Are We Edging Toward Federalization, World War Three In Syria?
As tensions continue to rise between Syria, Israel, Iran, Hezbollah, and Russia, the United States is also upping the ante in Syria. After mobilizing troops to Manbij and engaging in a series of airstrikes including a questionable report of the U.S. bombing a Mosque in Jineh and a more substantiated report of an American bombing of a school in al-Manswra, the U.S. also announced a major intensification of direct military participation in Syria by virtue of its airlift of American service personnel, Kurdish fighters, and moderate cannibals to an area very near Raqqa, the de facto ISIS capital.
On March 22, the Pentagon announced that members of the SDF were airdropped behind enemy lines in an area close to the Tabqa dam, west of Raqqa. The dam is thought to be populated by hundreds of “foreign fighters” and reports are suggesting that a battle is currently raging near the dam.
The announcement was made as the 68-member U.S.-led coalition met in Washington. U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson stated that it is only a matter of time before ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is killed.
The Pentagon declined to say how many US aircraft had been used to airlift Arab members of the Kurdish-led SDF close to the Tabqa dam, on the River Euphrates some 45km (28 miles) west of Raqqa, a key stronghold of IS.
The assault, conducted during darkness early on Wednesday, took IS militants based there by surprise, it said.
Aside from being strategically important and providing electricity to the region, the dam is believed to be used by IS foreign fighters to plot attacks outside Syria, according to the Pentagon.
There is also a town, a military airfield and a prison holding IS hostages nearby.
Reports are also suggesting that this is only the beginning and that the United States is about to step up its involvement in Syria, at least in terms of direct military intervention. For instance, Kurdish groups supported by the United States are openly claiming that the U.S. is set to contribute 1,000 troops to assist the SDF in an attempt to take Raqqa.
Reports of the U.S. airlift come on the same day that the United States committed yet another war crime in Syria, this time having targeted a school in al-Manswra in the western countryside of Aleppo province. Al-Badyeh School was being used as a makeshift shelter for internally displaced Syrians. In this case, it housed 40 families from Aleppo’s countryside, Palmyra, and Raqqa. Tens of people were killed and the school was totally destroyed.
“In October 2015 our Ambassador Ja’afari explained to US audience that Raqqa is a city of 800,000 civilians hostage to 3,000 foreign-funded terrorists,” said Syrian analyst Afraa Dagher, “and so our government was careful with bombing missions, to not harm our civilians. The US-led coalition doesn’t care how many of us it murders.”
The Race To Raqqa
So why the sudden interest in Raqqa? It’s fairly simple. The United States sees clearly that the Syrian military and its Russian allies are going to liberate Raqqa soon enough and the U.S. does not want to suffer another public relations setback. A defeat for ISIS is thus a humiliation for the United States. That fact alone should raise some eyebrows.
Regardless, the United States would like to have its own “victory” in Raqqa before the Syrians and the Russians can have theirs. If the SDF is able to “take” Raqqa, the U.S. will then be able to shout from the rooftops that America has liberated Raqqa and defeated ISIS in its own capital.
The U.S. also has another goal in Raqqa – the theft of more Syrian territory by using its proxy forces going by the name of the SDF. Whether or not ISIS proper is in control of Raqqa is merely a secondary concern for the United States. If the SDF succeeds in imposing control over the city and the province, then the West will have succeeded in cementing control over the area in the hands of its proxy terrorists once again, but with yet another incarnation of the same Western-backed jihadist fanaticism with a Kurdish element for the mix. The U.S. can then use the “moderate rebel” or “Kurd” label to keep Russia and Syria from bombing the fighters who merely assumed a position handed to them, albeit through some level of violence, by ISIS.
With the situation as it stands, there is now the very real possibility of some type of major confrontation taking place in Raqqa that could very well have international ramifications. On one hand, there is the Syrian military, backed by the Russian Air Force and Russian Special Forces heading North and East to Raqqa while, on the other side, there is the SDF, backed by the U.S. Air and Special Forces, heading South and West toward Raqqa. Both sides are in a race to gain control over the ISIS capital, gain territory, and declare a victory for the world to see. But what if they arrive in Raqqa at the same time?
