It’s clear that U.S. policy in Syria is to make life as miserable as possible for both Russia and the Syrian people. Syria is of such strategic importance to our foreign policy goals of encirclement that no matter the facts on the ground or the growing distaste for war abroad at home, U.S. foreign policy architects are on auto-pilot.
This morning Alexander Mercouris returns to The Duran with a wonderful piece comparing the current situation in Eastern Ghouta with that of Aleppo in 2016. It is seriously worth every moment of your time to read.
Mercouris points out what should be obvious to everyone watching this conflict that the ISIS/Al-Qaeda groups holed up in Eastern Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus, represents the end of the “Assad Must Go” policy of the U.S. If these guys are defeated then it begs the question of what happens next.
The short answer is that just as the destruction in 2016 of the Jihadi enclave in eastern Aleppo showed to the Western ‘democracy promotion’ lobby that their regime change war in Syria could not be won, so the destruction of the Jihadi enclave in east Ghouta near Damascus today would show to the Western ‘democracy promotion’ lobby that their regime change war in Syria is irretrievably lost.
The remaining Jihadi controlled territories in Syria would be reduced to a few fringe areas in remote and impoverished regions of Syria: places like Idlib province in Syria’s northwest, the ISIS holdout areas east of the Euphrates, and the small belt of territory near the increasingly lonely US base close to the Jordanian border at Al-Tanf.
He’s absolutely right about this. And this is why we keep seeing reports of Israeli attacks in and around Damascus, to weaken the SAA’s logistical support system as well as attacks near Deir Ezzor to keep their attention split.
It doesn’t help that Turkish president Erdogan is overplaying his hand at Afrin, forcing the Syrian government to move troops in there to protect the Kurdish enclave from being wiped out.
The SAA is still fighting a four-front war. And the U.S. strategy has been to keep the number of fronts from collapsing for as long as possible. This draws out the conflict in the hope that the Syrian people will tire of war to the point of telling Assad to just give up.
Yeah, that’s as crazy as it sounded typing it out.
But, put nothing past the neocon warhawks that inhabit U.S. foreign policy circles.
The response from Russia has been to harden Syria’s defenses and upgrade its air superiority position. S-400’s to Khmeimim. SU-57s in theatre.
Russia is also working the diplomatic channels hard. And it should be noted that there has been zero response from Israel after the shooting down of one of its F-16i’s earlier this month.
It seems the phone call between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu made the Russian position very clear. So did Lebanon’s invitation for Russian warships at its ports.
Because, at this point, it is hard for anyone to believe that Israeli bombing missions in Syria are still targeting only Iranian supply convoys for deployment into Lebanon. The timing and coincidence of these attacks are far more strategically aligned with weakening the SAA.
And I think Putin called Netanyahu out on this.
The Trump Factor
He, like Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, made the mistake of over-estimating President’s Trump’s pledge of support. Bin Salman took Trump’s initial visit last May as a green light to strike out at Qatar and destabilize the entire Arabian peninsula.
I feel Netanyahu similarly misinterpreted Trump’s announcement of moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem as a green light to go on the offensive against Israel’s enemies.
After that announcement the frequency and severity of Israeli air strikes in Syria intensified to a provocative level. And I think it became obvious to Putin that a message needed to be sent to Netanyahu.
Both of Trump’s pledges of near-unconditional support of Saudi Arabia and Israel are the foundation for a greater Middle-East peace plan. And I believe Putin understands what Trump is doing in this regard.
Israel will never sign off on a peace treaty without staunch U.S. support. It hasn’t had that for two generations until Trump. Saudi Arabia won’t stand down in its proxy war with Shiite-dominated Iran without a similar guarantee.
Both countries rightly feel they are under existential threat, hence their desire to atomize Syria and blunt any Iranian aspirations.
On the other side Putin has to convince everyone that he can keep Iran under control. This is why, as The Saker points out, that Russia will only go so far in defending Syria, even if it looks inexplicable to the casual observer.
Trump’s speech at CPAC this weekend was a warning shot to his generals and the neocons. His framing our presence in Syria and Afghanistan as nothing more than ISIS-eradication operations explicitly contradicts statements by both his Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson and his Secretary of Defense James Mattis.
Both of these men recently made policy statements about our goals in Syria being far bigger than just eliminating ISIS. This was the first time Trump spoke forcefully on this subject in nearly six months.
He’s done allowing them carte blanche to create havoc in the Middle East. He used the audience at CPAC (and a 93% straw poll approval) to declare an end to their deal to leave foreign policy to the generals and, by extension, the neocons while he focuses on domestic issues.
I outlined this ‘deal’ back in August and the reasons why it had to occur. It marked a major change in the Trump presidency.
You give up on foreign policy and we’ll finally stop fighting you on domestic issues that we all know need to be dealt with as soon as possible.
All of a sudden, tax reform is back on the menu. Disaster relief funds for Houston will be approved. Obamacare repeal will be reintroduced after the debt ceiling theatre-of-the-irrelevant is settled.
The border wall will, however, remain tabled in perpetuity.
Trump has pretty much won every domestic policy battle over the past six months. And as we approach the meat of the mid-term campaign season, Trump has kicked it off with a gentle reminder that all deals have a lifespan.
Ghouta is the War
When the SAA is successful in wiping out ISIS/Al-Qaeda forces holed up in eastern Ghouta, the Syrian ‘Civil War’ will be over. Unfortunately, this operation isn’t going to end tomorrow or by the end of the week.
There will be false-flags, propaganda, pictures of children being bombed and the sickening images of “The White Helmets” staging all of it. But, like in Aleppo, the information war will not change the facts on the ground.
It won’t change the fact that eventually, the pro-Assad alliance will exterminate the threat these jihadist animals pose. And, as Mr. Mercouris so succinctly pointed out above, the rest is a mop-up operation.
The reason they will be successful is because the alternative is a full-out world war. Putin and Trump both know this. Putin has resisted every provocation to this point and by doing so has been inching closer to eventual victory.
And it’s a victory that once secured will allow that foundation he and Trump have been building to carry the weight of a peace process frozen for generations by bad policy and old enmities.