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Carving out “Kurdistan” is the US’ new end game in Syria

As one regional war ends, another conflict may begin.

Andrew Korybko

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The War on Syria has taken many twists and turns over the past six years, but the conventional part of the campaign seems to be drawing to an end. Russia’s anti-terrorist intervention turned the tables on the “moderate opposition rebels” and forever precluded any chance that they’d succeed in violently toppling the democratically elected and legitimate government of President Assad. The militant promotion of regime change is no longer in the cards for Syria, and great advances have been made on the anti-terrorist front against Daesh, but that doesn’t mean that the US isn’t still a danger to the Arab Republic.

Channeling the adaptive strategies of Hybrid War, the US changed its premier goal in Syria and is now seeking to geopolitically fragment the country to compensate for the failure of its years-long regime change operation, and it’s using the PYD-YPG Kurds as its battering ram for doing so. This proxy group leads the “Syrian Democratic Forces’” (SDF) offensive against Daesh in Raqqa and is already in control of a broad swath of northeastern Syria. The Trump Administration announced last week that it will be providing heavy weaponry to the SDF to aid in their anti-terrorist operations, but this is just a front for creating the core of a conventional army in the heart of the Mideast, trained and advised by the US’ special forces.

It’s probably for this reason and the belated realization of what’s really unfolding in the region that Russia has noticeably cooled in its support for the Syrian Kurds lately. President Putin said on Monday that Russia isn’t supplying arms to this group and that it maintains contact with them “even at least for avoiding possible collisions and situations that could create threats to our servicemen”, which is a lot different of a tone than the full-throated endorsement that Moscow’s representatives have previously given to the group in arguing that they should be incorporated into the multilateral peace processes of Astana and Geneva. Part of the reason for this change in attitude clearly has to do with the success of the Russian-Turkish rapprochement, but it can’t be discounted that an equally powerful driving motivator is that Moscow finally came to terms with the US’ new end game in Syria.

American Ambitions

Here’s what the US is aiming to accomplish nowadays:

 

  1. Construct A Conventional Kurdish Military Force In “Rojava”

The US endeavors to transform the YPG militia into a formidable conventional military force inside the conquered territories of northeastern Syria, strong enough to resist any Turkish invasion or post-Daesh liberation attempt by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA). American advisors and military trainers are instrumental in facilitating this process, but it would be incomplete without the shipment of heavy weaponry which was just announced. The combination of elite instructors and state-of-the-art warfighting tools is expected to eventually result in the formation of an impressive fighting force which would be capable of holding its own, though with the caveat being that this would only remain so as long as the US’ three military facilities in Tabqa, Ayn al-Arab (known to the Western audience as “Kobani”), and Hasakah remain in place.

  1. Forge A “Decentralized”/”Federalized” Statelet In Northern Syria

Despite the US’ public statements to the contrary, Washington is hoping to use its new conventional Kurdish military proxies as the vehicle for forging a “decentralized”/”federalized” statelet in northern Syria which could “legitimize” their geopolitical designs in the region. Without the aforementioned development of their armed forces, the US’ allies cannot succeed in staving off or responding to a Turkish invasion or an SAA liberation operation, both of which could be launched to stop this plan dead in its tracks. The US is therefore using the Kurds as a military ‘deterrent’ of sorts in safeguarding its adapted Hybrid War objectives in Syria, which are no longer about forcibly overthrowing President Assad but have morphed to become the creation of a fortified outpost in the geostrategic four-nation juncture point of transnational “Kurdistan”.

  1. Use The “Second Geopolitical ‘Israel’” To Exert Regional Influence

The US’ ambitions to carve a “Kurdistan” out of the Mideast are akin to repeating the pattern of “Israel’s” creation in the sense that a foreign power is forming a proxy statelet out of the territory of other countries for hegemonic divide-and-rule purposes. This entity could become a terrorist safe haven for other anti-government groups – both Kurdish and otherwise— fighting in Iran, Turkey, Iraq, and Syria. Moreover, pertaining to the Arab Republic at the center of this article, the US plans to take advantage of the fact that much of Syria’s freshwater, electricity (hydropower via Tabqa), agricultural, and fossil fuel resources either lay within YPG-occupied territory or the areas that they covet, meaning that the abovementioned Kurdish “decentralized” or “federalized” statelet would wield disproportionate strategic influence over the rest of Syria if it were allowed to come into existence.

