تركية يمكن أن تكون صادقة ونظيفة ووفية لتعهداتها وتستحق أن يكون لها شرف الانضواء في منظومة إقليمية دولية لرعاية الحل في سورية.

وإذا كانت الحسابات الروسية تحول دون الانتقال في العلاقة مع تركيا من العمل المشترك إلى المواجهة والعداء الآن، وأن إيران تجد ان حسن التعامل مع تركيا يروّضها ويقلل الخسائر التي يفرضها الحل الذي لا تشارك فيه تركيا، فإن الحسابات السورية تبقى مقروءة من منظار أخر يوحي بأن سورية لا تستطيع أن تنتظر إلى ما شاء الله لإنجاز تحرير إدلب ووضع حد للإرهاب العالمي فيه، ولا تستطيع أن تعطي وقتاً إضافياً لتركيا لتعميق مشروعها الخاص في سورية بشكل يصعب معالجة آثاره ومفاعيله، ولذلك نرى أن الوقت الآن لا يلعب لصالح سورية التي تحتاج بإلحاح لطي صفحة إدلب والتفرغ لصفحة الشرقي الشمالي السوري حيث الاحتلال الأميركي وظاهرة الانفصال الكردي وتلاعب اليد التركية. وهي حالة مركبة فيها قدر من التعقيد تُفضل معالجتها بالتفرغ الميداني والسياسي حتى لا تتزاحم المؤثرات فتعرقل الحل.

لكل ذلك يبدو أن سورية ستجد نفسها وقريباً جداً مضطرة لاستئناف القتال والعمل باستراتيجيتها الناجعة القائمة على التحرير بالوثبات المتتالية، وهي الاستراتيجية التي مكّنتها من تحرير أكثر 5000 كلم 2 في ريفي حلب وحماه وأدت إلى السيطرة على طريق الـ M5 وأظهرت الوهن التركي في مواجهة الجيش العربي السوري وحلفائه وأجبرت أردوغان على أن يستغيث ببوتين استجداء لوقف إطلاق النار، أما روسيا فتجد نفسها مضطرة لأكثر من سبب لمواصلة دعم وإسناد الجيش العربي السوري في عملياته تلك، خاصة أنها فهمت مغزى الزيارة الإيرانية لدمشق مؤخراً.

فالسلوكيّات التركية في سورية باتت تبرّر العودة السورية لاستئناف التحرير بالقوة واجتثاث الإرهاب بكل مسمّياته وأشكاله من إدلب وتُضاف إليها الظروف الإقليمية والدولية هذه المرة التي تعزز هذا الاتجاه وتؤكد عليه إذ إنها اليوم في أفضل الأحوال التي تساعد على إطلاق هذه العمليات. فتركيا تحت وطأة ضغوط وبائية وسياسية واقتصادية داخلية فضلاً عن غرقها وانشغالها في ليبيا ما يمنعها من الدخول في مواجهة واسعة في سورية، وأميركا تنفذ في المنطقة إعادة انتشار عسكري، صحيح أنه لن يصل إلى الانسحاب منها، لكنه يشير إلى خفض في قواتها المنتشرة حالياً وأوروبا مشغولة عن العالم بوباء كورونا الذي لم تسيطر عليه حتى الآن. كل ذلك لا يطرح السؤال هل سيتخذ قرار تحرير إدلب بالقوة العسكرية، بل متى سيوضع هذا القرار موضع التنفيذ؟ الذي نتوقعه قريباً.

أستاذ جامعي – باحـث استراتيجي.

SYRIA AND TURKEY RAMP UP PREPARATIONS FOR NEW MILITARY CONFRONTATION

SOUTH FRONT

The Syrian Army and Iranian-backed militias deployed a new batch of reinforcements to the frontline in southern Idlib and western Aleppo. According to local sources, fresh troops reinforced by armoured vehicles and battle tanks were placed near Saraqib, Kafranbel, and Urma as-Sughra. These areas were the hottest points of the conflict between Syrian troops and Turkish-led forces during the previous round of escalations in Greater Idlib. Turkey and its proxies are also preparing for a new round of confrontations.

During the past week, at least four Turkish military convoys, with battle tanks and even MIM-23 Hawk medium-range air-defense systems, entered Idlib, allegedly to secure the ceasefire regime and contain the terrorist threat. How Turkish troops are planning to use air defense systems against al-Qaeda terrorists that do not have aircraft remains a mystery.

At the same time, sources close to Idlib militants announced that Ankara is forming five new units consisting of its own troops, members of the National Front for Liberation and the Syrian National Army. Both these militant groups are funded and trained by Turkey. The newly formed units will be led by Turkish officers and allegedly include 9,000 Syrian militants and a similar number of Turkish troops. Pro-Turkish sources speculate that this force will be tasked with securing the M4 highway in southern Idlib and clearing the area of radical groups like Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. After this, a security zone will be established and joint Turkish-Russian patrols will be launched in the area as it was agreed to by Presidents Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin in Moscow. The problem with this theory is that the Turkish-backed groups, which should supposedly be involved in this operation are allied with Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and other al-Qaeda-linked organizations. So, they will have little motivation to confront them shifting the burden of fighting to Turkish troops.

According to pro-government sources, the Turkish motivation is different. They note that Ankara is very unsatisfied with the performance of their proxies during the recent battle against the Syrian Army. So, it opted to make a new attempt to create elite units that should deliver a devastating blow to the brutal Assad regime that is cowardly resisting the occupation of Syrian territory by Turkey.

Turkish-backed forces also increased their activity in Syria’s northeast. On March 29, the 20th Division of the so-called Syrian National Army attacked positions of Kurdish militias near the village of Sayda. Pro-Turkish sources claimed that a truck equipped with a 23mm machine gun belonging to Kurdish forces was destroyed and that many fighters were killed. Turkish proxies still cherish radiant hopes to capture the nearby town of Ayn Issa thus seizing control of the crossroad of the M4 highway and the Tall Abyad-Raqqah road.

The US-led coalition continues evacuation of smaller bases and regrouping of its forces in Iraq. After the withdrawal of coalition troops from al-Qaim and al-Qayyarah, they left from the Kirkuk K1 base. Means and forces from these facilities will be redeployed to other US bases in the country, mainly Camp Taji. There are no signs of any kind of US troop withdrawal from the country despite the demands from the Baghdad government. To the contrary, the Pentagon recently announced that it was working to deploy Patriot air defense systems to protect US troops in Iraq from missile attacks.

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This is what is going on now in liberated areas in Idleb

IDLEB, (ST)_The official in charge of Idleb governorate Mohammad Fadi al-Saadon has affirmed that there is cooperation with international organizations to rebuild Khan Sheikhoun city after the Syrian army liberated it from terrorist groups in August 2019. “The extent of the damage in Khan Shikhon , Maarret al-Noaman and  Taman’aa cities in Idleb has been evaluated and we are working on removing rubbles and repairing sewage pipes and main roads in order to facilitate the return of the displaced people to their homes,” al-Saadon said.He added that 2 schools were equipped in the city of Khan Shikhoun in order to receive the students, who returned with their families. 

The government will fund several development projects in liberated areas in Idleb, according to the official, who cited that several fuel stations will be put into service for vehicles passing through the  Hama-Aleppo international road . Moreover, municipalities will be provided with tractors and street sweepers to clean the roads. As for the current situation in Senjar village and nearby villages that were liberated last year, al-Saadon said that 48 schools and service centers were opened there . “Three health centers  will be opened in Hawwa, Senjar, Hmimat al-Dayer towns soon. And we are working now with international organizations to supply Hmimat al-Dayer area with water. ” Around 200 literacy courses plus awareness courses will be held in liberated villages by the Ministry of Labaour and Social Affairs in cooperation with international organizations. These courses aim at making the participants aware of the risks of explosive wastes and how to carry out small and micro projects. 

Basma Qaddour

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NEW SYRIAN ARMY OFFENSIVE IN IDLIB BECOMING INEVITABLE AS MILITANTS SABOTAGE JOINT TURKISH-RUSSIAN PATROLS

South Front

On March 15, Russian and Turkish forces conducted a first joint patrol in Greater Idlib in the framework of the new de-escalation agreement reached in Moscow. The planned route of the patrol goes along the M4 highway, where a buffer zone was set to be created. However, in fact the patrol happened just a few km west of the government-controlled town of Saraqib. The entire buffer zone and a notable area to the south of it, a total of 750km2, remains in the hands of terrorists. There were no signs of any withdrawal of heavy weapons or militants from the area.

The Russian military said that the patrol mission was shortened because of provocations by radicals. According to the released statement, terrorists used civilians, including women and children, as human shields. The Russian side added that Turkey was given more time to get rid of the extremists and ensure the safety of further joint missions. Surprisingly, the Turkish Defense Ministry admitted that there were some measures taken to prevent possible provocations. Nonetheless, it did not bother itself with explaining what kind of difficulties the sides experienced. Maybe because the Turkish military column itself faced a hard time moving through supporters of radical groups deployed on the M4 highway. Radicals and their supporters have been blocking the part of the highway laying in southern Idlib since March 13.

Earlier in March, Turkish top officials repeatedly vowed to crush any force that would oppose the implementation of the new de-escalation agreement. The Turkish leadership easily forgot these declarations, when it appeared that the main obstacle to the implementation of the agreement were organizations directly or indirectly supported by Ankara. Unfortunately, there is nothing new in this behavior. Over the month, the Erdogan government has showcased itself as a consistent supporter of the seedlings of terrorism remaining in Idlib.

Meanwhile, Idlib armed groups continued undermining efforts of the Turkish media and diplomacy to paint them as a moderate opposition. On March 15, media affiliated with Hayat Tahrir al-Sham offered a bounty of $25,000 to any person that would kill Evgeny Poddubny or Oleg Blokhin. Both of them are Russian war correspondents currently working on the frontline in Idlib and covering military developments there. Contrary to their Turkish and Western colleagues, they do not turn a blind eye to terrorist ideology and actions of Idlib armed groups. Later ‘Idlib democratic activists’ upped the bounty offering to $50,000 for anybody who would kill Poddubny. The amount of $100,000 is proposed for the aforementioned journalist or any member of the Russian patrol mission captured alive.

At the same time, the National Front for Liberation, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and other militant organizations intensified their recruiting campaign in northwestern Syria. Persons with a large amount of “free time” and in good physical condition now can join even Hayat Tahrir
al-Sham’s special forces unit, the so-called Red Bands. This fact is another confirmation of the heavy casualties suffered by terrorist groups during the past years of the war.

On top of this, the security situation is once again deteriorating in northern Syria. According to pro-militant sources, an IED attack hit a military convoy of Turkish-led forces near the town of Ras al-Ayn. Three militants and two Turkish soldiers were reportedly killed in the attack.

The recent Turkish-Russian de-escalation agreement allowed to put an end to military hostilities between the Syrian Armed Forces and the Turkish Army. However, its effect will be temporary and will not last for long if the issue of radicals in Greater Idlib is not solved in the nearest future.

