A hint to the Pentagon

A hint to the Pentagon

Dmitry Zelenin

Events in Syria in the last decade of October herald a likely change in the post-conflict status quo that has persisted since the return of most of the country to Damascus control in 2018. The bombing of a bus with servicemen on October 20 on the embankment of the Barada River in the Syrian capital reminded of the existence of underground terrorist cells. On the same day, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which Iran armed Shiite formations fighting on the side of the Syrian army, attacked the US and Western coalition military base in the Syrian border town of Al Tanf. This attack signaled the beginning of a new stage in the confrontation in the Syrian space between Iran on the one hand and the United States and Israel on the other. Never before have fighters from the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Iraqi militia Al-Hashd al-Shaabi.

Finally, on October 27, Turkey transferred several dozen armored vehicles and trucks with weapons, ammunition and material and technical equipment to the northwestern province of Idlib and the northeastern province of Haseke. The appearance of Turkish military convoys in the north of the country left no doubt that Ankara, with the help of the puppet formations of the Syrian opposition, is preparing to expand its security zones in the border area.

An eye for an eye

The scenario of the attack on the base in Al-Tanf, according to the testimony of the military expert Eili Yousef, reminded the operation of the pro-Iranian forces carried out on January 8, 2020 against the camp of American troops in Ain al-Assad in neighboring Iraq. Then the Shiite attack followed in response to the elimination of the commander of the Al-Quds special forces of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC, elite units of the Iranian Armed Forces) Qasem Suleimani as a result of a missile attack by the US Air Force near Baghdad International Airport. “This time, the strikes were carried out not only by ballistic missiles, but also by drones,” the Lebanese expert said. “Many of them reached ground targets, which was confirmed by Pentagon officials.”

If the assassination of the Iranian general was carried out in order to protect the American troops stationed in Iraq from sabotage allegedly planned against them, then the attack on the base in Al-Tanf was a formidable warning not only to the United States, but also to Israel. The fact is that on October 8 and 14, the Air Force of the Jewish state twice attacked the T-4 military airfield located southeast of Palmyra (240 km from Damascus). The Iranian UAV flight control center located there was subjected to air strikes, Shiites suffered losses. “It is obvious that Iranian advisers working in Syria considered this operation to be a violation of the conditional red lines, given that the strikes were delivered from the airspace over the Al-Tanf border sector,” Youssef said.

In turn, the Syrian analyst Rifaat al-Badawi believes that “a well-planned armed action by the operational headquarters of the pro-Iranian allies of Damascus will continue.” “This attack means a transition from a defensive to an offensive strategy of the Shiite formations deployed in Syria against the backdrop of the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan,” he summed up.

The analyst’s words confirmed the laudatory response to the attacks on Al-Tanf on Iranian social media, where the combined operation of Shiite fighters was seen as a major success and hints were made that more attacks on American troops would follow.

Meanwhile, the Saudi newspaper Asharq al-Awsat reported that the American command had information about the impending attack and 200 soldiers had been evacuated from the base in advance. There were no more than 20 people left on it when Iranian drones appeared in the sky, the newspaper claims. The Pentagon categorically denied that the Americans and their allies suffered losses, but confirmed the infliction of material damage.

As for the Israeli military, they noted in a report submitted by Janes that Shiite forces, along with drones, have increasingly used advanced air defense systems to repel their air attacks in Syria.

Damascus on the lookout

A burnt-out bus carrying 14 dead soldiers in one of the busiest districts of the Syrian capital near the Jisr al-Rais bridge over the Barada River has become bad publicity amid efforts by Damascus to attract investment from the rich oil-producing monarchies of the Persian Gulf. The explosion occurred in the early hours, when many residents of the capital go to work, and schoolchildren and students – to classes.

Syrian Interior Minister Brigadier General Mohammed Khaled Rahmon said that “those who planned and carried out this sortie sought to kill as many people as possible.” According to the head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the sappers managed to timely defuse the third explosive device, which was supposed to go off after the first two mines, installed under the bottom of the bus, were detonated. At the same time, Rahmon emphasized that the explosion in Damascus occurred after the Syrian authorities liquidated the main bandit formations in the country. “The pursuit of terrorists will continue until they are completely defeated,” the minister said.

The attack in Damascus followed the successful implementation of a new agreement on local reconciliation in the southern province of Deraa, which remained under the control of opposition groups after the cessation of hostilities in 2018. Thanks to the conciliatory agreements, over 7,500 militants were amnestied, and on September 29 the Nasib-Jaber border checkpoint on the strategic Damascus-Amman highway resumed its work.

As a result, Syria got the opportunity to export agricultural products and manufactured goods to the Arab countries of the Persian Gulf and transit cargo from its Mediterranean ports. As a result of the negotiations of the Syrian government delegation in the capital of Jordan, agreements were reached on the development of bilateral cooperation in the fields of trade, energy, water resources, transport and agriculture.

