Key words: Syria, US, Russia, Iran, Kurds, Raqqah
By Elijah J. Magnier: @EjmAlrai
The battle between the US’s allies and Russia’s allies is escalating in the North-East of Syria, posing a real danger that the superpowers may slide into a direct confrontation to protect their interests. But Washington will not prevail at the end of the day in Syria and its allies – led by Syria’s Kurds under the flag of the “SDF” (Syrian Democratic Forces) – will pay the heaviest price.
It is clear that Washington hawks believe that they can provoke or belittle Moscow in Syria: the US bombed the Syrian military airport of Shyay’rat where Russian forces were stationed with other Syrian units. Moreover Washington jets bombed on three consecutive occasions Russia’s allies close to the Syrian-Iraqi border crossing in Al-Tanf. And last but not least, in recent days, the US Air Force shot down an Iranian drone and Syrian Su-22 jet whose bombing objectives were the “Islamic State” (ISIS) terrorist group area, while US backed Kurdish forces were advancing on the city limit of of Rusafa in rural Raqqah.
All these hostile US military actions have been carried out unlawfully on Syrian territory and against the Syrian army not against terrorist groups. The US have no legal jurisdiction or international mandate or consensus to attack the Syrian Army on its own soil, particularly when the US aim, in fact, is to support the partition of an independent country rather than to fight terrorism. It is simply related to Washington’s influence and control over that part of Syrian territory needed in north-east Syria for occupation without any legitimate international support and to establish military airports and a base in Bilad al-Sham.
Obviously, Washington pays little attention to Moscow’s possible reaction to US military action against Russian allies in Syria as they advance to reclaim the Syrian territory. But Russia is responding by bombing Washington’s allies in Syria. It is not unlikely that US jets may accidently bomb Russian forces embedded with Syrian groups and Russian jets may bomb US Special Forces embedded with their Kurdish proxies operating in the north of Syria. This is when the situation may get out of control and the prestige of superpower countries may be dented creating an unwanted but almost inevitable reaction; this would drive the Middle East into another destructive dimension that may affect the World.
Russia’s main ally in Syria, Iran, is raising the level of tension in relation to US forces in Bilad al-Sham:
-It has injected thousands of fresh troops to recover the 55.000 sq km Syrian Badiya (Steppe) and managed to defeat the US proxies (Usud al-Sharqiyah) and ISIS in the semi-desert of south-eastern Syria: to date over 25,000 sq.km have been recovered from Suwaida province to the south of al-Tanaf borders.
-Iran pushed forces above the Tanaf (where US forces are established) to close the northeast path to Deir al-Zour, establishing a new demarcation line, and isolating the US in al-Tanaf.
-Iran coordinated with Iraq the advance of the Iraqi security forces on the al-Tanaf from the Iraqi side to block the US forces. Iraqi troops are moving north from al-Tanaf towards al-Qaem to meet the Syrian army and its allies along the borderline.
-Iran launched its “Zulfuqar” (Prophet Mohammed’s cousin, the fourth Caliph and first Shia Imam Ali Bin Abi Taleb’ sword) 700 km mid-range ballistic missiles against ISIS, but also to send multiple domestic (revenge for the double terrorist attack) and international messages to the US and its allies in the Middle East, just 24 hours after the US ban on the Iranian missile program. Tehran pays no attention to American decisions, telling Washington that its decision will not be taken into consideration; that Iran’s arm is long and can hit any target in the Middle East (Israel, Saudi Arabia, US military bases in the Middle East), and that Iran doesn’t feel concerned about all the conventional rules. It is capable of hitting any target whenever it wants and where it wants; Iran launched its missiles from Kurdistan-Iran, the same province from which the ISIS Iranian Kurds who launched their double terrorist attack this month against Iranian institutions.