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A summit meeting between President Al-Assad and Erdogan is not possible while Turkey is occupying Syrian areas: Shaaban

Thursday, 12 March 2020 06:53

ST


DAMASCUS, (ST)- “Had it not been for the sacrifices of the Syrian Arab Army in Aleppo and Idlib, the Russian-Turkish agreement would not have been reached,” Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban, the Presidential Political and Media Advisor, stressed, pointing out that the agreement provides for combating terrorism, maintaining the liberated area and stopping bloodshed.

The Syrian army has liberated an area of more than 2000 square km from terrorism over the past weeks and it has inflicted heavy losses upon the terrorists and the Turks, she said in an interview with the Beirut-based “al-Mayadeen” TV on Wednesday.

She added that the agreement is both a political and a military battle to defeat terrorists, liberate the land and create circumstances for the return of the displaced.

She went on to say that Syria and its Russian and Iranian allies are in daily coordination, noting that the Syrian-Iranian relations are deep-rooted and they have been strengthened during the war on Syria, but there is a fifth column that doubts the intentions of Syria’s friends and allies who are assisting the Syrian Arab army in fighting terrorism.

 Concerning the tension between Europe and Turkey over the refugee crisis, Shaaban said that “Erdogan has lost by blackmailing Europe . He opened Turkey’s borders with Europe to refugees despite a Turkish-European agreement.” (The agreement seeks to control the crossing of refugees and migrants from Turkey to the Greek islands). She clarified that “the European themselves stressed that most of the refugees were not Syrians.”

“I think the Europeans should know that Erdogan is not the one who has the solution for the migrants, that he is the problem. He is the one who caused all this migration from Syria. And, I would like also to put many question marks around the figures that Erdogan gives to Europe in order to get as much money as he can from European countries to help his staggering economy,” Shaaban said, referring to the funds that Ankara has asked for to allegedly support refugees in Turkey.

She stressed that the world has become aware that Erdogan’s policies pose a threat to international peace and security.

 The Presidential advisor also said that the United States has created and supported al-Qaeda and ISIS and it is not strange if it supports Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organization.

She made it clear that what Erdogan is doing serves Israel’s interests as he trades with the Palestinian cause and seeks occupying Syrian lands. She affirmed that it is not possible to hold a summit meeting between President Al-Assad and Erdogan while Turkey is occupying Syrian areas.

She made it clear that Syria welcomes inter-Arab relations, because Arab coordination is a point of strength to all the Arabs.

Shaaban asserted that the Syrian people reject occupation and have always been ready to defend their land, reiterating the Syrians’ rejection of the presence of the American occupying forces in the eastern bank of the Euphrates.

She recalled President Al-Assad’s saying that “we will liberate every inch of our land. We will liberate Idleb and eradicate terrorism from all Syria and we have the Syrian army and the Syrian leadership’s plans for achieving this goal.”

Hamda Mustafa

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انتصارات الجيش السوريّ وكسر غرور أردوغان…

د. جمال زهران

بمتابعة ما يجري على الأرض السورية المحتلة في إدلب وحلب قبل تحريرها، خلال الأسابيع الأخيرة، يتضح أنّ الجيش العربي الأول في سورية، استطاع أن تمتدّ مواجهاته ليس ضدّ الارهابيين فقط، بل إلى الجيش التركي نفسه وبشكل مباشر، ويوقع بهم خسائر فادحة نقلتها وسائل الإعلام على الهواء مباشرة.

فالذي أنجزه الجيش العربي السوري، كبير للغاية. فقد استطاع تحرير حلب المحافظة والريف، والطريق الإقليمي (5 و4) الدولي، ومن الجانبين، بالإضافة إلى أهمّ ثلاث مناطق هي: معرة النعمان، وخان شيخون، وسراقب. ولعلّ المعركة حول سراقب على وجه التحديد باعتبار أنّ موقعها الجغرافي حاسم، إما السيطرة على الطريقين الدوليين، والتحكّم فيهما، وتمكين المواطنين والتجار من ارتيادهما ونقل بضائعهم ومنتجاتهم بكلّ حرية، فضلاً عن استخدامه مدنياً في التصدير والتنقل الآمن بين حلب ودمشق، وحلب واللاذقية، بما يعيد الاقتصاد الوطني إلى سيرته الأولى، وإما استمرار الإرهاب والنفوذ التركي الداعم له! ولذلك تحرك أردوغان تركيا من أجل دعم الإرهابيين وتزويدهم بالمال والسلاح المتقدّم ومئات المدافع المضادة للطائرات، والدبابات، إلا أنه مع فشلهم في التصدي لقوات الجيش العربي السوري، وتحرير أكثر من نصف إدلب، لم يجد هذا المتغطرس سبيلاً آخر، سوى التدخل العسكري بنفسه وبقواته، ودخل الحرب فعلاً في مواجهة الجيش العربي البطل. وزجّ بنفسه، وتصوّر واهماً أنّ ما لم يستطع الإرهابيون إنجازه في المواجهة مع الجيش السوري، سينجزه هو متوهّماً أنّ جيشه هو الأقوى، ولذلك اعتبر أنّ المعركة الأولى هي في منطقة سراقب، لتكون معركة فاصلة، ويستنشق الإرهابيون أنفاسهم لتستمرّ الحرب في سورية! إلا أنه عاش الهزيمة بنفسه، ووجد نفسه يدخل معركة خاسرة، استمرّت نحو أسبوعين دون إحراز أيّ تقدّم! وأجبر على التقهقر عن سراقب إلى الخلف، بعدما واجه خسائر ضخمة للغاية. وظلت الطرق الدولية تحت السيطرة السورية بفضل جيشها البطل المغوار. وفوجئنا والعالم كله معنا، بأردوغان المتغطرس مثل أسياده، يطالب بالإنقاذ حفاظاً على ماء الوجه، وذلك بمطالبته بوقف إطلاق النار!

وكان قد خلّف الوضع ما يلي:

1

ـ حجم الخسائر البشريّة التركية، كانت قد وصلت إلى مقتل نحو (400) جندي تركي، بينهم عدد الثلث ضباط، وجرح نحو (4000) شخص إصابات متنوّعة!

2

ـ حجم الخسائر في العتاد كبير، شمل عدداً كبيراً لم يحدّد من الدبابات تمّ تدميرها، مع إسقاط نحو (11) طائرة مسيّرة، وطائرة عسكرية اف (35)، وتدمير عدد كبير من الناقلات، كما ورد في أحد التقارير الهامّة والدقيقة.

3

ـ الانسحاب المخزي الذي وصل إلى الفرار الجماعيّ للجنود الأتراك، يسبقهم الفرار الجماعي للإرهابيين، الذين تجاوز عدد قتلاهم الـ (4000) شخص، بخلاف أعداد بالآلاف مصابين.

4

ـ أسر أعداد كبيرة من جنود أردوغان، والإرهابيين، فضلاً عن أسر جثث الجنود الأتراك، الذين تركهم زملاؤهم فارّين من المواجهة الشرسة للجيش السوريّ.

5

ـ لعب الطرف الروسي دوراً هاماً في دعم الجيش العربي السوري، حيث مثلت القوات الروسية وطائراتها، الغطاء الحمائي لقوات الجيش السوري، وكان لهذا التدخل، الأثر الهام في التعجيل والإسراع بخسائر الجيش التركي راح ضحية عملية واحدة نحو (40) من جنود وضباط أردوغان! ولم يكن في حسبان أردوغان مثل هذا التدخل الروسي، وناشد أردوغان الرئيس الروسي بوتين، برفع يده عن دعم القوات السورية من أجل تمكينه من الاستفراد بها، وإيقاع الهزيمة بالجيش السوري، الأمر الذي رفضه بوتين نهائياً.

ـ وقد كان لهذه التداعيات الايجابية بالنسبة لسورية شعباً وجيشاً وقيادة، وفي المقابل التداعيات السلبية لأردوغان وجماعاته الإرهابية، أن طلب أردوغان وملحاً في الطلب، المقابلة العاجلة مع الرئيس الروسي بوتين، على مستوى القمة، وذلك بعدما تخلت عنه أوروبا وأميركا وحلف الناتو الذي رفض طلبه بالتدخل والمساندة! والتقى أردوغان مع بوتين في موسكو، وهو منكسر، مطأطأ الرأس، يلاحقه العار بالهزيمة الساحقة لقواته، التي ضلت الطريق تحت قيادته، وذلك يوم الخميس (5) آذار/ مارس الماضي، فماذا كانت النتيجة وفقاً لما أعلن في المؤتمر الصحافي في نهاية اللقاء:

1

ـ الإقرار والاعتراف، بما سيطرت عليه قوات الجيش السوري، من مناطق وأراضٍ ونقاط ارتكاز في الأراضي السورية بإدلب، وبالتالي إلغاء فكرة انسحاب القوات السورية إلى ما قبل المعارك الأخيرة!

2

ـ الاتفاق على الانسحاب الكامل من مساحات كبيرة، من قبل الارهابيّين، توافقاً مع اتفاق سوتشي، والتزام أردوغان بذلك، وبذلك تكون مساحة الثلثين من إدلب تكون قد تحرّرت تماماً.

3

ـ الاتفاق على مساحة فاصلة حول الطرق الدولية، كمنطقة آمنة بعرض (6) كم، وبالقرب من الحدود، وبذلك تصبح الطرق الدولية الاقليمية آمنة، وصالحة لحركة المدنيين والتجارة بين مدن حلب وإدلب واللاذقية ودمشق وغيرها.

ولا شك في أن لقاء بوتين/ أردوغان، كسر أنف أردوغان الذي جاء إلى موسكو مهزوماً ومدحوراً من الجيش السوري، الذي لولا انتصاراته على جيش أردوغان، ما كان ما تم، أو ممكناً أن يتمّ، والدليل الانتهاك وعدم الالتزام باتفاق سوتشي طوال هذه الفترة، والله الداعم، وتحيا سورية.

*أستاذ العلاقات الدولية والعلوم السياسية، والأمين العام المساعد للتجمع العربي والاسلامي لدعم خيار المقاومة، ورئيس الجمعية العربية للعلوم السياسية.

SAA Units Find Weapons, Caves & Tunnels in Cleanup; Erdogan’s Terrorists Breach CoH 19 Times

 

weapons and munition found by the SAA in a former clothing factory
Imagine a western clothing factory stripped of equipment & turned into a bomb-making plant.

SAA units cleaning up areas liberated from al Qaeda terrorists have, as usual, found large stashes of weapons, stolen manufacturing plants having equipment replaced with bomb-making, and more caves and tunnels. Erdogan’s takfiri have breached the Cessation of Hostilities agreement in the Idlib de-escalation zone nineteen (19) times since 00:01 6 March — though Team Erdogan only listed one (1).

