March 12th, 2017 – Fort Russ News –
– Analysis by Vladimir Gujanicic, for FRN –
With an open border arrangement with Iran and Syria for weapons and troop movements, the US continued to see the Maliki government as a liability far more than a neutral force or even temporary asset. The pressure on Maliki government started to grow. The Baghdad did’t fall and the Iraqi army, with help of Shia popular units and Iran, started to consolidate.
The Maliki government eventually fell in 2014, but Iran could tolerate this because of its long term calculations. All imports of F-16’s from the US were deliberately put on hold. After Tikrit was recapture by massive Shia units, counter attacks from the US started to influence the government to use less of these units because of growing Iranian involvement. The defense of Baghdad was crucial, because if Baghdad had fallen all of Iraq would collapse and a third entity, which S. Arabia wanted to set up, would be created and Kurds would declare independence.
Materials and all kind of other help for ISIS goes through Turkey, S. Arabia and Jordan. The next expansion was on Syrian soil. All cities and villages down to the Euphrates, less half of Deir ez-Zor, were under ISIS control very quickly, Al Raqa fell under Islamist control as well as the Syrian army bases in the desert.
The Battle for Hassak would prove that ISIS with light weapons could not do enough against big cities fortified by the army, where the Syrian president has support, this would be one of the main problem in ISIS’ expansion. But in terms of points in the desert, especially oil fields in Iraq and Syria, their strategy was very successful. With new opened fronts from multiple directions and another gap formed from the side of Iraq, to the east, the Syrian state was in worse condition to continue in perspective of the future of the war.
After one year of this strategy, the Syrian state would have control of the majority of urban areas and crucial defense systems but without an end in sight for the end of the war. This kind of struggle, these battles of attrition, lasted until Russia came in. Everybody saw that the US fight against ISIS was just fiction and a good cover for their true operation, that ISIS expands its zone of control in this period.
Despite that former US president Obama said dozens of times that they will not return to Iraq, they sent several thousand soldiers to train the Iraqi army after it was clear that the Iraqi army and central government will not lose the war. The main purpose of these reinforcements is to contain Iran’s influence in Iraq for as long as they can.
Suddenly US media, especially CNN, were full of stories about the sectarian policy of the Iraqi government and that no one operation can be done without Sunni tribal fighters. All these stories were done to slow down the destruction of ISIL in Iraq and hold back the Shia PMU fighters. On the other hand, the Iraqi government knew that at the end they would destroy ISIL and capture Mosul, so they played and continue to play a double chair policy, buying weapons from all around the world and rebuilding the Iraqi army which is now a formidable force.
As it was from the beginning of the war, the more pressure placed on the Syrian state, the more help from Syrian allies came through. The most important was the direct involvement in the war on the part of Russia, with air strikes, a training program, and even special operation units in Syria. The calculations from hybrid war, like in Afghanistan (in the 80’s), started to turn in favor of the Syrian government.
The nebulous role of Turkey
From the beginning of war in Syria, Turkey and Erdogan played an imperative role in the war against the Syrian people and government. Erdogan was one of the main suppliers of all kinds to terrorist organizations including ISIL, with which he has a great role in exporting cheap oil from Iraq and the Syrian desert, making ISIL stronger than ever.
But after the Russian intervention things started to change. Russia was clear enough that the New Middle East will not be created against the interests of Russia. The efficient and prolonged intervention of Putin was wise and well calculated.
ISIL convoys were decimated by air strikes and the terrorist groups in other parts of Syria started to shrink slowly.
Millions of refugees come to Turkey’s soil and that started to create a big problem. The plan to build the pipeline for the EU collapsed, and EU leaders wanted to wash their hands from the deal with Erdogan, who clearly said to him that Turkey will never be a part of the European Union. But as in previous cases, the players are not small countries without the ability to respond.
Erdogan played a major role in dispatching migrant waves to the EU and through it, terrorist attacks all around Europe which created a far-right atmosphere and pushed into the elections those right wing candidates which clearly want to disassemble the EU. That was Erdogan’s response. It is clear now, that this is not the 19th century where great powers can easily wash their hands from their policy, the number of big players has grown from those days by several fold.
As it is now clear from the very beginning of the Russian intervention, Erdogan started to make considerations on the possibility of switching sides, because a way of winning war could not been seen. Russia installed S-300 and S-400 systems on military installations, Iskander missiles, and a variety of other weapons.
What was now clear is that the US feared that Erdogan may switch, so they made things worse by shooting down a Russian plane and killing the pilot. As it is now clear that the pilot which shot the plane worked for the CIA and was involved in the coup against Erdogan later. Russia gave Erdogan an alternative, the neo-Ottoman ambitions may be forgotten, and at the same time pressure was put on Erdogan in the form of weapons given to Kurdish rebels by Russia, including Strela-3 portable air defense which shot down several Turkish choppers.