In other words, there is a distinct potential that, in the race for Raqqa, the Syrian/Russian alliance might find itself face to face with the possibility of direct military conflict with the U.S./SDF (terrorist) alliance. At that point, the question will be who, if either, will back down? If both forces decide to push forward, the result could be devastating not only for Syria but for the rest of the world.
Regardless of what happens, it is important to remember that the Syrian military is acting entirely in self-defense both against the terrorists posing as “rebels” and the United States. Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah have all been invited in to Syria, acting legally and with the assent of the Syrian government, while the United States and its coalition are once again acting completely outside of international law in an attempt to shore up its terrorist proxies; and, once again, the United States and its coalition of the willing is pushing the patience of the rest of the world.
Carving Out Kurdistan – Federalizing Syria
While the Trump administration’s plan for Syria was vague early on, the passage of time has shown the U.S. policy is merely a continuation of the policy in place before Trump took office. In other words, in Syria, the new boss looks a lot like the old boss.
The open and increased support for Kurdish fanatics and related “Arab elements” (meaning terrorists) is posing a revamped problem regarding the possibility of “federalization” of Syria.
Kurdish fanatics are interesting in only one thing – independence and the creation of their own Kurdish state that eventually crosses the border of Syria, Iran, Iraq, and Turkey. They are not interested so much in fighting terror since they have allied themselves with terrorists to achieve their own goals.
But, while the United States and Russia are not openly discussing the prospect of “Federalizing” Syria, even the idea of an autonomous Kurdish area (currently being referred to by Kurds as Rojova) is an incredibly dangerous and unjustified policy.
Before 2013, Rojova was never an autonomous region nor was there a separate Kurdish entity in Syria. After all, the “Kurdish” areas are occupied by many more religions and ethnicities than Kurds, including Syrian Arabs, Assyrians, and Turkmen. In January 2014, however, the PYD (Democratic Union Party) declared all three “Rojovan” cantons autonomous. This included Afrin, Kobane, and Jazira. The Rojova “interim Constitution,” known as the Charter of the Social Contract, came immediately after. The charter called for the peaceful coexistence of all religious and ethnic groups residing under its jurisdiction and reaffirmed that Rojova would remain part of Syria. In other words, autonomy.
Turkey, of course, opposes the move fearing both that the Syrian Kurds will begin to represent a significant threat on its borders and that, more importantly, the Syrian Kurds will unite with the Turkish Kurds and begin to wrest territory from Turkey itself.
The legitimate Syrian government has also rejected any federation plans for obvious reasons. Bashar Jaafari, head of the Syrian government delegation at the United Nations’ Geneva talks, was quoted as stating that “Drawing any lines between Syrians would be a great mistake.” He also pointed out that Syrian Kurds are an important part of the Syrian people.
Leaving the question of the legitimacy of a Kurdistan or Kurdish autonomous zone aside for a while and acknowledging the heroism of the Kurds in their fight against ISIS, Nusra, and other terrorist forces, it should be noted that the Kurds have found some very unsavory allies in the process. Most notably, those unsavory allies turn out to be the United States and the Free Syrian Army (proxy terrorists of the US and NATO).
For instance, the United States has been tacitly supporting the Kurdish fighters in Iraq for some time under the pretext of assisting them in their fight against ISIS, despite the fact that the United States has armed, trained, funded, facilitated, and directed ISIS from the beginning. The United States has allegedly stopped short of directly arming the Kurds but it has maintained very close ties with them. Some would even argue that, with the exception of the ISIS fighters themselves – the Kurds have more friendly relations with the U.S. than the Iraqi government.
The arming of the Kurds directly in Iraq, along with the Sunni forces, would thus create the perception of fully separate and independent principalities, free from the control of the Iraqi central government, leading to the breakup of the country as a whole into three separate entities – a Kurdish segment, Sunni segment, and Shiite segment. Such a plan has long been in the works for Iraq and, if the US continues its support of Kurds in Syria, the situation is ripe for the appearance of a Kurdistan entity across the borders of Iraq and Syria. Indeed, much like the plan to break up Iraq into three separate parts in Iraq, a similar plan was devised for Syria in the absence of total destruction in the same vein as Libya.
