Posteamos hoy una larga e interesante nota de Elijah Magnier publicada hoy en su blog Middle East Politics. El tema: Siria y lo que viene después. Los lectores de Astroboy seguramente ya conocen las líneas generales del artículo; sin embargo, son los detalles los que llaman la atención. La nota está dividida en tres partes. Acá van:
Título: Will America accept its defeat or will it challenge the Russian Bear and the Chinese Dragon?
Following the liberation of eastern Ghouta from the jihadists, and their departure to the northern city of Idlib under al-Qaeda and Turkish control, the city of Duma is now engaged in negotiations with the Russian side to find a way out for the militants of the “Army of Islam” (Jaish al-Islam). These militants fought against many jihadists and rebels and have therefore no remaining friends in the Syrian arena. However, this negotiation has become a tactical detail because the capital, Damascus, has become safe and is no longer exposed to daily shelling as was the case before the liberation of Ghouta.
The Yarmouk Camp and al-Hajar al-Aswad:
The elimination of the “Islamic State” group (ISIS) and the remnants of al-Qaeda in the Yarmouk camp and the nearby area of al-Hajar al-Aswad, south of Damascus, is also a tactical detail because there is no way out for these militants, trapped on all sides : the liberation of the area is not an issue.
The Syrian Steppe (al-Badiya):
In the Syrian steppes (al-Badiya), ISIS has still a pocket that the Syrian army is expecting to deal with this summer. This area is also totally besieged, ISIS can go nowhere and, while waiting, its willpower and morale are deteriorating and reaching a minimum level.
Idlib and al-Qaeda:
As for the city of Idlib where the various opposition and jihadist forces are multiplying, the latter remain in a permanent power struggle that eats at each other. They will not be able to manage the presence of different nationalities and creeds opposing each other in one city. Therefore, the role of Turkey will be crucial in manoeuvring control in this area and prevent infighting among jihadists or even eliminate those unwilling to submit to Ankara’s policy.
The Turkish occupation forces:
The Turkish presence in the north-west and north-central has become inevitable. A long term but very slow and inconsistent battle is expected between the Turkish and Syrian states. It is natural in the circumstances to expect a threat and counter-threat by both governments.
If Damascus decides to opt for war against Turkey, it must deal with this issue without counting on its allies. Neither Russia nor Iran want a military confrontation with the Turkish army.Syria has the right to demand the restoration of its territory through diplomatic means first and then put pressure on Ankara through its allies and friends. The use of military force as a solution could then be adopted by Damascus as a final attempt to regain its territory in extremis.
Russia may be tempted to intervene diplomatically and find a solution between Damascus and Ankara if indeed Moscow’s aim is that it expects its forces to co-exist with the Syrian Army in a peaceful Syria.
US occupation forces in Deir-Ezzour and al-Hasaka:
US forces remain in the north-east (almost 24% of the total Syrian territories under the US army’s control), with a large ISIS pocket protected by Washington at the present time “for undeclared reasons and objectives”. ISIS is deployed on the Syrian-Iraqi borders and conducts a « normal life » as they show in propaganda media adverts. Moreover, ISIS militants carry out insurgency attacks against the Syrian and the Iraqi Armies from both sides of the borders they are very familiar with.
It is most unlikely for the US forces to leave anytime soon unless forced to by insurgency attacks. They would want to avoid major casualties if and when the environment in which they exist becomes hostile.
Washington has proved it is capable of bearing losses, in Iraq. It remained despite the loss of about 4,500 troops and officers. As the ex-US Secretary of State James Baker said: ”America will go to war in the Middle East if necessary to control energy sources.”
Indeed, in Syria, there are energy resources (oil and gas) under US control which amount to about 13 percent of the total Syrian stock. In addition, the US presence makes it easier for Israel to use a US established airport in north-east Syria as a hub on the Syrian-Iraqi border.
The United States can also reshuffle the situation in Iraq, Syria and Turkey to threaten all these countries with a possible “Kurdish state” since the local Kurds are those protecting and acting like US proxies. Even though, it is an unlikely scenario and the Kurds are expected to be abandoned by the US forces at a certain point and left to their destiny sometime in the future.
