The governments and leaders of the military militia independent of Baghdad and Damascus, Israel and Iran, Turkey and the United States, Saudi Arabia and Qatar will build a regional balance of interests and try to shift it to their advantage. In this regard, what is happening in Iraq and Syria is especially important. Consider the aspects of the situation in these countries, based on the materials IBI expert Y. Shcheglovina.
Repression from Iraq and Syria of militants of an IG banned in Russia will not lead to the elimination of the group, according to Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, who commanded coalition forces involved in Operation Unshakable Determination for a year. September 5 was replaced by Lt. Gen. Paul Funk. What are the chances for the eradication of the "Islamic state" as an instrument of the Sunni Middle Eastern elites to influence the development of the situation in the Muslim world? IG is not the structure whose purpose was to create a caliphate. Experts and observers are of the opinion that the main task of the Islamists is world expansion. In fact, the IG is the result of discontent of the Sunni population and elites with their position in Iraq and Syria. It is the nationalist nature of the IG that is different from Al-Qaida, which was created to spread Saudi influence in the world.
The overthrow of Saddam Hussein broke the system of balance of power that existed in Iraq and removed the Sunnis from managing the country's economic and political life. Washington gave them nothing in return even after Hussein’s “old guard” believed the promises and helped to destroy the al Qaeda troops in Iraq. That is why the Islamic State arose, not without the help of Qatar. Its franchises in the Muslim world are nothing more than nationalist movements of the population professing the Sunni branch of Islam and seeking to get a place under the sun while establishing a "just social system."
These franchises in the absolute majority (except for Sinai in Egypt and Libya) did not have connections with the initiators of the movement in Mosul, Raqqah. The commitment of the IG and the oath of allegiance should be viewed as an attempt by the leaders to “master” the brand and use the well-proven algorithm of actions to create the optimal social and military machine. IG is a dispute between “economic entities”, since an attempt to enter the government is automatically linked with the receipt of a piece of the economic pie. The jihadist shell of this phenomenon does not change anything; any movement needs a national and general Muslim ideology outside the division into communists or nationalists. In addition to the Islamist doctrine of its gives opposition to the "fair" power of the corrupt states of the Arab East.
The caliphate rhetoric helped to ensure the flow of foreign volunteers to the IG. Under the purely nationalist idea of fighting from abroad, no one would have gone. More than half of the IG personnel are foreigners. Their presence is provided with money and, to a very small extent, fanaticism. So the deprivation of the IG of finance, which occurs after the displacement from the most profitable points - oil fields, irrigation facilities, water and land logical arteries - is the basis of the victory over it. Supporters of the IG based their activities on establishing control over economically advantageous territories of Iraq. They invaded Syria to develop an alternative way for Baghdad to obtain material and technical support, export of hydrocarbons and smuggling.
Guerrillas without serious financial support will not create an attractive economic model. This requires territory and legal authority. They can attack, but not attract recruits en masse from abroad. Foreign sponsors remain, but the IS is so compromised that the project is closed for Qatar and Turkey. So the key to solving the IS problem lies in the economy, by depriving it of financial self-sufficiency after a military defeat and organizing broad socio-economic autonomy for the Sunni regions in Iraq and Syria.
Appeasement in Iraq
According to the Rudaw TV channel, representatives of the counter-terrorist coalition discussed with the heads of the Sunni tribes of the province of Anbar the campaign against IS in the west of Iraq. Negotiations took place at the Ain al-Asad airbase, 90 kilometers west of the provincial capital, Ramadi. The sides touched upon "security issues and the preparation of tribal militia and Iraqi military for the liberation of the cities of An, Rava, Qa'im in Anbar province". The representative of the United States confirmed its readiness to support the Iraqi forces from the air, to prepare and arm the militia fighters. At the base of the profits of 40 British sappers. Iraqi Prime Minister H. Al-Abadi said that the liberation of al-Huweiji (Kirkuk) and the province of Anbar will begin in the near future. There 40 thrown thousands of Iraqi military. Government forces will advance to positions in Al Xuweiju on September 23.
The struggle for Anbar will go through the channels of tribal diplomacy. Without the pacification of the local Sunni tribes, success there is impossible. In March, after the capture of Mosul, it was decided to launch the conclusion of agreements with the tribes. The Americans, after taking Baghdad and the start of expansion in Iraq, al-Qaeda have already used this move. In exchange for US promises to ensure that their militias were incorporated into the Iraqi army, the tribal leaders of Anbar province helped neutralize Al-Qaida bases. Washington's Allied deceived, and all promises were broken. The IG arose when the Sunni elite of Iraq became disillusioned with the prospects of a “peaceful” entry into power in the country and the preservation of “their” segment in the oil economy.
