A new wave of exacerbation of the Syrian conflict is inevitable. The United States does not have puppet-controlled regimes in the region. The only chance to save influence is to change the power in Syria.
The Northern Army, the decision to form which was adopted by the United States, Turkey and its allies, should become the main strike force in the operation to defeat the IS group in the northern provinces of Aleppo and Manbij, as well as the ousting of Jebhat al-Nusra (both of these organizations in Russia prohibited) from the Idlib region. These actions will most likely be supported. aviation US-led coalition and Turkish artillery.
“For Russia, the defeat of the Kurds will mean an early activation of Islamic radicals in the Caucasus region”
A very symptomatic decision of the meeting of representatives of the United States, Turkey, Qatar, KSA and the rebels to consider all armed opposition organizations that refused to enter the Northern Army as terrorist. That is, any structure that is not part of the IG and agreed to fight (or imitate a war) against the latter as part of the “northerners” can already be considered moderate.
Judging by open sources, the basis of the anti-Igilov army should be Ahrar ash-Sham, Faylak ash-Sham, Jaysh ash-Sham, Tuva Sham, Nur ad-Din al-Zinki. To justify the war against co-religionists from the IG, a fatwa will be issued, according to which such actions are considered a godly deed.
Not only armaments for infantry, but also armored vehicles of various classes should be used for arming the Northern Army.
The transfer of weapons and military equipment from Turkey began on May 14 through the Bab al-Khava terminal. The leader of the Northern Army was appointed the leader of the Nur ad-Din al-Zinki organization.
After the creation of the ground attack force is supposed to begin an offensive in four directions: on Jarabus, on al-Ra'i, on Azaz, and from Marea to the east.
Comparing the proposed deployment areas and the objectives of the operation, it can be assumed that Azaz will be the main direction of the attack, since, on the one hand, this allows you to go directly to the largest Syrian city of Aleppo, providing reliable communication linking the main forces of the rebels with their bases in Turkey, and on the other, to dissect the territory, preventing the emergence of a continuous zone controlled by the Kurds. The support of Turkish artillery means: a direct military intervention will begin. After all, it is quite obvious that the guns should appear on the territory of Syria and they cannot be introduced without covering forces - mechanized and tank parts and connections.
That is, the cessation of hostilities in Syria was not even intended as a long-term one. It was only a truce to regroup and rebuild rebels controlled by Turkey and the United States, as well as create a more acceptable to the world public opinion image of the armed opposition. Organizations that do not fit into this system are declared terrorist - some according to prehistory, such as the IG and “Dzhebhat an-Nusra” (at the same time overflowing of the militants, including the command link, into the “moderate” is by no means forbidden), others - How to refuse to accept the US-Turkish control, among which may be the militia of Syrian Kurds operating in the northern regions of the country.
Tangle of interests
The reasons why the United States and Turkey resume hostilities are understandable. Following the failure of Operation Arab Spring and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the States have noticeably lost their authority in the Arab world. At the same time, they did not have a reliable and well-controlled regime in this critical area of the world. Having planted a puppet regime in Syria, they begin to control the flow of Qatari gas to Europe, and also receive a military-strategic foothold in the Eastern Mediterranean, expelling Russia from there. After the defeat of the “Arab spring” in Egypt with a pronounced increase in the Russian vector in Cairo’s policy, the United States did not have anyone in this zone.
For Turkey, the situation in Syria at the time of the cessation of hostilities means a complete failure of the course of the ruling elite led by Erdogan. The Ottoman Empire-2 project collapses at the very beginning, with a hostile Ankara Kurdish autonomy created at the southern borders. As a result, the regional position and status of Turkey are deteriorating dramatically.
For Qatar, there is no hope of creating a strategically important gas pipeline to the Syrian ports or to Turkey for further transit to Europe with the displacement of Russia from this market. For the United States, this is also an important project, as it deals a serious blow to Russian interests.
Much loses and Saudi Arabia. First of all, hopes to defeat Iran’s main ally in the Arab world and thereby leave Tehran in isolation, weaken its influence in the region. The project of a new caliphate will be finally buried, with the idea that the kingdom has been worn for more than a decade. The preservation of the status quo in Syria for the Saudis is a serious defeat, entailing the strengthening of the role of Iran and the growing threats to the stability of the KSA until the fall of the ruling dynasty.
For Russia, the conclusion of peace with the existing status quo in Syria means nothing more than a military victory, albeit limited. This leads to a significant increase in influence in the region, in particular in the Arab world, which, as is known, respects only the strong.
