Domestic media, highlighting the tripartite summit of the heads of Russia, Turkey and Iran in Sochi, noted the cautious optimism of the Russian president. Using the typical phrases for such events, he said that there are many problems ahead and the settlement process in Syria is only beginning, although it will not be possible to overthrow the Assad government by military means.
But Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United States have their own interests, which do not coincide with the horizons of Russia, doing everything possible to extinguish the internal conflict there and prevent external conflicts (the same Iran with Israel) to flare up. Optimism regarding the situation in the Levant is irrelevant, despite the defeat suffered by the militants of the Islamic State banned in the Russian Federation. The IG, despite assurances of the US military in its destruction, continues to exist, and the US, confronting Russia, uses its jihadists. The pro-Saudi "al-Qaeda" in Idlib maintain their positions. Yes, and regional conflicts, in addition to the Syrian, are unfolding with might and main, an example of this is the recent terrorist attack on a mosque on the Sinai Peninsula. Consider the situation in Egypt and Syria, based on the materials of the IBI expert Y. Shcheglovina.
Attack on Sinai
As a result of militant attacks on the Ar-Raud mosque in the suburb of Arish in the north of the peninsula, more than 300 people were killed. There is a failure of local law enforcement, so you should wait for rearrangements in the upper echelons of the Egyptian security forces. First of all, this concerns the Minister of Internal Affairs M. Ghaffard. The blown up Sufi mosque is one of the most significant in the north of Sinai: it stands next to the highway connecting El Arish with the rest of the peninsula and is famous for the highest minaret in the region. While no one took responsibility for the attack on her. Most likely, suppose there are militants from Ansar Beit al-Maqdis (“Supporters of Jerusalem”) who swore allegiance to the IG, replacing the name with “Vilayet Sinai”.
The largest and most influential tribal clan lives in the region, and the tactics of the head of the General Intelligence Directorate of ARE X. Fawzi to appease Sinai are based on winning the loyalty of local Bedouins and reaching a compromise with Hamas. Such a large-scale provocation is an attack against the Egyptian president personally and his policy of countering Islamist terrorism. Frustration of the population in the ability of the military to solve this problem is now one of the main challenges for A. F. Al-Sisi.
A number of experts believe that the cause of the terrorist attack was the hatred of radicals for Sufis, whom they consider to be heretics. However, all the tribes living in the peninsula are Sufi devotees, and the IS militants are mostly local natives (there are many Palestinians among them). The commitment of the population to the Sufi direction of Islam has never prevented Salafi jihadists from recruiting supporters there, as was the case in the North Caucasus (including Chechnya) and Yemen. The nature of “Vilayeta Sinai” is nationalistic and is only disguised as Salafism. This is essentially an armed wing of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.
The probable causes of the terrorist attack are two. First of all, this is an act of intimidation of the northern clans of the Bedouin Sinai. This indicates that the tactics of the head of the OUR ARE X. Fawzi to conquer tribal loyalty begins to work in the region. This also explains the abduction and killing of local tribes by sheikhs' supporters by the IG supporters. In addition, such a resonant action caused the beginning of a military operation and the transfer of additional forces to Sinai. IG weakens the pressure of Egyptian security officials on their allies in the Libyan-Egyptian border, as supporters of the IG from the other side, who attacked and destroyed an army patrol, did it two weeks ago.
Thus, the “second front” was opened against Egypt, in order to give a respite to the Islamists in Sinai and to stretch the forces of the security forces opposing them. Fortunately, both segments of the IG have one sponsor and coordinating body - Qatar. Doha is behind the attacks, and the performers are just a tool. Large-scale attacks require financial investments, and everything that happens means that the money from Qatar went to them most likely as an answer to the Doha blockade by the Arab Quartet, because Cairo was one of the main initiators.
