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Syrian army on brink of total victory in central Syria

Syrian offensive in key As-Safira district encircles ISIS fighters, securing communications from western Syria to Aleppo and Rusafa, and bringing large areas of central Syria under Syrian government control.

Alexander Mercouris

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Unreported by the Western media, the situation in the Syrian war continues to shift decisively in the Syrian government’s favour, and continues moreover to do so at a blistering rate.

Following the Syrian army’s recent capture of the strategically important town of Rusafa in northern Syria, the Syrian army has launched a major offensive further south against ISIS fighters occupying the key As-Safira district in Aleppo province around the town of Khanasir.  ISIS fighters occupying this district – the last area of Aleppo province still held by ISIS – have been resisting fiercely, but Al-Masdar reports that they are now totally encircled by the Syrian army.

The Syrian army offensive in As-Safira district is led by the Desert Hawks Brigade, a unit which originally began as a volunteer militia unit formed by Syrian army veterans to support the Syrian government in the war, but which has acquired a formidable reputation as a fighting unit, and which is now fully integrated in the Syrian army.  It seems that the Brigade has been thoroughly retrained and re equipped by the Russians over the last few months, and that along with other advanced equipment it now possesses a number of advanced T90 tanks, which have proved highly resistance to the US made TOW anti tank missiles possessed by ISIS fighters in large quantities.

The destruction of the ISIS force in As-Safira will have three important consequences for the Syrian army:

(1) Already according to Al-Masdar the Tiger Forces – a different elite unit of the Syrian army which spearheaded the offensive on Rusafa – has fully cleared the Ethriyah-Rusafa highway in a separate movement from the north.  This move has not only trapped the ISIS fighters holding out in the As-Safira district, but it has opened a direct and much faster line of communications between the Syrian army’s forward positions in Rusafa and its main bases in western Syria.  This is how Al-Masdar explains it

….this most recent accomplishment by the SAA has a second strategic benefit in the form of a new, and more direct, line of communication that has now been opened to pro-government forces stationed in the area of Rusafa (south of Tabaqah); the original supply line to this area was exceptionally longer, running from Ethriyah, to Aleppo, to Deir Hafer, to Maskanah, and then finally to Rusafa. The new line of supply runs directly to Rusafa via Ethriyah, shaving many precious hours off the original logistical haul. The capture of this stretch of critical highway will increase the sustainability of any future operations that the SAA may undertake to strike at Deir Ezzor from the northern direction.

(2) It enhances the security of the city of Aleppo.  ISIS fighters based in the As-Safira district have regularly acted to cut the main road links from southern Syria to Aleppo, with the Syrian army repeatedly forced to deploy large numbers of troops to repel these attacks and to keep the roads open.  Capture of the As-Safira district will finally end this threat, further securing the Syrian government’s hold on Aleppo.

(3) Capture of the As-Safira district will end the existence of a dangerous ISIS/Jihadi controlled salient, enabling the Syrian army not only bringing more territory under the Syrian government’s control and enabling the Syrian army to advance further eastward, but almost making it possible for the Syrian army to shorten significantly the length of its front lines.

In the meantime, as the Syrian army continues to strengthen its position in northern and central Syria, reports have been circulating that the US is now considering withdrawing from the base it has illegally established in the south of Syria on the Iraqi border in Al-Tanf.

These reports have not been officially confirmed.  However a US decision to withdraw from Al-Tanf makes sense given that the value of this base has been completely negated by the Syrian army’s advance to the Iraqi border.

If these reports are true then the US withdrawal from Al-Tanf will also inevitably result in a large block of territory in southern Syria along the Iraqi and Jordanian border falling under the Syrian government’s control.  Here is how the Moon of Alabama – which discusses the reports of the US withdrawal from Al-Tanf extensively – explains it all

About 150 or so U.S. trained Arab fighters will be flown from al-Tanf to north-east Syria where they will join the (hated) Kurdish forces. They may later try to reach the ISIS besieged Deir Ezzor from the north or get pushed into some suicide mission against another ISIS position. The Syrian army will approach and liberate Deir Ezzor most likely from the south and east. It is unlikely that it will let U.S. proxy forces take part in that. The U.S. contingent will move west out of al-Tanf and back into Jordan. The Syrian and Iraqi forces will take over the Al Waleed border crossing at al-Tanf and the regular commercial traffic on the Damascus-Baghdad road will resume.