However, the US goals in occupied Syrian territory go against all the bordering countries and this may influence the duration of the US presence. There is no doubt that the US occupation of Syrian territory is very disturbing to the anti-American axis and is considered as a “poisonous thorn” in the Levant.
On the other hand, the existence of ISIS has also become a small detail because it is besieged. It can move freely within the American enclave but cautiously toward its enemies: the Syrian and Iraqi armies. Therefore, it does not have any strategic horizon, especially since the Islamist card failed to change the Iraqi and the Syrian regimes. The “creative chaos” installed by the American establishment under the title of “The New Middle East” has also failed in its hoped for effect.
Daraa and Quneitra:
This does not mean Syria is liberated and that the control of the Syrian state extends over the entire Syrian territory. But there is an important battle coming up in the south of Syria in the Daraa and Quneitra provinces.
Why is this battle important, and more important than the pocket of ISIS in Yarmouk or the Syrian Steppe, or even more important than the city of Idlib, where Al Qaeda and other groups have gathered in the past two years?
The big dilemma remains for the two southern provinces: Daraa and Quneitra. These two provinces are on the border with Israel in the de-escalation zone agreed between the US, Jordan and the Russian.
But Damascus insists on liberating it with or without Russia’s approval. The Syrian government would also like to liberate that area which is under al-Qaeda, the rebels plus the one in the control of pro-ISIS militants of “Jaish Khaled bin Walid” .
And of course, as soon as we talk about the Syrian army liberating an al-Qaeda controlled territory, we can as usual expect an avalanche of accusations by the international media where the area will be portrayed as « lived in exclusively by over half a million civilians all defending their homes. »
This manipulation of and by the media has been going on since the battles for Qusseyr, Qalamoun, Aleppo, Madaya and finally the battle of Ghouta. Washington has instructed the CIA, the Pentagon and the US State Department to use civilian tools with Non Governmental Organisations to raise human rights concern only against those countries who have rejected US dominance. This has been the case since the first day Russia set foot in Syria in September 2015, when it was undermined until the situation of the ground turned in favour of the Syrian government, and this is when serious criticism and attacks began against Russia and against Damascus’s allies in Syria.
For these particular reasons, Daraa must be the priority for the Syrian government to solve. It must initiate the negotiation to clear all militants willing to be dumped in Idlib – the « trash bin » destination where all jihadists are sent to from all the liberated areas of Syria.
The US has lost the « extremist battle »- they were incapable of achieving the “regime change” objective in Syria. That was the awakening of the Russian bear from its long hibernation who realised how the US was trying to corner it. Moscow also relied on the Chinese dragon, which shares Russia’s goals to eliminate all extremists and jihadist terrorists in Syria.
Both Russia and China are now working closely to put an end to the uni-polar superpower and thus end US world dominance.
With the end of al-Ghouta battle and the defeat of Jihadists, Moscow is reaching its objectives in the Levant.
Despite the US, the EU and the mainstream media gathering to attack him and try to demonise his policy, the Russian President Vladimir Putin can now say:”veni, vidi, vici”.
The US estimated that Russia, by 2020, would be too strong militarily and economically to be isolated or weakened. This is why Washington tried its best to surround Russia and “cut its legs off” much before and close the oceans to its commerce and to its Chinese ally.
The last US attack, while hiding behind the EU, to attract Ukraine into the European orbit and stop the flow of the Russian gas to Europe – a vital resource of the Russian economy – was in 2014 and this pushed the Russian bear to wake up and decide to act and react accordingly.
Moreover, in 2015, the US strikes a nuclear deal with Iran – putting an awful lot of pressure on the EU to accelerate its approval and finalise the deal – in an attempt to separate Iran from Russia. However, the Iranian Leader Sayyed Ali Khaminei was adamant: “There would be no talks involving any other dossier than the nuclear one. We don’t and will never trust the Americans”.
The US looked like a generous donor helping Iran to reopen its doors to the world without paying any price in Washington. This is why Donald Trump is now trying to find ways to revoke it, a deal he sees of financial and political benefit only to Europe and not to the United States. Iran is ready for a partnership with Europe but rejects US dominance.
Trump is even blackmailing Europe by threatening to impose high taxes on its products if the old continent doesn’t go along with the US policy. He has asked the European countries to decide : either they prefer to do business with Iran or with the United States.