The elders of the main Bedouin tribes of Sinai after the terrorist attack on the mosque of Al-Raud decided not to adhere to traditional clan borders for the effective assistance of the Egyptian army in the fight against terrorists. This was stated by one of the most authoritative sheikhs of the largest Sinai tribe, Tarabin M. ad-Dalih. At a meeting of elders, including the main clans of the peninsula - tarabin and Sawarka, the sheikhs agreed that during the operations of the Bedouin troops against terrorists, territorial restrictions between the tribes would not be taken into account.
Vladimir Putin discussed a Syrian settlement with the leaders of Iran and Turkey Hassan Rouhani and Recep Erdogan
In this situation, the most important tribes living in the north-west, on the Mediterranean coast - Sawarka and Rumayalat. They and their clan divisions (a'ilat) control El-Arish, Sheikh Zuweid and Rafah. To the west are Masaid, Bayadiyya and Dawagkhra. Central Sinai is inhabited by Tiyah, Akhayavat and Azazma, whose territories reach Israel and the West Bank. In the south, the Tuvar confederation dominates. It consists of alyak, avlad, said and music. They live in Sharm el-Sheikh, the inland mountains and in Darab. Tarabin inhabit the area around Nuweiba and to the north. Their territories are partly in Israel.
Approximately 10 of large tribes live on the peninsula, of which only three are associated with the tourism industry. One of them - Jabalia (mountain) controls the monastery of St. Katharina. They came from Wallachia, converted to Islam, were resettled to the peninsula by the Turks to protect this holy place for Christians and to fix the presence of central authorities in Sinai, that is, "alien". They control several dozen hectares of poppy fields around the monastery, actively participating in the production of heroin and drug trafficking.
The terrorist attack in the district of Arisha, 30 kilometers from the Gaza Strip is symbolic. In addition to strategic proximity to Gaza, it is the only area of the industrial zone in the north of the peninsula, where there are several quarries and two cement plants. At the same time, the majority of those working there (as in all tourist enterprises and hotels in Sharm el-Sheikh) come from the Nile Valley, most often from the region that is the birthplace of former President H. Mubarak. In the south of Sinai, in the tourist area most of the hotels, cafes and travel companies are owned by natives of central Egypt. The informal sector is not paying taxes to either the central or local government.
Separately are the "Bosnian El-Arish." In the Ottoman period, the Bosnian garrison stood in the fortress, and the descendants of the soldiers still represent a rather pronounced community. They are called "Sinai Europeans." Physically, they are different from the surrounding population. "Bosnians" are fair-skinned, fair-haired and blue-eyed - as opposed to "Africans" - with dark skin, black curly hair.
The “application” for a union of tarabins and sa-bar in assisting the army and Egyptian security officials to eradicate the Islamists is remarkable. These tribes have Palestinian roots and are closely related to the Hamas. It is logical that the attack on a mosque in the area was caused by the clans of tarabin under the influence of Hamas began to move away from an alliance with the local “Vilayet Sinai”. Until recently, the squark remained neutral, and now this obstacle has been overcome. The terrorist attack against the Bedouins (although no one has yet analyzed the victims from the point of view of dividing them into "alien" workers from central Egypt and local ones) arrived in time for Cairo.
The tribes of tarabin (most part) and all the squark control drug trafficking and the transfer to Israel of illegal immigrants from Africa and "live goods" from the CIS and Eastern European countries. They also control the tunnels dug between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. Their main business is drugs, smuggling and trafficking. weapons, transfer of illegal immigrants from Africa and prostitutes. When threatened by Israeli border guards or Egyptian security officials, they often kill both refugees and prostitutes. This is the question of morals. Both tribes are directly tied to the transfer of weapons from Iran and Qatar to the Gaza Strip and Sinai, not only through Sudan, but also by sea from Libya. In this way, according to a number of data, an IED was delivered to Sinai, which was blown up by a Russian airliner. If these tribal groups leave the alliance with Vilayet Sinai, it loses all channels of material and technical support.