While the question of accepting arms may easily be explained by the “gold is where you find it” motive, the fact that the YPG is now working directly with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) is further evidence of collusion between NATO/US and the YPG. While presented as moderate by the mainstream western press, the FSA is nothing more than al-Qaeda, ISIS, and Nusra. Indeed, there is no such thing as a moderate rebel in Syria and there never has been. The FSA is documented to have committed massive atrocities and the groups – directed, armed, controlled and funded by the US – are intent upon implementing Sharia law on the subjugated populations. As I and other researchers have documented, the FSA is nothing more than a wing of al-Qaeda/ISIS and has even publicly stated that it was working with the terrorist organizations (also funded, trained, armed, and directed by the West) in the past.
The fact that the YPG would be willing to cooperate with the FSA is telling but the fact that the FSA would be willing to cooperate with the YPG is even more telling. After all, the Iraqi Kurds have long been connected to US intelligence and military operations in the past. With an increase of signs of cooperation between the YPG and their Iraqi counterparts, one can only wonder if the events transpiring on the ground in relation to the Kurds in Syria, Iraq, and Turkey are part of an overarching US plan to finally carve out a pound of geographic flesh out of Iraq and Syria.
Unfortunately for the Kurds, the history of their community and the US has been one of short-term usefulness and treachery. Seldom have the Kurds benefited from supporting American actions or working in the service of US geopolitical agendas, whether wittingly or unwittingly. In almost every single circumstance, the Kurds have provided yeomen’s service in the name of destabilization and the strategy of tension but have been left holding the bag in the end. That bag almost always contains horrific slaughter and subsequent oppression of the Kurdish people.
Maram Susli provides a cogent argument against Kurdish autonomy in her article, “Why A Kurdish Enclave In Syria Is A Very Bad Idea.” She provides a description of the Kurdish factions never discussed in mainstream or even alternative media presentations of the Kurd militias. She writes,
Since the Kurdish population are not a majority in the areas PYD are trying to annex, the past few years have revealed that PYD/YPG are not beyond carrying out ethnic cleansing of non-Kurdish minorities in an attempt to achieve a demographic shift. The main threat to Kurdish ethnocentric territorial claims over the area are the other large minorities, the Arabs and the Assyrian Christians.
Salih Muslim, the leader of PYD, openly declared his intention to conduct an ethnic cleansing campaign against Syrian Arabs who live in what he now calls Rojava. “One day those Arabs who have been brought to the Kurdish areas will have to be expelled,” said Muslim in an interview with Serek TV. Over two years since that interview he has fulfilled his word, as YPG begun burning Arab villages around Al Hasakah Province hoping to create a demographic shift. It is estimated that ten thousands Arab villagers have been ethnically cleansed from Al Hasake province so far. The villages around Tal Abayad have suffered the most as Kurdish expansionists seek to connect the discontiguous population centres of Al Hasakah and Al Raqqa. “The YPG burnt our village and looted our houses,” said Mohammed Salih al-Katee, who left Tel Thiab Sharki, near the city of Ras al-Ayn, in December.
YPG have also begun a campaign of intimidation, murder and property confiscation against the Assyrian Christian minority. The YPG and PYD made it a formal policy to loot and confiscate the property of those who had escaped their villages after an ISIS attack, in the hope of repopulating Assyrian villages with Kurds. The Assyrians residents of the Khabur area in Al Hasaka province formed a militia called the Khabour Guard in the hope of defending their villages against ISIS attacks. The Khabur Guard council leaders protested the practice of looting by Kurdish YPG militia members who looted Assyrian villages that were evacuated after ISIS attacked them. Subsequently, the YPG assassinated the leader of the Khabur Guard David Jindo and attempted to Assassinate Elyas Nasser. At first the YPG blamed the assassination on ISIS but Elyas Nasser, who survived, was able to expose the YPG’s involvement from his hospital bed. Since the assassination YPG has forced the Khabour Guard to disarm and to accept YPG ‘protection.’ Subsequently most Assyrian residents of the Khabour who had fled to Syrian Army controlled areas of Qamishli City could not return to their villages.