The various propagandists who argued for a big U.S. mission to occupy the whole Iraqi-Syrian border and all of east Syria have lost. The “Shia crescent” between Iran and Lebanon they claimed to prevent with such a move was never a physical road connection and certainly nothing the U.S could fight by any physical means. Their pushing for a U.S. occupation of east Syria and incitement of a larger conflict has for now failed.

To which I would only add that if the US pulls out of Al-Tanf and the belt of territory in southern Syria that it and its ‘Free Syrian army’ proxies have occupied, then the areas still under Jihadi control in southern Syria including in the Damascus countryside will be reduced to a few isolated pockets.  Even though some of these are supposed to be covered by one of the ‘de-confliction areas’, realistically they would no longer be viable or sustainable, and their collapse would only be a matter of time.

Most probably – in the way that is now traditional in the Syrian war – their surrender to the Syrian authorities would be rapidly negotiated, with the remaining Jihadi fighters still present in these pockets driven by secure convoy to what will soon be the last remaining non ISIS controlled Jihadi refuge in Syria, which is Syria’s Idlib province.

Several commentators noted President Assad’s visibly high spirits during his recent visit to Russia’s Khmeimim air base in Syria’s Latakia province.  With the war going decisively and rapidly in his favour, he has every reason to be happy.

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christianblood
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christianblood

(..Syrian army on brink of total victory in central Syria..)

Shshshshsh! Don’t tell this to the U$ and its ‘coalition’ of chaos!

Gonzogal
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Gonzogal

No wonder the US/Israhell/NATO gang wants to destroy the SAA and its allies….their dreams and plans are crashing down around them!

BRAVO SAA!!! الله يحميك وحلفاؤك!

André De Koning
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André De Koning

This is very good news and possibly leading to the end of this hell sponsored by the satanic forces.
Mad Dog Mattis might stick to his word (different from Trump’s and hysterical Nikki Haley’s): one mouthing to the media and pleasing the masses and some sensible restraint from the military, possibly as a double act to mislead the mobs and stick to a promise to do better than just continue wars in the ME.

Shahna
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If Mattis doesn’t do as he’s told – he’ll be fired.

JNDillard
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JNDillard

Trump already has a record of deferring to military judgment on most military matters, such as choosing the least damaging/threatening attack on the Syrian air base in response to the false flag sarin claim that has been thoroughly debunked by Seymour Hersch. Trump respects both Mattis and McMaster, who are proving to have cooler heads than Trump and some of his neoconservative advisers.

Shahna
Guest

“such as choosing the least damaging/threatening attack on the Syrian air base in response to the false flag sarin claim” —————— Launching 59 Tomahawk missiles and KILLING Syrians (incl. civilians) BEFORE running an investigation to check facts AND bombing the airfield he claimed the attack was launched from, so that evidence for or against is destroyed is what you call …. “choosing the least damaging/threatening attack?” Tell me something…. are all Americunts as exceptional as you and Mr Trump – or are you two just especially moronic? Also: it was my understanding that Mr Trump respected Mr Flynn – his… Read more »

JNDillard
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JNDillard

Dear Shahna, The energy you put into hurling insults would be better spent in getting your facts right: http://www.alternet.org/seymour-hersh-casts-doubt-syrian-gas-attack

Shahna
Guest

LOL —- okay…. which fact did I get wrong? :-))
Mr Trump did not respect Mr Flynn when he hired him?

I’m unimpressed by the generals claim of “choosing the least damaging/threatening attack?” There should have been- no attack.

Quite simply – if the United States can’t stop the lunatic at the top of food chain from dropping bombs on whomever he wants wherever he wants and whenever he wants just because he wants – then they are a rogue dictatorship and not a democratic republic.

People, civilians, DIED in that “fireworks display.”
That is not acceptable.

JNDillard
Guest
JNDillard

“That is not acceptable.” Totally agree. Based on what I read, the military gave Trump about four options: do nothing, do a symbolic action, do a major bombing of Syrian defenses or confront Russia and start WWIII. Trump chose the second, “symbolic” action, which we agree was more than “symbolic” in that it killed people, including civilians and was an act of war against a country that has not attacked the US. I have also read that the military was embarrassed over condoning this attack because there was no intelligence to support its legitimacy and that is now public knowledge.… Read more »

richardstevenhack
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richardstevenhack

According to an article by Sharmine Narwani , the road between Tehran and Damascus through Iraq was in fact a real road, part of the fabled Silk Road. Her sources say that the US did indeed attempt to cut this passage between Iran and Damascus precisely because Iran will now be able to use it to move supplies to Hizballah in Lebanon and of course into Syria as well.