Among the breaches by the Erdogan regime takfiri savages announced on 7 March, were four rockets fired into the villages of Hazarin and Aldar-Alkaber, southern Idlib countryside. The result of the bombings were only material damages.

Also on 7 March, the swamp drunk Trump regime illegally delivered another military shipment to al Qaeda in Syria; from SANA: “The US occupation forces on Saturday sent a new convoy of trucks loaded with military and logistical reinforcements to the Syrian territories in another breach of international law.

“Local sources said that the 10 trucks have entered Syrian territories, coming from Iraq through al-Waleed illegal crossing point, and moved from al-Ya’aroubyia to the US occupation base at Kharab-Aljer airport in al-Malkyia area in Qamishli countryside.”

Kelly Craft, American diplomat who breached both the UN Charter and international law in her recent visit to Turkey and her illegal entry into Syria, bragged that the US had spent 10 billion (with a “b”) dollars in the SAR since the beginning of the NATO Spring against the Levantine country, adding another $108 million to the kitty. At the time of Clinton’s SoS tenure, the Obama administration had sent almost one billion in aid to the terrorist ‘rebels.’

American infrastructure is collapsing. People CrowdFund for medical bills. Homelessness is epidemic. Nonetheless, US has spent $10 Billion to destroy Syria.

After ridding neighborhoods of human pathogens, Syrian military units — including sappers — must do a thorough cleansing of the regions, to safely remove the gifts of landmines and IEDs the savages always leave behind, before civilians can safely return to their homes, or what may be left of them.

On 6 March, another large cache of NATO weapons — including US TOWs — was found in the recently liberated Saraqib.

Army units discovered three takfiri savages hideouts in the Kafr Hamra region of Aleppo countryside, on 6 March. Where once there had been clothing and textile dyeing factories, had been deformed into weapons manufacturing sites, looted of all original equipment (the human pathogens have been looting Syrian infrastructure and selling equipment cheaply, to Turkey, since 2012) and now abandoned. Large quantities of missiles, mortars, IEDs, and even the Jahannam [hell] cannons were found where once sewing machines and textile equipment once existed.

In order for those who never heard of the Hell Cannon, we share a video from 2016, which shows how dear freedom is to NATO’s beloved rebels, how only three of its bombs destroyed a six floor apartment building while an Islam-hating Wahhabi blasphemes as though he were in a particular throe:

Some of our readers may recognize a terrorist flag stamped on one of the buildings; Syria News screengrabbed it for a side-by-side group photo showing diversity among al Qaeda factions of human pathogens, not one of which would be tolerated in any NATO country:

Also on 6 March, not long after the CoH went into effect, Syrian air defenses destroyed two drones in Jableh, which were headed to the military base in Hmeimim.

— Miri Wood

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اليوم الأول من هدنة إدلب: التزام لا يبدّد الشكوك

سيّرت القوات الروسية والتركية دوريات مشتركة قرب سراقب على الطريق الدولي (M4) (أ ف ب )

سوريا 

الأخبار 

السبت 7 آذار 2020

في اليوم الأول من وقف إطلاق النار في إدلب، شهدت خطوط التماس التزاماً شبه كامل بالتهدئة، فيما خلت سماء المنطقة من أيّ تحليق لطائرات حربية أو مسيّرة، توازياً مع تسيير القوات الروسية والتركية دورية أولى قرب مدينة سراقب. في هذا الوقت، تتالت المواقف الدولية المُرحّبة بالاتفاق الأخير بين موسكو وأنقرة، في ظلّ تشكيك في الوقت نفسه في قدرته على الصمود، على رغم اعتبار الجانبين السوري والروسي أن الاتفاق «يمكن أن يساعد في تهيئة الأجواء لإعادة إطلاق العملية السياسية»، وفق ما تمّ التأكيد أمس في المباحثات الهاتفية بين الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد، ونظيره الروسي فلاديمير بوتين. وفيما هنّأ بوتين الأسد بالإنجازات المتحقّقة أخيراً، مطلِعاً إياه على فحو المباحثات مع أنقرة، عبّر الأسد عن ارتياحه لما أنجزته موسكو، و«ما يمكن أن يحمله من انعكاسات على الشعب السوري… في حال التزام الجانب التركي به»

غابت الطائرات الحربية الروسية والسورية، بالإضافة إلى المسيّرات التركية، عن سماء منطقة إدلب أمس، فيما شهدت خطوط التماس كافة هدوءاً حذراً، تخلّلته خروقات بسيطة في الساعات الأولى، عقب دخول وقف إطلاق النار حيّز التنفيذ منتصف ليل الخميس – الجمعة. الهدوء الميداني انسحب أيضاً على المواقف الدولية، إذ رحّبت الأمم المتحدة وبعض العواصم الغربية بالاتفاق الروسي – التركي، الذي تظلّ الشكوك قائمة في قدرته على الصمود لفترة طويلة، وخصوصاً أنه لم يعالج مسائل أساسية تتعلّق بالتنظيمات الإرهابية، وأزمة النازحين، والسيطرة على أجواء إدلب.
وفي اليوم الأول من وقف إطلاق النار، سيّرت الشرطة العسكرية الروسية مع القوات التركية دوريات مشتركة بالقرب من مدينة سراقب في ريف إدلب الجنوبي الشرقي، على طريق حلب – اللاذقية الدولي (M4)، فيما أفادت وكالة الأنباء السورية الرسمية «سانا» بأن «الهدوء ساد محاور العمليات»، مؤكدة في الوقت نفسه أن «وحدات الجيش جاهزة للردّ بقوة على أيّ محاولة خرق من قِبَل التنظيمات الإرهابية». من جهتها، شدّدت المتحدثة باسم وزارة الخارجية الروسية، ماريا زاخاروفا، خلال مؤتمر صحافي، على ضرورة «القضاء على التنظيمات الإرهابية في سوريا، وموقفنا ثابت حيال ذلك»، مشيرة إلى أن «اتفاق وقف الأعمال القتالية في إدلب يجدّد التأكيد على مواصلة محاربة الإرهاب بكلّ أشكاله»، مؤكدة أن «لسوريا كامل الحق في القضاء على التنظيمات الإرهابية على أراضيها».

بومبيو: تركيا تمتلك حقاً كاملاً في حماية مصالحها في الأراضي السورية

في المقابل، نقل مكتب الرئيس التركي، رجب طيب إردوغان، عنه قوله إن «مراكز المراقبة العسكرية التركية في إدلب السورية ستحتفظ بوضعها الحالي ضمن اتفاق وقف إطلاق النار» الذي أبرمته أنقرة مع روسيا. كما نقل عنه أن «الاتفاق وضع الأساس لإعادة الأوضاع في المنطقة إلى طبيعتها». واعتبر وزير الخارجية الأميركي، مايك بومبيو، من جانبه، أن تركيا «تمتلك حقاً كاملاً في حماية مصالحها في الأراضي السورية، بالنظر إلى ما يفعله هناك كلّ من (الرئيس السوري بشار) الأسد وروسيا وإيران»، لافتاً إلى أن إدارة الرئيس دونالد ترامب «تدرس حالياً خيارات لدعم تركيا في سوريا»، في ظلّ تقارير حول توجيه أنقرة إلى واشنطن طلباً للمساعدة. لكن الرئيس التركي كان قد قال، في وقت سابق أمس، إنه «كان بوسع الولايات المتحدة إرسال دعم عسكري إلى تركيا من أجل إدلب لو أنه لم يتمّ إبرام اتفاق وقف إطلاق النار يوم الخميس، لكن لم يتمّ إرسال أيّ دعم بعد»، مكرّراً أن تركيا «ستقوم الشهر المقبل بتفعيل أنظمة الدفاع الروسية إس-400 التي اشترتها من موسكو على رغم احتجاج واشنطن»، مضيفاً أنه «طلب أيضاً شراء أنظمة باتريوت الأميركية».
من ناحية أخرى، أعلنت الرئاسة التركية أن الاتفاق المبرم بين أنقرة وموسكو لا يقضي بتراجع تركيا عن قرارها فتح الحدود أمام المهاجرين الراغبين في التوجّه إلى الاتحاد الأوروبي، مشدّدة على أن هذا الاتفاق «لا يغيّر حقيقة عدم إيفاء الاتحاد الأوروبي بوعوده»، في إطار اتفاق الهجرة المبرم بين أنقرة وبروكسل عام 2016. واعتبر مصدر في الرئاسة التركية أن «السياسة الخارجية التركية حقّقت نجاحاً جديداً بما يتماشى مع المصالح القومية للبلاد»، موضحاً «(أننا) حافظنا من جانب على مصالحنا الوطنية من خلال إيقاف موجات هجرة غير نظامية جديدة آتية من سوريا، ومن جانب آخر جعلنا دول الغرب، وعلى رأسها الولايات المتحدة، تساندنا». ولفت المصدر إلى أن اتفاق موسكو «لا يشكل عائقاً أمام دعم الاتحاد الأوروبي والولايات المتحدة لتركيا»، داعياً إلى اتخاذ «خطوات في سبيل زيادة الثقة، بما فيها نشر أنظمة دفاعية وتطوير التعاون الاستخباراتي بين أنقرة والغرب». وحذّر المصدر من أن «أكثر من ثلاثة ملايين مدني لا يزالون موجودين في إدلب، ولذلك لا يزال خطر هجرتهم غير الشرعية نحو تركيا مستمراً».
بدوره، أمل الأمين العام للأمم المتحدة، أنطونيو غوتيريش، أن يؤدّي الاتّفاق إلى «وقف فوري ودائم للعمليات القتالية، بعدما تَحمّل السكان معاناة هائلة». ورحّب «برنامج الأغذية العالمي» كذلك بالاتفاق، منتقداً في الوقت نفسه عدم تضمّنه إرساء «منطقة آمنة للنازحين المدنيين». في المقابل، رأت الرئاسة الفرنسية أن «توافق الروس والأتراك حول إدلب لم يترسّخ جيداً بعد»، واصفة ترتيبات الطرفين «حول المسائل الإنسانية والسياسية» بأنها «غير واضحة».

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تهدئة في إدلب: لا تنازل عمّا تَحقّق بالنار

 الأخبار 

الجمعة 6 آذار 2020

بالنار قبل التفاهمات، ثبّت الجيش السوري وحلفاؤه سيطرتهم على طول الطريق الدولي حلب – دمشق وأمّنوه شرقاً وغرباً. كما تمكّنوا من إبعاد خطر المسلحين عن مدينة حلب بالكامل، ولاحقوهم إلى أقصى ريفها.

أما التفاهم، فيُنتظر أن يتمّ بموجبه فتح الطريق الدولي حلب – اللاذقية أمام المدنيين بعد أسبوع. وعلى رغم بدء سريان وقف إطلاق النار، إلا أن المنطقة تبقى مرشّحة لجولة جديدة من الاشتباكات، حيث لا اتفاقات نهائية، ولا حلول جذرية، في حين يبقى ثابتاً عدم انسحاب الجيش من أيّ نقطة وصلها، على عكس ما كانت تطالب به تركيا.

