Saturday, October 14, 2017

Razors Edge 2: US Faces Imminent Decision on Race for Syria's East

The Cipher Brief & loads more Flashbacks and external links throughout the post

Related from earlier today:  Turkish Army’s Multi-Faceted Security Mission in Idlib

"Turkey’s announcement of what Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called “a serious operation in Idlib” last Saturday has injected uncertainty into the Syrian civil war, but one thing is clear: militarily, the Syrian government of President Bashar al Assad is winning. The question(s) now becomes:(a) to what extent will the U.S. be willing support the advance of its local allies in eastern Syria? And, (b) will it maintain support for the group after ISIS is defeated in Raqqa?"
Assad’s forces now control the majority of Syria’s population and major urban centers, while remaining opposition forces are scattered in unsustainable enclaves across the country and have begun to fight amongst themselves. Meanwhile, the Astana Process – a ceasefire negotiation platform guaranteed by Russia, Iran, and Turkey – has allowed Assad to pacify certain fronts of the war as he escalates the fight against ISIS in the east near Deir al Zour.
For the moment, it seems the battle to capture ISIS’ last remaining territories in the east is Assad’s main focus. And, this has direct ramifications for U.S. policy in the country as Assad’s eastern operations quickly become a race against Syria’s second most powerful landholder: the Kurdish-led and U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
Syria's Second Most Powerful Landholder. All stolen Syrian territory. This is a point that is very, very rarely broached. And most often obfuscated. The US backed YPG/PKK /SDF rebranded (to hide the reality of what is actually occurring) has annexed a vast portion of Syrian territory with the assistance of their co- occupiers, partners in crime and ethnic cleansing pals the US. I reported on this "landholder" status way back in July. Landholders is an obfuscation for annexation- territory theft, ethnic cleansing etc., "Landholder" does that make you feel better? Doesn't make me feel better. It's like when the term "pacify" is used to obfuscate whole scale slaughter- 

Flashback:  KurdIShIS Redux- YPG/PKK 2nd Geographical Power in Syria

Which makes the Syria Democratic Forces (YPG/PKK) the 2nd largest power in Syrian after the regime forces and militiamen loyal to them, where the Syria Democratic Forces control (YPG/PKK) 22.51% of the size of the Syrian territory, (and they are aiming for 30 percent!)
Back to the Cipher
"The SDF is closing in on the last 300-400 ISIS fighters holed up in a small 1.5 square mile slice of the caliphate’s self-proclaimed capital in Raqqa. Meanwhile, alongside U.S.-led coalition forces, the Kurdish-led SDF has turned its eyes to as-yet unclaimed ISIS territory near Deir al Zour and advancing Syrian government forces"

Flashback October 7/17:  US Commander:Final Assault to Take Raqqa From ISIS Begins Sunday

My understanding of what is/has been occurring in Raqqa is civilian displacement.- Ethnic cleansing. The US has been bombing, heavily, and those that manage to flee have been"saved” by the PKK/YPG who transport them to squalid refugee camps- with access to filthy water! (That’s what’s been reported) These Syrian residents are not going to go back to their homes. Not if the US backed Kurds have anything to do with it. And, they do!
*Russian Ministry of Defence Accuses US of Bombing Raqqa Residential Areas
Carpet bombing of residential areas accommodated by civilians "have brought about nothing but several thousand victims among the ‘liberated’ population"

Image from TASS
Cipher con't:
"The Assad regime’s battle against rebel forces in the west, especially in the largest opposition-controlled holdout around in Idlib, does continue. However, barring a major offensive or new action spurred by Turkish intervention in the Idlib region, the prize of the day is in the east.
“At the end of the day,” says Syria expert and Fellow at the Washington Institute, Fabrice Balanche, “Damascus’ top priority remains the province of Deir al-Zour. The Syrian rebellion in western Syria is no longer powerful enough to constitute an existential threat.” This means that the regime has a relatively free hand to snap up ISIS territory – effectively the only neutral area for expansion left in a country where local forces backed by major outside powers are hardening their zones of influence.
This race in the east is important to U.S. interests for two reasons. First, as the battle to liberate Raqqa nears its end, a large number of ISIS forces have retreated into Deir al Zour region, and high level targets may be hiding out in this last refuge"
 ISIS fleeing from Raqqa to Deir ez Zor.. Didn't I mention that? I had expected & stated  “ISIS"(PKK/YPG/Assorted special ops and a veneer of Arabs) is converging in one convenient location where they will be loaded up covertly and transported to Deir ez Zor.” This is what has occured and is being reported by the Cipher. That was easy enough to predict.
More "ISIS" are expected to leave today- Wonder where it is their headed?