The Assyrian Christian community in Qamishli has also been harassed by YPG Kurdish militia. YPG attacked an Assyrian checkpoint killing one fighter of the Assyrian militia Sootoro and wounding three others. The checkpoint was set up after three Assyrian restaurants were bombed on December 20, 2016 in an attack that killed 14 Assyrian civilians. Assyrians suspected that YPG was behind these bombings in an attempt to assassinate Assyrian leaders and prevent any future claims of control over Qamishli.
It would be foolish to ignore the signs that more widely spread ethnic cleansing campaigns may occur if Kurdish expansionists are supported, especially since other ethnic groups are not on board with their federalism plans. It has only been 90 years since the Assyrian genocide which was conducted by Turks and Kurds. This history should not be allowed to be repeated. Assyrians have enjoyed safety and stability in the Syrian state since this time. Forcing the Assyrians to accept federalism is not going to ensure their safety. Establishment of a federal Kurdish state in Iraq has not protected Assyrian villages from attacks by Kurdish armed groups either. The campaign of ethnic cleansing against both Assyrians and Arabs in Al Hasakah has already begun and may now only escalate.
I highly encourage the reader to access Susli’s article and read it in its entirety for a more reasonable and accurate portrayal of the Kurdish issue.
The Roots Of Federalism In Syria
The prospects of “federalism” in Syria were first floated during the Obama administration by Secretary of State John Kerry, who described the breaking up of the country into several parts based on religion and ethnic concerns as America’s “Plan B.”
Yet Kerry’s “Plan B” sounded very much like the “Plan A” of a number of other strategists, policy makers, and imperialist organs.
Consider the op-ed published by Reuters and written by Michael O’Hanlon, entitled “Syria’s One Hope May Be As Dim As Bosnia’s Once Was.” The article argues essentially that the only way Russia and the United States will ever be able to peacefully settle the Syrian crisis is if the two agree to a weakened and divided Syria, broken up into separate pieces.
To find common purpose with Russia, Washington should keep in mind the Bosnia model, devised to end the fierce Balkan conflicts in the 1990s. In that 1995 agreement, a weak central government was set up to oversee three largely autonomous zones.
In similar fashion, a future Syria could be a confederation of several sectors: one largely Alawite (Assad’s own sect), spread along the Mediterranean coast; another Kurdish, along the north and northeast corridors near the Turkish border; a third primarily Druse, in the southwest; a fourth largely made up of Sunni Muslims; and then a central zone of intermixed groups in the country’s main population belt from Damascus to Aleppo. The last zone would likely be difficult to stabilize, but the others might not be so tough.
Under such an arrangement, Assad would ultimately have to step down from power in Damascus. As a compromise, however, he could perhaps remain leader of the Alawite sector. A weak central government would replace him. But most of the power, as well as most of the armed forces. would reside within the individual autonomous sectors — and belong to the various regional governments. In this way, ISIL could be targeted collectively by all the sectors.
Once this sort of deal is reached, international peacekeepers would likely be needed to hold it together — as in Bosnia. Russian troops could help with this mission, stationed, for example, along the Alawite region’s borders.
This deal is not, of course, ripe for negotiation. To make it plausible, moderate forces must first be strengthened. The West also needs to greatly expand its training and arming of various opposition forces that do not include ISIL or al-Nusra. Vetting standards might also have to be relaxed in various ways. American and other foreign trainers would need to deploy inside Syria, where the would-be recruits actually live — and must stay, if they are to protect their families.
Meanwhile, regions now accessible to international forces, starting perhaps with the Kurdish and Druse sectors, could begin receiving humanitarian relief on a much expanded scale. Over time, the number of accessible regions would grow, as moderate opposition forces are strengthened.
Though it could take many months, or even years, to achieve the outcome Washington wants, setting out the goals and the strategy now is crucial. Doing so could provide a basis for the West’s working together with — or at least not working against — other key outside players in the conflict, including Russia, as well as Turkey, the Gulf states and Iraq.