على رغم انعقاد قمة موسكو، التي جمعت الرئيسين الروسي فلاديمير بوتين والتركي رجب طيب إردوغان، أمس، إلا أن العمليات العسكرية لم تتوقف في منطقة إدلب، خصوصاً من جهة المجموعات المسلحة والقوات التركية. وفي حين كان يتشاور الرئيسان حول مصير المنطقة التي تزايد فيها التصعيد العسكري في الأشهر الأخيرة إلى مستويات قياسية، هاجمت الفصائل المسلحة مدعومة بغطاء ناري تركي كثيف محيط مدينة سراقب في ريف إدلب الجنوبي الشرقي، من دون أن تتمكّن من تحقيق أيّ نتائج. إذ استطاع الجيش السوري صدّ الهجمات، كما قصف مرابض المدفعية التركية، ما أدى إلى مقتل جنديين تركيين وإصابة 3 آخرين. كذلك، شنّ هجمات مدفعية وصاروخية وجوية ضدّ العديد من أهداف المسلحين في ريف إدلب الجنوبي. ونشرت وكالة «سانا» الرسمية مشاهد جوية تظهر قيام الجيش باستهداف دقيق لمواقع المسلحين في إدلب، في وقت بدا فيه لافتاً انخفاض وتيرة التحركات التركية العسكرية، جواً وبرّاً، باستثناء الدعم المدفعي والصاروخي للمسلحين.

وعلى رغم محاولات المسلحين العديدة تحقيق مكاسب ميدانية في الوقت الضائع قبيل بدء سريان وقف إطلاق النار منتصف ليل الخميس – الجمعة، إلا أن الخريطة الميدانية بقيت على حالها، وعلى أساسها ثُبّت وقف إطلاق النار، وما حوله من تفاهمات بين موسكو وأنقرة. وكما كان متوقعاً، توصّل الطرفان إلى قرار بالتهدئة الميدانية، وتفاهم يخصّ فتح الطريق الدولي حلب – اللاذقية (M4) (راجع الأخبار في 2 آذار 2020).

تؤكد مصادر عدة متابعة أن «هذا التفاهم مرحلي، وليس اتفاقاً نهائياً»

وتبنّى الرئيسان الروسي والتركي وثيقة مشتركة تشمل عدة نقاط، أُطلقت عليها تسمية «البرتوكول الإضافي للمذكرة حول إرساء الاستقرار في منطقة إدلب لخفض التصعيد والمؤرخة بيوم 17 أيلول 2018». وجاء فيها أن «لا حلّ عسكرياً للنزاع السوري، الذي يمكن تسويته فقط نتيجة لعملية سياسية يقودها وينفذها السوريون بأنفسهم بدعم الأمم المتحدة، وفق القرار 2254 الصادر عن مجلس الأمن الدولي». ولعلّ أهمّ نقاط الوثيقة التي ستُترجم مباشرة هي وقف إطلاق النار على طول خطوط التماس القائمة اليوم، بالإضافة إلى «إنشاء ممرّ آمن عرضه 6 كيلومترات شمالاً، و6 كيلومترات جنوباً، من الطريق (M4)»، على أن «يتمّ تنسيق المعايير الدقيقة لعمل الممرّ الآمن عبر قنوات الاتصال بين وزارتًي الدفاع للاتحاد الروسي والجمهورية التركية في غضون 7 أيام»، علماً أن فتح «حلب – اللاذقية» كان مطلباً اساسياً لدمشق وموسكو وطهران، وهو مكرّس في «اتفاقات سوتشي» التي كانت تتهرّب أنقرة من تنفيذها. كما اتّفق الطرفان على تسيير دوريات مشتركة بدءاً من 15 آذار/ مارس الجاري على الطريق نفسه، على الجزء الممتدّ بين ترنبة (غربي سراقب) وعين الحور (شمال شرقي اللاذقية)، بمسافة تصل إلى 70 كم. والأهمّ من ذلك هو تثبيت خطوط التماس الحالية، مع ما يعنيه الأمر من فتح الطريق الدولي حلب – دمشق (M5) كاملاً، وإبقائه تحت سيطرة الجيش السوري.

لكن في المقابل، ثَبّت التفاهم الجديد وجود القوات التركية على طول خطوط التماس، جنباً إلى جنب مع مسلّحي الفصائل، ابتداءً من دارة عزة شمالاً، وصولاً إلى تقتناز ومحيطها جنوباً شرقيّ مدينة إدلب. وهذا ما قد يفتح مجالاً لجولات جديدة من الاشتباك بين الجيشين السوري والتركي في المنطقة، على غرار ما حصل في الأيام الماضية. إذ تؤكد مصادر عدة متابعة أن «هذا التفاهم مرحلي، وليس اتفاقاً نهائياً، وبالتالي فإن عودة العمليات العسكرية محتومة مستقبلاً، ما يعني مواجهة جديدة مع الجيش التركي».

وبانتهاء هذه المرحلة من العمليات العسكرية، عبر بدء سريان وقف إطلاق النار، يكون الجيش السوري وحلفاؤه قد سيطروا منذ بداية عملياتهم في أرياف حلب (الجنوبي – الجنوبي الغربي – الشمالي الغربي) وريفَي إدلب (الشرقي – الجنوبي) في أوائل العام الحالي، على ما يقارب 215 قرية وبلدة وناحية. كما يكونون قد تمكّنوا من تأمين طريق دمشق – حلب الدولي، بعد أن حرّروا مسافة ما يقارب 100 كم من هذا الطريق. ووفق خريطة السيطرة هذه، باتت المساحة التي استعادها الجيش السوري تُقدّر بحوالي 1900 كم مربّع.

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Erdogan Loses the Battle, But the War Is Far from Over

THE SAKER • MARCH 5, 2020


New Map of Idlib with Security Corridor

Following 6 hours of grueling negotiations, including direct negotiations between Putin and Erdogan, the parties have finally agreed to the following:

  1. A ceasefire will begin at midnight.
  2. Russia and Turkey will jointly patrol the M4 highway (M5 now belongs to Damascus). A 6km buffer zone will have to be created and enforced on each side of M4 by the March 15th (see map above)
  3. Both parties have reaffirmed their commitment to Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
  4. Both parties have reaffirmed their commitment to a create the conditions for a return of the refugees.
  5. Both parties have reaffirmed that this conflict as no military solution.

Furthermore, there was a lot of things which were left unsaid, but understood by all:

  1. The recent military gains of the Syrian military will not be disputed and otherwise challenged. The new line of contact has now become official.
  2. Russia and Syria will continue to fight all the organizations which the UNSC has declared “terrorist” (al-Nusra, al-Qaeda, and all their franchises irrespective of any “rebranding”).
  3. Moscow remains as committed to the protection of the legitimate Syrian government as ever.

From the above we can also deduce the following:

  1. Erdogan’s Blitzkrieg has failed. Initially, the Turkish drones inflicted major damage on the Syrian forces, but the latter adapted extremely quickly which resulted in what the Russians jokingly referred to as “dronopad” which can roughly be translated as “dronerain”.
  2. The Turks were clearly shocked by the Russian decision to bomb a Turkish battalion. What apparently happened is this: two Syrian Su-22 (old Soviet aircraft) bombed the convoy to force it to stop, then a pair of Russian Su-34 (the most modern Russian all-weather supersonic medium-range fighter-bomber/strike aircraft) dropped heavy ordinance on the convoy and surrounding buildings killing scores of Turkish special forces). Both sides decided to “blame” the Syrians, but they don’t fly Su-34, and everybody knows that.
  3. Erdogan understood that he either had to double down or declare victory and leave. He wisely chose the latter, at least as a temporary measure.
  4. Neither NATO nor the EU showed any signs of wanting to join Turkey’s war on Syria (because that is what we are really dealing with here), and neither did the US. Since I cannot call that decision “wise” (there is no wisdom of any kind left in western regimes), I will call it simply “prudent” as Russia was not about to allow Turkey to invade Syria.
  5. Iran, Hezbollah, and Libya all declared their willingness to fight the Turks for as long as needed and anywhere where needed.

In spite of these developments, it is pretty clear that internal Turkish politics will continue to force Erdogan to engage in what is politely called “neo-Ottoman” policies aka phantom pains for a lost empire. The obvious solution for Russia is to further arm the Syrians, especially with modernized versions of the Pantsir SAMs which have proven very effective against drones, MLRS rockets and even mortars.

The main Syrian problem is a lack of numbers. Until more forces are equipped, trained, deployed and engaged, the Russians need to provide a much stronger air defense capabilities to Syria. The Syrians have done miracles with old, frankly outdated, Soviet equipment (which, considering its age and lack of proper maintenance, has performed superbly), but now they need much better Russian gear to defend not only against Turkey, but also against the Axis of Kindness (US+Israel+KSA).

Furthermore, it is my opinion that the Russian task force in Khmeimim and Tartus is too big and not well balanced. Khmeimin needs many more Su-25SM3 and a few more Su-35S/Su-30SM to protect them. The naval base at Tartus lacks ASW capabilities, as does much of the Russian naval task force in the eastern Mediterranean. And while the Russian Navy has a number of ships with “Kalibr” cruise missiles onboard, their numbers are, again, inadequate, which means that the Russian Aerospace Forces need to deploy as many Kalibr-capable aircraft in southern Russia as possible. Both Tartus and Khmeimim are pretty close to the Idlib province (that is also were the “good terrorist” tried to strike Russian forces from which, thanks to the successful Syrian offensive, they now cannot do anymore!). This suggests to me that Russia ought to declare a larger exclusive air control zone over both of this locations, and beef up the numbers of missiles and launchers the Russian air defenses will have to enforce it.

Finally, I think that Erdogan has outlived his utility for Russia (and for Turkey, for that matter!). He clearly is a loose cannon which, according to some rumors, even the Turkish public opinion is getting fed up with. Russia should not neglect that public opinion. Then there are the Libyans, “Field Marshal” Khalifa Belqasim Haftar, whose forces seems to have been extremely successful against the Turkish forces in Libya. The Russians are, quietly, supporting Haftar who, while not exactly an ideal ally for Russia, can prove useful. What the Russians need to do next is to explain two things to Erdogan and his ministers:

  1. If you attack again in Syria, you will be defeated, possibly worse than the first time around
  2. If you mess with our geostrategic interests, we will mess with yours

The only party which the Russians should never arm are the Kurds, who are even more unreliable than Erdogan and who are basically an Israeli asset to destabilize Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran. Russia should, however, talk to the Kurds (all factions) and convince them to accept a large cultural autonomy inside Syria, Iraq and Iran. Turkey could be added to this list, but only once a trustworthy government comes to power in Ankara. Under no circumstances should Russia arm the Kurds.

