China intervened in the events in Syria. The United States failed the armistice agreement with Russia, demonstrating its inconsistency as partners and directly threatening Moscow. Consider some aspects of these processes, based on materials prepared for the Institute of the Middle East Yu. B. Shcheglovin.
Humiliation of US opposition
In connection with the collapse of the US-Russia agreement of 9 September on the establishment of a cessation of hostilities in Syria and discussions on this topic in the UN Security Council between Washington and Moscow, political analysts ask themselves: did the US and its allies try to influence the Syrian opposition and persuade it to implement agreement? The position of the Russian Foreign Ministry in this case is simple and logical: Moscow is not interested in what has been done in this area. The result is important, but it is not.
In fairness, we recognize that the United States and its allies tried to convince the opposition to accept the terms of the truce. These activities were strictly classified. This refers to the September meeting in London of representatives of the Syrian Islamist opposition with British and American representatives. The Syrians were represented by delegates from Dzhebhat al-Nusra (renamed to Dzhebhat Fath ash-Sham), Ahrar ash-Sham and Jaish al-Islam. There were not only emissaries of the “Islamic State” (all the organizations listed are considered terrorist in Russia).
As a result, the opposition theoretically agreed to a "temporary truce", but on extremely indicative and humiliating conditions for the United States. They demanded that the US and its allies 50 million euros for the rehabilitation of refugees and resistance fighters, as well as the opening of massive humanitarian intervention in Aleppo and other areas blocked by government forces, impact on the Turkish president for free treatment of injured militants in the hospitals of this country. The Syrian opposition complained to the western participants of the meeting on Erdogan, who blocked the main supply channels for the militants and took, by their expression, a position of hostile neutrality. This was a red thread in the negotiations, ended up in a fiasco.
Opponents of the Assad regime were not initially tuned to abide by the terms of the truce. At the same time, the United States and its allies looked like an outsider. Washington is not able to influence the processes going on in the Syrian opposition, although it has connections with all radical groups. The US has a complicated relationship with Turkey, blocking the offensive of the international coalition against the Syrian "capital" of the IG - Raqqu. Ankara drove the Germans out of the Incirlik base, as a result of which the Bundeswehr 20 helicopters and a group of advisers moved to the American bases in Jordan. Moreover, the Islamist segment of the Syrian opposition acts as a united front at the talks, which raises reasonable doubts about the very possibility of their separation by
the principle of "moderation".
This situation was fixed by the United States and its allies, when, in the midst of discussions about ways out of the Syrian deadlock (which looked more like an information war), they unexpectedly declared Dzhebhat al-Nusra to be recognized as a terrorist organization. American justice has recognized the grouping as a terrorist organization since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, and this decision has not been canceled. Although the Pentagon and regretted the unnecessary haste of such a step. However, the next recognition of terrorists by terrorists was directed not to Russia, but to the Syrian opposition and Saudi Arabia. The hidden subtext of the American statement: the maneuvering to legitimize “Dzhebhat al-Nusra” by the transformation or change of name, as well as public statements about the break with al-Qaida, will not be taken more seriously in the West.
Thus, a line has been drawn up under the long negotiations between Washington and Riyadh with the participation of Ankara and Doha on the transformation of this main organization of Sunni resistance into a structure acceptable to the world community for its incorporation into the peace process negotiation process. This is a serious signal for KSA. The next step may be similar actions in relation to Ahrar al-Sham, on which Moscow insists. The inflexibility of Riyadh in this matter has a dual nature. First, the persistence of traditional Bedouins, and secondly, the hope that the new owner of the White House will change the policy on the Syrian track - which is doubtful. The new president is likely to continue the policy of supporting the Sunni core of resistance in Syria, but with the mandatory rejection of a radical ideology.
However, the US itself is to blame for the fact that they are little listened to in the Syrian opposition. Since the beginning of the crisis, they have taken the side observer position and have not made any attempts to structure the “convenient” for themselves opposition in the person of the Syrian Free Army (FSA), which they were offered to do in Ankara. The reason is President Obama’s reluctance to deal with Erdogan. As a result, the opposition segment was given to Riyadh, who pulled Ankara to his project, and as a result, jihadists became the leading force among the opponents of Assad. The beginning of the Russian military operation in Syria 30 September 2015 of the year forced Washington to intensify, but the time to really influence the situation was lost.
State Department spokesman Mark Toner told 28 September at a briefing in Washington that the situation in Syria could get even worse. When asked what means of influence the United States possesses and whether one of them could arm the population of the Syrian Aleppo, he replied: “I don’t think any of us would like to see a situation in which other governments supplied weapon or reinforced assistance to rebel groups ... But this is a scenario that is possible. " Toner said he spoke about other governments, and the United States does not consider this.
