Today, Ghouta and tomorrow Daraa …
This is not about Syria nor about the war on its soil : it is all about an open war between the axis led by United States of America, Europe and their allies in the Middle East against the axis led by Russia and its allies. It’s a war about control, influence and dominance in the Middle East and the rest of the world.
It is natural for the US to resist the loss of its unilateral dominant status that has held since the collapse of the Soviet Union, from 1991 until 2015. September 2015 is the date when Moscow decided to send its air force, navy and some ground special forces to the Levant to announce its presence to the world there and give birth to its superpower capability after decades of absence.
It is therefore natural that the US defends its world unilateralism and tries to block the awakening of the Russian genie by mobilising all its energies and those of its western and arab allies to push back against the (successful) attempts by Russia to prove its diplomatic skills and military power through the window of the Levant.
So it is indeed natural that the US should try to hit the weakest link (Tehran) in the Russian-Chinese-Iranian alliance by attempting to thwart the nuclear agreement signed by the United Nations and the five permanent members of the Security Council plus one (Germany).
All this is caused by the successful (in Russia’s view) outcome of the war in Syria, in which the US failed in its attempt to redraw the map of the Middle East, divide Iraq and Syria, hit Hezbollah in Lebanon and extract parts of northern Syria for itself and Turkey, and the southern region for Israel.
Washington has benefited from the religious and sectarian slogans circulated by the “Islamic State” (ISIS) and al-Qaeda, insinuating that the conflict in Syria is just “among Muslims of different sects”. The fake message was as follows: ”these Muslim Arabs miss no opportunity to quarrel among themselves and to kill each other in the name of Allah”. Whereas the truth is otherwise: it is a struggle for power, control and dominance. This allows hits under the belt and the use of all kinds of twisted means and excuses, including ”religious extremism,” to prevent the return of Russia to the Middle East and be able to divide the region.
So did the Washington hawks succeed in their quest? The simple answer would be: No, they didn’t.
But these US hawks are still exploring various avenues to accuse Russia of supporting the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, discredited for years by the restless hammering of mainstream media (which has become an obvious tool in the hands of decision makers) who painted al-Qaeda as “moderates” for all the seven years of war.
The US aimed to discredit Moscow’s leadership at the UN to intimidate and to halt the efforts of President Vladimir Putin to end the war in Syria and stop the partition of the Middle East, and to prevent Russia from completely eliminating the bulk of Jihadis In Iraq and Syria.
It required Moscow to use 11 “vetoes” at the UN to reject multiple attempts by Washington and its allies to strike Syria and topple President Assad. Russia played very cleverly its diplomacy in Syria by creating de-escalation and de-confliction areas in the north, around the capital, and in the south to cut Syria into squares and freeze the war in different strategic areas so that it could devote enough forces to striking ISIS first and then al-Qaeda and its allies.
ISIS has been reduced to a small pocket under US protection in north-east Syria. Actually, this area situated east of the Euphrates is today ISIS’s safe haven and it is therefore forbidden for Russia and the Syrian governmental forces to strike the terrorist group. Previous attempts resulted in the US heavily bombing local forces and their allies.
However, Russia has given enough time to the Syrian government to gather its forces, strike al-Qaeda and clear various enclaves, limiting the control of al-Qaeda and its allies to the vicinity and the city of Idlib, around Damascus (al-Ghouta and Yarmouk) and in the south (Daraa and Quneitra).
The Syrian army managed to divide the Ghouta areas despite the frenetic anti-Russian campaign mounted by mainstream media and the failed US attempts at the United Nations to stop the war on al-Ghouta and to keep this enclave as a sore thumb at the back of the main capital Damascus.
The US’s anger at the Syrian-Russian attack on al-Ghouta needs to be made clearer here: the US occupation of al-Tanf Syrian-Iraqi borders aimed to create a launching platform for its military operations towards Deir al-Zour in the north and al-Ghouta in the east. The US plan was to occupy the city of Deir al-Zour and al-Qaim north-east and the capital Damascus. But Iran went around the area where the US forces were positioned, isolating these in the al-Tanf pocket, and made a qualitative leap to liberate Deir al-Zour and al-Qaim by defeating ISIS forces, who withdrew towards the US area of influence east of the Euphrates.
Moreover, Al-Ghouta is a clear demonstration of the US’s failed plan to attack Damascus. The strategic military planning and link between al-Tanf and al-Ghouta was possible had the Syrian Army and Russia not intervened on time to surround it and attack jihadists to force these to surrenderer and pull out to Idlib. The US thought to create a real menace against Damascus and at least prevent the parliamentary and presidential elections due next year. By controlling Ghouta, jihadists were supposed to keep up the pace of bombing to render the Syrian capital “unsafe”.
The US and the International community tried to stop the battles of al-Ghouta to no avail. This prompted Washington to exercise its favourite hobby of imposing sanctions on Russia, without succeeding in stopping the Syrian army (fighting without its allies – except Russia) from recovering its control over Ghouta. The answer came immediately from Moscow by bombing Daraa and hitting al-Qaeda’s area of influence in an indication as to where the future theatre of military operations is expected to be.
Again, events are moving very fast: the US response came quickly through its UK ally when Britain took advantage of the poisoning of the former Russian spy Sergey Skripal in London to accuse Moscow of being behind his assassination. The message here is clear: all means are legitimate for the control of the Middle East, specifically Syria.
Israel followed by demanding the return of the UNDOF troops, withdrawn in August 2014 following the abduction of 47 UN peacekeepers by al-Qaeda (the ransom for their liberation was paid by Qatar). The Israeli demand coincided – I have learned from well informed sources – with the gathering of forces of Syria’s allies, including Hezbollah, in Daraa, in preparation for future wide scale military operations. The US considers that the battle of Daraa is directly against itself and its Israeli ally, especially as it is party, along with Russia and Jordan, to the agreement to reduce the escalation there, to serve Israel and secure its security in southern Syria.
In this tense political climate it requires no imagination to link the issue of the Russian former spy to the aggressive statement of President Vladimir Putin and other Russian officials who threatened to use military force against the US and any other country in Syria if necessary.
The Syrian war is far from being a normal one. It is THE war between two superpowers and their allies, where US and Russian soldiers are directly involved on the ground in a war of domination and power. The lack of victory in the US eyes is worse than losing a battle. Even more, the victory of Russia and its allies on Syrian soil in any battle is therefore a direct blow to the heart of Washington and its allies.
Russia understood the US, UK and NATO’s message, including that of the mainstream media, and had no other choice but to escalate the pace of war in Syria as harshly as possible.
The superpowers are on the verge of the abyss, so the danger of falling into a war of cosmic proposition is no longer confined to the imagination or merely a sensational part of unrealistic calculations.
Will Damascus be the door of a major war that destroys everything? Asking the question is very important : but it is a very difficult question to answer.