Additionally - Al masdar had reported that an “arrangement” had been worked out between the Kurds and ISIS- The Kurds were to let ISIS leave with no knowledge of where they were heading- Suuurrreeeeee.....

"Second, if Syrian regime forces capture the town of Abu Kamal and the border crossing at al Qa’im, Assad’s most important regional ally, Iran, will have a clear and secure route to supply its proxy forces across the region from Iraq to Assad in Syria and Hezbollah in Lebanon.
The stakes are high, and the situation appears to be stalemated. SDF forces are closely supported by the U.S.; Assad’s troops are supported by Russia. So for now, neither side is likely to attack the other, which makes this a game of strategic positioning through the capture of ISIS territory. Assad has quickly drawn troops away from the city of Deir al Zour, which is not yet cleared, to push further east and surround the town of Mayadin. Moving these forces so fast delays the operation to crush ISIS’ remaining forces in Deir al Zour city, but it effectively blocks the SDF from approaching Mayadin"
 Reports from today state SAA and allies have (re)taken Mayadeen
If SAA and allies are able to hold Mayadeen what will be the American/Kurdish/Israeli response? SAA and allies have now blocked the SDF out of Mayadeen. Can that be left as is?

"What’s raised even more concern in Washington is the threat of an Iranian “land bridge” to the Mediterranean"

Flashback Trump Will "Decertify" the Iran Nuclear Deal. 


 & a comment I 'd posted at Greencrow's blog, transferred to the comment section of the above linked post. It was a response to this statement "The result is a bungled policy which will have either catastrophic, or no consequences at all."

This is a comment I left at Green crows- I'm putting it here because I do not see Trump as bungling anything!
It's probably going to form the basics for a new post

"I hate the 'bungled policy' meme
Along with the incompetence meme...
It's a limited hangout

Trump didn't bungle anything- he is doing exactly that which he is supposed to do.
In 2015 I wrote the nuclear deal was a distraction because the US was already, at that time, involved in destabilizing Iran- The deal was created to make the peace president look good, with the idea of using the deal in the future- in whatever manner deemed necessary- to make Iran look bad, perception management-
to increase sanctions- (by claiming that Iran was non compliant) whatever!
We've seen the US do this time and time again- It's not bungled policy, it's just policy!"
Greencrow was not the blogger who had made the bungled policy comment- that statement belongs to another individual. In my opinion this is not bungled policy. This is policy. Period.
It fits the ongoing situation. It makes sense in the context of all that is occuring  in the region.
That the Trump administration has been gunning for Iran is undeniable.  Hell, that even Obama's administration targeted Iran is undeniable. Who has forgotten Stuxnet?
Flashback to 2010  & Flashback to 2011  The killing of Iranian nuclear scientists? Flashback to 2010 Arming and training Kurdish proxies to attack Iran? 2017- How about the fact that Kurds aka ISIS attacked Tehran The US training Iranian Kurds for destabilization of Iran? Iranian faction among Kurds trained by US against militants - "Sep. 08 2016: KHARABRUD, Iraq (AP) — An Iranian Kurdish rebel group received military training in weapons and explosives from U.S. and European advisers

Decertifying the Iran nuclear deal is part of that ongoing targeting- It cannot be considered bungling. It should not be considered bungling. It should be understood as a tactic.  
Part of a strategy. One more move that has been preceded by others and a preparatory move for what is yet to follow