Found at the scene of the terrorist attack in Er-Raud, the IS flags unleash suspicions that what happened is not the work of the Islamists, but the forces interested in poaching the barn to their side. IG attack was unprofitable. "Vilayet Sinai" statements about responsibility for the explosion, as always supporters of the IG, did not. There is no alternative to the criminal business in Sawarka, tarabin and rumayalat (the tribe living in this area, which is still silent about its position), they do not participate in the tourism business. An alliance of these groups with the government is possible only under the condition that their business functions without Cairo’s efforts to stop it, which is contrary to the position of the government of Egypt.
It seems that here we are dealing with a “big deal” between Hamas, the tribes, Cairo and Tehran about preserving the existing smuggling channels, including weapons, in exchange for the liquidation of “Vilayeta Sinai”. Iranians and Hamas are interested in this, since they are destroying the possibility of supplying arms from Qatar and monopolizing this sphere of activity in their own interests. And all this leaves a lot of room for options for the development of the situation in Sinai.
Syrian bridgeheads of the Islamists
Consider the real situation of the IG in Syria, which is somewhat different from that presented to the general public in the media. The final cleansing of the territory in the Euphrates from Bu Kemal to Mayadin is far. In the immediate vicinity of Mayadin on the west bank of the river there are at least three extensive "pockets" of Islamists. Across the river, they merge with a continuous line of IS control on the eastern bank (from Mayadin to Bu Kemal). The “pockets” on the west bank are stretched along the Euphrates and converge into a single control zone of the Islamists.
De facto, the IG controls the flow of the Euphrates along both banks from Bou Kemal to Mayadin. Deep into Syria, in the direction of Palmyra, jihadists control a vast territory with the prospect of attacking government forces that broke through to a narrow corridor from the south to Bou Kemal. From one flank of them, the Iraqi border, on the other - a continuous band of supporters of the IG. With one more projection, this zone hangs over Mayadin, which poses a potential threat to the breakthrough of IS troops in this direction. As, however, in the direction of Bou Kemal.
The eastern bank of the Euphrates, by contrast, is controlled by the Islamists. The strip stretches several hundred kilometers east of the Euphrates along the border with Iraq. Thus, there are two extensive areas controlled by IG. Moreover, the offensive of government forces with the support of the Russian Aerospace Forces ends on the west bank and they will not be sent to the east bank. The exception was the “pocket” opposite Deir ez-Zor, which caused the most serious crisis in relations with the United States history Syrian civil strife. At the same time, the fate of the igilov garrison in Deir ez-Zor, which held several quarters of the old city there, is unclear.
If the IG continues to control the position along the Euphrates between Mayadin and Bu-Kemal, it’s premature to speak of its defeat. The cleansing of the Euphrates from both banks is a defining moment, because then the igilovtsy lose control over the river logistic and irrigation systems, which will determine future progress in negotiations with local Sunni tribes. Water and control over its distribution in Syria are commensurate with control over oil fields east of the Euphrates. Moreover, the oil fields can be destroyed from the air, and the Euphrates - no.
All this dictates the need for an operation on the eastern bank of the Euphrates between Mayadin and Bou Kemal to the Iraqi border. Creating such a bridgehead on the eastern bank dictates and predictable actions of Americans in their area of responsibility to preserve the combat potential of the IG on the border between Syria and Iraq east of the Euphrates. The presence of such a “pocket” at the border allows the US, if necessary, to justify its presence in the north of Syria “within the framework of the fight against IS” and to keep up its trump card against Moscow and Damascus - a possible repetition of the Islamist attacks on Bu Kemal.
In addition, the control of the border with Iraq by the hostile Iranians by the forces of the “Islamic State” to some extent resolves the issue of deterring their attempts to form a “Shiite arc” from Iran through Iraq and Syria to Lebanon. A large IK enclave is present in the south of Syria, at the junction of the borders with Israel and Jordan, and this problem must also be solved. So, it is necessary to wait until the IS is defeated, although the best times of this structure have passed and its main military potential has been destroyed.