State Department spokesman John Kirby said that national security officials had discussed other options for resolving the Syrian crisis that did not revolve around diplomacy. He did not specify what options were proposed, and added that Russia is interested in stopping the violence in Syria, since extremists can damage Russian security and attack Russian cities.
These statements are an obvious bluff. The government offensive in Eastern Aleppo is the only correct response to the Americans' attempts to delay the process of disengagement of opposition forces, fixing the status quo in Syria while preserving the military alternative to the Assad regime. Their two main threats are to remove to Saudi Arabia the barriers to supplying the Dzhebhat an-Nusra terrorists (also Dzhebhat Fath ash-Sham) with modern weapons, including not only anti-tank missiles, but also MANPADS, and the introduction of an additional package of sanctions against Russia . Other things, such as terrorist attacks on Russian cities, are not serious. This statement by Kirby demonstrates that Americans act spontaneously. The Obama administration is "packing bags" and is incapable of multi-pass combinations.
Neither the outgoing, nor the new president will give the team to start supplying weapons to the group, which the US Department of Justice considers terrorist. These are serious reputational risks. The most that Washington can do is to “give the go-ahead” to Riyadh at the start of operations of this kind. And here the question arises about the position of Ankara, which is ambiguous due to the exacerbation of Turkish-American relations, and due to Erdogan’s unwillingness to spoil relations with Moscow again, and because of fears of excessive strengthening of Wahhabi groups - the Muslim Brothers ’contenders .
The intervention of the United States through the introduction of troops and the beginning of a massive bombardment of the positions of Syrian government forces in order to hold off their attack in Aleppo is unrealistic. As for anti-Russian sanctions, they will be demonstrative, not real. The Americans used all possible sanctions economic instruments in connection with Ukraine. This will only unleash the hands of Moscow and Damascus, nullifying for the West the levers of influence on the situation through consultations with Russia in Geneva.
The US nervous reaction is understandable. The preservation of the offensive dynamics in Aleppo with the prospect of the final "stripping" of the city means a turnaround in the hostilities and the intensification of the settlement of the situation on the principle of the separate adherence of the Syrian settlements to a truce with Damascus. This is equivalent to a sharp increase in the influence of Moscow, the strengthening of the positions of Assad and the political fiasco of Washington. But the Americans have no real levers of influence on the situation in Syria. The attack on Rakka was postponed due to the position of Ankara, and the attempt to open a “second front” in Deir ez-Zor with the help of Syrian oppositionists trained in Jordan failed.
MANPADS for terrorists
At the time of the start of the diplomatic and informational campaign of blackmailing Russia after the predictable disruption of the Russian-American agreement, the US has already given the green light to the "limited supply" of MANPADS systems to Syrian "oppositionists" located along the Syrian-Turkish border. The decision was made at a meeting of representatives of the military and intelligence unit of the United States, KSA, Qatar, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, which took place on September 24 in Riyadh.
The central topic of discussion was Washington’s consensus on large-scale supplies of opposition MANPADS, which were opposed by representatives of the CIA. At the same time, the Americans were subjected to colossal pressure from colleagues from the Gulf countries, who insisted on the need for this because of the threatening situation on the fronts. Arabian monarchies also asked for the resumption of supplies of anti-tank systems TOW.
The final agreement provides for limited supplies of non-US-made MANPADS, the latest technology level, to a limited number of rebel groups on the Syrian-Turkish border, with the guarantee that they will not fall into the hands of the Islamic State or Dzhebhat an Nusrah. This is what the representatives of the US Department of State had in mind when they spoke about the imminent increase in the losses of the Russian contingent and the discussion of questions of influence on Moscow outside diplomatic efforts.
What are the prospects? The Americans withstood the pressure of the Saudis and insisted on a limited number of MANPADS supplied (no more than 30 sets). Washington did not start the implementation of the "Afghan scheme" with the supply of "Stingers" in Syria. This is a test step for the time being to put pressure on Moscow and a reassuring gesture for the allies in the "anti-terrorist coalition". Turkey benefited most from the agreement, since the rebel groups stationed along the border are the very groups that are located in the “security zone” between Jarablus and A'azaz. However, there are also units of Ahrar al-Sham and Nurradin az-Zengi stationed there, to which MANPADS are real.
Will the Turks be able to guarantee that the MANPADS will not spread along with these groups throughout Syrian territory? If this happens, it will mean that Ankara consciously took such a step. So far, experts believe, the option is unlikely: the Turkish side is more interested in additional security guarantees for their groups in the border region. Ankara is extremely concerned about the actions of the Russian and Syrian aviation.
In October, the US 2015 already allowed limited supplies of MANPADS to Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Then, MANPADS produced by the PRC were delivered to the detachments of the Syrian Free Army in the south of Syria and the Ahrar al-Sham militants. Part of them was in the hands of "Dzhebhat an Nusra." Now, supplies of MANPADS will most likely be only to Ahrar al-Sham and to two or three local groups: the security services of Jordan object to such operations near its border. In 2015, the Jordanians were also against the supply of MANPADS, fearing that this would lead to an escalation of tensions in the kingdom.