 Back to the Cipher

If the Trump Administration decides to play a greater role in the Syrian conflict after Raqqa falls, it could block such a land bridge by maintaining the U.S. base at al Tanf – near the southwest border crossing with Iraq – and pushing SDF troops to reach al Qa’im before Assad or allied Iran-backed militias.
However, says Fellow at the Century Foundation and Syria expert, Aron Lund, if that happens, Iran “will just pave a new road through the desert.” In his view, “Iran will have land access” no matter what. “You’re not going to deprive them of that unless Trump decides to go all in and own the whole Syrian-Iraqi border for years or decades to come,” he writes.
This is the do or die scenario I had broached last week

Flashback Syria: Walkin' the Razor's Edge? US Shells SAA/Casualties

 - when it was reported the US had stated, nearly two weeks ago, that they wanted their Kurdish thugs to take this location
"Last week the US-led military coalition said its Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) allies would attempt to seize Mayadeen before the army."
Of course Al Tanf was mentioned, has been mentioned, again and again as the vipers den of terrorists

That kind of investment would likely mean thousands of U.S. troops on the ground in Syria, which is a concept that President Trump has shown little interest in. Accordingly, if the Trump Administration does decide to continue a post-ISIS presence in Syria, it will be more limited in scope, focused on delaying and harassing the extension of Iranian influence and hardening captured ISIS territory against future insurgency.
Yet this strategy also comes at a cost. Continued U.S. military presence in Syria means continued U.S. support for the Kurdish YPG, which forms the military backbone of the SDF. Turkey views the YPG as an extension of its own militant Kurdish organization, the PKK, and U.S. support for the group one of the key factors driving a stake through the heart of U.S. –Turkish relations. With the suspension of visa services between the two countries last Sunday, relations with Turkey – an indispensable NATO ally and ally in the war on terror – have hit their lowest point in 40 years.
There is no easy solution to any of these problems, but the United States is fast approaching a key decision point in the Syrian conflict. Until now, the Trump Administration has limited its Syria policy almost solely to the eradication of ISIS-controlled territory in the country. That territory will soon be gone, but that may only the beginning of the story in this conflict. ISIS and other groups will almost certainly continue to fight as insurgents in the liberated territory, Iran’s influence will continue to spread, and the al Qaeda-affiliated opposition group, Hayat Tahrir al Sham, has become one of the most powerful players in Idlib and other rebel-held areas of Syria. Washington will soon need a clear strategy to either deal with these long term threats – or be prepared to leave.

"Washington will soon need a clear strategy to either deal with these long term threats – or be prepared to leave"

Obviously, I'm of the mind that Washington should leave. That's my opinion. 
However, it's not very likely they will. In closing the map of all the US bases dotting northern Syria is included, again. Those bases  undoubtedly connect to more US bases in Iraq- All those assuredly occupied by US/Israeli/British special forces and yet more Sunni Muslim Kurds generally sheltered by that big PKK umbrella. And of course some useful idiots of all sorts.




  1. Bungled policy? NO WAY...
    ["Kiev’s Regime Support Terrorists on Behalf of Washington: Another Brick in the Wall of the USA’s War Crimes and Its Support for the Global Terror Project… … …

    The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) together with the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network revealed a scheme of weapons supply to the terrorists of Daesh (ISIS) and al-Nusra..."]

    More info on Mayadin..

  2. ".....The stakes are high, and the situation appears to be stalemated. SDF forces are closely supported by the U.S.; Assad’s troops are supported by Russia. So for now, neither side is likely to attack the other..."

    If I were Putin ; ) and/or Assad...what I would do here as a strategy is allow the Turks to come into northern Syria and defeat the Kurdish military. In this way, two strategic goals would be achieved. The Kurds would be kicked out of Syria as a "separate nation" which would please the Turks AND Russia and/or Syria would not have to directly confront the Americans...and thus avoid WWIII. A third benefit from this strategy would be that Turkey would finally have to choose between NATO and Russia. If Turkey chose Russia, this would be a huge blow to NATO (IMO, Greece would follow shortly thereafter).

    Just sayin' I think this might be what's going on. And Assad is objecting profusely to Turkish incursions into Syria in the news today...but I think he doth protest too much. I think this is a strategy by all the pro-Syrian allies to let Turkey be the bad cop.