Today the United States officially announced a new policy in its war on Syria. It is an equivalent to the three step business plan (vid) of the underpants gnomes:
The new U.S. plan is to: 1. keep north-east Syria indefinitely occupied, 2. ???, 3. Iran leaves Syria and the ‘regime’ in Damascus falls:
President Trump, who just five months ago said he wanted “to get out” of Syria and bring U.S. troops home soon, has agreed to a new strategy that indefinitely extends the military effort there and launches a major diplomatic push to achieve American objectives, according to senior State Department officials.
Although the military campaign against the Islamic State has been nearly completed, the administration has redefined its goals to include the exit of all Iranian military and proxy forces from Syria, and establishment of a stable, nonthreatening government acceptable to all Syrians and the international community.
The first major step of the “diplomatic push” is to prevent the imminent Syrian army operation against al-Qaeda aligned groups in Idleb province:
While the United States agrees that those forces must be wiped out, it rejects “the idea that we have to go in there . . . to clean out the terrorists, most of the people fighting . . . they’re not terrorists, but people fighting a civil war against a brutal dictator,” as well as millions of civilians, [U.S. special representative for Syria James] Jeffrey said. Instead, the United States has called for a cooperative approach with other outside actors.
“We’ve started using new language,” Jeffrey said, referring to previous warnings against the use of chemical weapons. Now, he said, the United States will not tolerate “an attack. Period.”
Jeffrey just visited Turkey. The intent was to stiffen Turkey’s objection to the upcoming Idleb attack. The result was a plan that the Turkish president Erdogan presented today at the Tehran summit with President Putin of Russian and President Rohani of Iran. It included:
- prolongation of the deescalation ceasefire
- 12 armed groups, including Hayat Tahrir al Sham to be disbanded
- Turkey will train a new rebel force to control Idleb under Turkish command
- Groups who resist will be targeted in counter terrorism operations
The plan is nonsense. It is a copy of the task list Erdogan was given when the deescalation zone in Idleb was established at an earlier summit in the Astana format. Erdogan failed to implement it. HTS still rules Idelb province. HTS still rejects to dissolve. The observation posts Turkey established around Idleb still depend on the goodwill and protection of HTS fighters.
Erdogan has no way to implement his plan. Accordingly today’s summit in Tehran ended with a mealymouthed statement. It failed to come up with a common way forward for Idleb.
Syria and its allies Russia and Iran should proceed with their plans to cleanse Idleb of terrorist. The U.S. is bluffing. It has no realistic means to prevent the operation. Any U.S. attack on Syrian and Russian forces involved in it would likely escalate into a conflict between nuclear powers. That is a risk the U.S. military is unwilling to take. It knows that the forces it planted into Syria are vulnerable to attacks.
“If they want to continue to go the route of taking over Syria, they can do that,” said Nikki Haley at a UN press conference today, without explaining how a nation’s only recognized government can ‘take over’ the country it governs. “But they cannot do it with chemical weapons. They can’t do it assaulting their people. And we’re not gonna fall for it. If there are chemical weapons that are used, we know exactly who’s gonna use them.”
If a chemical incident occurs the U.S. will know who did it because it provided the chemicals to the terrorist. The Syrian army will of course not use any such weapons. Sun Tzu never gave this advice:
Chemical warfare is ineffective. That is why everyone agreed to ban it. Like in east-Ghouta the U.S. obviously plans to again fake such a “chemical attack on civilians” to have a propaganda pretext to attack Syrian forces.
Tomorrow the Russian fleet will finish its ongoing maneuver in the eastern Mediterranean. All Syrian army units have taken up their launching positions for the Idleb operation and are ready to go. The shaping operations by artillery and air forces have been ongoing for a while. Any hold off now would only deteriorate the readiness of the troops and give the U.S. more time to implement counter measures.
The Russian President Putin seems to understand that. At the press conference at the Tehran summit he said:
“Regarding a ceasefire, we consider it unacceptable when, under pretext of protecting the civilian population, they want to withdraw terrorists from being under attack, as well as inflict damage on Syrian government troops.”
Russia is not in the mood to compromise. It warned the U.S. military that it would soon launch an operation against ISIS forces under protection of the small U.S. garrison in al-Tanf. Those forces recently launched another attempt to recapture Palmyra but were caught and defeated before they could achieve their aim:
Russian complaints about the presence of potential Al Qaeda or ISIS fighters in the buffer zone are not new, the US officials point out. But with an imminent Russian-backed assault by Syrian regime forces in the Idlib area in the north, there is concern Moscow could see this as an optimum time to conduct multiple offensive operations.
And there is the problem of the new U.S. strategy in Syria. The position in al-Tanf is untenable. The U.S could put a full brigade there, including anti-air assets, and it would still be too vulnerable. That is why today the U.S. launched a rescue and exfiltration exercise in al-Tanf. The place is too far away from other U.S. assets to withstand a committed attack.
In the north-east of Syria the U.S. positions is likewise endangered. Since early August 1,900 trucks brought in weapons and equipment for its Kurdish proxy forces, the SDF.
The Saudis have committed to pay some money for reconstruction and the U.S. surely hopes to use the oil fields there to finance a future occupation. It will soon start to announce some ‘independent’ regional government that will be under its complete control.
But Turkey is against such empowerment of Kurds. The supply lines through Iraq are vulnerable. The population is diverse with many Syrian Arab tribes unwilling to live under Kurdish/U.S. control. They will resist thesectarian and ethnic cleansing the Kurds have planned. That makes it easy to instigate a guerilla war against the U.S. occupiers and their proxy forces. What happens when the U.S. forces start to take serious casualties?
The U.S. presence in Syria is costly heap of underpants with no chance to ever turn it into a profit. It was a mistake by Trump to fall for the siren songs of the neo-conservatives and Zionists who pressed for this plan. It is he who will have to pay the political price.
This article was originally published by “Moon Of Alabama“
The 21st Century
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