President Trump has not understood, to date, that with or without the nuclear deal, Iran is heading towards a wide partnership with Russia and China. Beijing needs a reliable source of energy, an exit to the oceans and a window to the Mediterranean market. Iran can provide that and enjoy the colossal Chinese economic benefits, its market, and its support.
Iran didn’t only accept President Obama’s gift, it decided to face the US on the battlefield through the US’s Syrian proxies and its plans to destabilise the Levant. By sending Iranian Special Forces and relying on its allies (Hezbollah, Iraqi groups and others), Iran and Russia managed to defeat ISIS and al-Qaeda in many battles in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.
The US lost one Syrian city after another despite its hopeless attempts at the UN, and despite its arming of the jihadists. The US asked Europe to open its doors to allow radicals to take the step of becoming jihadist extremists and go into action. It also, over the years, asked Turkey to open its borders to allow the flow of these future jihadists and old al-Qaeda guards to move by waves into Syria to destabilise the Syrian government.
Not only that, it has offered its CIA training to jihadists in Jordan and Turkey and asked Saudi Arabia and Qatar to pay billions of dollars to promote the success of “The New Jihadist Middle East”. And lastly, the US is manipulating the mainstream media. For the first time in history, we see a general manipulation of the media in a democratic country, with loss of credibility, much turning of « blind eyes » and fake news – and not just regarding Syria.
Moscow, Damascus and Tehran rejected many “red lines” imposed by the US on Syria (on the Tanf Syrian-Iraqi borders, the US forces imposed a safety parameter of 50 miles. Iran kept the distance but surrounded the US forces from the north, west and south). In fact, the war in Syria was far from being a civil war but the transposition of a worldwide war between two axes: but only one can win.
Russia moved forward and concluded a deal with the Syrian government to exploit its oil and gas resources. Iin Syria, energy wealth is estimated as follows: 63% on land and 37% in the Mediterranean, in the 14 richest blocks opposite Tartus and Lattakia with a production estimated above that of Kuwaiti oil production. On land, Syria’s energy is distributed as follow: 47% in al-Badiya, 2% in Aleppo, 12% in Deir-Ezzour, and 2% in the Golan. Syria can compete with Iraq and even Iran, with its energy in full production once the war is over.
The US establishment is finding it difficult to digest seeing this huge fortune in the hands of a Syrian government, and an ally of Russia and Iran, and, which above all, rejects US dominance and control.
Actually, in 2006, the ex-US Secretary Condoleezza Rice said: ”It is time for a new Middle East…We shall win, they shall lose”. It was the time Israel attacked Lebanon so the country submitted to US control and dominance. Israel failed when the Lebanese resistance stood against its attempt to invade the country for the third time and the “axis of the resistance” prevailed. This pushed the US to use different tactics (called “the soft war”), relying on proxies and locals in the Middle East rather than pushing its own army that drastically failed in Afghanistan and Iraq.
It was clear that Washington is militarily capable of invading any country in the Middle East but it can’t keep its forces there for long. This is when it was necessary for the US establishment to use more subtle technique: “cold steel”, rather than firearms They promoted the slogan of “democracy” or “freedom of expression”, or “freedom of religion”, or even « allowing youths to express their concern about human rights »
All these were fake slogans – regardless of their righteous titles – and were directed towards every single country unwilling to accept the US policy and control. This is where the “Arab Spring” (or Tsunami) hit the Middle East with the support of the US Secretary of State and the CIA who financed “schools of revolution and activism”.
Revolutions were a new phenomena using one slogan with different colours and were called the “Colour revolutions”: in Georgia (Rose), Ukraine (Orange), Iraq (Purple), Kyrgyzstan (Tulip), Lebanon (Cedar), Belarus (Jeans), Iran (Green), Egypt (Lotus)…
In the Middle East, the US called Google for help, supported social media availability and investing 30 million dollars to support Muslim youth through the internet and invited activists to rise in their respective countries. In June 2011, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described the internet as “the Che Guevara of the 21st century in the Arab Spring uprisings”.