Right now, the best Russian ally in the region is Syria. This is the country which Russia needs to make safe by creating a truly modern air defense network. The Russians have already done a lot towards this goal, including integrating their combat management and EW systems, but that is not enough. While Russian aid and Syrian skills have forced the Israelis to conduct mostly symbolic and ineffective air strikes, often with missiles shot from outside the Syrian airspace, and while many (most) Israeli missiles were destroyed by the Syrian air defenses, it is pretty clear that both the Turks and the Israelis feel that if they launch missiles from long distance they are relatively safe. That perception needs to be changed, not only to force the Turks and the Israelis to shoot from even further and accept even more losses, but also to show the US, NATO and Europe that the Syrian air defenses are capable of making anything short of a massive attack pointless (and a massive attack costly).

We should also note that the Turkish propaganda machine has been very effective. Yes, a lot of what they said was self-evidently “feelgood” nonsense (thousands of dead Syrians, hundred of tanks, etc.) , but their footage of a Turkish drone striking a Pantsir in Libya did, at least initially, impress those who don’t understand air defense warfare (destroying a single isolated first-generation Pantsir is not that hard, especially from right above it, but destroying a Pantsir position in which launchers protect each other is quite different. And if that Pantsir position is protected “below” (AA+MANPADS) and “above” (medium to long range SAMs), then this becomes extremely difficult).

This war is not over and it won’t be until Erdogan is removed from power. Frankly, Russia needs a stable and trustworthy partner on her southern border, and that won’t happen until the Turks ditch Erdogan. The problem here is that God only knows who might succeed him, should the Gulenists seize power, that will not be good for Russia either.

And here we come back to the murder of General Suleimani. Frankly, the Iranians are spot on: the two things which made the Middle-East into the bloody mess it has been for decades are 1) Israel and 2) the US. The end goal for the former is a one-state solution, whether accepted or imposed. The intermediate goal ought to be to get the US out of Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and, possibly, Turkey. Erdogan is crazy and desperate enough (not to mention vengeful) to at least bring this intermediate goal one step closer by alienating the US and NATO. So the Russian game plan ought to be obvious: first, use military means to “contain Erdogan inside Turkey” and, next, engage in long term efforts to prepare for a post-Erdogan Turkey. Then let the SOB destroy himself.

I don’t believe that peace is possible between a secular Syria and a Takfiri-backing Turkey. And I sure don’t believe that the Takfiris can be remolded into any kind of “democratic opposition”. Thus the real end-goal for Russia and Syria will always be military victory, not “peace” (assuming that concept of “peace with the Takfiris” makes any sense at all, which it doesn’t). The Russians know that, even if they won’t admit it.

For the time being, what we see is the first phase of the Turkey-Syria war ending and for the next couple of weeks we shall see a transition into some other phase which will probably be one in which, surprise surprise, the Turks fail to remove all the Takfiri nutcases from Idlib which will then give Syria and Russia a legal reason to take direct action again. In theory, at least, Erdogan could decide to pour the Turkish armed forces across the border, but the closer they will get to Khmeimim and/or Tartus, the more dangerous the stakes for Turkey and for Erdogan personally.

The key to success for the Axis of Resistance is to make Syria too tough to crack. I hope that Russia, Iran, Syria and Iraq will continue to work together, hopefully with Chinese aid, to create such a Syria.

Assad to Russia 24: Erdogan Aligned with Al Qaeda Because of his Muslim Brotherhood Ideology

March 5, 2020 Miri Wood

President Bashar al Assad told Russia-24 TV that Erdogan’s Muslim Brotherhood ideology, not Turkish national interests, is the cause of his sending troops illegally into Syria, to fight for al Qaeda in Idlib.

Dr. Assad also discussed the challenges of the American occupation of Syrian oil fields and Syrian monies stolen by foreign banks.

Syria News provides the full transcript of the recent interview by Yevgeny Primokov, courtesy of SANA.

Journalist:  Hello! This is “International Review” with Yevgeny Primakov. Today, we are in Damascus, in our temporary studio. His Excellency, President Bashar al-Assad, is not our guest in the studio; rather, we are his guests. Mr. President, thank you very much for receiving us and giving us the time to conduct this interview. We are happy to be with you and to see that you are in good health in these difficult circumstances.

President Assad:  You are welcome. I am very happy to receive a Russian national television station.

Question 1:  Thank you very much Mr. President. Clearly, the most important topic now, besides the war on terrorism that your country is waging, are the events in the Idlib governorate, and the danger of confrontation between the Syrian Arab Republic and Turkey. The Turkish forces are directly supporting what is called “the opposition,” although we see in their ranks elements which belong to terrorist organizations, which are affiliated to Al Qaeda and other organizations. Turkish troops are also taking part in attacks against Syrian forces. The question is: what has changed in the relations between you and Erdogan, between Syria and Turkey? Before 2011, Erdogan used to call you “brother,” and your two families were friends. What has changed and pushed things to where they are now?

President Assad:  The core of the issue is American policy.  At a point in time, the United States decided that secular governments in the region were no longer able to implement the plans and roles designated to them; of course, I am referring to the countries which were allies of the United States and not those like Syria which are not.  They decided to replace these regimes with Muslim Brotherhood regimes that use religion to lead the public.

In doing this, things would become easier for American plans and Western plans in general.  This process of “replacement” started with the so-called Arab Spring.  Of course, at the time, the only Muslim Brotherhood-led country in the region was Turkey, through Erdogan himself and his Brotherhood affiliation.  Prior to this, our relations with them were good in both the political and economic fields; we even had security and military cooperation.  There were no problems at all between Syria and Turkey.  We didn’t do anything against them and we didn’t support any forces hostile to them. We believed them to be neighbours and brothers.  But Erdogan’s Muslim Brotherhood affiliation is much stronger than all of this and he returned to his original identity and built his policies with Syria according to this ideology.

It is well-known that the Muslim Brotherhood were the first organisation to endorse violence and use religion to gain power. Now, if we ask ourselves, why are Turkish soldiers being killed in Syria?  What is the cause they are fighting for?  What is the dispute?  There is no cause, even Erdogan himself is unable to tell the Turks why he is sending his army to fight in Syria.  The single reason is the Muslim Brotherhood and it has nothing to do with Turkish national interests.  It is related to Erdogan’s ideology and consequently the Turkish people have to die for this ideology.  That’s why he is unable to explain to the Turkish people why his soldiers are being killed in Syria.

Question 2:  Is there any hope of establishing any kind of communication between Turkey and Syria gradually, at least between the military and the intelligence, and in the future, maybe, diplomatic relations?

President Assad:  During the past two years, numerous intensive meetings took place between Russian and Turkish officials, and despite the Turkish aggression a few meetings were held between Syrian and Turkish security officials.  Our shared objective with the Russians was to move Turkey away from supporting terrorists and bring it back to its natural place.  For Syria, and for you also, Turkey is a neighbouring country.  It is natural to have sound relations with a neighboring country; it is unnatural under any pretext or any circumstance to have bad relations.  So, as to your question, is it possible?  Of course it is, but we can’t achieve this outcome while Erdogan continues to support the terrorists.  He has to stop supporting terrorism, at which point things can return to normal because there is no hostility between the two peoples.  The hostility is caused by political actions or policies based on vested interests.  On the level of the Syrian nation and the Turkish nation, there are neither differences nor conflicts of interests.  So, yes, these relations should return to normal.

Question 3:  Is this your message to the Turkish people, that there is no hostility against them?  Have I understood you correctly?

President Assad:  Of course, we used to describe them as brotherly people, even now, I ask the Turkish people: what is your issue with Syria?  What is the issue for which a Turkish citizen deserves to die?  What is the hostile act, small or large, carried out by Syria against Turkey during or before the war?  There is none.  There are mixed marriages and families, and daily interactions and interests between Syria and Turkey.  In Turkey, there are groups of Syrian Arab origin and there are groups in Syria of Turkish origin.  These interactions have existed throughout history; it is not logical that there is a dispute between us.

Question 4: Mr. President, I realize that I am talking to a head of state; nevertheless, I can’t but ask about the human dimension. This person [Erdogan] shook your hand, was your guest, you received him, and he called you a brother and a friend, etc.. Now, he allows himself to say all these things. How does that affect you emotionally?

President Assad: I have met people who belong to the Muslim Brotherhood from different countries.  He is one of them from Turkey, there were some from Egypt, Palestine and others; they have all done the same thing.  

They used to say nice things about Syria or about their personal relationship with me, but when things change, they turn against the person.  That’s how the Muslim Brotherhood are: they have no political, social, or religious ethics.  For them, religion is not a form of good, it is violence; this is their principle.  Erdogan is a member of the opportunistic Muslim Brotherhood and so it is normal for him to do what he has done.  The lack of clarity and endless lying are part of their nature.

Question 5: The war in your country has been going on for nine years.  It is twice as long as the World War II, the Great Patriotic War, and soon we will mark the 75th anniversary of our victory in it, which is a very important event for Russia.  What strength does the Syrian people store that enables them to survive and triumph and avoid despair?  What is the secret?  Is it an internal strength, or something else?  Or is it simply that you have better weapons?

President Assad:  There are several factors which should be considered.  The fact that we are a small country, means these factors make us a strong country in this war.  First and foremost, national awareness and public opinion.  Without the widespread awareness of the Syrian people that what is happening is the result of a Western conspiracy against their country, Syria might have perished or been destroyed very quickly.  This popular realization produced a national unity despite different political leanings or different cultural and social affiliations – ethnic, religious or sectarian groups.  This awareness created unity with the state in confronting terrorism; this is a very important factor.

The second factor is the Syrian people’s legendary capacity for sacrifice, which we have witnessed primarily through the Syrian Arab Army.  Under normal circumstances, one would believe that these sacrifices can only be found in movies or novels, while in fact they were apparent in every battle and this is what protected the country.

In addition to the sacrifices of the army, the people themselves sacrificed.  They have been living in extremely difficult circumstances: continuous shelling, sanctions and bad economic conditions.  Nevertheless, the people remained steadfast with their country.

The third factor is the public sector, which has played an important role in keeping the state together.  In the worst of circumstances, salaries continued to be paid, schools kept running and daily essential services were provided to citizens.  Bottom line services continued to be provided so that life continues.

In addition to these factors, there is the fact that our friends have supported us, particularly Russia and Iran.  They have supported us politically, militarily, and economically.  All these factors together have helped Syria remain steadfast up until now.

Question 6: If you don’t mind, I’ll dwell on these factors for more details, and we will start with the Syrian society and what you have said about its diverse culture and tolerance among its different ethnic, cultural and religious groups. The extremist terrorists have struck a severe blow to this Syrian characteristic by promoting extremist demands and an extremist ideology. Yesterday, we were in the Old City of Damascus, and we couldn’t imagine what the situation would be like if the black flag of the caliphate appeared in Damascus, something which can only be imagined with horror. To what extent is Syria ready to rebuild itself as a multicultural state, tolerant, secular, etc.?

