21 June 2017



Dear Readers:

You may be aware that the Syria War entered a new stage in the past week or so. Things are looking up for the combined forces of the Syrian Army, with assistance from the Russian armed forces and also Hezbollah. Syrian tanks made a Rommel-like “lightning move” eastward all the way to the Iraqi border, cutting off ISIS/Daesh units from their Iraqi supplies. While this was going on, the pro-American so-called “coalition forces” entered Raqqa. Like the wiki says, Raqqa, a strategic Syrian city located on the Northeast bank of the Euphrates River, was captured by ISIS in 2013 and became the capital of their Islamic State.

The Headchoppers had their day in the sun, but now their time is almost up. It’s not an issue of “if”, but of “when” and “who”. And the race is on: the Americans seeking to gain some advantage and carve up the Syrian carcass to their own advantage. On the other side: the Syrian government and their Russian allies seeking to keep Syria together in one piece, while making some internal adjustments to benefit, for example, the Kurds.

To help explain the highly fluid military situation, I have this piece from VZGLIAD, by military/intelligence reporter Evgeny Krutikov. The headline reads:

The Battle for ISIS Capital City will Prove a Tough Slog for the Americans

The lede paragraph translates thusly:

The Syrian Opposition, with the assistance of the U.S., hastily entered Raqqa, the capital of ISIS, in an attempt to overtake the pro-government Syrian forces. For the Americans it is a matter of principle to overtake Assad’s forces and to not allow the Shiites to gain control over the borders of the Syrian Arab Republic. The question now is: Will they succeed? It is not excluded that the Americans will find an unpleasant surprise waiting for them.

Without further ado or commentary of my own, here is my summary/partial translation of the rest of Krutikov’s piece:

Pentagon spokesperson Captain Jeff Davis informed journalists about the operation to take Raqqa away from ISIS. The Americans have deployed marines and Apache attack helicopters. Captain Davis stated that the marines are using 155-millimeter M777 Howitzers (big mounted guns). Under the shield of these howitzers, units of the “Syrian Democratic Opposition” have entered Raqqa and are busy liberating the city.

The Americans have also stated that they have been launching strikes against ISIS off their big boats in the Mediterranean Sea.

The Americans have long been embedded among the Kurds, both as “military advisors” and battle support. However, in principle the Americans do not give heavy weaponry to their allies, since the Israelis object to that. Tel-Aviv has a vested interest in not allowing long-range artillery or rocket systems to get into the hands of any of the players in this Middle Eastern game. Therefore the American advisors have been forced to drag these howitzers and heavy grenade launchers around themselves, through the mountains and deserts. The Americans are also expected to personally control the “electronic serenades”, which is what they call the weapons-aiming controlling systems. Although, to be sure, nowadays these controlling systems can be deployed on a single light notebook computer.

Electronic controlling systems have been around since World War I, but nowadays they involve a lot of cryptography, and the Pentagon doesn’t want people like the Kurds getting their hands on this good stuff. Otherwise, who knows, they might sell all this fruit of higher mathematics and cybernetics to the Persians, and that would be a catastrophe!

The American marines are not directly involved in combat at this point. They play a role somewhere between rear-guard support and Hospitality-Vacation organizer. It is difficult to get Kurds, whatever their religion, tribal affiliations, or political allegiance, to operate beyond what they regard as their “natural aureal”. They must be constantly harried, promised things, paid, and verbally praised. Otherwise, they won’t budge.

Under Hafez al-Assad (President of Syria from 1971 to 2000), the Kurdish people were discriminated against, they did not enjoy full citizenship rights and did not carry passports, nor did they enjoy local autonomy. But things improved for them, under the government of the son and current President, Bashar_al-Assad. He restored civil rights to the Kurds and has promised them a broad autonomy, once the current conflict is over.

In fact, the current peace negotiations taking place in Astana, Kazakhstan, are focused on resolving the Kurdish issue once and for all. Leaks coming out of the conferences indicate that the Syrian government are prepared to bend over backwards to accommodate the Kurds. The very name of the country “Syrian Arab Republic” will change to, simply, “Syrian Republic”. Thus cementing Syria as what it actually is, a multi-ethnic nation, not just Arabs.

In the face of these history-changing developments, how are the Americans expected to keep flogging the Kurds to swarm into Raqqa, a city they have never claimed and have zero interest in?

Syria War: The Battle For The Capital Of ISIS – Part II

Dear Readers:

Continuing to work through this piece from VZGLIAD, by military/intelligence reporter Evgeny Krutikov. Here I am doing just straight translation/summary. Where we left off, Krutikov was discussing the Kurdish situation, how the Syrian government is prepared to offer the Kurds more than they ever had before, in the way of autonomy; even changing the name of the country from Syrian Arab Republic to simply Syrian Republic. In order to accentuate its multi-ethnic characteristics. (Kurds are not Arabs.)

Meanwhile, the American army are using Kurdish militias as cannon fodder in their attempt to conquer the strategic city of Raqqa, the capital of the Islamic State entity (such as it is). Krutikov had commented that the Kurds, as a people, have no interest in Raqqa and do not claim it as part of their homeland. But they are involved in this race to take Raqqa, and have possibly ulterior motives for submitting to their American overlords.

American General Stephen (“Steve”) Townsend who is in charge of this operation to capture Raqqa, admits that it is a long and hard slog. The Americans have promised the Kurds that if they take Raqqa, they will be granted administrative control over it. Since the Kurds are not interested in ruling Raqqa, any more than they were interested in ruling Manbij, speculation has it that the Kurds are playing their own game here: Namely, they figure that if they capture as much “alien” territory as possible, then they can trade it in later, during the inevitable peace talks, for the areas that they actually want. While winning themselves a seat at the big boys table with Bashar al-Assad and the other players. Under this theory, the Kurds keep their eyes on the prize and endure the ignorant rudeness and arrogant importunities of their American “advisors”.

Krutikov says that all Kurds, regardless of their religion or tribe, are purely nationalistic creatures. They don’t give a fig about “American values”, about “spreading democracy”, or any of that B.S. Their whole history leads them to use other tribes and other peoples just as tools to achieve their own (limited and local) ambitions. They might pretend to collaborate, but you can’t trust them: They use anyone around them. The one single tabu: They never cooperate with Turkey. Out of principle. And yet, even for this rule, there are exceptions. Namely, there is actually a Kurdish militia within Turkey which fights against its own people on behalf of Ankara!

It is unlikely that the Syrian armed forces will be able to reach Raqqa sooner than the Kurdish militias. Just the fact that the American commanders are forcing this storming of the city, shows that the Pentagon is dead serious about not letting Raqqa return to Syrian government control. However, previous experience in storming ISIS-held cities (for example, Mosul) indicate that the operation could take a long time. Those very same Americans, led by the same General Townsend, have been storming Mosul for almost a year already.

It is in this context that one must mention the American air strike against a column of pro-government Shiite militias in the Governate of As-Suwayda. This incident occurred a week ago, on Tuesday June 6. The Russian government strongly condemned the air strike, which totally violated Syrian sovereignty and killed two Syrian men. The incident took place in an area called Al-Tanf and seems to have been directed against Hezbollah and other Shiite forces. The Americans seem to have gotten it into their heads, that Al-Tanf is the key to controlling the Jordanian-Syrian border, and therefore belongs to them and their allies. The Syrian government begs to disagree.

No comments: