The catastrophic failure of the negotiations on the settlement of the situation in Syria, in fact did not take place in Geneva under the auspices of the UN, it has once again demonstrated how not to do business in the Middle East. The talks were intended not so much to bring closer the positions, how to stop the advance of the Syrian army, with the support of the Russian Federation on videoconferencing positions of militants, allowing to gain a foothold on the reached lines and ottorgovalis via the US, the EU and the UN need Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia concessions from the official Damascus.
This convinced underhand actions of the Western countries around the Syrian Kurds, who, because of the ultimatum, put forward by Ankara and supported by Riyadh, were not admitted to the negotiating table, but in Geneva attended.
The statement by the Russian Foreign Minister that Russia will act in Syria in coordination with the national government and its allies against terrorists as long as it takes until they are defeated, closed the topic of the limited material and time resources of Moscow, which the world’s MASS MEDIA. At the beginning of February, Ankara was showing increasing activity on the border with Syria, that the invasion was being prepared, testified to the refusal of Russian observer aircraft to monitor the Turkish territory under the Open Sky program.
The intensification of the international media war against Russia under the slogan "Moscow in Syria supports Shiites against the Sunnis", which was once thrown into the information space at the behest of Saudi Arabia, in fact, waging a war with Shiites in the face of Iran and its allies, harshly suppressing them claiming the same in Yemen, marked the beginning of another attempt to cause internal protests of Russian Muslims - traditional for the Salafi tandem, Qatar and KSA since the conflict in Russia chne (this time with the apparent support of the Turkish).
Judging whether the British Guardian’s information about the kingdom’s intentions to bring troops into Syria in coordination with Turkey corresponded to the truth, it’s difficult, at least until Saudi Arabia decides to take concrete actions (which would be fraught with Yemeni is a war on two fronts and will unite those local leaders around Bashar al-Assad who consider the direct intervention of Riyadh and Ankara into the country’s territory unacceptable.
In any case, the conflict in the near future will not end. The coordinated anti-Russian campaign of European and American politicians, Arabian monarchs, UN bureaucrats and the media, Western, Arab and Turkish, speaks precisely about this. It is not by chance that they all blamed Russia for the failure of the negotiations in Geneva, whose VKSs continue to attack in Syria the positions of terrorist groups, called in the West, in the Arab world and Turkey as “moderate opposition”. Consider the situation, based on materials A.A. Kuznetsova and Yu.B. Glade made for the Middle East Institute.
The Russian military operation, launched on September 30, came as a surprise to sponsors of the anti-Assad armed opposition - Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and to the USA, France and Great Britain. The October launch of cruise missiles by Caspian ships made a special impression on the Arabian monarchies flotillaAfter which the visits to Moscow of Crown Prince KSA Muhammad bin Salman and the Emir of Qatar Tamim AlTani took place, aimed at sensing the situation. It would be extremely naive to believe that these arrivals pursued any goals other than reconnaissance in combat. The maximum that the leaders of these countries are trying to achieve from Russia in Syria is to “outbid” its position, as they used to do in the West.
At the same time, it seems, the Gulf monarchies recognized Moscow's role as a factor in the Syrian settlement, although this does not mean giving up their course on the section of the country and the overthrow of Assad. What can be said about Turkey. Its leadership in the face of the top of the AKP and Erdogan pursue the Syrian conflict to two objectives: to prevent the appearance on their borders Kurdish state and turn north to Aleppo in the zone of influence. During that Ankara has already paid the price-quality deterioration in relations with Moscow after the destruction at the end of November Su-24.
Russian intervention allowed to change the military situation for the Syrian army. Talk about a radical turnaround early, but positive dynamics are evident. During the first half of last year, government troops suffered continuous defeats. In March, the opponents of Assad took Idlib in the north of the country and the city of Bosra ash Sham in the province of Dera. In April, Damascus lost the last Nasib checkpoint on the border with Jordan. In May, the strategically important Jisr al-Shugur was delivered. The situation began to change from November. In January, the army of Assad took Salma, protecting Latakia, and Sheikh Miskin in the province of Dera, held by rebels from the end of 2012.
From the beginning of 2015, the United States began to cooperate with the Syrian democratic forces, which included Kurdish armed groups of the Party of the Democratic Union (PDS) of Salih Muslim, groups of Assyrian Christians and parts of the former Syrian Free Army (FSA). The effectiveness of the actions of the Kurds was proved by the defense of Kobani, who was under siege of IS militants for half a year. The Kurds repelled jihadist attacks near the town of Haseke and occupied the Tishrin dam on the Euphrates, providing access to Manbij and the northern outskirts of Aleppo. At the same time, the alliance with the Kurds is temporary for the United States, since it directly contradicts their cooperation with Turkey. The PDS operating in northern Syria is an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), fighting against the Turkish army, and an open opponent of Erdogan.