George W. Bush, Barack Obama and now Donald Trump all are following the same policy with different tactics, opening the road to changes in the Middle East by trying to remove dictators and replace these with Jihadists or with other dictators. The “management of savagery” (attributed to al-Qaeda and speaking about how to create a failed state and take advantage by moving towards the leadership of the country) was more applied by the US establishment than by the jihadists who wrote about it.
Obama saw the “Islamic State” growing in Iraq, moving to Syria, watched it occupying Iraq, allowed Jihadists to travel to the Middle East, opened all Saudi jails on condition jihadist extremists imprisoned are shipped to Syria. For one entire year, with “70 countries in a coalition fighting against ISIS” in Syria, the group was in fact expanding and increasing its wealth by selling increasing quantities of oil. All that to stop Iran and Russia, and create failed states (as in Libya) and fight Muslims with Muslims.
But Moscow, Beijing and Tehran knew that Jihadists must be stopped in the Levant before they had the chance to move to their own countries. Of course, President Medvedev made a mistake in 2010 by allowing the fall of Libya and with it the severance of an important source of energy. The US and the EU were fully aware of the presence of extremists in Benghazi but, regardless, have supported these extremists and allowed the destruction of the Libyan army at the beginning of the “Revolution”.
Lebanon, before Libya, managed to stay away from the US’s orbit and Russia, in 2006, was not yet ready to punch according to its weight. Libya was a Russian and a Chinese mistake at the UN and Russia believed it was not possible to do something to stop the process. But Syria is not going to be another Libya and Russia and China agreed, along with Iran, to stop once and for all the US unilateral dominance at the gates of the Levant.
Russia introduced China to Syria during the war when the Chinese navy arrived in the Mediterranean and reached the shores of Tartous and Lattakia to send a message to America and its allies that the monolithic dominance of the world was over.
There are thousands of Chinese jihadists who fought with ISIS and al-Qaeda and Beijing was concerned, willing to see all these killed in Syria. Cooperation between the Chinese and the Syrian intelligence services was established. Damascus has a unique and a very rich bank of information about foreign fighters many countries in the world would like to have access to, since over 80 nationalities of foreign fighters were allowed into Syria in a failed attempt to topple the regime and establish an Islamic State.
But Washington is still trying to protect its position, refusing to give up on the crown of world domination it has enjoyed for over a decade and it is ready to fight against the “axis opposing the US” using other means outside Syria. The US establishment and its allies are expelling Russian diplomats and imposing sanctions on China and Iran. The US defeat in Syria is obviously very painful.
What Washington is pretending to ignore is that the world no longer believes in the US’s military muscles and that there are two potential countries, less arrogant and willing to create alliances rather than bullying weaker countries: Russia and China. These are gathering more allies against the US axis.
The US is still living in the era of 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed. Its strong decline continued until the arrival of President Vladimir Putin to power in 2000. Washington realised there is a new person at the Kremlin in the castle of the Tsars with a determined intention to restore the lost glory. Russia had only nuclear weapons at that time and nothing else but the will was strong for the Russian bear to wakeup from its hibernation.
Putin did not declare war on America but extended his hand and tried to build friendship or at least not enmity. But Washington saw in Moscow the potentiality to recover in a couple of decades and worked on slowing down the process or interrupting it if possible. This is why the US started to pull to its side many countries of the ex-Soviet Union which have declared independence and include these in NATO and in the European Union surrounding Russia.
China, which includes cheap labor and can clone any commercial or military technology, like Russia has perceived America’s fear of its rapid economic development and wealth. Thus, the Chinese-Russian rapprochement was mainly created by the aggressive US policy towards the two countries, and this mainly because the American concentrate exclusively on military muscle when dealing with the World.
Washington has focused its naval control over the South China Sea and the Straits of Malacca, bringing back memories of its military presence during the Second World War with the attempt to tighten its pressure on Beijing. The US is aware of their naval superiority and know that China needs the sea for its commerce and for its supply of energy.
China started to protect itself by setting up the Eurasian political and economic Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in June 2001 with the goal also to focus on economic initiatives, increase military and counter terrorism cooperation with intelligence sharing. This Cooperation includes about half of the World’s total population and the states (including five nuclear states) of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Iran, India and Pakistan – and rejected Washington’s and Tokyo’s request to be observers only.