President Assad:  What I’m about to say may sound exaggerated, but by nature I speak in real terms and do not like exaggeration.  In actual fact, Syrian society today in terms of coherence and the social integration of its different segments, is better than it was before the war.  This is for a simple reason: war is a very important lesson to any society, a lesson that extremism is destructive and that not accepting the other is dangerous.  As a result, these segments within our society came together.

If you go to the Old City or to any area under government control, you will not see this problem at all.  On the contrary, as I mentioned, things are better than before.  The problem is in the areas which were outside government control.  That’s why I’m not concerned at all in this regard, despite the attempted Western narrative to show that the war in Syria is between sects, which is not true.  A war between sects means that you come today to this area and find one colour, and in another area you find another colour, and in another place a third and a fourth colour; this is not the case. You will see all the colours of Syria, without exception, in the state-controlled areas.  Whereas in the terrorist-controlled areas, they are not looking for a colour, but for parts of one colour, which is the extremist colour.  This is because only extremists at the far end of extremism could live with them and that is why a large number of people fled the terrorist-controlled areas to state-controlled areas.  That is why I’m not concerned at all in this regard.  The challenge, however, will be in the areas which were occupied by the terrorists.

Question 7: This raises the question of the possibility of granting an amnesty. There are many people who were misled by the propaganda of the terrorists and extremists. Some of them committed crimes. Others were members of armed groups which committed terrorist acts. But there are those who did not carry weapons, or carried them without killing people. What are the grounds on which the government can reach out to them? And can there be compromises through which such people can be forgiven? This is a very important moral question. And in addition to the moral dimension, there are legal aspects as to resolving their status and integrating them in society, and maybe in the army as well.

President Assad:  In this type of war, amnesty must be a core element of domestic policy.  We cannot restore stability if we do not grant amnesty for the mistakes that have been made.  From the very beginning of the war, we have regularly enacted amnesty decrees pardoning all those who acted against the national interest. In the areas which were controlled by the militants, we have conducted what we call local reconciliations that have resulted in the state legally pardoning individuals; all those who hand in

their weapons, receive amnesty provided that they return to their normal civil life under the authority of the state and the rule of law. This process has been very successful and restored stability to a large number of areas, and we are continuing to implement this policy.

There are very limited cases which cannot be granted amnesty, for example those who committed criminal acts and premeditatedly killed large numbers of people; most of these are terrorist leaders.  However, in terms of the broader situation, I believe that most people want to return to the state, because a large number of them who carried weapons were actually forced to do so.  They had no choice: either you carry weapons or you are killed.  These people are not necessarily extremists.  They do not have a terrorist past.  They are ordinary people who were forced to carry weapons.

Similarly, there are those who had to take political or public positions in the media in favour of the terrorists for the same reasons, we know this for a fact.  That’s why I believe that most of these people do support the state and were cooperating and communicating with us throughout.  So, I fully agree with you, we must continue providing amnesty and we must continue with this process in the new areas we liberate, especially since we want most Syrians inside and outside Syria to return to their country.

Question 8: Now, we will talk about rebuilding the state, but the state always consists of people. When we talk about terrorists, we either force them to drop their weapons or persuade them to drop them and go back to their senses. Conversely, there are those who have their perceptions of justice; and you certainly meet state officials, whether in the security or police agencies, who have to reach out and resolve the status of those who became terrorists on the other side. These officials might resent that and find it difficult to accept. For instance, if I see this individual who used to aim his weapon at me living with me now on the same street and buying bread from the same bakery as I do, how should I behave? What do you say to state supporters who are not always prepared to accept such an amnesty or such an act of forgiveness?

President Assad:  At the beginning of the war we used to see such cases.  I recall when I passed the first amnesty decree, many Syrians resented it not only within the government, but also the broader public because some may have lost a family member from the terrorism.  In the beginning, it was not easy to tell them that we will grant amnesty in order to restore stability.  However, this was the case for the first few months only.  Today, if you ask anybody or at least those who support the state, regardless of whether they work in the government or not, this is now accepted because they have seen the results.  In fact, in many cases they are the ones pushing for an amnesty and a settlement, which helps greatly.  So, there are no longer different viewpoints, because the facts on the ground have shown that this is the right thing to do and that it is good for Syria.

Question 9: As to the situation on the ground, I’ll not talk about who controls this or that area, because the situation on the ground is fluid and ever-changing and should be left to the military. But it is clear now that the state has restored large areas in southern Idlib governorate. Here, peaceful life will return, as happened in other areas, in Eastern Ghouta, Deir Ezzor, and the other areas liberated previously. What will the state do when it goes into the liberated areas? Where will it start its work? And what is the most important aspect to restoring peaceful life?

President Assad: In many of the areas we have liberated, there are no civilians since most had left when the terrorists arrived.  The first thing we do is to restore the infrastructure in order to enable the local population to return.  The first thing they need is electricity, water, roads, police, municipalities, and other services.  They need all these service providers; this is the first challenge.  The second, which is equally important, is rebuilding schools so that they are able to receive students.  If the infrastructure is available and I can’t send my children to school, what’s the point, it means I can’t go back to this area.  So, schools and health services are fundamental after the exit of terrorists and the restoration of security.  Later, of course, we engage with the local community to identify who was involved with the terrorists through various actions.  As I mentioned earlier, this is an important step towards reconciliation and resolving the status of these people in order to restore normal life to the city.

Question 10: What are the difficulties which emerge during this process? And are there sleeper cells which undermine the process of reconstruction? What are the problems facing you?

President Assad:  When I mentioned that the pardons and reconciliations have been successful, this doesn’t mean that the success was a hundred percent; nothing is perfect.  Some of these people still have terrorist leanings and extremist ideology, and are still cooperating with extremist groups in other areas and carrying out terrorist acts.  In the past few weeks, there have been a number of explosive devices planted in different places or under cars.  These terrorist acts have claimed the lives of many victims.  However, this doesn’t mean that we stop the process of reconciliations, but rather we need to hunt down these sleeper cells.  We have been able to arrest a large number of them, but there are others that are still active.  One sleeper cell might carry out a number of acts giving the impression that a full organisation exists.  Whereas in fact it is one cell made up of a group of individuals and by arresting them you are able to restore safety and security.  However, this challenge will remain, because terrorism still exists in Syria and outside support in the form of weapons and money is still at large.  Therefore, we do not expect to eliminate these sleeper cells in the foreseeable future.  We will continue to eliminate cells and others will appear, until things return to normal in Syria.

Question 11: Mr. President, in two months’ time, if I’m not mistaken, the country will hold parliamentary elections, in these difficult circumstances. How difficult will that be? Or, would they proceed according to plan, and nothing will stop or obstruct them?

President Assad: There is a constitution and we are governed by it.  We do not give in to Western threats or Western wishes, and we do not consider any factor other than the constitution.  The issue of postponing constitutional deadlines, whether for presidential or parliamentary elections, was raised with us several times and we refused to do so during the war.  Parliamentary elections will be held in a few months’ and we will proceed according to the constitutional agenda regardless of anything else.

Question 12: We talked about the domestic situation, let’s now talk about the outer environment. The Syrian Arab Republic has been subjected since 2011 to tightly-enforced isolation, not only by the Americans and the Europeans, which was expected, but also by the Arab League and its member states, including the Arab Gulf states. We know that the UAE embassy was reopened, and that Oman did not close its embassy and continued to work as usual. Do you see a positive change on the part of the Arab world, or is the situation still as it was, and that isolation persists? And what are the prospects of your contacts with the European Union? I’ll not ask about the Americans, for everything regarding them is unfortunately clear.

President Assad: Most Arab countries have maintained their relations with Syria, but not publicly for fear of pressure.  These countries have expressed their support for Syria and their wishes for us to defeat terrorism. However, Western pressure and American in particular, was severe on these countries to remain distant and not to open their embassies in Syria, particularly the Gulf states.  Europe however, is completely different.  In fact, for us, Europe for more than two decades and even before this war, has been absent on the global political arena. Europe has ceased to exist since 2003, after the American invasion of Iraq.  Europe surrendered completely to the United States and its role was limited to implementing what it was charged with by the American administration.

So, whether they communicate with us or not, the result is the same.  Whether they open embassies or not, there is no value.  We have met with a number of security officials from most European countries and they have been reasonable but they are unable to change course.  Some have frankly said, “we are unable to change, our politicians cannot change their policies because the European policy is linked to the American policy.”  They climbed the tree and are simply unable to come down.  That’s why we do not waste our time talking about a European role and European policy.  The master is the American.  We can talk about the Americans and this automatically includes the Europeans.

But in answer to your question, yes, there is a change.  There are clear convictions that this war has not achieved what those countries, or some of the colonialist countries wanted, that the Syrian people have paid the price, that stability has paid the price and now the Europeans are paying the price.  The problem of refugees in Europe is huge, but they will not change in the near future.  This is my conviction.

Question 13: Now, Turkey is blackmailing Europe by using the migrants. And this is what Erdogan is doing right now.

President Assad:  Turkey started sending the second wave of refugees to Europe as a form of blackmail.  Erdogan had threatened that he would send refugees.  Yesterday, there were videos on various media outlets about the beginning of a migrant movement towards Europe.

Question 14: In one of your answers, you touched on the relation with Russia. We consider it a relation of partnership. But this relation went through difficult years when Russia limited its presence in the Middle East and other parts of the world. Many people saw that as a betrayal, and that Russia turned its back on its old allies and partners. Now, how do you describe these relations which have been strengthened naturally during nine years of war? Since our aforementioned opponents, including the Europeans and the Americans, who are “evil tongues” as we say in Russia, claim that Syria is under Russian control. Is that true in reality. For our part, we look at this relation as a partnership and an alliance.

President Assad:  Our relations with you span more than six decades; this is not a short period of time and it covers several generations.  We know each other very well and this relationship has been through various experiences.  Through the different circumstances, including the 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union, our relations with Russia have always been based on mutual respect, a peer-to-peer relationship.  We have never felt at any time, even during this war, that Russia is trying to impose its views on us.  They have always treated us with respect; even when we differed, they respected the views of the Syrian government.  This is a general rule that has governed the past decades and hasn’t changed because it is based on Russian customs, traditions, and perspectives.  So, on a bilateral level the relationship between Syria and Russia is clearly a partnership, particularly now after the war, this partnership has become stronger and more reliable.

However, if we wanted to view our relationship with Russia from a different perspective, which is Russia’s international role, the issue is different.  Today, many small countries and even countries of medium strength around the world, look towards Russia and rely to a large extent on its role, because it is Russia’s duty today to restore international balance to the global arena.  The presence of the Russian military base in Syria is not only aimed at fighting terrorism but also at creating an international political balance in the Security Council, as well as a military balance in different areas with a view of restoring the Russian role.  Restoring this role is in the interest of all states, including Syria and other small and medium-sized countries as I mentioned.   Therefore, we view this relationship from two perspectives: a partnership on the bilateral level and a relationship based on this international role, which we hope will continue to increase as has been the case since President Putin came to power in 2000 and restored Russia’s position.

