As was expected, once Moscow and Washington started disputing who attained victory over ISIS in Syria, the militants of this terrorist organization decided that they would need to demonstrate that it’s too early to write them off completely. Especially since the last 25,000 of its fighters vanished in the desert, after being stationed for a considerable period of time in eastern and southern parts of the Syrian Arab Republic.
It turned out that all of those predictions were accurate, as Syrian media sources have just reported that ISIS launched a massive assault in the area of Abu Kamal, that had allegedly been liberated more than a month ago. To make the matters worse, the above mentioned Abu Kamal is under control of radical militants, with only western outskirts of the city still being defended by the local Shia militia, while the rest of the city remains to be occupied by militants. For sure, this latest offensive is relatively insignificant, but it creates an escape corridor to the deserted areas of Syria which are not controlled by local Shia militia groups and the Syrian army. The offensive has already resulted in a death of toll of over a hundred Syrians, both military and civilian. Additionally, reports state that ISIS has taken prisoners, that are usually being routinely execute after short interrogations, conducted by ISIS field commanders. While this is difficult to classify this course of action as guerrilla warfare, since the engagements continue to remain relatively regular while radical militants would often employ armored vehicles and artillery to get an upper hand on the field of battle. The problem is that the Shia militia that is trying to contain ISIS units enjoys virtually no air support, as there’s been a single report about an raid in this area conducted by long-range bombers. Presumably, those were Russia’s military plains trying to help the self-defense units out. Moreover, while visiting the Russian Khmeimim air base in Syria, Russia’s president Vladimir Putin voiced a warning that Russia’s air corps may return in full force in Syria should the situation demand such an involvement.
At the same time, we’re observing an increase in military activities near Syria’s southern border with Israel and Jordan. After all, this is the region where the majority of the so-called Free Syrian Army detachments were deployed and they have no intension of surrendering their weapons as they are more than eager to carry on the armed struggle against Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad. One can observe both an increase in the number of these detachments, but their preparation steps aimed at facilitating military operations as well. But that’s hardly surprising, as the Arab League would issue an ultimatum back in 2016 to all those who support Damascus, that was supported by a large-scale military exercise North Thunder. In in the absence of any possibility to attain their goals through the use of proxy forces, Israel and Saudi Arabia are preparing an invasion of Syria in a bid to counter the Hezbollah, along with Iran’s proxy and regular forces. The zone that those forces control serves as a source of constant concern of the anti-Iranian coalition, no matter even in spite of the fact that the majority of these lands are deserted. Meanwhile, preparation for a large-scale offensive continue in Jordan, with large amount of the FSA cannon fodder concentrated right across the border with Syria. Tel-Aviv and Riyadh would be supporting the push, while the US would be eager to provide close air support and stage an offensive of the Kurdish SDF forces in eastern Syria.
As a matter of fact, Washington is keen to carry on the war against the legitimate Syrian government, as it’s become clear from the signals coming from Washington. Just yesterday a number of media sources would cite unnamed US officials, who confined that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson can make a statement that Washington won’t tolerate Bashar al-Assad as the head of the Syrian state. For sure, we’ve heard such statements before, however it would manifest yet another change of hearts in Washington, since the US had previously agreed with the possibility of preserving the existing balance of powers in Syria, at least during the course of the transition period. Formally, the Secretary of State can explain the return to the previous position by the failure of the Geneva talks, that Assad chose to ignore, but there is a more fundamental factor: Washington does not need Moscow to finish the dangerous mission of finishing ISIS off, and since Russia withdraws its forces from Syria there’s no need to take its interests into account anymore. However, Washington couldn’t resist the temptation of voicing doubts about the actual withdrawal of Russian troops, by arguing that there’s going to be some sort of rotation instead. For example, Russia’s military police detachments returned to Dagestan yesterday, but no more that a week ago military police detachments from Ingushetia arrived to Syria. But Russia’s withdrawal implies that there’s not just going to be a gradual reduction of ground personnel, but a reduction in the number of aircraft deployed in Syria. And in the absence of close air support, as the events in the Abu Kamal have shown, militants are once again capable to launch offensive operations.