China has gone to the countries affected by US policy to establish a rapprochement. Further, it established the “string of Pearls” of states and islands for marine protection and encircled India, Japan and other American allies. The Indian Ocean sees the passage of 60% of the trade in oil from the Middle East, making the Straits of Malacca indispensable for China to protect. Therefore Beijing established relationships with Malaysia, Singapore, Myanmar, Coco islands, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and a presence in the African coast in Sudan and Kenya.
Moreover, China revived the world’s oldest overland trade route of the Han Dynasty called “the Silk Road”. The modern Chinese Silk Road will provided a link to Beijing with the world for trade expected worth one trillion dollars (for 900 separate projects). The Silk Road reaches 11 cities in Europe and others in Africa by railway and pipeline and is expected to bring together seven Asian countries under the slogan “One Belt, One Way”. It will offer gas and trade to China and will cover 70% of the planet’s population.
China is also part of the BRICS Group, which was established in 2009 and includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, which account for about 40 percent of world production.
And last but not least, in 2013, China presented the Asian World Bank (AIIB) that was set up to strike America at the core and bring together 57 countries – including several European states – but excluding the United States and Japan, its staunch ally.
The Asian International Bank – with $100 billion – aims to get rid of American financial control over the world’s economy. Washington considered this move as provocative, aiming at finding alternatives to its control of the world’s economy and financial that the United States has controlled for decades without any rival.
With its superficial but continuous sanctions, Washington believes it is capable of preventing the Eurasia Union (which begins from the Atlantic Ocean to the Indian Ocean, including six large states containing 4/3 of the world’s energy), to trouble Russia and to bother China.
Moreover, the US was thinking of creating a “Middle Eastern NATO” to counter the “Shiite crescent” and the “Iranian threat”. This idea was destroyed following the Saudi Arabia disastrous war on Yemen and because Middle Eastern countries are unable to unite politically, economically or militarily.
While the US is fighting and losing in Syria, most countries that rejected American hegemony are gathering together in one way or another. There is cooperation between these countries – as we saw above – to get rid of Washington’s dominance, arrogance and destructive foreign policy.
The US believes in changing regimes and directly – or through proxies – to occupy or control countries and impose a heavy protection fee to avoid toppling Middle Eastern monarchies (like Saudi Arabia as Donald Trump said himself). The US establishment is also manipulating youth and exploiting it under the title “Freedom activists” to guide them towards failing states, allowing extremists (Libya and both Syria and Iraq) to just get away with it).
America is deploying missiles everywhere where its military bases are deployed all over the world and has never thought of using its energy and power to support the economy and peace. It is only focused on controlling states and the sources of energy regardless of the consequences, because there is no accountability for its doing.
Failure is everywhere: Washington’s plan failed- as General Wesley Clark, retired 4-star U.S. Army general, Supreme Allied Commander of NATO during the 1999 War on Yugoslavia said – to occupy seven countries (Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia and Sudan), and its failure in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria because it underestimated the reaction to its foreign policy.
However, it has largely succeeded in planting hate among the Muslim population, turning the objective of al-Qaeda (its goal to target the far enemy, i.e. the US) and replaced it with ISIS (the goal is to target the near enemy, i.e. minorities and other Muslims), reviving an animosity between Muslims that is 1400 year old. Today the majority of the western population believes the war in the Middle East is “between Muslims. Let them kill each other…who cares?”.
While the United States is selling for $110 billions weapons to Saudi Arabia to kill more Yemenis and threaten its neighbours (Qatar, Syria and Iran), Russia has signed 10 year contracts with China worth 600 billion dollars, and with Iran worth 400 billion dollars. Also, China has signed contracts with Iran worth 400 billion dollars. These contracts are aimed at economic cooperation, energy exchange; they promise an advanced economic future for these countries away from US dominance.
The US believes it can corner Russia, China and Iran: Russia has a 7,000 kilometre border with China, Iran is not Iraq and Syria is not Afghanistan. In Syria, the destiny of that a world be ruled by unilateralism is over. The world is heading toward pluralism.
The question remains: Is Washington prepared to accept its defeat and acknowledge that it has lost control of the world and pull out of Syria?