Question 15: Now we are talking about military and political support. What about the economy? Going back to rebuilding Syria, are there large Russian – or non-Russian – projects which help in reconstruction? Is there a state or a company which is prepared to come and invest in the Syrian economy without fear of sanctions or political problems caused by the United States and Europe? For instance, there used to be a flourishing pharmaceutical industry in Aleppo, which used to export its products throughout the Middle East, and you, as a doctor, know that. Are there any ideas to restore industrial production in the pharmaceutical field or other fields? And to what extent the lack of resources will affect these economic projects, considering that oil is now outside state control and is controlled by a power, which came from beyond the Atlantic and built its bases there under the pretext of protecting oil?

President Assad:  When we built our infrastructure in Syria in the 1970s and the 1980s, we did not have oil at that time.  It was built with Syrian money and with Syrian capabilities.  So, we know we have the capabilities and can provide the resources.  There is a lot of Syrian capital within Syria and mostly abroad and should most certainly take part in this process.

Since 2018, there has been a great interest from big companies outside of Syria – Arab and non-Arab, to participate in the reconstruction.  However, what’s happening is that the Americans are applying huge pressure and threatening individuals and companies alike; this has no doubt frightened some of these companies.  This is happening even with regard to Russian companies.  There are several Russian companies which want to invest in Syria but fear taking any step.  Chinese companies have the same problem.

However, every problem has a solution.  Most recently, a number of large international companies have started to come to Syria using different methods which enable them to evade the sanctions.  So, there is a possibility now for these companies to work in Syria without facing sanctions.  Of course, I cannot discuss these methods, but we have started to see a return of foreign investment.  It is true that the movement is slow, but I believe it is a good start – a promising start, to support the reconstruction process which we have started.  We did not wait; we have begun in some areas and in order to expand there must be a larger number of companies and investments.

Question 16:  What are the areas which you consider priorities or most attractive to investors?

President Assad:  Of course, the most important is rebuilding the destroyed suburbs.  I think this will be of high interest for investment companies and several have already expressed interest; this is certainly a profitable area.  Another sector is oil and gas, which is also profitable.  There are already a number of Russian companies that have started operating in Syria during the past few years and are now planning to increase production.  The biggest obstacle preventing expansion in this sector is the terrorist and American occupation of the most important sites of oil wells in Syria.  The Americans know this of course, and that’s why they continue to occupy the oil wells and obstruct the reconstruction process.  In short, these are the most important sectors.  Of course, there are many other areas which any society needs, but are less important for international companies.

Question 17: As we know, there is a big problem caused by freezing Syrian funds in foreign banks.  Is it difficult to finance some contracts because of that?

President Assad:  That’s true.  This is robbery in every sense of the word; but if the money is stolen it doesn’t mean that as a state and as a society we should stop creating wealth.  We have many capabilities and this is one of the reasons why we have survived nine years of war.  They are well aware that if the war stopped completely, Syrian society is capable of rising in a strong manner and that we will be stronger economically than we were before the war. This is why they have resorted to threatening Syrian and foreign companies.  In other words, if a Syrian citizen wants to invest in Syria, they will likely be sanctioned, or oil revenues are prevented from returning to Syria. The more important factor is the ongoing war, which discourages companies and prevents them from coming to Syria.  If these three factors are eliminated, we have no problem in rebuilding the country.  We have strong human and material resources in Syria and we also have faithful friends like Russia and Iran who will help us.

Question 18: Mr. President, we talked about Idlib in general, and touched on the oil fields east of the Euphrates river controlled by the Americans, and we know that there is a power outage every four hours, and we know that power plants are mostly fueled by oil products. This factor – controlling oil and oil products – is crucial for Syrian economy. Do you have any plans to restore control over the areas east of the Euphrates? How are you going to proceed in that direction?

President Assad:  Militarily the priority now is Idlib, this is why we see Erdogan using all his force and no doubt under American directives.  This is because by liberating Idlib we will be able to move towards liberating the eastern regions.  As I have said on several occasions, for them, Idlib militarily is an advanced post.  They have used all their power to obstruct the liberation of Idlib, so that we do not move eastward.  However, despite not yet advancing towards the eastern region, we are still in direct communication with the population there.  There is a great deal of anger and resentment on their part against the American occupation and against the groups acting on behalf of the Americans.

I believe that this anger will build up gradually and there will be resistance operations against the occupiers.  It is the national and constitutional duty of the state to support any act against an occupying power.  As time goes by, the Americans will not have a population supporting them but a population standing against the American occupation.  They will not be able to stay, neither for the oil nor to support terrorists like ISIS and al-Nusra or any other reason.  The same of course, applies to the Turks who are occupying the northern part of Syrian territories.  If they do not leave through political negotiations, they must leave by force.  This is what we will do.  This is also our patriotic duty as Syrians.

Question 19: It’s good that we have arrived at this difficult issue. If we talk about the Kurds who live in the east and northeast of the country, and who might not be happy with the Americans and the Turks, particularly the Turks, with whom they have a longstanding enmity. Their relationship with Damascus is difficult because they are separatists and supported the United States at one point and became its allies. The question here is about reunifying the Syrian Arab Republic and reintegrating its territories within its legal borders. How are you going to build your policy regarding the Kurds, taking into account that Damascus has almost accused them of treason because they signed an agreement with the Americans. Do you have a plan in that regard? What’s the price for integrating them? What can you give the Kurds? And what are the things which you cannot give them?

President Assad:  We are in contact with the Kurdish political groups in northern Syria, the problem is that some of these groups, not all of them, operate under American authority.  We do not say “the Kurds” because the larger part of the Kurds are patriotic groups or tribes which support the state; however, these groups have no voice.  Those who control the area are small groups acting with the Americans.

As to what is sometimes referred to as the “Kurdish cause,” there is no such cause in Syria for a simple reason. Historically, there are Kurds who live in Syria; these groups which came to the north did so during the last century and only as a result of the Turkish oppression.  We have hosted them in Syria.  Kurds, Armenians and other groups came to Syria and we had no problem with that.  For example, there is no Syrian-Armenian issue.    There is a great diversity in Syria and we do not have an issue with that diversity, so why would we have a problem with the Kurds?!  The problem is with the groups that started to promote separatist propositions a few decades ago, mainly in the early 1980s.  Yet despite this, when the Turkish state during various periods oppressed and killed the Kurds in Turkey, we supported them.  We haven’t stood against their cause, if they call it a cause.  In Syria, they were given a nationality, even though they were not Syrian.  We have always been positive regarding the Kurdish issue.  Therefore, what is called “the Kurdish cause” is an incorrect title, a false title.

The problem right now is dealing with the Americans.  The Americans are occupiers; they occupied our lands.  The Americans are thieves stealing our oil.  You cannot play both sides: between those who protect the law and those who break it.  You cannot stand with the police and the thief at the same time, this is impossible.  You are either with the police or the thief.  So, we cannot reach results in any dialogue with them, even if we were to meet thousands of times, unless they take a clear position, a patriotic position: to be against the Americans, against occupation and against the Turks because they too are occupiers.

Quite simply, this is our demand.  This is a national position and as a government we are responsible for the constitution and for our national interests.  The whole Syrian people accept nothing less than them taking a stand against the occupation.  As for anything else, if they have other demands, the Syrian people have demands too.  How do we achieve results? We engage in discussions and then we can decide: do we change the constitution? Do we change the law? Or any other measure, this is all possible.  This is a Syrian-Syrian dialogue. However, the government in Syria does not own the constitution; the people own the constitution and therefore they are the ones who can change the constitution.

Question 20: If we take into account what is happening in Idlib, which we talked about at the beginning of the interview, and that Turkey is one of the main opponents of the Kurds, does the idea of reaching a reconciliation with the Kurds tempt you on these grounds? You can choose not to answer this question if you like.

President Assad:  On the contrary, this is a logical question.  These Kurdish groups which claim to be against Turkish occupation and issue statements that they will fight, did not fire a single bullet when the Turks invaded.  Why?  Because the Americans identified which area the Turks would enter and the boundaries that they should reach, as well as the areas that these groups should leave.  So, do we agree on statements or on actions?  We want to agree on the actions.  In their statements, they have said that they are against the Turks, but they are not doing anything against them at all.  They are neutral.  They are moving in line with the Americans and the Turks.  Only the Syrian government and other segments of Syrian society are fighting the Turks and losing martyrs every day.  Other than that, I agree with you.  If they were to say “we will agree with you against the Turks,” my response would be, we are ready, send your fighters so that together we can defend our land.

Question 21: In this region, there is also a very old enemy of the Syrian Arab Republic, which always reminds people of itself, Israel, or the Zionist entity as you call it. How do you see the “great” Deal of the Century, the gift given to us by American President Donald Trump? Where might it take us? I don’t mean to influence your answer in any way. I’m only recalling what is being discussed in Russia, that the deal as a solution for the Palestinian cause is simply a dead end.

President Assad:  Our relations with the United States were restored during the Nixon administration in 1974.  Since that time, we have met with numerous American officials in the administration, with presidents and members of Congress, and we have learned one thing only: anything an American politician does, is first and foremost to serve his personal interests in relation to the next elections.  They do not think of higher national American interests.  They do not think of world stability, or of international law, or the rights of peoples.  This doesn’t exist in their policies.  They only think of their elections and nothing else.

As to the ‘deal of the century,’ this proposition was made at this particular time only for the next American elections.  The presidential elections will be held at the end of this year.  So, the idea is meaningless, an empty shell.  The idea, if applied, is not harmful, but rather destructive to the Middle East and the peace process which started in the early 1990s.  However, when would their idea succeed and when would it fail?  It succeeds if the people of this region agree that it should succeed.  If you review all political and official statements, as well as public opinion on social media, you will find a total rejection of this plan, including from states and governments allied with America and those that have relations with Israel.  So, it’s safe to say that it is a stillborn plan.  Trump might be able to use it in his next elections in order to please the Israeli lobby in the United States.  But after that, we will probably not hear about the ‘deal of the century’ until the next elections. At which point there will be another and worse plan presented for the next elections.

Question 22: Thank you very much Mr. President. I have one final question, maybe a more emotional question. To what extent have these past nine years been difficult psychologically for you? To what extent have they been difficult to your family? Your wife has founded and manages one of the biggest charities in Syria which provides a great deal to children, to the wounded, and to restoration of normal life. I realize that I might be asking embarrassing questions, and I apologize for that, but to what extent have you suffered from what is happening within your family? And when you look back at what you have done during the past nine years, do you say to yourself that you haven’t done what you should have done on certain issues, or that a mistake was made in this regard and the right thing was done on another issue, and more should have been done?

President Assad:  There are two sides to this question: one is the formal, when I think about this war in my official capacity within the state and the other is the personal.

