By Judith Bello, Originally published on Deconstructed Globe
Syria Has Won
According to an interview by Kevork Almassian of Syriana Analysis with Lebanese reporter Marwa Osman, the SAA and their allies have now restored sovereignty to 85% of Syria, This is a hard won victory, and worth celebrating. The liberation of the great cities of Syria along with much of the countryside is a testament to the patriotism and loyalty of the Syrian people and to the stability and persistence of their government, a government that embraced change and development under the most dire circumstances, inviting the disenfranchised to speak. reflecting their concerns in a new constitution and making reconciliation an operational resource to restore unity to the country in the midst of a horrific war.
Since the liberation of East Aleppo, the Syrian government allied forces have stabilized one area after another in the heavily populated western region of the country, and finally, after the liberation of East Aleppo, crossed the desert to the eastern cities long occupied by ISIS. But their victory has brought the real enemy to the foreground.
For more than 5 years they have fought proxies of proxies, barbaric hordes of fanatical mercenary fighters flooding the country from Libya, Iraq, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Afghanistan, Russia and China, Asia, Europe and the United States, openly crossing into Syria from Turkey and Jordan and Iraq, Syrian and foreign fighters were armed and put on the payroll by Turkish and Qatari benefactors. Saudi Arabia provided men, arms, money, and leadership. Syrian fighters were organized in rural areas and poor neighborhoods through mosques with extremist Saudi Imams sent to Syria for the purpose of changing the hearts of the people.
As far back as 2006, the United States used a renewed diplomatic presence to organize and encourage dissidents within Syria. Members of the Muslim Brotherhood were flown to the US for discussions with government officials. Ambassador Ford regularly met with dissidents inside Syria. Promises were made. Turkish President Erdogan and Saudi and Qatari officials had visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads as the indispensable imperial power encouraged them to take charge of their neighbors in Syria. In 2011, a rat line was established to bring the defeated Libyan government’s weapons from Libya through Turkey and Jordan to the Syrian resistance being developed by the US and their regional proxies. While, the United States and the financial organs of the New World Order held the Syrian economy in tight corner with sanctions on one side and austerity measures on the other, Saudi Arabia sent radical Wahabi clerics with bags of cash to impoverished rural areas and Qatar offered salaries to unemployed men who attended training camps in Turkey, and returned them to Syria with US weapons.
For several years, the war was framed as a civil war, not only in the west, but broadcast across the Middle East by the satellite stations owned by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United State, even as foreign fighters and weapons poured in across every border. The US would admit only to training ‘moderate democracy loving rebels’ even as foreign mercenaries with fanatical religious beliefs flooded Syria, killing members of religious minorities (including Christians), destroying heritage sites and national monuments, chopping off the heads of their enemies and governing local civilians with an iron fist. Local extremists and criminals, portrayed as a “Free Sryian Army (FSA)” instituted mafia style governments in towns an neighborhoods throughout the country. It wasn’t until 2014, after the rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, that Vice President Biden admitted publicly that our allies in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey were funding an extremist invasion of Syria, and President Obama said something to the effect that the ‘butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker’ weren’t going to win a war with the Syrian army.
The US and the Kurds in Syria
In fact, when Russia stepped in in 2015 and the truth of this debacle became unavoidable, the US abandoned their righteous army of the oppressed and adopted a new proxy, a Kurdish faction originally allied with the Syrian government. This group, the YPG, initially emerged from Kurdish refugees of Turkish pogroms in the second half of the 20th century. They are affiliated with the PKK, a militant Marxist organization popular with the disenfranchised Kurds in Turkey. The PKK is internationally labeled a ‘terrorist organization’ and it’s leader is in a Turkish jail. The resistance of the PKK is a response to a century of genocidal practices by the Turkish government targeting the Kurds. Since the beginning of the latest Turkish pogrom against Kurds on the occasion of Erdogan losing his majority in the election of 2014, the Syrian YPG have been joined by many Turkish Kurds ready to fight to create a homeland anywhere.
The US has fostered the Kurds dream of having an independent state in Syria, and idea not necessarily embraced by the native population of the region. The Kurds are not a clear majority in any area of Syria, not even the narrow strip along the Turkish border where Kurds have traditionally lived, but which also supports ancient communities of Chaldean and Armenian Christians and other Arabs. The city of Kobane, poster child for the US-Kurdish partnership has an older name, ‘Ayn al Arab’, Place of the Arabs. Nor have the Kurds been persecuted in Syria. Like other refugees the Kurds from Turkey have been treated better in Syria than in any other Middle Eastern country, and native Kurds are well integrated into the society. I have a friend from a wealthy Damascene family whose father is a Kurd. The President of the University of Damascus is of Kurdish origin. It is not something anyone mentions or notices.