Kurdish problem in Sochi
The stumbling block at the Sochi meeting of the presidents was the Kurdish question. Ankara is against the presence in the upcoming Congress of the national dialogue of the DC representatives as an independent delegation. The rest of the process managed to persuade. At the same time, the Syrian president knew the position of R.T. Erdogan on the Kurdish issue and could promise anything, since the participation of the Kurds as an independent delegation at the upcoming congress, and in the future, in the Astana format, would be blocked by the Turks. B. Assad’s invitation to Sochi for consultations indicated that Moscow does not consider other candidates for the post of Syrian president, which has annoyed Ankara and Erdogan personally.
At the same time, Riyadh begins its own game, uniting the opposition in order to speak with one voice in consultations with Damascus. For this, the “irreconcilable” were dismissed along with the head of the opposition High Negotiating Committee (VKP) R. Hijab. The participants in the Syrian opposition meeting in Riyadh agreed on a new expanded membership of the CPSU. It will include 10 members of the National Coalition of Opposition and Revolutionary Forces (NKORS), six functionaries of the National Coordinating Committee (NCC - the leading group of internal opposition), four delegates from the “Moscow” and “Cairo” platforms, 10 representatives of the armed groups and 15 independent delegates .
The Riyadh-2 conference with the participation of the main groups of the Syrian opposition adopted a communique calling for the start of direct talks with Damascus in the Geneva format under the auspices of the UN. Among the main provisions of the document is the demand for the departure of Syrian President B. Assad and a criticism of the role of Iran in the Syrian conflict. About 140 delegates took part in the Er-Riad meeting: 22 from NKRS, 21 was represented by armed groups, 14 - NCC, 10 - Cairo platform, the order of 70 participants have the status of independent. That is, the KSA is trying to create under its auspices a common opposition bloc with its positioning in the Geneva format as the only alternative force.
Negotiations are possible, they say from Riyadh, under two conditions: the departure of Assad and the withdrawal of Iranians from Syria. In this regard, the progress in Geneva can be forgotten, but an alternative block to the Russian efforts has been created. It is not clear what guided the Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation when they expressed their approval of the attempts of Riyadh to create under their auspices a general delegation of the opposition. The formation of any alternative single bloc of the opposition and its promotion as the sole force in the future political arrangement of Syria does not meet the interests of Moscow. Fortunately, Damascus does not fully control the Syrian territory. The north of the country - Kurds and pro-Turkish groups. There is a large “pocket” of the IG west of the Euphrates towards Palmyra and a smaller stronghold of Islamists in the south. Plus four de-escalation zones. There is no control of Damascus in these areas. In reality, the Syrian regime controls from 50 to 70 percent of the country.
It is reasonable to consolidate the successes of Russia in Syria by recording its presence in the liberated areas and activating the establishment of truces with specific tribes and groups. Global projects will not bring success, it is necessary to start the reconciliation process "on the ground." When steady processes of establishing a peaceful life for confessional and tribal groups go there, it will be possible to talk about congresses. We need to stop discussing the participation of the Kurds in the negotiation formats. There are contacts with DS, and that is enough. Moscow did not make concessions to the Turks regarding Afrin. The Kurds must remain an annoying factor in the relations of Washington and Ankara and become a problem for the United States in trying to establish mutual understanding with the Sunni tribes in the north of the country.
Americans are beginning to create an alternative state of Damascus in Syria. The security control of a number of Raqqi neighborhoods — Al-Mishlab, Al-Jazra and Al-Tayar, was transferred to units of the Raqqi Internal Security Forces (SADB). The SARS consists of local militia and field commanders appointed by the city council. Many of them fought in the IG. It is assumed that the Forces of a democratic Syria will give them control over other sectors. This means the creation east of the Euphrates of a Sunni enclave independent of Damascus. If Moscow agrees on such a variant of the division of Syria, this is one thing. If not, it is necessary to stimulate the confrontation between the Kurds and the Sunni tribes, since appeasement in the US east of the Euphrates means a resumption of war to the west of it.