In Syria, the attitude towards the current president and the government in the mass of the population is positive, as a symbol of opposition to external aggression. Even Bashar al-Assad’s refusal from the post (in the free elections in Syria, if he participates in the presidential race, he is guaranteed victory) will not lead to the power of henchmen of the United States or other opposition politicians - the Syrians were too expensive for their adventures. Keeping the current government in power with the prospect of Asad’s re-election means the emergence of a Russian strategic bridgehead in the Eastern Mediterranean, a breakdown in the construction of a gas pipeline from Qatar to Europe, and the emergence of Kurdish autonomy, close in ideology to the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), on Turkey’s southern border.
For Iran, maintaining the status quo (with the prospect of defeating the IS and other organizations recognized as terrorist, the need is understood by all external players) and participation in the winning coalition led by Russia means a significant strengthening of its position in the Arabic and especially in the Islamic world. This is likely to be followed by mass demonstrations of the oppressed Shiite population in the monarchies of the Persian Gulf, which Tehran will support in one way or another.
Naturally, there are ample opportunities for active implementation in the region of China, as an ally of Russia and Iran, with the economic replacement of American influence.
Therefore, a new round of armed confrontation in Syria is inevitable - the United States and its allies will seek revenge.
Two stages, two hits
The capabilities of the Syrian army are growing due to the supply of arms from Russia. In the battles of recent months, the Syrian army demonstrates the material (in WME) and moral superiority over the militants. The allies of the Syrian government are strong and well organized - Hezbollah and the Kurdish forces have repeatedly proved this. They are fluent in the methods of guerrilla warfare, in no way inferior to the militants of the opposition - neither in combat training, nor in tactical and operational training, and in many aspects they are superior. There is no reason to expect that the hands of the militants will succeed in overthrowing the legitimate government of Syria. Therefore, the Northern Army is being created, which should become the main striking force of the anti-Assad coalition. The idea of a new phase of the war seems to be similar to the one that was worked out in Afghanistan. Even the name of the army refers to the Northern Alliance. It is neutral, without an Islamic component and looks more beautiful in the information field of the West.
As noted, the main goal of the Northern Army is to defeat the IS. Is it so? And is it possible for American geopolitics to limit itself to the defeat of the IG - even if it creates a puppet state headed by appointees of the United States and Turkey in those territories that the Northern Army will take under control? Will they agree with the fact that even on the limited area of the coastal part of Syria will the power of the current president remain? Obviously, such an outcome does not allow to achieve any of the goals that the United States and its allies set for themselves, while stirring up civil war. After all, the Syrian government retains the most economically developed and populated areas of the country, as well as almost the entire Mediterranean coastline.
Therefore, after the defeat of the IS (which, most likely, will be accompanied by an active transition of the militants of this organization into the Northern Army), we should expect the deployment of military operations against government forces. Accordingly, the next period of the war in Syria is the transition of a coalition led by the United States to an open intervention. It will likely consist of two main stages.
On the first, the tasks of defeating the IS and other irregular formations (both oppositional and friendly to the Syrian government) that are not controlled by the US and creating a strategic bridgehead along the northern border of Syria from the Mediterranean Sea (areas now controlled by the Kurds) to the borders of Iraqi Kurdistan territories up to 100 – 200 kilometers or more (mainly in the eastern regions of Syria, now controlled by IG). Two operations should be expected. The first of these (already announced in the media, at least at the level of goals and probable directions of attacks) is to defeat the main forces of jihadists, which will allow the coalition led by the United States and the controlled Northern army to declare themselves the winners of the IG as the main threat to the world.
Next, the militant formations of Syrian Kurds are declared a terrorist organization, for which, perhaps, the United States is organizing several terrorist attacks with a Kurdish trail in Turkey. The PKK conducts such attacks regularly, and the Kurdish Syrian militias may well be officially classified as terrorists for communications with it. And to defeat them, a second operation is planned - with the goal of establishing control over the northwestern provinces of Syria, where Kurdish autonomy is now located.
At the second stage, the task of fighting the Syrian army and Hezbollah units will be solved with the aim of occupying the coastal provinces of Syria, which are critical for the Americans and their allies.
What is the feasibility of this scenario?