As an official, the first thing you think of in this situation is protecting the country; this is your duty as a head of state.  Here we can take as an example something that lives on as a tradition, which is the Great Patriotic War in Russia.  Your relations with Germany, like any other country, were good.  You had normal relations: agreements, engagements, meetings and you had not done anything against Germany.  Nevertheless, the Nazis attacked Russia and you lost 26 million martyrs, maybe more.  Was there any other choice but to defend your country?  No, that was the only choice.  The decision taken by the Russian leadership at the time was the right decision supported by the Russian people who defended their country.  Were there mistakes?  Of course, there are mistakes in every action.  Are there political or military decisions which could have been better?  Certainly, for everything has flaws and errors.  The same applies to us in Syria.  The decisions which we took from day one, were to preserve the sovereignty of Syria and to fight terrorists until the end, and we are still doing that.  After nine years, I believe that had we taken a different direction, we would have lost our country from day one.  That’s why this decision was the right one.  As to the mistakes made in daily matters, they are always there, of course.  Every time there is a mistake, we should correct it and change the decision.  This is the normal thing to do.

On a personal level, here I am like any other citizen; every individual has ambitions for his country.  Especially that before the war, we were advancing and achieving significant growth, and the country was developing at a fast pace.  It is true that we had many problems because when the reform process moves quickly, it has negative aspects, maybe in the form of corruption or policy mistakes.  But by and large, our national capabilities were improving and developing.  After nine years, when you see how far behind you are economically, technologically, culturally and educationally, of course there is a sense of frustration at times at a personal level.  Certainly, in the end, any war regardless of its causes or outcomes, is a very bad thing.  You cannot have a positive feeling towards any war.  You will always feel pain and frustration.  On a daily basis, you are losing good people and draining your resources.  So, there is certainly a kind of pain that you feel on a daily basis on a personal level.  However, at the same time, this pain should be the motivation and the incentive for you to do more and to have confidence and hope that you are capable of becoming stronger and better than before.

Journalist:  You have confirmed once again that a person like you can only have one position, the position of the statesman, because the views you have expressed are the views and the position of a statesman.

Mr. President, thank you very much for agreeing to give us this interview.  Today we have been with President of the Syrian Arab Republic, Bashar al-Assad, and this was “International Review.” I am Yevgeny Primakov, wishing you all the best.

President Assad: Thank you.

Other recent interviews:

Assad to Paris Match: France Should Return to International Law

President Assad’s Banned Interview with Rai 24: Europe Key Perpetrator of Terror in Syria

Assad Discusses Belt and Road, US Aggression, with China’s Phoenix Television

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Syrian MP to Al-Ahed: Erdogan Is Not Reliable

By Ali Hassan

Damascus – The Syrian army has once again retaken the city of Saraqeb from the grasp of terrorists. But the scene on the battlefield remains complicated amid ongoing air and ground battles that the Syrian army is waging against the Turkish military and its terrorist factions.

Two days remain until the meeting between Russia’s Presidents Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In the meantime, rival parties are seeking to improve their negotiating position through gains on the battlefield. But some say that the disengagement between Syria and Turkey will not come from Moscow but from Tehran.

Muhannad Al-Haj Ali, member of the Syrian People’s Assembly, tells Al-Ahed news that developments in recent days in Idlib are “a direct Turkish interference alongside the terrorist groups.” 

“Despite that, the Syrian army was able to recover Saraqeb because what it basically did was an evacuation and relocation operation to withdraw terrorists and place them in a designated targeting area,” Al-Haj Ali said.  

“Following all these battlefield developments, Erdogan needs to get down from the tree he climbed or for someone to give him a ladder to descend because of his statements that were for internal consumption. He is unable to enter into a direct war with Syria and its allies, which will be at the regional level. For Russia is Syria’s strategic partner. Turkey and the latter have no commercial relationship at all. It has no relations with Damascus, especially since the Turks are part of NATO – both have lied and manipulated the agreements they signed with Russia regarding Idlib,” the Syrian official adds.

“The US is pushing Erdogan to penetrate deeper into Syria because it wants to extend the life of the war in all respects. But that will be countered by the Syrian state’s strategic decision to liberate all the Syrian soil. All the while, the Turkish army does not have the effectiveness that the Syrian army gained from the experiences of years of war,” he explained. “There is an Iranian role that will soon serve as a lifeline for Erdogan, who is still lying, and will stop him from entering a regional war. Of course, his interests in the region will be within Syria’s range of fire if that war takes place.”

Al-Haj Ali points out that “Erdogan’s greatest argument for interfering in Syria and occupying its lands is the Syrian Kurds, but the situation in Idlib is different. And there are no Kurds there. All of Turkey’s colonial ambitions become clear here.” 

“Syria will not allow it to occupy a single part of the country. The solution is to return to the Adana Agreement but with its development and modernization as there are thirty thousand foreign terrorists on the Turkish borders threatening Syria’s national security. Syria does not trust Erdogan, and Russia has also reached a stage of lacking confidence in him,” Al-Haj Ali said.  

He reveals that discussions on March 5 will focus “on the battlefield and logistical matters.” 

“Political matters are not expected to be touched upon in any way that would help with the pacification of terrorist groups in Idlib. Syria previously agreed to 17 ceasefires in Idlib, all of which were violated by the terrorist groups supported by Erdogan. So, this man has become unreliable and no political progress is expected to be made with him.”

Al-Haj Ali concludes his interview with Al-Ahed by predicting that the solution will come from Iran because members of the anti-terror alliance exchange political roles. “We notice that Russia is escalating, while a calm Iran is working to achieve the basic goal of resolving the thorny issue. Through its dealings with Turkey, Iran is proposing some initiatives to resolve the clashes in Idlib.”

Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, Ansarullah is the front line, not China-Russia

March 02, 2020

Paul Schmutz Schaller for The Saker Blog

During the last days, we saw dramatic changes in the Syrian situation. For the fourth time in the last years, Turkey invaded Syria. But the actual invasion is quite different since it is directly targeted against the Syrian army. This was confirmed, on March 1, by the Turkish defense minister and, on March 2, by Erdogan.

The Turkish aggression is carried out by thousands of troops, by thousands of military vehicles, and by air forces, including a significant number of armed drones. Concerning the concrete situation on the ground, there are different narratives. Apparently, on February 27, over thirty of invading Turkish military personnel were killed by a strike coming from Syria, Russia, or both; these Turkish military personnel were mixed with terrorist forces and therefore difficult to discern. Subsequently, there was obviously some confusion among the Syrian side and its allies, which allowed the Turkish army to make some important casualties.

In the last weeks, the Syrian Army had made big progresses against he terrorists around Idleb. The latter were on the brink of complete collapse. Turkey did not want to accept their defeat and this was the reason for the Turkish aggression. It is certainly true that Turkey was an ally of the terrorist forces in Syria during the whole war. But this time, the Turkish army fights directly together with the terrorists against the Syrian army. This has created a new situation, even if it is not yet a full-scale war; for example, some of the so-called Turkish „observation posts“ are surrounded by the Syrian army, but were not attacked.

The Syrian army is quickly adapting to the new situation. In particular, on March 2, the crucial city Saraqeb (on the junction of the two highways M4 and M5) could be recaptured from the Turkish and terrorist forces. The Syrians have declared a no-fly-zone over the region (Russian planes being the unique exception) and they are bringing more air defense systems to the front, in order to confront the Turkish air attacks. It also seems that the Syrian army has decided to postpone the liberation of the M4 between Saraqeb and Lattakia in order to concentrate on the more essential M5 between Damascus and Aleppo.

Hezbollah has lost some fighters by the Turkish aggression. On March 1, a massive funeral with thousands of people was hold in Beirut. On February 29, for the first time, the Iranian Advisory Center in Syria published a statement, warning the Turkish side of „the great risks of continuing the aggression against Syria“. We can conclude that these close allies of the Syrian army also adjust their position, closely monitoring the new developments.

Since Russia decided in 2015, on the request of the Syrian government, to actively support the Syrian army, it was always clear that the aim was the fight against terrorism. There is no doubt that Russia will continue with these politics. On the other hand, with respect to the Turkish invasion, it is not to expect that Russia will militarily intervene directly. Of course, Russia will defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria, but merely on the political and diplomatic level. However, there will be some major grey zone since the fight against terrorism cannot simply be distinguished from the fight against the Turkish invaders.

Very probably, the planned meeting (March 5) between Putin and Erdogan in Moscow will not resolve the problem of the Turkish invasion. One may expect that Putin will put some red lines in order to avoid a full-scale war between Syria and Turkey. Moreover, he will insist that the Syrian side is the just side. But Russia cannot handle the Turkish aggression. This is a problem between Turkey on the one hand and Syria, together with her regional allies, on the other hand. China will have a similar position. There will be diplomatic, economical, and some political support for Syria from China, but not much more, at least not openly.

I think that it is completely wrong to criticize Russia or China for these positions. They are not the masters of an alternative world. They cannot dictate a political agenda. They have neither the strength nor the intention of doing so. No country should expect that its problems will be solved by China and/or Russia. It is also wrong to see Putin as the one big infallible chess player who holds the reins. As leader of his country he has his point of view just as the leaders of the other players have their point of view. Nobody is in the possession of the absolute truth. However, the history of Russia and China shows that these countries are loyal to her allies and do not exchange them like clothes. As permanent members of the Security Council they will defend the interests of Syria. But they will continue to have as good as possible relations with USA, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey.

China and Russia are strong and influential countries, but the creation of a post-Western world needs quite a few other countries. Militarily speaking, the current front line between the Western empires and the new world is in the Middle East (West Asia). On the one hand, we have the aggressive countries USA, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey. The other side is represented by Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, and Ansarullah (Yemen). One may add some forces in Iraq. At present, these are the regions were the sharpest fights took place. The impulses and the directives for these forces do not come from Russia nor from China. They come from the Middle East herself.

Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, and Ansarullah all have their proper strength, experience, autonomy, and leadership. Each one has achieved great successes against mighty enemies. Of course, they collaborate and there is much mutual support. The victories of each are also the victories of all. With the Turkish invasion in Syria, they are confronted with a new task. But Turkey is not as strong as it seems. Politically, the country is divided and Erdogan has not at all the support of the whole people for his invasion. His supporters are merely ultra-nationalists and fascists. Moreover, his aggressive politics in the region (Syria, Iraq, Libya, Cyprus, Greece) has not produced many friends. His politics seem to be utterly adventurous. And militarily speaking, Syria, Hezbollah, and Iran are experimented opponents. I am very confident that Erdogan will suffer a shameful defeat. The Syrian nation and people have already showed that they are able of immense sacrifices, that they are heroic fighters and great patriots.

The reactions on Soleimani’s assassination have changed the Middle East. Erdogan will not be able to stop this movement. His government has chosen the wrong side. The „new“ Middle East is modifying the relations with all other countries. The world should get used to a new Middle East: more autonomous, more self-confident, stronger. Which is very valuable for the whole planet.

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