Published on South Front, Nov 24, 2017 (with related news further below)
The following article appeared originally in Russian on Nov 23, 2017 on the website Colonel Cassad, which is published by Boris Rozhin.
Following the meeting of Russia, Iran, and Turkey in Sochi, Russia [on November 22] where the end of the Syrian war was announced and the beginning of the post-war regulation process meant to decide Syria’s future took place, the U.S. media began reporting on the fact that the U.S. plans to stay in Syria despite the collapse of ISIS. The U.S. will also use the Kurds to pressure al-Assad’s government.
This has been mentioned repeatedly: despite officially supporting Syria’s territorial integrity, the U.S. unofficially tries to strike back for its strategic failure at toppling al-Assad’s government, which was unsuccessful mainly thanks to Russia and Iran. Washington repeatedly voiced its dissatisfaction with the way war in Syria went along with anxieties regarding the consequences for the U.S., Israel and Saudi Arabia concerning the growing role of Russia and Iran in the region.
The White House does not state this officially. The U.S. understands the its tenuous positions in Syria because as far as international law is concerned, this is just another case of U.S. aggression against a sovereign state. On the other hand, the U.S. couldn’t care less about international law and sovereignty other than its own. But some things shouldn’t be said as they are out loud or you’ll look bad. You have to camouflage what you say, like inviting the unrecognized government of Rojava or inventing a non-existent UN permission to invade Syria. The reporting mentioned above is useful, because it demonstrates real U.S. intentions instead of the declarative ones. This is useful because it shows there is no point in hoping that the U.S. wants to negotiate and show “goodwill”.
Russia has led an information and diplomatic campaign with the intent of driving the U.S. forces out of Syria. The accusations by Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defense are officially supported by Syria, Turkey, and Iran as they are also interested in driving the Americans out of Syria because the U.S. is the main obstacle to ending the war. Besides having common goals linked to keeping al-Assad in power and keeping Syria’s territory intact, Turkey and Iran pursue their own goals. Iran wants to secure the Shi’ite bridge between Tehran and Beirut (which may be hindered by the Syrian Kurdistan project), while Erdogan wants to weaken the Kurdistan Workers’ Party and stop the formation of a Syrian Kurdistan under control of Kurdistan Workers’ Party-affiliated organizations. Nobody wants to go to a full-fledged war with the U.S., but the now-popular hybrid wars leave many avenues of combating the hegemon.
For now, the main strategy is involving reasonable Kurdish Rojava leaders in the conversation, so that the Kurds will be represented in the negotiations allowing them to find contact points with al-Assad regarding the future of the Kurds as a part of Syria. That’s why Russia put a stop to Erdogan’s ambitious plans regarding Afrin [northwest Syria] and is trying to persuade Turkey that the Kurds can be negotiated with, that nothing bad will come out of sitting with the Kurds when you already sit down with much more radical organizations, considered “moderate terrorists” due to the current political climate. Compared to them, some Kurdish groups are much more reasonable and legal, but only until the situation escalates past the point of no return.
If negotiations with the Kurds fall through, and the U.S. is successful in cultivating Kurdish separatism, then Plan B comes into action, which entails pressuring the Kurds with the following:
Syria, Turkey and Iraq can block oil exports from Rojava, and ban imports to it, the very same threats previously used for trying to keep Iraqi Kurdistan in line. The U.S. won’t be able to provide Rojava with all necessary supplies by air.
The Kurdish-Arab conflict can be escalated on the territories under Kurdish control with the majorly Arab populace. This will sow disarray in Rojava, with possible creation of SDF opposed forces.
The Kurdish groups involved in the U.S. plans can be designated as terrorist organizations (this will also lead to improving Russia’s and Syria’s relations with Turkey).
Russia can stop protecting Afrin. Iran and Iraq can block the border crossing at Faysh Khabur and cut economic and logistic ties between Iraqi Kurdistan and Rojava.
The Syrian Army and Shi’ite units can do a repeat of Iraqi Kurdistan: they will make a deal with the reasonable organizations, and unreasonable ones will be crushed like Barzani.
The final solution: they can ‘release the Kraken’ by letting the Turkish Army into Rojava under the pretense of “fighting terrorism”. This is an undesirable option, as it would make “friend
Erdogan” stronger, but it isn’t out of the question completely.