Notable progress was made in relations with the United Arab Emirates, which allowed Syria to open its pavilion at Expo 2020 in Dubai. Syrian businessman Jamal Mahluf said that the parties have now developed a roadmap for establishing trade ties after a ten-year break. He drew attention to the fact that the President of the Republic, Bashar al-Assad, the day after the explosion in Damascus, held talks by phone with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and assured him that the terrorist attack on the Barada embankment did not affect the life of the capital.

“Sleeping cells of terrorists exist and from time to time carry out sabotage in order to prevent the post-war reconstruction of Syria,” Makhluf said.

Dialogue in Geneva

According to legal adviser Rami al-Shaer, the explosion in Damascus had an impact on the course of the discussion that the delegations of the government, opposition and civil society had in Geneva. The sixth round of negotiations on constitutional reform in Syria, which began on October 18 in Geneva after a nine-month hiatus, ended in vain.

“Contrary to expectations, experts from the editorial (small) group of the Syrian Constitutional Committee (KKS) did not manage to move on to discussing the new draft basic law,” said al-Shaer. had the necessary authority to do so. “

According to an adviser close to opposition circles, the Syrian government still refuses to move forward in accordance with the settlement plan provided for by UN Security Council Reso-lution 2254. “In Damascus, they do not want to hear anything about the political process and elections under the auspices of the UN based on the new constitution,” asserted al-Shaer.

The UN Secretary General’s special envoy Geir Pedersen expressed his disappointment with the results of the sixth round, who acknowledged that key differences and mutual mistrust still persist between the participants in the dialogue in Geneva. “The delegations could not agree to meet again before the end of the year,” the Norwegian diplomat said with regret.

Political analyst Nabil Sabi, in turn, believes that the Syrian opposition groups supported by Ankara “are not interested in ending the civil war.” In his opinion, these forces are trying in any way to disrupt the negotiation process in Geneva.

The KKS, formed in accordance with a resolution that was adopted on January 31, 2018 in Sochi by the Congress of the Syrian National Dialogue, includes 150 people (50 delegates each from Damascus, the opposition and civil society). The small group of the committee consists of 45 people (15 delegates from each of the three segments). The KKS is called upon to develop recommendations on amendments to the basic law of the republic, after which general elections will be held in Syria under the auspices of the UN.

The official position of Damascus on the work of the QCU was expressed on September 27 in a speech at the 76th session of the UN General Assembly by Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mikdad. According to him, “all the activities of the committee should take place under the leadership of the Syrians themselves, without interference from outside parties and on the basis of the existing constitution.” The Foreign Minister advised Special Envoy Pedersen “to continue playing the role of an honest, objective and neutral mediator.”

Contacts with the Kurds

Intense shelling by Turkish artillery in the northern regions in the provinces of Haseke and Raqqa, as well as the cities of Miranaz, Tell Rifaat, Marai and Shehba in the vicinity of Aleppo, forced the Syrian Kurds to seek reconciliation with Damascus again. According to the Lebanese newspaper An-Nahar, in the face of a new Turkish invasion, one of the leaders of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) Jamil Bayik acted as a mediator between the parties. This former field commander believes that the Kurds have no alternative but to negotiate an agreement with the Syrian government that would take into account mutual interests. “The path to compromise is opened by the project of decentralization of Syria and the introduction of teaching the Kurdish language in the northern regions,” Bayik said.

Several rounds of negotiations took place between the Kurds and the Syrian authorities in 2018-2019, but all of them ended in vain. Relations between the parties have deteriorated since the end of April after the Council for Democratic Syria, which is the ruling body in the autonomy, refused to accept a gesture of goodwill and allow voting in the presidential elections on May 26 in Kurdish-controlled territory.

In the hands of the Kurdish forces of the Democratic Syria (SDS), which is supported by the United States, is 27% of the country’s territory. The SDF allowed the American command to establish nine military bases in the northeastern regions. Four of them are located near the largest oil fields in Deir ez-Zor, and five more in neighboring Hassek, which is considered the granary of Syria. After this step, the Kurdish fighters, who bravely fought the terrorists of the “Islamic State” (IS, banned in the Russian Federation), began to be called in Damascus “separatists and accomplices of the American occupation.”

The political scientist Nabil Sabi explains the tendency towards a new rapprochement with the regime of President Assad by the confusion that reigns in the Kurdish administration after the withdrawal of the United States and its allies from Afghanistan. “The Kurds understand that they will have no one to seek protection from if Turkish tanks appear in the vicinity of Qamishli,” he said.

The post A hint to the Pentagon appeared first on The Frontier Post.