In March, the Americans began to look for ways to reanimate the channels of tribal diplomacy in Anbar province, primarily with the top of the Duleym, Zobar and Shammar tribal groups. In the latter case, they relied on the support of Saudi intelligence, which established communication through the KSA ambassador to Baghdad and the ambassadorial residency of the General Intelligence Agency (ERM), as well as the sheikhs of the Saudi part of this tribe. For consultations they elected people far from the official structures of the United States: a former CIA operative who participated in concluding deals with the tribes in Anbar D. Greenhill, and one of the main lobbyists of the Iraqi Sunnis in Washington M. Salih.
The same steps carried out and Baghdad. H. al-Abadi, realizing the hopelessness of appeasing Anbar without the Sunni elite, appointed at the beginning of the year a new Iraqi defense minister, born in Anbar, the Sunni A. Al-Khayali. The achievement of a “test compromise” with the local tribes could be discussed after the capture of Ramadi: they guaranteed an exit from the city of IS groups without a fight, while Baghdad transferred the management of this city to the local elite with a nominal presence of representatives of the central government. It is in the mountains of this province that the main bases of the IG with underground bunkers and tunnels are concentrated. Most likely, the leadership of the IG is hiding here, including A. Al-Baghdadi.
Through Anbar is the main flow of material and technical support for Damascus from Baghdad and Tehran. If the US puts control over Anbar, they will be able to influence this process. This is understood in Tehran, so they gave the green light to participate in the liberation of this province to Shiite forces accountable to Iran. The task is to leave under their control the main transport arteries and checkpoints on the border with Syria. Moreover, the Iranians not only rely on force, but also make compromises. Two years ago, a non-aggression pact on cargo convoys was concluded with local tribes, which cost them dearly.
Evacuation of the faithful
RIA "News"Referring to a military-diplomatic source, reported that on August 28 in the north of Syria, from the Albu-Leil region, south-east of Deir ez-Zora, around the 20, the IS field commanders and their entourage were evacuated. Note that the US intelligence has no working contacts with the IG. If they had been, Raqqu and Mosul would have taken without a fight, like the Turks in Operation Euphrates Shield, when the IS strongholds were conceded without fire or with its imitation. The Turkish special services MIT, unlike the CIA, have contacts with IG.
Most likely, the Americans evacuated from Deir ez-Zor province agents and loyal commanders of detachments, which they threw there in the last year or two during the preparation of the attack on Deir ez-Zor, which included an attack from two main directions: Iraqi-Jordan and from the north. The Pentagon believed that a maximum would be taken by Raqqah by mid-summer, but this did not happen. The activity of the Syrian and Russian military in this area has canceled this scenario. But it was prepared.
A year ago, the Americans tried to take a strategic checkpoint on the border of the province of Deir ez-Zor with Iraq - Bu-Kemal. The forces of the Syrian opposition prepared by the United States in Jordan participated, many came from the Arab tribes of Deir ez-Zor. It was assumed that this would allow the development of an offensive after the capture of Bou Kemal. To this end, groups of local residents who came into contact with their sister tribal elites or commanders to prepare the Blitzkrieg base also threw into the province. Obviously, evacuated "commanders" are among them, since "abandoned" agents can fall into the hands of the Syrian special services and speak.
Who to build the Syrian army
Against the background of military successes and the prospects for defeating the IS, discussions between the Syrian and Iranian military on the reorganization of the Syrian armed forces have intensified, taking into account their combat experience. The topic was started by the chief coordinator of Iran’s actions in Syria, the head of the Quds special division of the IRGC, General K. Suleymani. He set as his goal the creation of loyal to Tehran territories with a Shiite population in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, an analogue of the Lebanese Hezbollah, mono-confessional armed units with close coordination. At the end of August, Suleymani once again met in Tehran with Syrian President’s brother M. Assad and Chief of the General Staff of the CAA, General A. Ayub. They are the main opponents of the plan proposed by K. Suleymani for the reorganization of the regular army and the creation on its basis of an irregular surrogate on a mono-confessional basis.
The idea of Suleimani is that the army is useless against partisan formations. In this regard, the Afghan or Iraqi experience of the actions of the American army is usually given as an example. The United States quickly captured cities in these countries, but then became bogged down in a partisan war. However, after the defeat of the infrastructure of the Iraqi army and the Taliban, the GI stood up as garrisons in large cities and eliminated everything. The Pentagon lacked an understanding of further actions - the US strategy focused on creating a national power unit that could respond to threats, and the role of the US military was to train these forces and create a “resilient” regime for the transition period.
The Americans deliberately avoided carrying out large-scale offensive operations, which would include a constant hunt for rebel supply caravans, deep-seized raids to defeat bases and camps, a blockade of border areas with Pakistan (in the case of Afghanistan). The US military was not engaged in anything that would entail losses, but relied on the role of training and the growth of the “democratic” sentiments of the local population. So the whole thing in the error of the political leadership of the United States.
