The forces of darkness (depending on where you stand geopolitically) are turning Syria into the death watch for ISIS….Russia is aiding Assad….the US is aiding the “rebel” factions…..Turkey is in it for themselves….the Kurds…who f*cking knows?
But as ISIS winds down what to look for in the near future…..
Ongoing fighting between two rival jihadist factions, Ahrar al-Sham and Tahrir al-Sham continues to rage in northwestern Syria’s Idlib Province, with small skirmishes turning into bigger gunbattles and more dramatic large-scale deployments into the area.
While so far it’s been a fairly limited exchange, compared to some of the past ones, there are growing concerns that this build-up could quickly lead to a full-scale explosion of the rebel-packed province, leading to more bloodshed and humanitarian crises.
While Tahrir al-Sham is already drawing on much of its leadership, al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front, the Ahrar al-Sham faction is trying to get more of its fighters into the same areas as tensions rise, with Turkey sending around 150 of their allied rebels into the area to fight alongside Ahrar al-Sham.
Ideologically there is limited difference between the two groups, as the Nusra Front is literally an al-Qaeda affiliate, while multiple Ahrar al-Sham leaders have pledged loyalty to al-Qaeda’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri. The fighting appears largely related to them both being largely stuck within the Idlib Province, having lost most of their other territory, and each side wanting to dominate that last region at all costs.
Of course anything that happens in Syria will be watched by Israel……plus who knows how far these interlopers have gone in Syria….if anyone can destroy a chance it would be Israel.
Israel has made no secret of not liking the southern Syria ceasefire, negotiated between the US and Russia, complaining in particular that it doesn’t keep the Syrian government, and its Iranian allies, totally barred from that part of the country, which they see as tantamount to letting Iran be too close to the Israeli border.
Israeli Maj. Gen. Yaakov Amidror is the latest to step up the ever-growing series of threats against Iran over the matter, attending a briefing with foreign correspondents today and warning that if the US and Russia don’t resolve Israel’s complaints, the Israeli military will “intervene and destroy every attempt to build infrastructure in Syria.”
Maj. Gen. Amidror went on to say that Israel “will not let the Iranians and Hezbollah be the forces which will win” the Syrian war. This comes less than a day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu admitted to a live microphone that Israel had attacked Iranian targets in Syria dozens of times.
Israel has always been keen on military confrontation with Iran, and this position is in keeping with repeated comments from Israeli officials that they would prefer ISIS to gain control over Syria, because Iran is always “the main enemy.”
Israel has always worried about Iran….but they should worry about Russia as well…hwy? Russia and Iran are allies in the Syrian thing…..and a new deal will keep Russia in Syria for awhile after the shooting has stopped….
The Federation Council (upper house) of the Federal Assembly of Russia just ratified relevant legislation which after Presidential approval will enshrine into a law an agreement to maintain a presence of Russian forces in the Syrian Arab Republic for 49 years.
The measure allows for an extension of the agreement for a further 25 years.
Russia has maintained a naval base in Tartus in western Syria since 1971, the year after President Hafez al-Assad, the current President’s father came to power in what was known as the Corrective Movement.
Russia has been a long time Syrian ally and today’s announcement ensures a partnership which will extend throughout the better part of the 21st century.
You, my reader, should keep in mind that the US under Trump is stopping the weapons and cash for the “rebel” factions…..
Despite a solid eight months of stories about President Trump considering ending the CIA program to arm Syrian rebels, yesterday’s announcement that he’s ending that program have the rebels claiming they were totally “blindsided” and never expected such a move.
Needless to say, they’re outraged by the decision, saying that the lack of US arms shipments would quickly lead to the collapse of the “moderate” Free Syrian Army, to the benefit of jihadist factions closely aligned with al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front.
This is a surprising claim, particularly for the Free Syrian Army to make, since one of the big knocks on them for years has been how closely aligned they themselves have been with Nusra, with claims that Nusra effectively had been using FSA as a cover to secure US arms.
The “moderate” Syrian rebels, to the extent they ever existed, was largely sidelined much earlier in the war, and as fighting in Idlib recently demonstrates, the real factions of influence left are all jihadists of various stripes. Indeed, a big part of why the US froze the CIA arms program earlier this year was that too many of the weapons were being used by jihadist groups against one another.
The US has held several position on Syria….Assad must go….Assad can stay….the newest move with the rebels sort of hints at his remaining the leader of Syria….and if that is true then Assad will need to worry about the many militias and factions in Syria…
Over the past six years, the Syrian regime has delegated a large swath of its powers to loyal militias, entrusting them with preserving security, representing the regime and handling the day-to-day affairs of local communities. Today, it seems almost impossible for the state to recover its authority. In addition to the weakness of the Syrian state and its increasing failure to provide key citizen services, militias have gained so much ground that the state cannot restrain them and exert sole control over weapons and violence, even if it wishes to do so.
The fighting is far from over….even with the defeat of ISIS…..the shooting will continue……
I pause here to give you a moment…….. to give you time to take in all the evidence and offer up an analysis….