Concurrent Processes

There are two important processes unfolding concurrently alongside the US’ Kurdish end game for Syria, and it’s important to briefly touch upon them because it’ll soon be demonstrated how they could greatly contribute to the most realistic peaceful ‘compromise’ scenario between Damascus and the Kurds, however imperfect it may end up being in practice:

* Nationwide “De-Escalation/Safe Zones”

It seems inevitable that the “de-escalation” zones will eventually give rise to “decentralized” units inside of Syria, especially if they’re implemented nationwide, though the latter is exactly what Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov says that he spoke to US President Trump about during his visit to DC last week. According to Russia’s top diplomat, the two discussed how “this practice will be extended to the rest of the territory”, which additionally infers that more guarantor states will have to sign on to this agreement in order to supply the necessary “peacekeepers” for enforcing it, at least insofar as it relates to “Rojava”.

* UNSC Res. 2254’s Mandate For “Constitutional Reform”

This December 2015 document stipulates that Syria must reform its constitution and hold new elections within 18 months, meaning that the deadline for its implementation is next month in June 2017. The timeframe will probably be extended by an upcoming UNSC Resolution, but the main point here is that both Russia and the US agree that Syria must amend its supreme law of the land as a form of political ‘compromise’ in ending the country’s crisis. It’s naturally foreseeable that this could involve “decentralization” or “federalization”, especially given how the Russian-written “draft constitution” explicitly calls for the first one and ambiguously leaves open the possibility for the second.

Scenario Forecasting

Given the five factors elaborated on above, it’s possible to prognosticate the three most likely scenarios for Syria’s near future as they relate to the US’ plans for “Kurdistan”. The first two deal with conflicts and have been discussed at length before by various analysts, while the last one is original and presents what might be the only peaceful compromise ‘solution’ to this problem:

* Turkey Invades East Of The Euphrates

This scenario has been talked about quite a lot over the past couple of weeks ever since Erdogan openly threatened it, though the author was one of the first to predict this course of action in early March following the liberation of Palmyra. The guiding idea is that Turkey’s national security interests – and one can argue, even its very existence as a state – are seriously jeopardized by the US’ “Kurdistan” plans in northern Syria, and that unless Ankara can replace the ruling PYD-YPG militia with the pro-Turkish “Kurdish National Council” offshoot of the Iraqi-based Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP), then it would have no choice but to invade northern Syria east of the Euphrates in an attempt to take out what it views to be one of the most dangerous terrorist groups in the Mideast.

* Civil War Breaks Out Between Arabs And Kurds

If the Kurds aren’t stopped in “Rojava”, then they might carry through on their threats to create a Mediterranean corridor through Idlib and Latakia provinces, which would bring the YPG/SDF into conflict with the SAA and spark an actual civil war between Syria’s Arab and Kurdish populations. This could be offset through a territorial ‘swap’ of sorts such as the one which the author forecast in the latest edition of his Context Countdown radio show, which in that case would see the Kurds surrender any forthcoming conquest of Deir ez Zor and/or Raqqa to the SAA in exchange for Damascus recognizing their self-proclaimed statelet and granting them economic transit rights to the sea. If that plan doesn’t work, however, then the only alternative to the SAA waging a liberation war in the YPG-/SDF-occupied territories would be the final proposal explained below.