O’Hanlon is no stranger to the Partition Plan for Syria. After all, he was the author the infamous Brookings Institution report “Deconstructing Syria: A New Strategy For America’s Most Hopeless War,” in June, 2015 where he argued essentially the same thing.
In this article for Brookings, a corporate-financier funded “think tank” that has been instrumental in the promotion of the war against Syria since very early on, O’Hanlon argued for the “relaxation” of vetting processes for “rebels” being funded by the U.S. government, the direct invasion of Syria by NATO military forces, and the complete destruction of the Syrian government. O’Hanlon argued for the creation of “safe zones” as a prelude to these goals.
Yet, notably, O’Hanlon also mentioned the creation of a “confederal” Syria as well. In other words, the breakup of the solidified nation as it currently exists. He wrote,
The end-game for these zones would not have to be determined in advance. The interim goal might be a confederal Syria, with several highly autonomous zones and a modest (eventual) national government. The confederation would likely require support from an international peacekeeping force, if this arrangement could ever be formalized by accord. But in the short term, the ambitions would be lower—to make these zones defensible and governable, to help provide relief for populations within them, and to train and equip more recruits so that the zones could be stabilized and then gradually expanded.
Such a plan is reminiscent of the Zbigniew Brzezinski method of the creation of microstates and ministates and using their weakness and constant tension with other microstates and ministates to prevent them from ever becoming a legitimate challenge to imperial power. In other words, the construction of a weak, impotent state based upon ethnicity, religion, and other identity politics but without the ability to resist the will of larger nations, coalitions, and banking/industrial corporations.
Thus, the Syrian Kurdish forces, whether willingly or not, have essentially played right into the hands of the architects of the plans currently underway to destroy and degrade their country already set in motion by the NATO powers.
The Syrian “Stans”
Much has already been written about the possibility of a Kurdistan in northern Syria, the boundaries of which have been declared by the Syrian Kurds themselves, which essentially line up with those drawn up by Western strategists and war designers years ago.
Likewise, public suggestions have been made since at least 2013 that, in addition to a Kurdistan, an Alawite enclave – perhaps lead by Assad but perhaps not – would be established in the western portion of Syria, predominantly in the Latakia area, where what is left of the Syrian government, presumably itself decimated by restructuring, would reign. Robin Wright of the United States Institute For Peace, a military industrial complex firm dedicated to strategic development, suggested a larger Alawitistan, stretching from the South, up through Damascus, Homs, Hama, Latakia and on to the northern coast of the Mediterranean.
Druzistan (Jabal al-Druze as suggested by Wright) has also been dreamed up for the Southern tip of Syria (near Daraa).
In the rural areas, discussions have centered around a Sunnistan that would span from rural central and eastern Syria across the border into central, western, and eastern Iraq. However, others have suggested that Sunnistan would be a function of Syria alone.
Still other strategists have even suggested the appeasement of Wahhabist terrorists by the formation of a Wahhabistan in between Iraq and Syria (essentially the same territory as that occupied by ISIS today). Such a Wahhabistan would function as a barrier between moderate and anti-NATO forces in Iraq and Syria and would cut off a major supply route for Syria and Hezbollah coming from Iran for what would be left of Syria.
Consider Wright’s suggestions when she writes,
Syria has crumbled into three identifiable regions, each with its own flag and security forces. A different future is taking shape: a narrow statelet along a corridor from the south through Damascus, Homs and Hama to the northern Mediterranean coast controlled by the Assads’ minority Alawite sect. In the north, a small Kurdistan, largely autonomous since mid-2012. The biggest chunk is the Sunni-dominated heartland.
. . . . .
Over time, Iraq’s Sunni minority — notably in western Anbar Province, site of anti-government protests — may feel more commonality with eastern Syria’s Sunni majority. Tribal ties and smuggling span the border. Together, they could form a de facto or formal Sunnistan. Iraq’s south would effectively become Shiitestan, although separation is not likely to be that neat.
The dominant political parties in the two Kurdish regions of Syria and Iraq have longstanding differences, but when the border opened in August, more than 50,000 Syrian Kurds fled to Iraqi Kurdistan, creating new cross-border communities. Massoud Barzani, president of Iraqi Kurdistan, has also announced plans for the first summit meeting of 600 Kurds from some 40 parties in Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran this fall.