Prior to the beginning of the action of the Russian Aerospace Force, the fragmentation of Syria was rapidly increasing. As a part of the country, such regions that are not subordinate to the central government, such as the Islamic State with its center in Raqqa or the Islamic Emirate of Idlib, stood out.
It is important to distinguish between Russian and Iranian strategies in Syria. Tehran tried to create an analogue of the Lebanese Hezbollah here, almost not subordinate to the central government, controlling the metropolitan region, the provinces of Hama and Homs and the Mediterranean coast. Russia, by contrast, helps to recreate the regular army of Syria, which is the guarantor of the integrity of the state.
The government controls less than half of the country's territory, but 80 percent of Syrians live there (not counting the six million refugees who left the UAR), because unlike his opponents, he managed to maintain a functioning infrastructure in the areas he held. It should be noted and partial international legitimization of Assad. Since the end of 2013 in the West, it has become necessary to talk about the need to recognize him as a partner in the negotiations, as it became clear that the anti-Asad resistance in Syria was intercepted by radical jihadists. The first supporters of establishing relations with the government in Damascus became the former American ambassador in Iraq and Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad and ex-director of the British Mi-6 Richard Diarlav.
Attempts on charisma
The impetus to the change in the attitude of the EU countries towards the Assad government was given by the “new great resettlement of peoples”. The wave of refugees from the Middle East, provoked and organized by Turkey with the support of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, rushed to Europe last summer. European countries such as the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland are the “advocates of Assad” in the EU. Anti-Assad rhetoric from France and Great Britain also lost its heat. There is a gradual restoration of relations between Syria and the countries of the League of Arab States. Embassies of Egypt and Kuwait opened in Damascus. Tunisia announced its intention to resume diplomatic relations.
Obviously, the impact on Saudi Arabia’s Syrian conflict is decreasing after it launched the Storm of Resolve military operation in Yemen last March. After the capture of Aden at the end of July of 2015, the army of Riyadh and the military contingents of its allies got bogged down in this country. More than 500 Saudi soldiers, hundreds of representatives of other coalition countries and mercenaries died in the battles there. Growing financial and image costs of the kingdom, which caused a reduction in its assistance to the Syrian jihadists.
An indicator of significant changes in the development of the conflict being analyzed was the death of Zahran Allyush, the leader of the Jaish al-Islam group at the end of 2015. In 2013 – 2014, he was one of the five most influential field commanders. Others were Hasan Abbud (leader of Ahrar al-Sham), Abdelkader Saleh (Liwa al-Tawhid), Ahmed Isa ash-Sheikh (Sukur ash-Sham) and Bashar al-Zueibi (Liwa al-Yarmuk) ).
Three, including Allyusha, are no longer alive. Saleh was killed by a rocket in November 2013 of the year, after which his group, which was a detachment of the Muslim Brotherhood and which at that time was the most influential in Aleppo, began to crumble. Abboud, along with 20, by other field commanders, was destroyed by an explosion at 2014 in early September, which led to a change in the leadership of Ahrar ash-Sham. With her in March 2015, Ahmed Isa al-Sheikh merged his grouping. Bashar al-Zuaybi switched to political work in the Southern Front, giving command of Liwa al-Yarmouk to Abu Keenan al-Sharif.
Practice shows that militant formations in Syria in the absence of charismatic leaders are crumbling or losing their positions. In this regard, it is possible to predict the weakening of terrorists in Eastern Ghouta and the removal of the threat to Damascus. At the same time, the Saudi stakes in the negotiations on Syria are falling: Allyush was positioned by Riyadh as a “moderate”, “democratic” leader, and the kingdom in many of its plans to overthrow Assad was counting on him.
Let's go back to Turkey. In the diplomatic field, she focused primarily on attempts to prevent the Syrian Kurds from becoming a legitimate and full participant in the negotiations on a Syrian settlement. The latter will be the beginning of a new phase of Ankara confrontation with the Kurds. With the refusal of the West to participate in the creation of a “security zone” lobbied by the Turks in the region from Jarablus to Azzaz, the threat of a Kurdish bridgehead along the entire Syrian-Turkish border is exacerbated.
It should be borne in mind that the Damascus army at the current stage of hostilities knocked out troops of Turkomans from the province of Lattakia. These formations, on which the Turkish intelligence services make the main stake, are now concentrated only in the same area of Jarablus-Azzaz. The transition of Syrian Kurds through the Euphrates will mean a declaration of war to Turkey, as they will directly threaten logistics in this area. And other corridors of material and technical supply of groups loyal to Ankara are much less efficient.
