by Stephen Lendman
Lots of questions remain unanswered about what’s ahead in the Syrian Arab Republic. Its shifting sands are in play, the US and its imperial partners vying with Damascus, Russia, and Iran over the country’s future.
Washington wants endless war and regime change, why Obama launched war in the first place. The ball is in Trump’s court. Whether Pentagon forces stay or leave, Washington’s imperial objectives remain unchanged.
Syria and its allies want US-supported terrorists defeated, peace and stability restored, the country rebuilt (a longterm hugely expensive project), its territorial integrity preserved, Pentagon and other occupying forces permanently withdrawn, along with Syrians alone choosing their leadership and governance, free from foreign interference.
These and related goals, including restoration of normalized relations with regional nations allied with Washington’s imperial agenda, remain unattainable as long as Republicans and undemocratic Dems are hellbent on achieving their own in Syria and the region.
The only certainty ahead is endless war continuing in the new year and beyond. Will US troops pull out as Trump announced?
Days later he partly U-turned on withdrawal in 60 to 100 days, saying it’ll be “slow and highly coordinated” after discussing Syria with Turkey’s Erdogan.
He shifted again after discussing Syria with neocon Senator Lindsey Graham and Joint Chiefs chairman General Joseph Dunford, both strongly against a pullout.
According to Bloomberg News, he’s “considering reversing the decision” on Syria, “already back(ing) away from the notion of an immediate withdrawal.” The longer it’s delayed, the greater the chance that at least some US forces will stay.
His gradual withdrawal was extended to four months, according to regime officials on Monday. Time and again, delay becomes denial. Is that where things are heading? It’ll be months into the new year for greater clarity on whether US forces stay or leave Syria.
Kurdish officials in northern Syria asked Damascus to deploy troops to areas bordering Turkey, fearful of Erdogan’s aggression.
Israeli intelligence connected DEBKAfile said “America is not deserting (parts of Syria it occupies) and will continue to maintain a presence” if Trump follows through on his withdrawal announcement, adding:
Egyptian and UAE forces may replace them in northern areas bordering Turkey. Perhaps other Arab states will get involved in other parts of the country, including territory bordering Iraq and Jordan - with assurances of US air cover protection against attacks by Turkey, Russia or Syria.
According to Turkey’s Anadolu news agency, France has at least nine bases in northern Syria, four or more hosting US forces, adding:
“Under current circumstances, France does not seem to be able to provide a similar level of support to the (Kurdish YPG fighters) by filling the gap that will arise from the withdrawal of the US from Syria” if its forces leave.
On December 31, a French Defense Ministry statement said the following:
“Launched on September 19, 2014, Operation Chammal is the name given to the French…operation(s) (in Syria) and currently employs nearly 1,100 military personnel.”
“At the request of the Iraqi government (sic) and in coordination with France’s allies present in the region (meaning the US and Britain primarily), Operation Chammal (begun in September 2015) aims to provide military support to local forces engaged in the fight against Daesh on their territory (sic).”
Washington and its imperial partners support the scourge of ISIS (Daesh) they pretend to oppose. The same goes for other regional terrorist groups, serving US imperial interests.
In response to Trump’s pullout announcement, French President Macron criticized the move, saying he “deeply regret(s)” it, promising his regime will continue operations in the country - perhaps with his own imperial aims in mind.
French colonial control of Syria and Lebanon was established post-WW I, continuing until 1946, following the Ottoman Empire’s defeat and partitioning of its territory.
Britain, France and czarist Russia defined their spheres of influence, the Middle East map withdrawn - according to the century-ago Sykes-Picot agreement.
Britain got coastal areas between the Mediterranean Sea and Jordan River, along with Jordan, southern Iraq, southern Syria, Palestine, and part of the Arabian peninsula.
France got most of Syria. Lebanon, and southeastern Turkey. Do the Macron and Theresa May regimes have imperial designs on the region again along with the US?
Will Erdogan seek to annex northern Syria, attacking Kurdish YPG fighters to fulfill his longterm objective - whether US forces stay or leave the area?
Separately according to AMN News on December 31, Russian warplanes attacked (US-supported) jihadists in Idlib province for the first time since Putin and Erdogan agreed on establishing a demilitarized zone in the area, delaying an offensive to liberate the last terrorist stronghold in Syria.
Citing a Syrian military source, AMN News said “the Russian Air Force launched several airstrikes over the jihadist-held (Idlib) towns of Baksariyah and Marand, hitting a number of sites controlled by the radical groups in this area…near the Turkish border.”
No further information is known so far. Whether it’s the start of a larger operation remains to be seen.
It won’t be unless and until Syrian forces get heavily involved - a long delayed much needed offensive.
VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: stephenlendman.org (Home - Stephen Lendman). Contact at [email protected]
My newest book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
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