In the end, there is a considerable amount of options to put pressure on Rojava if the U.S. escalates the situation up to the level of unavoidable conflict, which, as the U.S. periodically demonstrates, it seems to hope for, despite all the claims that it has no hidden agenda in Syria.
So far, Russia and friends try to persuade the Kurds that they shouldn’t follow Barzani’s example and risk a scenario they will regret. You can yell “America is with us” and photograph women holding assault rifles all you want, but when push comes to shove, the situation will escalate to a conflict completely out of the Kurds’ depth. As far as the U.S. is concerned, the Kurds are only a means to an end, a fact that Washington doesn’t even hide anymore. The U.S. wants to use the Kurds as fuel for the continuation of the war in Syria, showing no concern over the losses among the Kurds.
From this perspective, it would be best for everyone, including the Kurds, if Russia can make the Kurdish chiefs see the things the way it does. And if al-Assad and Erdogan soften their stances regarding the Kurdish question, they may find a compromise that would satisfy all sides.
Whether this is possible we’ll see in 2018. Russia is not interested in prolonging the Syrian war. Quite the opposite: the successful results should be diplomatically secured as soon as possible, which the U.S. tries to hinder. This conflict demonstrates that despite the military collapse of ISIS, Syria still has a lot of problems that will have to be solved with the help of Iran and Turkey. But nobody said it would be easy.
Syrian Foreign Ministry: Syrian government welcomes National Dialogue Congress, will attend it
DAMASCUS – An official source at the Foreign and Expatriates Ministry said that the Syrian government welcomes the National Dialogue Congress, affirming that the government will attend it.
In a statement to SANA on Sunday (Nov 26), the source said that after the consecutive victories achieved by the Syrian Arab Army and its allies which paved the way for the political track and intra-Syrian dialogue, the Syrian Arab Republic government welcomes the National Dialogue Congress which will be held in Sochi, Russia, with the participation of many segments of Syrian society, affirming that the government has agreed to attend the Congress.
The source added that the government also welcomes the results of the Congress which include a committee for discussing the current constitution and holding legislative elections afterwards with the involvement of the United Nations and based on the UN Charter which stipulates for respecting the sovereignty of states and peoples’ right to self-determination.
Further related news:
Manbij residents face off against SDF over conscription policy, Al-Monitor, Nov 24, 2017
Residents of Manbij are pushing back against the Syrian Democratic Forces after they imposed a conscription policy on the Syrian city and arrested protesters.
ALEPPO, Syria — Activists in the city of Manbij in Aleppo’s eastern countryside, which is under the control of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), are demanding the SDF to release 15 people who organized a strike in the city Nov. 5. The strike came in protest against a new law on forced conscription issued by the SDF’s legislative council Nov. 2…
The strike came in response to statements issued Oct. 3 by the Free Syrian Army (FSA) military office in Manbij and its countryside and the FSA military council of Jarablus and its countryside. The statements called on Manbij residents to oppose the SDF conscription decision as they declared full solidarity with Manbij residents…
What Next for Rojava?, commentary by David Romano published on Rudaw (Kurdish news agency in northern Iraq), Nov 24, 2017 (David Romano is Professor of Middle East Politics at Missouri State University and a longtime writer for Rudaw.)
… A best-case scenario, in contrast, probably depends on at least some American effort to protect their Syrian Kurdish allies. Keeping some American forces in the Kurdish cantons, accompanied by American demands that Assad negotiate a new, mutually acceptable political status for Rojava, would do wonders. The American presence would deter not only Syrian government forces, but Turkish and Russian ones as well…
The $47mn question of Trump’s friendly words to Putin, by Finian Cunningham, columnist, RT.com ‘Op Edge’ feature, Nov 25, 2017
… what does it mean when Trump vows to work with Russia to “combat terrorism” in Syria or anywhere else? The contradiction with what is known about covert US military practice in Syria suggests that either Trump is clueless or disingenuous.
… In all this confusion and mixed messaging, it may be difficult to discern what the real policy in Washington is, and who’s setting it. But here is one specific test to dispel the fog. President Trump was last week presented with a proposal from his National Security team for the US to officially begin sending lethal arms to the Ukrainian Armed Forces under the control of official Kiev.
The $47 million arms package centers on the supply of Javelin missiles also referred to as “the American military’s anti-tank killers.” It will be up to President Trump to sign off or not on this lethal arms plan to equip the UAF against rebels in the self-declared breakaway republics of Donetsk and Lugansk in eastern Ukraine…
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