When it became apparent that the Kurds alone would not be accepted as an indigenous force with special rights in Syria, the US cobbled together a small group of Arab tribes to join them. The new organization is the SDF Syrian Democratic Force, The language that identifies the factions in Syria is confusing because those identified with the Syrian state are the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and the Syrian National Defense (SND) and even the Syrian Civil Defense are countered by the US appropriations Free Syrian Army (FSA), Syrian Democratic Force (SDF) and Syrian Civil Defense (i.e. the White Helmets). It is like a hall of mirrors built to confuse the uninitiate. Syria’s allies are Iran, Hezbollah and Russia, all demonized in the western press. The US allies are ‘The Coalition’, which sounds kind of like ‘our guys’ or ‘the good guys’; people who work together, In fact the members of ‘the coalition’ all have interests based on illegal aggression and greed. Syria’s allies, on the other hand, are long time regional allies joined in mutual defense.
In the last year, the US has built an airbase southeast of the town of Rimelan in al Hasakah and another near Kobane, along with as many as 8 smaller bases in the Kurdish controlled areas along the Turkish border, There are now thousands of US troops in the areas of Syria controlled by the SDF. This area was not ‘won’ from the Syrian government. The YPG forces were initially allied with the Syrian government. They fought with Syrian government supplied arms and their cities were (and likely still are) provisioned by the Syrian government. The SAA did not join YPG fighters because the area they were defending was small and sparsely populated while Syrian government forces were overstretched and focused on the larger cities in the west. The SAA was never driven out of ‘Rojava’ by territorial Kurds. This is a romantic fantasy like western statements saying that the Kurds and their US backers are the only significant force fighting ISIS, a statement contravened by Janes Defense Weekly.
Only when the US joined teh SDF in late 2014 did things begin to change. Nearly 2 years later, the US has shifted its alliances and is openly present with it’s SDF/YPG proxies. Saudi and Turkish proxies have been abandoned along with their on-the-ground militias. In Idlib province, where the Syrian government has been actively sending defeated insurgents (though not foreign fighters), there are also a large number of foreign fighters settled near the Turkish border. According to an undercover video published by Jenan Moussa, a Kurdish reporter working for Al Aan in Dubai, the entire city of Jisr al Sugr is now populated with Uighurs, Turkomen Muslims from China who came to fight with Al Qaeda there and perhaps to find a home in the Muslim heartland. (1)
Meanwhile, when ISIS overran the eastern city of Raqqa in 2014, the SAA managed to insert a contingent between the city of Deir Ezzor and ISIS. Since then, they have protected the people of that city, while provisioning it with air lifts. While the US and their SDF allies have been focused on liberating the city of Raqqa in the north, the SAA has moved across central Syria, through Palmyra and across the desert to Deir Ezzor. Just this week they broke through the siege ISIS has held for years and liberated much of the city, They opened a road through central Syria and after de-mining it, brought in truck loads of food, medical supplies and other necessities, You can see the people celebrating in the streets in videos coming out the liberated areas of Syria.
But the real enemy is now openly active in Syria. The US is present and active with the Kurdish led SDF in Raqqa and across the narrow strip they control along the Turkish border. They have been active along the Jordanian border until just recently when the Jordanians have withdraw their support for the war. US helicopters landed SDF fighters and US ‘advisors’ near the Tabqa dam where they eventually defeated the ISIS members there, and began moving towards Raqqa. The US and SDF proxies are focusing on the Tabqa dam, a significant source of water for Syria, the Iraq border where they hope to hold territory on the other side as well, and surrounding oil fields on both sides of the border. This eastern territory has not been populated by Kurds in any significant numbers so they don’t even have the fig leaf of Kurdish sovereignty to cover their advances.
According to RT they have attacked Syria government allied forces five times in the last year. Last September, during a ceasefire negotiated by the US and Russia, the US and her allies attacked a contingent of Syrian fighters on a hillside outside Deir Ezzor where they were defending an airport from ISIS. At least 80 Syrian soldiers were killed and more than 100 injured, While they were recovering the dead and wounded ISIS took the hill and the airport. US officials called this attack an ‘oops’ though the Russians tried desperately to reach the Americans for over an hour to get then to call the strike off. The US struck Syrian National Defense Forces in southern Syria twice this spring, killing several Syrian soldiers and destroying their equipment. These strikes were openly acknowledged, The US said the Syrians were getting to close to their own fighters. So, in Syria, the United States felt secure to target Syrian Army forces on a Syrian government mission. Most recently, President Trump sent a barrage of Tomahawk Missiles into Syria.