* US Gains Control Of The Kurdish “De-Escalation” Zone And “Decentralizes”/”Federalizes” Syria

The last scenario might be difficult to imagine at this point, but it’s based off of an adaptation of the two concurrent processes unfolding alongside the US’ “Kurdistan” plans. There’s no chance that the Kurds will agree to permit troops from the Tripartite of Russia, Iran, and/or Turkey to patrol their conquered territories if the “de-escalation” zone agreement is extended to that region, though they already have no such problem with the US setting up three bases there. It’s unrealistic to expect the US to pack up and leave after Daesh is defeated, let alone to take with it all of the heavy weaponry that was given to the SDF, so it appears to already be a fait accompli that the only peaceful post-Daesh “solution” in Syria is to eventually integrate the US into the “de-escalation” zone framework by making it the formal “guarantor” of “Rojava”.

Correspondingly, it naturally follows that this state of affairs would be institutionalized through heavy international pressure on Syria to amend its constitution in order to implement “decentralization” or “federalization”, essentially making the US’ “Kurdistan” plans a reality though ideally in exchange for some sort of concessions from Washington and/or reliable assurances that it won’t immediately use this entity for destabilizing the region. In any case, Washington can’t ever be trusted, but this final scenario represents a last-ditch tradeoff to avoid either a Turkish invasion and/or an Arab-Kurdish civil war, with Russia using its influence to convince Turkey and the SAA to abide by the grand deal that it might reach with the US in exchange for Washington doing the same with the YPG Kurds. Granted, this scenario is only feasible so long as Russia lacks the political will to seek a military solution to this pressing problem.

Concluding Thoughts

It should be beyond the reasonable doubt of any objective observer that the US has switched its destabilization plans in Syria from seeking President Assad’s violent ouster to endeavoring to carve up the Arab Republic with “Kurdistan”, though it’s equally evident that Russia presently has no desire to directly stop the US’ scheme from succeeding. For a variety of reasons mostly related in one way or another to Moscow’s fear of becoming engulfed in an Afghan-like quagmire, Russia is prioritizing a political “solution” to the War on Syria even at the expense of some of its grand strategic interests such as stopping the creation of a “second geopolitical ‘Israel’”, taking consolation from the fact that it decisively contributed to the defeat of Daesh and at least obtained lasting post-war militaryeconomic influence in Syria.

While Turkey, Iran, and especially Syria itself might feel uncomfortable with Russia reaching any sort of deal with the US over “Kurdistan”, none of them would probably have enough political will to unilaterally contradict Moscow’s wishes in undertaking military action against the prospective Kurdish statelet. Moreover, there’s no reason to believe that Russia would engage in any related discussions with the US on this subject without keeping its Syrian and Tripartite partners in the loop at all times, so whether they’re ultimately satisfied with the outcome of these speculated talks or not, they might still nonetheless be forced to accept that it’s the best possible result that could be hoped for under the circumstances of each of them earlier pledging to abstain from a military solution.

The biggest challenge standing in the way of Damascus and the Tripartite’s desire to stop the “second geopolitical ‘Israel’” is that they each already allowed the US to go too far in its mission creep by setting up three separate bases, dispatching over 1000 troops, and sending heavy weaponry to the Kurds. Russia also demonstrated during and immediately after Trump’s cruise missile strike against the SAA last month that it has absolutely no desire whatsoever to enter into any scenario which could even remotely lead to an armed conflict with the US in Syria (hence the clear statement that it won’t shoot down any future cruise missile salvos), so it wouldn’t make sense for Moscow to abruptly reverse this policy trajectory and threaten to go to war with Washington in expelling the US from “Rojava”.

Keeping in mind Russia’s wish to enter into a “New Détente” with the US, and the chummy relations that Lavrov and Tillerson seem to have cultivated with one another already, it appears ever more likely that both Great Powers are moving towards a strategic convergence of sorts in reaching a compromise ‘solution’ to the War on Syria. It’s not yet known exactly what it is that the US would give up in exchange for possibly securing Russia and its allies’ passive acceptance of a Kurdish statelet in northern Syria, but even the fact that this might prevent or at least delay a larger hot war from breaking out in the near future might be sufficient enough for all parties to agree to it in order to buy more time in preparing for a continuation conflict.

