The gloves came off in Syria the day Donald Trump addressed the United Nations. Russia has openly accused the U.S. of using proxy forces to attack its troops enforcing agreed to ‘de-escalation’ zones in Idlib. The race to the end-game in Syria is on.
The full court press is on. World War III just became a hot war with the sides clearly drawn and hostilities now moving up a notch.
The sides are now very clear. They were always clear to the astute. They are now fully out in the open with this week’s events.
It is the U.S./Israel/Saudi Arabia versus Russia/China/Iran with the EU and Turkey trying to change sides while still receiving NATO money.
On Tuesday, an attack on a Russian military police position by Jabhat al-Nusra (Al Qaeda in Syria) was repulsed by Russian Spetznaz and close air support forces.
According to RT and the Russian military:
The General Staff said the jihadist offensive had been stopped. The militants’ estimated losses include some 850 fighters, 11 tanks, three infantry fighting vehicles, 46 armed pickup trucks, five mortars, 20 freighter trucks and 38 ammo supply points.
The Saker has a great rundown of this which is well worth your time.
What’s important here is that the Russians believe the U.S. was behind the attack, which was no small thing. It was designed to sow chaos in Idlib and stop the advance of the Syrian Army and its allies (Russia, Iran and Hezbollah) from crossing the Euphrates River.
The U.S. wants the partitioning of Syria and is now championing Kurdish independence in Syria and Iraq to keep a foothold in the region. This has always been the plan in Syria from the moment it was clear, militarily, that the SAA would retake Aleppo last fall.
Remember what both Vladimir Putin and his foreign minister Sergei Lavrov have said about the U.S. It is ‘not agreement capable.’ Any deal made with the U.S. government or military will be broken at the earliest possible opportunity to further its goals.
The U.S. has done this multiple times, breaking an agreed upon ceasefire or peace to regain the advantage in Syria. Every single one of them has failed. Tuesday is yet another example. While, technically, this was not one of the zones the U.S. agreed to honor, it has been in force for months. But, U.S. NATO ally Turkey recently signed another deal in Astana to enforce this ‘de-escalation’ zone.
Most importantly, since this is the first one to happen on Donald Trump’s watch, the gloves have come off diplomatically-speaking. Putin has known for months that Trump’s hands are tied and may even agree with all of this now that he’s made his Faustian deal with the neocons and the Deep State to let them run foreign policy.
Putin’s words to Oliver Stone in “The Putin Interviews” now seem prophetic, “Presidents change. The policies do not.”
Now that there is clarity of the U.S.’s position through the re-consolidation of power by the Deep State, Putin will not hesitate to make bolder and bolder moves to cripple U.S. ambitions in the region. It means that clashes like these are going to continue to happen with increasing frequency and severity.
The Saker continues to worry about the Russians’ small force in Syria. And I respect that opinion. But, there are other options on the table, once Putin shifts his priorities.
The myriad of bases the U.S. has built across northeastern Syria (and by some reports there are more than 7) are all vulnerable to attack by a combined Turkish and Russian strike. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.
What's Next in Syria?
What the Russians are doing now is building an immense case against the U.S. for the political settlement talks when the fighting is all over. Trump’s temper tantrum of a U.N. speech did not nothing to improve our defense.
At this point, as I said earlier in the week, the situation in Syria has finally reached its serious phase.
Russia has steadfastly made move after move to secure a stronger position and unravel all of the U.S.’s plans while documenting its mendacity. Now, the U.S. is staring at two things its military leaders have avoided since the Russians first deployed in Syria on September 30th, 2015.
First, it has eschewed direct conflict with the Russians under all circumstances. Any clashes between U.S. forces have occurred against SAA forces where Russian air support was not present.
Second, because of this ‘passive-aggressive’ policy, it is now facing the moment of truth about Syria. Will U.S. and Russian forces directly clash to protect U.S. military assets on the ground in Syria?
If yes then this escalates very quickly. But, with each clash we find out just how far each side is willing to go. Putin has now instructed his men in Syria that they have full discretion to defend themselves and all attacks coming from Kurdish SDF forces.
The Response Curve
In other words, there is no more distinguishing between U.S. forces and their Kurdish proxies east of the Euphrates River. The Russians are now making good on their promise to “restore the territorial integrity of Syria.”
No wonder Israel launched another attack against Damascus last night. Prime Minister Netanyahu left Sochi a few weeks ago with Vladimir Putin effectively laughing at his threats. And since then Netanyahu has been lashing out in every direction. I expect over the next few weeks that we’ll see a lot of bluster from Israel post-Trump’s UN speech.
He is and will continue to make the mistake that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman made after Trump’s speech in Riyadh earlier in the year. Bin Salman thought Trump would back any play he made against his ‘enemies’ so he launched an offensive against Qatar.
But, Trump never went along with this and since then the Saudis have had to dial back their demands while Qatar adjusts to their new reality.
Netanyahu, I think, will make a similar mistake believing the U.S. capable of defeating the Russians and Iranians in Syria and overplay his hand. In fact, he’s doing so right now, believing the U.S. will secure itself in eastern Syria. But, I don’t think they will.
This is the kind of situation that Putin thrives on.
He always does this, allowing his opponents to over-extend themselves before countering them in a way that is both proportional in terms of aggression and devastating in terms of the gameboard.
With the Neocons in charge of U.S. and Israeli foreign policy, the only solution for Russia is a total collapse of the U.S. presence in Syria.
And that places Turkish President Erdogan in the critical position. Because he will cast the deciding vote on what happens. And the odds are that he will betray his NATO ally and squeeze the U.S./SDF forces out of the region.
At that point, no one will be willing to make an agreement with the U.S. that doesn’t end with full withdrawal from Syria.
And that is Netanyahu’s worst nightmare.