Also Iran launched its missiles targeting ISIS in the city of Deir Al-Zour (besieged since 30 months with over 100,000 -150,000 civilians) and al-Mayadeen to emphasise the importance of Syria and the City of Deir Al-Zour (the US jets and its allies contributed in breaking the defence line of the Syrian army by striking last year their positions on the Tharda mountains overlooking Deir Al-Zour airport). That particular US bombing which lasted several hours, and killed over 100 soldiers and officer of the Syrian Army in Tharda gave ISIS the upper hand by allowing them to advance into the airport perimeter (the only air supply to the besieged city) and permitting the partition of the city in two parts by ISIS. Iran’s message is clear: it won’t allow the fall of Deir al-Zour and will do everything, with its allies, to break the siege in the coming months.
Following the escalation in Syria, Russia is sending more air defence missiles to Syria. Damascus will not hesitate to bomb US coalition jets, especially since Moscow maintain its forces on the ground and will be in charge of protecting them from any US reaction. Moscow has stopped cooperating with the US in Syria by temporarily suspending the deconfliction line (due to be re-established soon) and issued a clear warning that Russia will consider any target over flying west of the Euphrates river as hostile.
In the midst of all this, Iraqi forces are moving along the border with Syria, telling the US forces that it is cooperating with Damascus and is not concerned by any American project in the region. Baghdad will not accept the presence of any US forces on its territory after defeating ISIS. The US will maintain a training contract with the Iraqi government but will have no influence over the country’s decisions and relationship with its neighbours, including Syria and Iran.
All the forces on the ground – except the Kurds and some remnants of the Syrian opposition forces – will be working against the US forces in Syria, starting from ISIS (as insurgents after the war ends in Syria and Iraq), Al-Qaeda (vowed to hit the US anywhere in the World), Turkey (which refuses the US support for the Kurds autonomy in Syria), Damascus (will strike the Kurds after finishing off ISIS control of territory) and Syria’s allies (Iran, Hezbollah and Iraqi militia in Syria) are waiting for the right opportunity to strike US forces along the lines of what Hezbollah did in Beirut (blowing up the Marines’ headquarters and the US embassy in Beirut, Lebanon in the 80s). Therefore, the US has won many enemies and very few friends, who will find themselves on their own, because Washington will have no alternative but to abandon them sooner or later. It is well known that the US does not have friends; it has business partners and common interests. When the US interests will cease in Syria, the soldiers will have no alternative but to leave the country.
The secular Kurds of Syria have erred in adopting a new policy that was never adopted by the Kurds of Iraq. They declared hostility to Damascus and allied themselves with America and its allies in the region (Wahhabi Salafi Saudi Arabia). The Kurds took an anti-Iranian stance and accepted that their militants would become burning wood to recover the Arab-majority city of Raqqah, sustaining considerable casualties only to fulfil a US plan to establish military bases in north-eastern Syria. Kurds will be the future’s biggest losers: the forces of Damascus and their allies are recovering territories by the Kurds side and advancing in rural Raqqah to prevent the US proxies militants from expanding and occupying oil field west of the Euphrates River.
Kurds will become THE enemy following ISIS’s defeat. For the long years of the Syrian war, Kurds were silent allies and part of Syria. Damascus was ready to discuss a Kurdish Federation when the war ended, as long as it remains part of Syria. Today the Kurds have accepted to become the American proxy forces to fulfil a dream of a federation that was smashed first by Turkey (splitting Rojava in two when occupying the corridor from Jarablus to al-Bab), and today will be also attacked by Damascus.
Syria will never allow a Kurdish federation that offers protection to an occupying force, the US. In fact, the hostility towards Washington’s soldiers is unprecedented in the Levant and Mesopotamia, making of the Kurdish choice of alignment with the US (and Saudi Arabia) an incredibly suicidal naïve strategy. It It is clear, then, that the United States of America will only have enemies in the Levant and will end up losing its temporary Kurdish friends in the region. Russia only, and its allies, who work with determination, consistency and with considerable force in Syria, will prevail.