Whatever the case may be and in spite of the author’s respectful disagreement with this approach, it arguably looks like Russia and the US are at the very least deliberating on a deal for “Rojava”, and that it could conceivably involve the US agreeing to become the fourth guarantor in any nationwide implementation of Russia’s “de-escalation” zones and then codifying its existing military position into a post-war political reality through Damascus’ acceptance of the Russian-written “draft constitution”. Again, this is not the optimal solution to the “Kurdish Question”, nor is the author endorsing this scenario, but at this point in time all indications point in this direction and it seems to be the most realistic proposal being pursued behind the scenes, although there are still a multitude of eventualities which could offset it.

 

DISCLAIMER: The author writes for this publication in a private capacity which is unrepresentative of anyone or any organization except for his own personal views. Nothing written by the author should ever be conflated with the editorial views or official positions of any other media outlet or institution. 

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Putin, Trump meet in Helsinki for first bilateral summit

The Helsinki summit is the first ever full-fledged meeting between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump. Their previous encounters were brief talks on the sidelines of the G20 and APEC summits in 2017.

Vladimir Rodzianko

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Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump are meeting in the Finnish capital of Helsinki for their first bilateral one-on-one meeting.

Trump arrived in the Finland capital a day early, while the jet of Putin, who wrapped up his nation’s hosting of the World Cup Sunday, touched down around 1 p.m. local time and the Russian president’s motorcade whisked him straight to the palace where the two world leaders are meeting.

Trump signed an August 2017 law imposing additional sanctions on Russia. The law bars Trump from easing many sanctions without Congress’ approval, but he can offer some relief without a nod from Congress.

Almost 700 Russian people and companies are under U.S. sanctions. Individuals face limits on their travel and freezes on at least some of their assets, while some top Russian state banks and companies, including oil and gas giants, are effectively barred from getting financing through U.S. banks and markets.

The agenda of the summit hasn’t been officially announced yet, though, the presidents are expected to discuss global crises, such as the Syrian conflict and Ukraine, as well as bilateral relations.

Stay tuned for updates…

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“Foreign entity, NOT RUSSIA” hacked Hillary Clinton’s emails (Video)

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tx): Hillary Clinton’s cache of 30,000 emails was hacked by foreign actor, and it was not Russia.

Alex Christoforou

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A stunning revelation that hardly anyone in the mainstream media is covering.

Fox News gave Louie Gohmert (R-Tx) the opportunity to explain what was going on during his questioning of Peter Strzok, when the the Texas Congressman stated that a “foreign entity, NOT RUSSIA” hacked Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Aside from this segment on Fox News, this story is not getting any coverage, and we know why. It destroys the entire ‘Russia hacked Hillary’ narrative.

Gohmert states that this evidence is irrefutable and shows that a foreign actor, not connected to Russia in any way, intercepted and distributed Hillary Clinton’s cache of 30,000 emails.

Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

Via Zerohedge

As we sift through the ashes of Thursday’s dumpster-fire Congressional hearing with still employed FBI agent Peter Strzok, Luke Rosiak of the Daily Caller plucked out a key exchange between Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tx) and Strzok which revealed a yet-unknown bombshell about the Clinton email case.

Nearly all of Hillary Clinton’s emails on her homebrew server went to a foreign entity that isn’t Russia. When this was discovered by the Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG), IG Chuck McCullough sent his investigator Frank Ruckner and an attorney to notify Strzok along with three other people about the “anomaly.”

Four separate attempts were also made to notify DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz to brief him on the massive security breach, however Horowitz “never returned the call.” Recall that Horowitz concluded last month that despite Strzok’s extreme bias towards Hillary Clinton and against Donald Trump – none of it translated to Strzok’s work at the FBI.

In other words; Strzok, while investigating Clinton’s email server, completely ignored the fact that most of Clinton’s emails were sent to a foreign entity – while IG Horowitz simply didn’t want to know about it.

Daily Caller reports…

The Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG) found an “anomaly on Hillary Clinton’s emails going through their private server, and when they had done the forensic analysis, they found that her emails, every single one except four, over 30,000, were going to an address that was not on the distribution list,” Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas said during a hearing with FBI official Peter Strzok.