Should Russia’s military planes start leaving Syria, which is pretty much impossible to conceal, then Assad’s position will start deteriorating rapidly. In spite of the presence of a massive Shia contingent of pro-Iranian militants, the Hezbollah and the regular Iranian forces in Syria, with a total number of such troops reaching 80 thousand people, they were only able to stall the situation with the extensive amount of support provided by Russia’s Air Forces. Without this support, we are bound to relive the September 2015 scenario. All of these considerations have allowed Washington to return to their its previous position about the fate of Bashar al-Assad. Moreover, the United States has no plans of ever withdrawing its forces from Syria, and it is possible that the Pentagon will further increase the number of troops deployed in Syria. So what sense is there for Washington to put up with somebody when they were planing to overthrow that person anyway? So things are starting to look grim for Assad again, not only in the south, but also in the region of Damascus. According to Syrian sources, terrorists launched yet another offensive in the vicinity of Damscus, seizing a number of positions.
Moreover, Washington has once again stated that it’s going to review the Crimean discussion again, although Moscow has made it quite clear that it’s not going to negotiate the issue in any way. The brief warming between the US and Russia in Syria is now turning into an increasingly tough confrontation. And then there is the issue with Jerusalem because of Trump’s decision, the aggravation of the situation in Yemen. This has temporarily postponed the Saudi-Israeli plans to strike at the positions of the Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, and Iranian troops in Syria, but the plan itself hasn’t gone anywhere.
It’s curious that the Egyptian newspaper Ash-Sharq released details about secret agreements between Israel and Saudi Arabia. According to these reports, Saudi Arabia offered to invade Syria and isolate its southern part, that is, the region of the Golan Heights. The Ash-Sharq notes that according to the documents it has at its disposal, Saudi Arabia also called on the “Israeli regime” to block the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, thus preventing Palestinians from any moves and stopping the support that some Arab countries have been providing to them.
As for Trump’s decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, it is obvious that the pro-Saudi Egypt together with Riyadh play a double game on the side of the US and Israel. There’s been announcements that Saudi Arabia was prepared to sell its recognition of Israeli Jerusalem, conceding to the proposals put forward by Donald Trump. As the Egyptian press staged a diversion of Trump’s secret plan for resolving the Palestinian issue by redrawing the border territories of Israel and Egypt. According to these plans, the overpopulated sector of the Gaza was proposed to be increased at the expense of 450 miles of Egyptian territory being given to Palestinians, which in return must have received the Israeli Negev desert. As for the Palestinians, they must have surrendered 12% of their territories in the West Bank, a part of the so-called area C.
Thus, the outrage we’re seeing the Arab media over Trump’s decision is nothing but a smoke screen that must hide what is really happening in the Palestinian-Israeli settlement. In fact, by his recent “scandalous” statement, Donald Trump has addressed yet another problem created by America’s Deep State. By launching the ISIS project the globalists drew attention away from the Arab-Israeli issue, while Palestinians were still being squeezed out of Israel. Now, when ISIS is defeated in Syria, the problem of “two states for two peoples” has once again been brought to the front pages of the international media. Trump’s return to the Palestinian-Israeli settlement may provide a cure from jihadism, since it’s impossible to achieve regional piece without addressing this issue. It was the oppression of Palestinians in Israel that initially became a breeding ground for Islamic radicalism. To solve an issue that is more than half a century old, Trump tried to facilitate the deal of the Arab elites with Israel, proposing a compromise solution to the territorial dispute. But this solution cannot be finalized with Iranian preserving its presence in Syria and the Hezbollah remaining in southern Lebanon. That’s why there’s going to be war.
Alexander Orlov, political scientist and expert Orientalist, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”