It should be noted that the Soviet army in Afghanistan and the Syrian armed forces led by Russian advisers showed that the classical regular army is able to solve any tasks in the anti-rebel war, and irregular units such as Hezbollah could reveal themselves only with forceful army support. Both the Kirov and Lebanese Shiites, before the start of the Russian military operation, lost the situation in Syria. Only after the appearance of the headquarters of the Russian group and the commencement of the relevant work, the formation of new corps and subdivisions according to classical patterns, and the creation of an advantage in the air, the turning point came.
Suleimani departed from the previous concept of abandoning the classical regular army and offered the Syrian military a hybrid version. In addition to the army, he plans to create the Syrian counterpart of the IRGC and the Shiite militia of the Iranian Basija type. These structures should be completely autonomous from the military command, having the status of "an integral part of the armed forces." This is fraught with the creation and strengthening of fully pro-Iranian armed structures, which, as can be seen from the example of the Islamic Republic, eventually begin to participate in the political struggle and dictate their conditions. Tehran is trying not only to create lobbying structures in the political and military leadership of Syria, but to legalize them.
This contradicts the vision of Moscow: according to the estimates of the Russian Defense Ministry, the regular army in Syria needs to be maintained and modernized. It is proposed to create a rapid reaction force in the form of several elite shock units. This is important in view of the tactics of the Islamic State, when the Islamists, by maneuvering their forces and means, can deliver distracting blows in different parts of the country. According to the plans of the Russian military, most of the security functions of the socio-economic infrastructure (thermal power plants, hydropower plants, oil fields, warehouses and arsenals) should be taken over by private security companies. In Syria, the Russian military leadership for the first time actively used this important component of the modern war to free up ground forces to solve more urgent military tasks.
Israel in search of guarantees
7 July at a meeting of presidents Putin and Trump at the G20 summit in Hamburg, an agreement was reached to create a de-escalation zone in southwest Syria. The truce in the provinces of Dera'a, Quneitra and Essaouida entered into force on July 9. 16 July in Paris, Israeli Prime Minister B. Netanyahu spoke out against the truce reached by the Russian Federation and the United States. Before its establishment, Israel repeatedly attacked targets in Syria in response to the shelling of its territory in the Golan Heights area. From 24 June to 2 of July of this year, such attacks were carried out five times.
US experts note that the capture of the Deir ez-Zor by the Syrians poses the question of further policies on the Syrian direction to Israel. They point out that the establishment of government control over the entire perimeter of the Iraqi-Syrian border (100 kilometers) makes the fact of a “Shiite arc” from Iran through Iraq and Syria to Lebanon accomplished. Although it is not entirely clear how this “arc” can threaten Israel beyond the existing one.
According to Americans, Israel is concerned about the end of the active phase of the civil war in Syria, followed by the redeployment of Lebanese Hezbollah units to their homeland, while they have strengthened their military potential and gained combat experience. As well as strengthening in the region of the Golan Heights of Iran with the prospect of creating there rocket bases weapons. At the same time, it is naive to assert that the Lebanese Shiites, who suffered serious losses in Syria, will go on the offensive on the territory of Israel. Hezbollah has not done this before. It is doubtful that she will attack on the entire front with a clear enemy advantage in fire and air power. And most importantly - there is no motive for breaking the status quo. Fears of the Israeli leadership in the increased threat of attacks from the Lebanese direction seem more likely a tribute to the battles on the intra-Israeli political field than a reaction to the real situation.
As for Iranian missiles, the path to leveling this threat lies in reaching agreements with Moscow on guarantees of excluding such a scenario. Plus, Israel will have to create the appropriate potential for delivering preemptive strikes if this threat is realized in practice. Therefore, the largest exercises in the last 20 years in the Golan region are underway. Israel will act on the basis of the real situation. The United States, the Russian Federation and the main international players on the Syrian site have come to the conclusion that it is advisable to “go” to a long-term truce after the destruction of the main infrastructure of the IG by creating “de-escalation zones” in the areas of their influence. Israel is against, but it does not matter. The Israelis in the Syrian direction cannot take any real steps to block this decision.
The version of their imminent attack on the positions of Lebanese Shiites, put forward by American experts, will not be considered because of the utopian scenario. In this regard, of the military instruments of influence, Israel remains to continue air raids, which have a greater effect on public opinion than they give a real military effect. Fortunately, the Israelis are not trying to strike the Iranian targets, and if they want to deliver missiles to Lebanese Shiites in Tehran, they will do it through the Beirut airport.
The Israeli leadership must be extremely cautious about relying on American guarantees, since the US positions in Syria are local and they act there based on their own interests. The only way out for Israel, besides the war against Iran with unclear prospects, is a dialogue with Russia indicating its fears.
- Eugene Satanovskiy