by Wayne Sonter - 30 Oct 2017
The following prognosis, by ex-UK diplomat Alistair Cooke(*), presents us with a war in Syria that has already been won – “notwithstanding the caution of President Bashar al-Assad in saying that signs of success are not success itself“.
The Syrian War has resulted in an 'axis of resistance' creating a contiguous bloc consisting of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, that has achieved a “critical mass of land, resources and population of real weight” whose interaction will positively alter power balances within the Middle East.
This new power balance also coincides with the eclipse of ‘intolerant, puritan Islam’ (i.e., Wahhabism, the politico-religious fascist ideology by which Saudi Arabia projected its power as a significant player within the current global, imperialist hegemony) and may lead to ‘bottom up’ replacing ‘top down’ politics, based on the ‘needs of local politics, in all its diversity’.
For Cooke, the only fly in the ointment to this ideal outcome is the Israeli-US intent to leverage the Kurds’ ‘independence “project”’ against the Syrian state, which if ‘mishandled’, could ‘easily spin into violence and region-wide instability’.
He sees this very likelihood – that such a project could ‘spin into violence and region-wide instability’, along with ‘universal regional hostility’ to Kurdish ‘projects’, and the Kurds themselves eventually realizing the inconstancy of US promises and the increasing obviousness that Russia (and Iran) “represent the incoming tide” -- as militating against the Kurdish ‘project, with all its risks,’ being allowed to proceed.
However, it may be equally likely that rather than give up its regional and global objectives for fear of 'region-wide instability’, the USA sees that if Plan ‘A’ (toppling Assad and the secular, Baathist socialist state) is not going to work directly, then it still has the ability to muscle through Plan ‘B’ (partition Syria and from there, possibly continue to harass the diminished Syrian state).
Even more so, if neither Plans ‘A’ or ‘B’ transpire in the near term, then ‘creative chaos’ is the long standing default mechanism the USA can use to after all achieve its regional goals (centred around subjugation of Iran and bolstering Israel and Saudi Arabia as regional hegemons) and at least part of its global strategic objectives (‘degrading’ Russia to isolate China and maintain US global hegemony).
From this perspective Syria is not now in its ‘end-game’ phase, with the USA and its regional lieutenants retiring to lick their wounds. Syria was in the first place merely a pathway for the USA to Iran and the Caucasus. Its ‘regime’ was meant to be swiftly and effortlessly swept out of the way as part of a larger game, which includes restructuring the Middle East.
In the larger game Syria has just been a badly played start and the ground lost (or not gained) in the first phase may still be recoverable mid-game.
This view may especially prevail where generals are put in charge of US foreign policy, as is becoming increasingly the case in a USA where the military-industrial-financial complex no longer bothers to hide its power ‘behind the throne’.
This is indicated in the following article from ‘Business Insider’, which declares that a showdown is looming between Russia and USA, as the “US-allied fighters hurtle down the eastern bank of the Euphrates River” and both US and Russian allies “are racing to take over the same strategic oil-rich territory from the Islamic State group.”
Note here that Syria has disappeared out of the picture – the conflict is being portrayed as more of an inter-imperialist rivalry to take otherwise unassigned land from its current occupiers, to reap the rewards its capture will bring in a free-for-all.
So it becomes a matter of “rival international coalitions compet[ing] to defeat the militants and snap up oil and gas fields”, which may be “fueling concerns of conflict between the two groups and their superpower sponsors”; nevertheless, the USA is “prepared to defend our partners if they are attacked, whether by ISIS fighters or by anyone else”.
For the US-backed Kurdish ‘Syrian Democratic Forces’ (SDF), who "now control nearly 25 per cent of Syrian territory and have expanded into non-Kurdish, Arab-dominated areas, unsettling Damascus”, their seizure of the Al-Omar oil fields, is seen as a ‘major prize’.
Al-Omar, as Syria’s largest oil field, would be an invaluable recovery for the government of Syria, “whose coffers are decimated by the country's war, now in its seventh year”, but the SDF has “checkmated it”. As the SDF commander states, "We were determined to get this oil field. … Our project is to liberate the eastern bank — all of it".
Despite Syrian objections (and the fact the US and its proxies’ interventions and occupation of Syrian territory are completely illegal), US ‘experts’ close to the US State Department expect “Russia, Iran, and Assad” to “cut a strategic deal with the main Kurdish militia for the future governance of eastern Syria”, in accord with the facts established on the ground, with US backing.
It looks as though Russia, Syria and Iran, if they don't like this will have to lump it, or fight to get it back from the proxies under US patronage.
Just to keep the pressure on, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has reaffirmed that there is no future for the “Assad regime and the Assad family” in a post-war Syria (or put another way, Syria will not reach a ‘post-war’ stage until Assad and the Baathist state is disposed of, that is, regime change has taken place) “and the only issue is how should that be brought about”.
It certainly seems as if the US has inserted some pretty good qualifiers into the Syrian ‘end-of-war’ process to justify and ensure that war in the Middle East in fact continues to simmer, with every opportunity for it to boil over at the slightest provocation or miscalculation!