With the cooperation between Iraq and Iran and Syria and Hizballah, this is a major defeat for the US and Israel.

ColinNZ
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ColinNZ

My concern is that the US may now focus on a large ‘SDF’ advance on Deir Ezzor from it’s north/north-east near At Tibni. The distance to Deir Ezzor from At Tibni is just 30kms or so, considerably nearer than the approximately 100kms away where the nearest advancing SAA forces are located, and there are substantial SDF forces in the At Tibni area. Whilst the SAA & allies may seek to reject the SDF advancing on Deir Ezzor from here, it is not at all certain that they would be close enough to stop them, especially if US special forces were… Read more »

JNDillard
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JNDillard

Dear ColinNZ, while this is indeed a possibility, from what I understand it appears unlikely. I give an attack on Dier Ezzor by SDF about a 10% probability because the farther south the Kurds go the farther they go into Sunni lands that have no Kurdish ties and the farther they get from Afrin, which is currently under attack from Turkey, and in which they have a huge national investment. The Kurds have already made noises that they will leave the siege of Raqqah if the US doesn’t do something to protect Afrin from the Turks. The Kurds are only… Read more »

Bob Schmitz
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Bob Schmitz

The only possible guarantor of an autonomous Kurdish province can be Russia. The US is not in a position to guarantee Kurdish independence/ automomy due to their NATO Incirlik interests (and their abysmal reputation of unreliability!)

Bob Schmitz
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Bob Schmitz

What is really lacking in this article is a good strategic map.

Bob Schmitz
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Bob Schmitz

comment image

JNDillard
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JNDillard

Bob, that is indeed a good strategic map, and shows clearly the most important recent SAA gain, which is the creation of the large cauldron SE of Aleppo. Notice that with the possible exception of escape into Turkey, the Idlib area is also one gigantic cauldron. So when the SAA ships terrorists out of other areas into Idlib, it is essentially shifting them into another cauldron, although one so big that they haven’t figured out yet that’s what it is. After the fall of Dier Ezzor, I suspect they will find out.

Shahna
Guest

“With the war going decisively and rapidly in his favour, he has every reason to be happy.”
————–
I guess that’s why he’s running all these sarin attacks in Syrian – he just can’t stand to win.
Very obliging of him I mus’ say – motivating the Jerks-across-the-sea to stay and keep using his citizens for target practise. Otherwise, who knows, they might lose hope and GO HOME!

JNDillard
Guest
JNDillard

Shahna, Please state your sources and evidence for Syrian sarin attacks. I haven’t seen it and the purported evidence I have seen has all been debunked. But you may know something I don’t.

Shahna
Guest

Sarcasm.

TellTheTruth-2
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TellTheTruth-2

We can help DRAIN THE SWAMP by joining the Convention of States. (right click) …. https://www.conventionofstates.com/

Patsy Lowe
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Patsy Lowe

This news is going to upset the bleeding Israeli’s because they want 1/2 of Syria, according to the ODED YINON PLAN.

pogohere
Guest

AM: where are the g-damn maps?

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Major Syrian Army Assault On Southeast Idlib As Sochi Deal Unravels

Though the Syrian war has grown cold in terms of international spotlight and media interest since September, it is likely again going to ramp up dramatically over the next few months. 

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Via Zerohedge


The Syrian Army unleashed a major assault across the southeastern part of Idlib province on Saturday, a military source told Middle East news site Al-Masdar in a breaking report. According to the source, government forces pounded jihadist defenses across the southeast Idlib axis with a plethora of artillery shells and surface-to-surface missiles.

This latest exchange between the Syrian military and jihadist rebels comes as the Sochi Agreement falls apart in northwestern Syria, and in response to a Friday attack by jihadists which killed 22 Syrian soldiers near a planned buffer zone around the country’s last major anti-Assad and al-Qaeda held region. The jihadist strikes resulted in the highest number of casualties for the army since the Sochi Agreement was established on September 17th.

Though the Syrian war has grown cold in terms of international spotlight and media interest since September, it is likely again going to ramp up dramatically over the next few months.

The Al-Masdar source said the primary targets for the Syrian Army were the trenches and military posts for Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham in the towns of Al-Taman’ah, Khuwayn, Babulin, Haish, Jarjanaz, Um Jalal, and Mashirfah Shmaliyah. In retaliation for the Syrian Army assault, the jihadist rebels began shelling the government towns of Ma’an, Um Hariteen, and ‘Atshan.