Gohmert continued..

“It was going to an unauthorized source that was a foreign entity unrelated to Russia.”

Strzok admitted to meeting with Ruckner but said he couldn’t remember the “specific” content of their discussion.

“The forensic examination was done by the ICIG and they can document that,” Gohmert said, “but you were given that information and you did nothing with it.”

According to Zerohedge “Mr. Horowitz got a call four times from someone wanting to brief him about this, and he never returned the call,” Gohmert said – and Horowitz wouldn’t return the call.

And while Peter Strzok couldn’t remember the specifics of his meeting with the IG about the giant “foreign entity” bombshell, he texted this to his mistress Lisa Page when the IG discovered the “(C)” classification on several of Clinton’s emails – something the FBI overlooked:

“Holy cow … if the FBI missed this, what else was missed? … Remind me to tell you to flag for Andy [redacted] emails we (actually ICIG) found that have portion marks (C) on a couple of paras. DoJ was Very Concerned about this.”

Via Zerohedge

In November of 2017, IG McCullough – an Obama appointee – revealed to Fox News that he received pushback when he tried to tell former DNI James Clapper about the foreign entity which had Clinton’s emails and other anomalies.

Instead of being embraced for trying to expose an illegal act, seven senators including Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca) wrote a letter accusing him of politicizing the issue.

“It’s absolutely irrelevant whether something is marked classified, it is the character of the information,” he said. Fox News reports…

McCullough said that from that point forward, he received only criticism and an “adversarial posture” from Congress when he tried to rectify the situation.

“I expected to be embraced and protected,” he said, adding that a Hill staffer “chided” him for failing to consider the “political consequences” of the information he was blowing the whistle on.

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Donald Trump plays good cop and bad cop with a weak Theresa May (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 55.

Alex Christoforou

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US President Donald Trump’s state visit to the UK was momentous, not for its substance, but rather for its sheer entertainment value.

Trump started his trip to the United Kingdom blasting Theresa May for her inability to negotiate a proper Brexit deal with the EU.  Trump ended his visit holding hands with the UK Prime Minister during a press conference where the most ‘special relationship’ between the two allies was once again reaffirmed.

Protests saw giant Trump “baby balloons” fly over London’s city center, as Trump played was his own good cop and bad cop to the UK PM, outside London at the Chequers…often times leaving May’s head spinning.

Even as Trump has left London, he remains front and center in the mind of Theresa May, who has now stated that Trump advised her to “sue” the European Union to resolve the tense negotiations over Brexit.

Trump had mentioned to reporters on Friday at a joint press conference with Theresa May that he had given the British leader a suggestion that she found too “brutal.”

Asked Sunday on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show what that suggestion was, May: “He told me I should sue the EU. Not go into negotiation, sue them.” May added…

“What the president also said at that press conference was `Don’t walk away. Don’t walk away from the negotiations. Then you’re stuck.”‘

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris summarize what was a state visit like no other, as Trump trolled the UK PM from beginning to end, and left London knowing that he got the better of a weakened British Prime Minister, who may not survive in office past next week.

Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

Via CNBC

It wasn’t exactly clear what Trump meant. The revelation came after explosive and undiplomatic remarks Trump made this week about May’s leadership — especially her handling of the Brexit negotiations — as he made his first official visit to Britain.

In an interview with The Sun newspaper published Thursday — just as May was hosting Trump at a lavish black-tie dinner — Trump said the British leader’s approach likely “killed” chances of a free-trade deal with the United States. He said he had told May how to conduct Brexit negotiations, “but she didn’t listen to me.”

He also praised May’s rival, Boris Johnson, who quit last week as foreign secretary to protest May’s Brexit plans. Trump claimed Johnson would make a “great prime minister.”

The comments shocked many in Britain — even May’s opponents — and threatened to undermine May’s already fragile hold on power. Her Conservative government is deeply split between supporters of a clean break with the EU and those who want to keep close ties with the bloc, Britain’s biggest trading partner.

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