For a long time the United States did not take any responsibility for their role in the Syrian War. It was represented as a civil war. It claimed to limit its involvement to providing training and nonlethal aid to the oppressed opposition, and place sanctions on the evil government, This means they starved the people while providing support to keep them at war. Today the US is claiming territory around their forces who are in Syria uninvited and whose presence is illegal and unwanted, and their proxies who are, under their leadership, conquering areas where they never previously had a presence. President Trump formally ended the CIA weapons and training programs for Syrian anti-government fighters, but aside from continuing to arm the Kurdish led SDF, Bulgarian reporter Dilyana Gazantiev has provided extensive documentation of a program for shipping Eastern European made weapons into Middle Eastern and African war zones under diplomatic cover. She was fired for her efforts. It appears the article is still posted but I have saved a PDF just in case.
Playing Chicken in Deir Ezzor
The SAA is in Deir Ezzor celebrating a hard won battle. The SDF has turned back from the battle of Raqqa and began an approach to Deir Ezzor from the East. They have captured an industrial park a few kilometers from the city on the East side of the Euphrates. I saw it on my twitter feed last night. This morning, RT had the US Military Press Releases from September 9, related to these events. First, from Operation Inherent Resolve (the current US mission in Syria) there was a statement that “The Syrian Arab Defense Forces [by this they mean the largely Kurdish Syrian Defense Force] has commenced an offensive towards Dayr Az Zor.” Later, a correction was released that referred to “anti-ISIS clearing operations in the Khabur River valley just north of the city” They told RT that the earlier release was “an unapproved draft regarding the anti-ISIS fight in the Khabur River valley. The draft indicated that anti-Syrian regime forces are marching to Dawyr Az Zawyr. This is not the case. ”
However, according to Southfront, it is the case.
It seems like there is a little confusion among the US mentors and their proxies. But its possible there is a reason for their disarray. The US has, since it became apparent that Assad was not going to leave, and that the Syrian people did not want Assad to leave, had a plan to carve out an area along the Turkish border in the north and the Iraq border east of the Euphrates for occupation with the SDF nominally in control. The plan has been going pretty well. But the Syrian government forces who have methodically moved across the country liberating areas, and taking the time for de-mining and restoring security to one region at a time, negotiating reconciliation deals and providing resources to long suffering populations, haven’t got there yet – not until now.
Syrian President Assad has repeatedly said that Syria isn’t going to give up until every inch of Syria has been liberated. In the September 12 podcast from Southfront, they say that the Syrian National Defense (affiliated with the Syrian government) have liberated Al Hadalat refugee camp and a nearby village on the Jordanian border from the SDF, about 5,000 souls. This should be good news because Syrians in government held refugee camps are much better supported than in any other refugee camps. The LA Times published an article in late August decrying the terrible conditions in a UN refugee camp in an are under SDF control along the eastern border, People were going without food and medicine, and not allowed to leave. The mood described is one of despair.
According to the Syrian government, forces will continue to liberate the Rukban refugee camp and the garrison at al-Tanf, a border town with Iraq where Syrian and Iraq forces are holding an area besieged by the US and allied forces. They had a sense that perhaps the Russian-Iraian-Syrian alliance had brokered an agreement to have the non-government forces around al-Tanf withdraw. Southfront, a reliable source of battlefield information, confirmed that the SDF are on the east side of the river, where they have captured the Industrial Park, the 113th Defense base and byr Husyan. They say that if the Syrian Special Forces who are gathered in Deir Ezzor don’t move to secure the city very soon, then they will likely cross the river to confront the SDF.
They also say that a group of Sheiks affiliated with the SDF have announced that they are going to liberate Deir Ezzor from ISIS and have prepared a plan for how they are going to govern it once they have secured it. What they haven’t addressed is the fact that the Syrian army has already liberated a large part of the city, Southfront notes the danger of this situation and goes on to say that what happens next depends on ‘how fast the SAA can complete the liberation of the city”. If the SDF can’t grab part of the city then they will try to take the oilfields just south of their position.
According to today’s report, reinforcements for the SAA forces are arriving in Deir Ezzor and it is thought they will soon launch their initiative to liberate the rest of the city. Even so, this seems like a really fraught situation. There has long been a concern that the Russians and the United states along with coalitions of allies are nose to nose in Syrian, creating a very dangerous situation. Now the Syrians themselves are nose to nose in Deir Ezzor. The SDF are no match for the SAA, Will the US come to the rescue of their proxies? What will Russia do? It seems like a dangerous situation for everyone and unlikely to come out well for the SDF in any circumstance.
But such is the power of global power brokers that the US team still dreams of a brokered outcome that will cede the city of Deir Ezzor, or at least the surrounding oil fields to them and their proxies. No consideration is given to the Syrian people and the existential battle forced upon them; none to Syrian sovereignty. Despite the renewed weeping and wailing over the oppressed Syrian people, the USS Hindenburg is burning already. We can only hope there isn’t enough gas remaining to cause an explosion.
- I looked for the video to link but it has been removed from youtube except for a copy with Spanish (rather than English) subtitles.