Damascus has been critical of the Sochi deal from the start as it’s criticized Turkey’s role in the Russian-brokered ceasefire plan, especially as a proposed ‘de-militarized’ zone has failed due to jihadist insurgents still holding around 70% of the planned buffer area which they were supposed to withdraw from by mid-October. Sporadic clashes have rocked the “buffer zone” since.

Russia itself recently acknowledged the on the ground failure of the Sochi agreement even as parties officially cling to it. During a Thursday press briefing by Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova admitted the following:

We have to state that the real disengagement in Idlib has not been achieved despite Turkey’s continuing efforts to live up to its commitments under the Russian-Turkish Memorandum of September 17.

This followed Russia also recently condemning  “sporadic clashes” and “provocations” by the jihadist group HTS (the main al-Qaeda presence) in Idlib.

Likely due to Moscow seeing the writing on the wall that all-out fighting and a full assault by government forces on Idlib will soon resume, Russian naval forces continued a show of force in the Mediterranean this week.

Russian military and naval officials announced Friday that its warships held extensive anti-submarine warfare drills in the Mediterranean. Specifically the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s frigates Admiral Makarov and Admiral Essen conducted the exercise in tandem with deck-based helicopters near Syrian coastal waters.

Notably, according to TASS, the warships central to the drill are “armed with eight launchers of Kalibr-NK cruise missiles that are capable of striking surface, coastal and underwater targets at a distance of up to 2,600 km.”

Since September when what was gearing up to be a major Syrian-Russian assault on Idlib was called off through the Russian-Turkish ceasefire agreement, possibly in avoidance of the stated threat that American forces would intervene in defense of the al-Qaeda insurgent held province (also claiming to have intelligence of an impending government “chemical attack”), the war has largely taken a back-burner in the media and public consciousness.

But as sporadic fighting between jihadists and Syrian government forces is reignited and fast turning into major offensive operations by government forces, the war could once again be thrust back into the media spotlight as ground zero for a great power confrontation between Moscow and Washington.

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Trump Quietly Orders Elimination of Assange

The destruction of Assange has clearly been arranged for, at the highest levels of the U.S. Government, just as the destruction of Jamal Khashoggi was by Saudi Arabia’s Government.

Eric Zuesse

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On June 28th, the Washington Examiner headlined “Pence pressed Ecuadorian president on country’s protection of Julian Assange” and reported that “Vice President Mike Pence discussed the asylum status of Julian Assange during a meeting with Ecuador’s leader on Thursday, following pressure from Senate Democrats who have voiced concerns over the country’s protection of the WikiLeaks founder.” Pence had been given this assignment by U.S. President Donald Trump. The following day, the Examiner bannered “Mike Pence raises Julian Assange case with Ecuadorean president, White House confirms” and reported that the White House had told the newspaper, “They agreed to remain in close coordination on potential next steps going forward.”

On August 24th, a court-filing by Kellen S. Dwyer, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Alexandria Division of the Eastern District of Virginia, stated: “Due to the sophistication of the defendant and the publicity surrounding the case, no other procedure [than sealing the case, hiding it from the public] is likely to keep confidential the fact that Assange has been charged. … This motion and the proposed order would need to remain sealed until Assange is arrested in connection with the charges in the criminal complaint and can therefore no longer evade or avoid arrest and extradition in this matter.” That filing was discovered by Seamus Hughes, a terrorism expert at the Program on Extremism at George Washington University. On November 15th, he posted an excerpt of it on Twitter, just hours after the Wall Street Journal had reported on the same day that the Justice Department was preparing to prosecute Assange. However, now that we know “the fact that Assange has been charged” and that the U.S. Government is simply waiting “until Assange is arrested in connection with the charges in the criminal complaint and can therefore no longer evade or avoid arrest and extradition in this matter,” it is clear and public that the arrangements which were secretly made between Trump’s agent Pence and the current President of Ecuador are expected to deliver Assange into U.S. custody for criminal prosecution, if Assange doesn’t die at the Ecuadorean Embassy first.