Fears of the Turkish leadership reinforce the reports of the national intelligence service MIT, which reported that a large number of Russian-made RPG-7 grenade launchers had appeared in the Kurdish PDS units. According to her, in the near future we can expect the appearance of the Syrian Kurds and anti-tank complexes (ATGM) "Cornet". But intelligence failed to identify patterns of interaction between Russia and the Kurds in this area. This prompted Ankara to make an informational throw in order to probe the position of Moscow. The answer was: “Russia supplies, like Western countries, weapons Iraqi Peshmerga formations ”, which referred Erdogan to his ally, Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani. Recall: in the period of defense of the Kobani enclave from the IG, Iranian Russian-made weapons were thrown to the militia by American transport aircraft in significant volumes.
Complicates the situation for Turkey and the game of the States on two fronts. They are negotiating with Ankara about aviation cooperation, including the idea of the head of the central command of the US Air Force, General Charles Brown, about using the base in Diyarbakir. February 29 is expected to visit US Secretary of Homeland Security Jay Johnson, who intends to discuss technical support to strengthen and equip the border with Syria. On the other hand, the contacts of the Americans with the Syrian Kurds continue. Here and the direction of more 300 special forces in the area controlled by the VCP for the provision of advice, and work to expand the runways in Hasek, so that you can put the transport aircraft "Hercules." The Pentagon’s beliefs that the US troops are not planning to take control of the airfields in Syria serve as a weak consolation for Ankara. For the transfer of weapons it is enough that they are controlled by the Kurds under the supervision of American instructors.
Cargo and weapons provide preparation for the capture of the capital of IG - Raqqi. The operation is being slowed down by the position of Ankara and the insufficient equipment of the militias. The United States is spurred by the fact that Russia allegedly strengthens contacts with the Kurdish detachments of the Party of the Democratic Union. A series of meetings took place between their field commanders and Russian officers, according to Pentagon sources. Knowing the level of conspiracy, traditional among the Kurds, regardless of their party affiliation, let us assume that fragments of information reach the Americans and Turks, from which they conclude: Moscow is increasing its presence in this region of Syria.
For Ankara, these news disappointing. The ground operation under discussion in the Turkish leadership bears the risk of losing heavy equipment in the event of a military clash with Kurdish troops in the area of the strategic city of Jarablus. The latter is under the control of supporters of the IG. His surrender means for the Islamists the loss of an important channel for obtaining material and technical support from Turkey, and for Ankara it is raising the issue of options for further action. Fortunately, the contacts of the Russian representatives with the Assyrian militia and other ethnic groups in the province of Haseke are noted.
The Americans were in a difficult position. On the one hand, they should not allow the Kurds and Russia to come closer, on the other hand - to open channels of interaction with the PDS, which is fraught with a sharp aggravation of relations with Turkey. The Pentagon regularly sends reports to the White House about its "critical support" of the Kurdish and Arab formations. As an advantage over the Russian Federation in this area, it is indicated that thanks to “close negotiations” with partners, it is possible to minimize the likelihood of combat damage to opposition units by the Turkish security forces.
Another traditional argument by the leadership of the United States, used for complacency: "The support of the US Air Force is many times more effective, since, unlike the Russian Federation Air Forces, they use high-precision ammunition." But in Washington, as a rule, they forget to mention exactly where the bombs fall and how is the combat coordination of the US Air Force with the opposition troops. Note that the Americans are not yet able to do anything effective, even to solve the problem of taking Raqqi.
The advantage in Washington is believed to be the role of mediator in relations between Ankara and Moscow. According to him, the active artillery processing of Turkey’s adjacent Syrian territories indicates that Ankara is preparing for an active phase of the land operation in the Jarablus-Azzaz region with a view to the north of Aleppo province. But in this area, government forces receive support from the Buk air defense systems, and President Putin’s warnings that any objects threatening the security of the Russian contingent will be thrown off have not been canceled.
It is known that the Turkish military is asking the States to help establish cooperation with the Russian side. Conducting land operations without use aviation considered by their General Staff as an adventure. It is doubtful that such an operation will begin before the end of the announced visits of US officials. Thus, Ankara remains on the principle of non-participation of the Kurds in the negotiation process, which does little to change their strengthening on the Turkish borders and the emergence of a Kurdish “security buffer” there.
Obviously the loser is the IG. In any scenarios, it comes under hard pressure from all parties to the conflict. The attack on the position of the IG goes in several directions. From east to west, in the direction of Manbija, the Kurds are advancing, which in some places have already crossed the Euphrates. Syrian government forces are attacking with the support of the Russian HQs on Al-Bab from the south. From the west of the IG, pro-Turkish rebel groups are pushing up, trying to go along the border, which suggests that their real task is to gain control over a number of its sections. At the same time, Syrian troops are attacking in the south in the provinces of Quneitra and Dara. Thus, the Assad army has seriously expanded its area of action since the beginning of the year, which, according to the Americans, threatens the “peace process”.