“We feel that conditions are now appropriate,” said Kamal Kirkuki, the former speaker of Iraq’s Kurdish Parliament, about trying to mobilize disparate Kurds to discuss their future.
. . . . .
New borders may be drawn in disparate, and potentially chaotic, ways. Countries could unravel through phases of federation, soft partition or autonomy, ending in geographic divorce.
. . . . .
Other changes may be de facto. City-states — oases of multiple identities like Baghdad, well-armed enclaves like Misurata, Libya’s third largest city, or homogeneous zones like Jabal al-Druze in southern Syria — might make a comeback, even if technically inside countries.
Former Ambassador to the United Nations and NeoCon, John R. Bolton, even wrote an op-ed for the New York Times where he argued for the balkanization of Syria and the creation of a “Sunnistan.” Bolton was relatively blunt in his article, openly admitting that the new state is “unlikely to be a Jeffersonian democracy for many years” but following that statement up with a bizarre admission that “this is a region where alternatives to secular military or semi-authoritarian governments are scarce. Security and stability are sufficient ambitions.” While Bolton’s latter comment would have negated the stated public objectives of the war against Assad by the Obama White House in the first place, it also makes clear that freedom and democracy were never the true aims of the United States, but instead the overthrow of Bashar al-Assad and the destruction of Syria as a functioning state.
Today’s reality is that Iraq and Syria as we have known them are gone. The Islamic State has carved out a new entity from the post-Ottoman Empire settlement, mobilizing Sunni opposition to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and the Iran-dominated government of Iraq. Also emerging, after years of effort, is a de facto independent Kurdistan.
If, in this context, defeating the Islamic State means restoring to power Mr. Assad in Syria and Iran’s puppets in Iraq, that outcome is neither feasible nor desirable. Rather than striving to recreate the post-World War I map, Washington should recognize the new geopolitics. The best alternative to the Islamic State in northeastern Syria and western Iraq is a new, independent Sunni state.
This “Sunni-stan” has economic potential as an oil producer (subject to negotiation with the Kurds, to be sure), and could be a bulwark against both Mr. Assad and Iran-allied Baghdad. The rulers of the Arab Gulf states, who should by now have learned the risk to their own security of funding Islamist extremism, could provide significant financing. And Turkey — still a NATO ally, don’t forget — would enjoy greater stability on its southern border, making the existence of a new state at least tolerable.
. . . . .
Make no mistake, this new Sunni state’s government is unlikely to be a Jeffersonian democracy for many years. But this is a region where alternatives to secular military or semi-authoritarian governments are scarce. Security and stability are sufficient ambitions.
. . . . .
This Sunni state proposal differs sharply from the vision of the Russian-Iranian axis and its proxies (Hezbollah, Mr. Assad and Tehran-backed Baghdad). Their aim of restoring Iraqi and Syrian governments to their former borders is a goal fundamentally contrary to American, Israeli and friendly Arab state interests. Notions, therefore, of an American-Russian coalition against the Islamic State are as undesirable as they are glib.
Bolton’s Sunnistan, while on one level is another aspect of the conglomeration of petty, squabbling, microstates that would make up Syria under the Plan B, is also eerily reminiscent of the “Salafist Principality” envisioned and supported by the United States military and intelligence communities early on and in place in Eastern Syria and Western Iraq today.
If America wants to stop terrorism in Syria, it need only stop funding it, supporting it, and directing it. It’s that simple. The U.S. could also call on its allies Saudi Arabia, Turkey, U.K., France, Qatar, and Israel to do the same. It could work with Russia to eliminate the remnants of terrorist forces and it could provide information and coordinates to both Syria and Russia on the whereabouts of terrorists and terrorist forces.
The United States does not need to arm and Russia does not need to support Kurdish extremists and “moderate” terrorists in Syria in order “destroy ISIS” or “bring peace.” Syria is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious country and it must remain so regardless of America’s desire for hegemony and Russia’s desire end the war.
By Brandon Turbeville
Source: Activist Post