On November 3rd (which, of course, preceded the disclosures on November 15th), Julian Assange’s mother, Christine Ann Hawkins, described in detail what has happened to her son since the time of Pence’s meeting with Ecuador’s President. She said:

He is, right now, alone, sick, in pain, silenced in solitary confinement, cut off from all contact, and being tortured in the heart of London. … He has been detained nearly eight years, without trial, without charge. For the past six years, the UK Government has refused his requests to exit for basic health needs, … [even for] vitamin D. … As a result, his health has seriously deteriorated. … A slow and cruel assassination is taking place before our very eyes. … They will stop at nothing. … When U.S. Vice President Mike Pence recently visited Ecuador, a deal was done to hand Julian over to the U.S. He said that because the political cost of expelling Julian from the Embassy was too high, the plan was to break him down mentally…   to such a point that he will break and be forced to leave. … The extradition warrant is held in secret, four prosecutors but no defense, and no judge, … without a prima-facie case. [Under the U.S. system, the result nonetheless can be] indefinite detention without trial. Julian could be held in Guantanamo Bay and tortured, sentenced to 45 years in a maximum security prison, or face the death penalty,” for “espionage,” in such secret proceedings.

Her phrase, “because the political cost of expelling Julian from the Embassy was too high” refers to the worry that this new President of Ecuador has, of his cooperating with the U.S. regime’s demands and thereby basically ceding sovereignty to those foreigners (the rulers of the U.S.), regarding the Ecuadorian citizen, Assange.

This conservative new President of Ecuador, who has replaced the progressive President who had granted Assange protection, is obviously doing all that he can to comply with U.S. President Trump and the U.S. Congress’s demand for Assange either to die soon inside the Embassy or else be transferred to the U.S. and basically just disappear, at Guantanamo or elsewhere. Ecuador’s President wants to do this in such a way that Ecuador’s voters won’t blame him for it, and that he’ll thus be able to be re-elected. This is the type of deal he apparently has reached with Trump’s agent, Pence. It’s all secret, but the evidence on this much of what was secretly agreed-to seems clear. There are likely other details of the agreement that cannot, as yet, be conclusively inferred from the subsequent events, but this much can.

Basically, Trump has arranged for Assange to be eliminated either by illness that’s imposed by his Ecuadorean agent, or else by Assange’s own suicide resulting from that “torture,” or else by America’s own criminal-justice system. If this elimination happens inside the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, then that would be optimal for America’s President and Congress; but, if it instead happens on U.S. soil, then that would be optimal for Ecuador’s President. Apparently, America’s President thinks that his subjects, the American people, will become sufficiently hostile toward Assange so that even if Assange disappears or is executed inside the United States, this President will be able to retain his supporters. Trump, of course, needs his supporters, but this is a gamble that he has now clearly taken. This much is clear, even though the rest of the secret agreement that was reached between Pence and Ecuador’s President is not.

Scooter Libby, who had arranged for the smearing of Valerie Plame who had tried to prevent the illegal and deceit-based 2003 invasion of Iraq, was sentenced to 30 months but never spent even a day in prison, and U.S. President Trump finally went so far as to grant him a complete pardon, on 13 April 2018. (The carefully researched docudrama “Fair Game” covered well the Plame-incident.) Libby had overseen the career-destruction of a courageous CIA agent, Plame, who had done the right thing and gotten fired for it; and Trump pardoned Libby, thus retroactively endorsing the lie-based invasion of Iraq in 2003. By contrast, Trump is determined to get Julian Assange killed or otherwise eliminated, and even Democrats in Congress are pushing for him to get that done. The new President of Ecuador is doing their bidding. Without pressure from the U.S. Government, Assange would already be a free man. Thus, either Assange will die (be murdered) soon inside the Embassy, or else he will disappear and be smeared in the press under U.S. control. And, of course, this is being done in such a way that no one will be prosecuted for the murder or false-imprisonment. Trump had promised to “clean the swamp,” but as soon as he was elected, he abandoned that pretense; and, as President, he has been bipartisan on that matter, to hide the crimes of the bipartisan U.S. Government, and he is remarkably similar in policy to his immediate predecessors, whom he had severely criticized while he was running for the Presidency.

In any event, the destruction of Assange has clearly been arranged for, at the highest levels of the U.S. Government, just as the destruction of Jamal Khashoggi was by Saudi Arabia’s Government; and, just like in Khashoggi’s case, the nation’s ruler controls the prosecutors and can therefore do whatever he chooses to do that the rest of the nation’s aristocracy consider to be acceptable.