To carry out the first operation, a grouping should be created, in their combat capabilities, sufficient to solve the task of defeating the main forces of the IG in the northern and northeastern regions of Syria as soon as possible. It is obvious that Turkey will not put together an army of rebels on its territory - this is too dangerous a force for its internal stability. In Syria, the choice of location for grouping will be determined by the objectives of the operation, the military-geographical conditions, the combat potential of the enemy troops stationed in the area, and the presence of potentially friendly units in it. Taking into account the operational situation and other factors mentioned above, a zone in the triangle of Azaz, Tal Rifaat and Maare is likely to become the likely area for creating the Northern Army, the only bridgehead controlled by the friendly "moderate" militants of Turkey. Based on the estimated composition of the participating organizations, a group of 35 – 40 thousand militants can be assembled here. Their main weapon is likely to be light and heavy rifle weapon, mortars and artillery of various calibers, mostly obsolete images of Soviet and American production, a certain amount of light armored vehicles, anti-tank systems and, probably, MANPADS. The experience of previous combat operations in Syria shows that these forces cannot solve the problem of defeating the ISIS, especially in a short time. Therefore, it must be assumed that a sufficiently large group of Turkish regular troops will join the operation. Its combat strength (with a desire to maximize it for early victory) is limited mainly by the operational capacity of the area and can be assessed within the reinforced army corps with the inclusion of up to two artillery and one special brigade. That is, the number of group of Turkish forces could reach 25-30 thousand people at 150-200 tanks, 400 different BBM and 300-350 artillery pieces, including 100-120 long-range type ACS T-155 Firtina and M107 to 30 attack helicopters. For support from the air, 120 – 140 planes of American and Turkish tactical aviation will likely be allocated.
The equipment and combat strength of the IG formations opposing these forces is about one and a half to two times smaller in number, and inferior in military potential by an order of magnitude. It can be assumed (from the experience of actions against the IS of the Syrian army in cooperation with the Russian HQs) that under favorable conditions, as in Afghanistan, the Northerners will manage to knock out IS militants from the main settlements in the area of operation within a month or two. However, it is unlikely that they will succeed in crushing the irregular formations: some of them will go to the southern regions of Syria, some will hide in mountainous areas or scatter among the population.
However, it is impossible to delay the transition to the next stage, since the Syrian Kurds will quickly realize that they will now become the target of the attack of the Northern army and will begin intensive preparations to repel the attack. At the same time, it is quite possible that they will go to an agreement with the legitimate government, sacrificing part of their autonomous rights. Therefore, it will be necessary to regroup the main forces of the Northern Army and its supporting Turkish forces to fight the Kurds in the northwestern provinces of Syria. These actions will begin even before the final purification of the area from the militants of the IG.
If the Kurds agree with the Syrian government and receive full support from the Russian Aerospace Forces, which can organize patrols by fighter aircraft (especially effectively with the support of DRLOA-A-50 aircraft), as well as covering this zone of Syrian air defense, it is likely that the second operation of the Northern Army will be disrupted at the preparatory stage. It will not be possible to force Moscow and Damascus to agree to strikes against the Kurds, and the autonomous actions of the irregular formations of the Northern army without strong support from American aviation and Turkish artillery will not have the effect, resulting only in heavy casualties among the militants.
Even if the Kurds do not agree with the Syrian government, Russia is unlikely to calmly observe their defeat by Islamic radicals, even if they are recognized as "moderate." After all, the defeat of the Kurds will mean a quick increase in the activity of Islamic radicals in the Caucasus region. It means that the United States and Turkey are unlikely to achieve the goals of this second operation. Thus, the likelihood that it will reach it is not too great, and the chances of success are even less.
And the sight is to Russia
If the second operation is launched anyway, it will quickly become clear to the Syrian and Russian leaders that a relatively short time after the defeat of the Kurds, the Northern army, under the cover of American-Turkish aviation, will be reoriented to government forces. Accordingly, measures will be taken to strengthen the Syrian armed forces with Russian weapons, in particular air defense systems, with the likely conclusion of a mutual assistance agreement. The start of hostilities of the Northern Army, with the support of the United States and Turkey against Syria, will mean a transition to open hostilities against Russia, which is unacceptable for everyone. The blockade of the Black Sea straits for the transit of our goods to Syria will lead to a similar result.
That is, with the existing state of affairs, the creation of the Northern Army is guaranteed to solve the only task - the defeat of one of the groups of IS troops, and that’s all. This will allow a more active influence on the political processes in Syria, including the election of the country's leadership. However, the goals of the United States, Turkey, KSA and Qatar are not achieved by this. That is, the war is still lost.
The analysis shows that the main obstacle in the implementation of this strategic scenario is Russia. Therefore, the deployment of the Northern Army is likely one of the elements of the geopolitical campaign, where the main theater of the confrontation will not be Syria. And Russia can be removed from the game in the only way - to create an internal political crisis.
One of two things: either the Northern Army is created to solve a limited task of expanding the weight of the opposition in the political alignment of post-war Syria, recognizing the failure of US, Turkey and KSA policies towards this country, or preparing for its full-fledged defeat on the assumption that Russia will not be able to significantly influence the situation , being busy with internal problems, which are prepared for us by Western “partners”. The second option is more likely.