Without a chance to see his neo-Ottoman ambition succeed, and left by the EU, and pressed by the Kurdish rebellion Erdogan, seems to have decided that switching sides was the only option. Until the battle for Aleppo ended with a great victory for the Syrian army and allies of Syria, Erdogan continued to provide logistical and arms support to takfiris in Idlib province, and radar cover to avoid the Syrian and Russian air force.
But after the battle for Aleppo ended at the end of 2016, Erdogan could clearly see that much of his was in vain and that he had good reasons for switching sides. The alternative which Russia gave to him is Turkish stream (oil and gas).
Changing the position of Turkey in terms of ISIL was more devastating. Losing the direct supply route in northern Mosul, ISIL and their allies in Iraq started to collapse quickly in Iraqi army and Shia PMU units offensive. Mosul is nearly liberated and the situation on Middle east now enters into its final stage.
Syria neighbors and fronts
Let’s go one by one. First Lebanon, with the help of Hezbollah, the Syrian army closes the Syrian-Lebanon border for good, Qalamun falls into the hands of the Syrian army, and the Arsal pocket, the main base of Al Nusra in Lebanon, is practically isolated. Aoun won the election and just confirmed a new foreign policy course which confirmed that the Lebanon front is closed as a route for infiltration. What Aoun expects is part of the oil-gas of pipe line which will connect Tehran, Baghdad, and Damascus exporting oil and gas directly into the Mediterranean sea, avoiding Hormuz and Suez.
Turkey as we said, appears to have switched sides, cancels its support for ISIL which is constantly shrinking in Syria and Iraq, but the question which worries Turkey is the Kurdish question. In terms of the province of Idlib where all kinds of terrorist organizations have a real foothold, the army will use this province to depopulate the area with takfiri population supporters as was the case with Daraya, Modamija, Kan Al Sih, and at the end, Eastern Ghouta. After this process ends, it is expected that this population will leave for Turkey and become AKP voters and Turkish citizens.
Iraq, this front is near the end, and the securing of the Syrian-Iraqi border is a matter of time. The Mosul operation is in its final stage in which the Iraqi army and popular units have more than 90,000 people. After Mosul is liberated, it is clear that this force will be used to capture the last big city in the Anbar province, the main supply base for ISIL, the Al Qaim.
The main problem for the US in Iraq is what will happen after total Iraqi army victory; PMU Shia militias under great influence from Iran could go to the Syrian desert and block the last big supply route for ISIL through the Jordanian desert, this process is one which the US cannot not stop. What the US wants is to stop the government in Iraq which will play its regional politics together with Iran.
In military terms, Iraq is almost victorious, the only card on which the US can play is the Kurdish question. The leader of Iraqi Kurdistan Barzani openly said: “If Maliki comes back to power, Kurds will declare independence”. These are not only his words, but a US threat that could start a new war if Iraq becomes closer to Iran. In military terms, the Kurds have no chance to win such a war because they would be isolated from Turkey, Iraq, Syria, and Iran from any help, they would just be cannon fodder for the US-Israeli plans to slow down the formation of a New Middle East.
New Middle East and Israel
Why have we heard so many times from western politicians desperate sentences like from former British minister of foreign affairs, Hague “Assad is damned”, and a few days ago John McCain who stated “that Russia must be destroyed for the sake of Israel”? If diplomats came to this stadium of open talking it means that the situation is desperate, and indeed it is, for Israel of course. Several times Obama the administration and especially John Kerry repeated that Israel will become an apartheid state without a future in the Middle East.
The pressure from the Zionist lobby is big in the US, but the only solution to secure the existence of Israel in this form, is to destroy all its enemies and especially Syria and Iran. As we explained in this text, the military solution is out of the question, because it is obvious that the Middle East would not be sacrificed for Israel in some sort of Armageddon. But why an apartheid state? If we look the perspective of the demographic changes inside Israel, we see that Arabs are more and more growing as a percentage of Israel’s population, not speaking here of the West Bank and Gaza.
In 2025 it is predicted that Arabs will be 25% of Israel, today they are 20%. The new settlements for Jews from abroad means more pressure on Palestinians, destruction, and discrimination witch will lead to Israel’s isolation. But this thing will not go as before, because the balance of power is shifting to Israel’s enemy Iran, around which is created a very powerful coalition.
The struggle for the Middle East is one of life and death. Zionists calculated that after fall of the Soviet Union, imperialism will win over the regimes which are fighting against it. In the near future, Israel is closer to being on the wrong side of these historical processes, and this new reality for the Israeli state is one that sees it being surrounded like one big Masada fortress. All in all, Israel is a doomed project.
All in all, there is reason for optimism, even though optimism, strictly speaking, falls out of the purvey of cold analysis. By and large the original US, Turkish, Saudi, and Israeli plans are not being realized, and these are not simply minor set backs in the larger historical scheme, but critical losses which will inevitably turn the tide of history.