The assault against truth isn’t only against Assange, but it is instead also closing down many of the best, most courageous, independent news sites, such as washingtonsblog. However, in Assange’s case, the penalty for having a firm commitment to truth has been especially excruciating and will almost certainly end in his premature death. This is simply the reality. Because of the system under which we live, a 100% commitment to truth is now a clear pathway to oblivion. Assange is experiencing this reality to the fullest. That’s what’s happening here.

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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Libya’s Peace Process Dies in Palermo

The best the Palermo negotiators could come up with at the end was a bland statement declaring their hope that sometime in the future all the Libyan forces will meet to sort out their differences.

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Authored by Richard Galustian for the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity:


“Resounding flop” was the verdict of Italy’s former prime minister Matteo Renzi on this week’s Libya peace conference held in Palermo. He’s not wrong. The conference hosted by Italy’s new government achieved the remarkable feat of making Libya’s tensions worse, not better. Acrimony broke out between the parties, and Turkey’s delegation walked out, its vice president Fuat Oktay accusing unnamed States of trying to “hijack the process.”

Some sources in Palermo suggested, yet to be verified, that the US thought the Conference was not too bad: a joke if true.

Moreover the mystery we might ask is what “process” is there to hijack? Because the truth is, the peace plan the conference was supporting is already dead.

That plan was the brainchild of the United Nations, launched more than a year ago with the aim of ending Libya’s split between warring Eastern and Western governments with elections in December.

Even before the first delegates set foot in the pleasant Sicilian city of Palermo this week, the UN admitted the election date of December 10 they had decided to scrap.

The eastern government, led by the parliament in Tobruk, had made moves in the summer to organize a referendum on a new constitution which would govern the elections. But no referendum was held, and most Libyans agree it would be pointless because Tripoli, home to a third of the country’s population, is under the iron grip of multiple warring militias who have the firepower to defy any new elected government. Hours after the delegates left Palermo, those militias began a new bout of fighting in the Tripoli suburbs.

The best the Palermo negotiators could come up with at the end of the talks was a bland statement declaring their hope that sometime in the future all the Libyan forces will meet in a grand conference to sort out their differences – and this after four years of civil war. To say that chances of this are slim is an understatement.

Dominating the Palermo talks, and indeed Libya’s political landscape, was and is Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar, the commander of the Libyan National Army, the country’s most powerful formation. In four years, the LNA has secured Libya’s key oil fields and Benghazi, its second city, ridding most of the east Libya of Islamist militias.

Haftar met reluctantly negotiators in Palermo, but insisted he was not part of the talks process. The Italian government press office said Haftar was not having dinner with the other participants nor joining them for talks. Haftar specifically opposed the presence of the Muslim Brotherhood champion, Qatar, at the event along with Turkey.

Haftar clearly only attended because he had a few days before visiting Moscow – which sent to Sicily Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev – and because also of Egyptian President Sisi’s presence along with his allies.

Possibly Haftar was simply fed up. Twice in the past two years he has attended previous peace talks, hosted each time in Paris, giving the nod to declarations that Libya’s militias would dissolve. Yet the militias remain as strong as ever in Tripoli.

Haftar is detested by the militias and the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) but supported by a large segment of the population – 68 percent, according to an opinion poll by America’s USAID. His popularity is based on a single policy – his demand that security be in the hands of regular police and military, not the militias.

Not everyone is happy, certainly not Turkey, which is backing Islamist, MB and Misratan forces in western Libya who detest Haftar. Yet Turkey’s greatest statesman, the great Kamal Ataturk, was a champion of secularism: After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire following World War One Turkey faced the prospect of utter disintegration, and it was Attaturk who rose to the challenge, defending the country’s borders, while ordering that the mullahs, while responsible for spiritual welfare, have no political power.

Political Islam is not popular in Libya either. Libya is a Muslim country, its people know their faith, and most want government to be decided through the ballot box.

The problem for Libya is what happens next with the peace process broken. Haftar has in the past threatened to move on Tripoli and rid the militias by force if they refuse to dissolve, and it may come to that – a fierce escalation of the civil war.

The second possibility is that Libya will split. The east is, thanks to the LNA, militarily secure. It also controls two thirds of the country’s oil and operates as a separate entity, down to it banknotes, which are printed in Russia while the Tripoli government’s are printed in Britain. A formal split would be an economic boon for the lightly populated east, but a disaster for Tripolitania, its population losing most of the oil, its only source of export income.

Yet with the failure of peace talks, and no sign of Tripoli militias dissolving, military escalation or breakup seem more likely than ever.

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