The transfer of MANPADS to pro-Saud groups under Aleppo is being discussed at the White House. They are inclined to believe that MANPADS can be located in Idlib and cover the opposition centers' headquarters, but not in Aleppo, as Riyadh insists. The guarantees of non-use of MANPADS against aviation by an international coalition led by the United States, which they received from Saudi Arabia, in Washington are considered insufficient.
It can be stated that while the interests of the United States, KSA, Turkey and Qatar in the Syrian direction coincide. The focus is on the preservation of the Sunni core of resistance in East Aleppo. There is no talk of large-scale American assistance to the anti-Assad forces. Washington decided to act with pinpricks, believing that this would force Moscow to resume negotiations on the signing of a truce in Aleppo without fulfilling its obligations on the part of the United States regarding the disengagement of the opponents of the Assad regime into “good” and “bad”.
The defeat in Aleppo is fraught with dire consequences for the anti-Assad coalition, although the loss of its members is different. For Saudi Arabia, this is ensuring the conditions of the Damascus military offensive against Idlib. For the United States, evidence of their failure in Syria and the loss of Russia on points. This will force Washington to take a risk fraught with increased vulnerability of its own passenger airliners and military aircraft. Riyadh in this situation does not refuse the massive logistical support of anti-Assad groups, bringing it to a qualitatively new level.
The suicide attack that attacked 30 in August, the Chinese embassy in Bishkek, strengthened Beijing's desire to gain a foothold in a coalition of countries opposing the Islamic State. The attack occurred two weeks later after Chinese President Xi Jinping announced that his country had joined the fight against ISIS in alliance with Damascus and Moscow, which seriously complicates the life of an international coalition led by the United States. For the first time in 25 years, China has moved away from non-interference in events in third countries that are not related to its economic interests. The announcement of his performance on the Damascus side in training special forces soldiers and sending specialists in the fight against terror to help him - weighty reinforcement of Moscow’s efforts in the Syrian sector.
It was the result of lobbying by the Ministry of State Security (MGB) of the PRC, which justified the need for a more active Chinese position in countering the IG, including in Syria. Specialists in the Middle East of the Chinese Institute (CICIR), units of the 8 department of the MGB, insisted on this, citing the fact that several hundred Uygur separatists were fighting in the IG. The main focus of the MGB of the PRC sent to Syria will be on their identification and neutralization.
The CICIR report concludes that it is necessary to use the experience of Russia in containing the radicals, who transferred the brunt of the struggle against them to their territory, not waiting for them to come to the Russian Federation. The authors conclude on the need to support Assad as the only alternative to turning Syria into a stronghold of Islamist terrorism with the prospect of its use by the Uighurs as a rear base. They make a conclusion about the internal political risks of social instability in the republics of Central Asia and the expansion of IG supporters against this background in spite of secular authoritarian regimes.
The Central Asian vector of security efforts is proposed to be made a priority for China. The Syrian direction is authorized to oversee the MGB of the PRC. Political contacts are made through the China Institute of International Studies and CICIR. From the Syrians, Adviser Asad Bussein Shaaban is authorized to maintain contacts with Chinese partners.
Beijing uses tactics of preventive strikes against supporters of Islamist and separatist Uyghur organizations abroad in their areas of activity and training. Example: the activity of Chinese intelligence services in Thailand, which became a transit point for Uighur separatists in transit to Turkey and the countries of Southeast Asia, from where they are sent to jihadists. The Chinese managed to obtain from the Thai authorities the deportation to the PRC of the Uigurs, who received Turkish passports from the MIT embassy residency in Bangkok.
The operatives from the Ministry of State Security of the People's Republic of China played a decisive role in the elimination in Indonesia of 18 in July of Sheikh Abu Vardan Santoso, who swore allegiance to the IG, in whose group the Chinese Uighurs fought. At the same time, the Ministry of State Security of the People's Republic of China went to unprecedented cooperation with the Indonesian BIN and the Australian Australian Secret Intelligence Service, which could not determine the whereabouts of Santoso. The Chinese went to decipher the agents in order to neutralize Santoso and his group. This shows that Beijing estimates the likelihood of the activation of Uygur radicalism in the PRC as high.
It is characteristic that after Xi Jinping's statements about the revitalization of the Syrian sector, the Congressional Economic and Security Commission of China asked the head of the national intelligence of the United States about the amount of data transmitted through the partner channels to Beijing regarding Uygur activity. It was pointed out that it was necessary to revise the materials being transferred so that the Chinese authorities could not use them for the purpose of repressing activists of the Uyghur liberation movement.
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