I was recently asked to participate and give a presentation at a closed, and invitation-only, conference in Washington, DC, on February 6th, 2019. The topic was: “Strategic Implications of Recent US Decisions on Syria”. I attended the conference and gave a presentation. The following is a summary of some of the things I said.
Upon my introduction, I informed the audience that I hold dual nationality, Syrian by birth and American by choice. In over five decades of academic work, I was always plagued by a nightmare of a war between the US and Syria, my two countries; unfortunately, this eventually become a reality. However, I should qualify; the ongoing war in Syria is not between the US and Syria, for there is no conflict between the Syrians and the Americans. It is a war waged by Washington against Syria in the service of Israel and some regional powers; Washington is waging a proxy war on Syria.
I briefly introduced Syria and its historic and religious importance. Syria is the cradle of civilization and home of the three monotheistic religions, where they started or flourished. I also reminded the audience that Syria is an archeological treasure; of the five oldest and continually inhabited cities, three are in Syria: Aleppo, the oldest, Damascus, the third and Latakia, the fifth. Following this introduction, I moved to the subject of the conference, dividing it into two sub topics:
- Trump Decisions to serve American interests in Syria; and
- Strategic Implications for Syria.
1. Trump’s Decisions
The first important decision taken by Trump was the establishment of the Zionist band in his administration made of five senior officials responsible for the formulation of American foreign policy. At no time in American history has there been such a concentration of Zionist power in the top echelon of a presidential administration. At the top of the Zionist band is Trump, the Commander-in-Chief; followed by Jared Kushner, his son in law and senior advisor; then comes John Bolton, national security advisor, Mike Pompeo, the Secretary of State, David Friedman, US Ambassador to Israel and lastly, the recently departed US Ambassador to the UN, ‘Nikki’ Haly. The formation of this Zionist band has had an adverse effect on Syria with further negative implications for Arabs and Muslims.
As for decisions to serve specific American interests in Syria, the White House, and a variety of American officials, have emphasized four American interests in the ongoing crisis in Syria: fight terrorism, protect the Kurds, roll back and contain Iran and Israel’s security.
Regarding the American ‘War on Terrorism’; people worldwide are skeptical of the American
contention of waging a war on terrorism. When the uprising began in Syria in March 2011, America, and its regional allies, activated their many sleeper cells and opened their borders for swarms of tens of thousands of terrorists from all over the world to descend upon Syria. Once in, they were organized, equipped and financed to start their mission of rampage for ‘Regime Change’ and to render Syria a failed state. The plan failed and the terrorists became superfluous and a burden. They had to be eliminated and thus the American War on Terrorism in Syria which will conclude soon, says Trump.
As for the Kurds, they are Syrian citizens, who may have been discriminated against at one time or another. With the Syrian uprising, some of the Kurds were seduced by Washington. Unfortunately for them, and for Syria, they took the American bait. Washington will eventually drop them; it has already started the process with sraeli aqueisence. Israel originally supported the Kurdish plan to establish an autonomous state in the Arab region which would legitimize the existence of a Jewish state in the region. However, in view of the ongoing normalization process between Israel and some Arab states, a Kurdish state has become superfluous. Ultimately, Kurds will return to the Syrian fold where they belong. The modern history of the Kurds is victimization, partly due to their own doing; they are divided, prone to making bad decisions and ‘bit more than they can chew’. I recall a meeting I had with a politically active Kurdish group at the start of the Syrian uprising. After a brief introduction, the leader of the group unfolded a map of Kurdistan and put it on the table. I looked at the map and I was shocked at its contents. The western part of Kurdistan on the map, the Syrian Hasakah province, a northeastern province of Syria, in which the Kurds are a minority, was renamed ‘West Kurdistan’. I remember remarking that West Kurdistan is Syria’s Hasakah province, Syrian territory. The leader’s answer was “it is no more Syrian” The Kurds, some of whom are relatively newcomers to Syria escaping Turkish mistreatment during the early decades of the last century, are a component of the Syrian society. For the Kurds to have special consideration in a united and unitary Syria may be possible, but secession or autonomy are fantasies.
The last two presumed American interests in Syria, rolling back and containing Iran and securing Israel, are interconnected. As for rolling back and containing Iran, it is to prevent Iran from establishing a land corridor connecting Iran with Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. In 2004 King Abdullah of Jordan warned the Arabs of the development of such a corridor and dubbed it a ‘Shiite Crescent’, a rather unfortunate provocative sectarian concept. It should be noted that most of this land corridor is known since ancient times as the Fertile Crescent. An appropriate name for the Shiite Crescent could have been the Levant Crescent or better yet, the Levant Cooperation Council, similar to the Gulf Cooperation Council, a pact of four states, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon facing common domestic, regional and international threats.
While the misnamed Shiite Crescent has been well covered and debated among Western intellectual, political, and military circles, another developing crescent, the Zionist Crescent, has escaped converge and debate. The essence of the Zionist Crescent is the neutralization of Egypt to the West of Israel, Syria to the North and Iraq to the East, the three major historic Arab centers of power, which form a crescent around Israel and constitute the thrust of security threats to Israel. Egypt, the first segment of the Zionist Crescent, was neutralized in the 1979 peace treaty with Israel. Iraq, the second segment, was neutralized during the American invasion in 2003. Israel hoped Syria, the last segment of the Crescent, will be neutralized during the uprising in Syria; it was not to be.
Washington claims that rolling back and containing Iran and Israeli security constitute essential American interests; they are not – they are, essentially, Israeli interests. Washington is merely an instrument to serve Israeli interests and even potentially wage a war against Iran in the service of Israel, a la the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Iran is not a threat to America but could conceivably be a threat to Israel. However, Israel and behind it Washington, constitute a clear and present danger to Iran.
2. Strategic Implications for Syria
The original plan Washington and its allies sought was regime change and if successful, Syria a mosaic of religious, sectarian, and ethnic components, would become a failed state divided into Sunni, Alawite, Druse and Kurdish substates fighting continues wars. Thus, the completion of the third and last segment of the Zionist Crescent. The plan failed, thanks to the persistence of the Syrian leadership, the Syrian people, and the help of genuine allies, Russia and Iran. Syria lives and the third segment of the Zionist Crescent is void, for the time being.