Thursday, December 29, 2016

Putin continues to work hard to inflict on Syria his own Munich-like deal. And Erdogan is climbing to a seat of a new regional hegemon, who is effectively appropriating parts of Syria, on Putin's back

The end-of the year's "ceasefire" and new plan for remaking Syria by Russia, Turkey, and Iran has clearly been rushed in to put it in place and make it a new fact before Trump is sworn in as President. Here, seemingly strangely, Russia as well as Turkey and Iran all shared the urge to lock in their regional collusion. 

In acting this way, Moscow is now too openly acting as a hopeful stand-in and middleman for new colonialism in Syria.

As Reuters reports citing Russian sources close to the negotiations

Syria would be divided into informal zones of regional power influence and Bashar al-Assad would remain president for at least a few years under an outline deal between Russia, Turkey and Iran, sources say.
Such a deal, which would allow regional autonomy within a federal structure controlled by Assad's Alawite sect, is in its infancy, subject to change and would need the buy-in of Assad and the rebels and, eventually, the Gulf states and the United States, sources familiar with Russia's thinking say.

"There has been a move toward a compromise," said Andrey Kortunov, director general of the Russian International Affairs Council, a think tank close to the Russian Foreign Ministry.

"A final deal will be hard, but stances have shifted."

Assad's powers would be cut under a deal between the three nations, say several sources. Russia and Turkey would allow him to stay until the next presidential election when he would quit in favor of a less polarizing Alawite candidate.

Iran has yet to be persuaded of that, say the sources. But either way Assad would eventually go, in a face-saving way, with guarantees for him and his family.

"A couple of names in the leadership have been mentioned (as potential successors)," said Kortunov, declining to name names. ... 

... one senior Turkish government official: "It doesn't mean we approve of Assad. But we have come to an understanding. When Islamic State is wiped out, Russia may support Turkey in Syria finishing off the PKK." ...
Turkey wants to informally control a swathe of northern Syria giving it a safe zone to house refugees, a base for the anti-Assad opposition, and a bulwark against Kurdish influence."

After Reuters and also citing Reuters, RT in Russian also reports that Russia, Turkey, Iran negotiate possible split of Syria into zones of influence. “The zones of influence” even figure in the RT’s headline.  

New Russian "ceasefire" is to "include all areas that do not have a jihadist presence. Can Putin name these areas? Actually, the wording says that the ceasefire should cover "all areas of Syria."  However, in all these areas, al Qaeda/Nusra/etc. is thickly intertwined with its fictitiously “moderate” allies. The old worn-off tactic of the West and other sponsors of al Qaeda and "not-so-al Qaeda" has always being mixing these two together and then pretending that despite any "trying" (really?) these cannot (duh) be separated. 

The Kremlin has joined this game a while ago, and now even expanded the umbrella of the fictitious "moderation" over now some admitted 62,000 Qaeda-allied force. In doing so, the Kremlin now calls Ahrar al-Sham and Jaish al-Islam "moderate rebels" despite designating them as terrorists just a month ago. 

Министерство обороны России опубликовало список присоединившихся к перемирию в Сирии группировок умеренной оппозиции, которые контролируют значительные территории северной и центрально части САР. Об этом сообщается на сайте российского военного ведомства.

По его данным к перемирию присоединилась семь группировок. К ним относятся «Фейлак аш-Шам», в которую входят 19 отрядов общей численностью четыре тысячи человек, «Ахрар аш-Шам», в которую входит около 16 тыс. человек, а в нее входят более 80 отрядов. Также перемирие решили соблюдать «Джейш иль-Ислам», за которую воюют 64 отряда численностью около 12 тыс. человек, «Сувар аги-Шам», «Джейш аль-Муджахидин», «Джейш» и «Алъ-Джабхат аьи-Шамия».

О подписании соглашении о прекращении огня между сирийский правительством и оппозицией объявил президент России Владимир Путин 29 декабря на встрече с министром обороны России Сергеем Шойгу. Кроме того, отметил российский лидер, стороны выразили готовности к началу мирных переговоров по урегулировании сирийского конфликта.

В свою очередь Шойгу заявил, что режим прекращения огня начнет действовать с полуночи в пятницу, 30 декабря. Он отметил, что Министерство обороны России вело переговоры в течение двух месяцев с представителями умеренной сирийской оппозиции, которая контролирует большую часть центральной Сирии. Шойгу рассказал, что ее отряды насчитывают 60 тыс. человек.

Министр обороны России отметил, что те, группировки, которые не прекратят боевые действия во время режима прекращения огня, будут считаться террористическими. Шойгу отметил, что «против них будут действовать также, как против ИГИЛ и Джабхат ан-Нусры» (обе террористические группировки запрещены на территории Российской Федерации).

Formations of the "moderate" (which as cynical as it is also utterly false) opposition, which control vast territories in the northern and central part of Syria and which have joined the ceasefire:
1. Feilak al-Sham19 detachments, total strength: over 4,000 people.Its formations conduct combat actions in the Aleppo, Idlib, Hama and Homs provinces.2. Ahrar al-ShamThe full name is Harakat Ahrar al-Sham al-Islamiyya.Over 80 detachments, total strength: about 16,000 people.Formations of the grouping conduct combat actions in the Aleppo, Damascus, Daraa, Idlib, Latakia, Hama and Homs provinces.3. Jaysh al-Islam64 detachments, total strength: about 12,000 people.Jaysh al-Islam formations conduct combat actions in the Aleppo, Damascus, Daraa, Deir ez-Zor, Latakia, Hama and Homs provinces.4.  Thuwar al-Sham8 battalions, total strength: about 2,500 people.Armed formations conduct combat actions in the Aleppo, Idlib and Latakia provinces.5.  Jaysh al-Mujahideen13 detachments, total strength: about 8,000 people.Armed formations conduct combat actions in the Aleppo city and provinces of Aleppo, Idlib and Hama.6. Jaysh Idlib3 large detachments, total strength: more than 6,000 people.Jaysh Idlib conducts combat actions in the Idlib province.7.   Jabhat al-Shamiyah5 large detachments, total strength: about 3,000 people.The grouping detachments conduct combat actions in the Aleppo, Idlib and Damascus

According to Russia, the number of the fictitious moderate allies of al Qaeda in Syria is 62,000: Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu says the truce will include 62,000 opposition fighters across Syria, and that the Russian military has established a hotline with its Turkish counterpart to monitor compliance. 

With the announcement of"ceasefire,"Russia is reducing its military presence in Syria ("Bye Palmyra").This Russian military withdrawal might be in my view actually the main goal of this new hasty plan

Cease-fireagreement for Syria says the truce will include all areas where the "moderate opposition" has a presence, including those where al-Qaida's branch in Syria exists. But The Syrian army said the truce does not include al-Qaida's branch in Syria and the Islamic State group, two of the most powerful armed factions. 

President Vladimir Putin has ordered the Russian military to scale down its presence in Syria before the ceasefire even officially started, where it has provided crucial support to Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces.

Turkey says Lebanon's militant Hezbollah group should withdraw from Syria and a nationwide cease-fire should come into effect before the end of the year.
Putin's "ceasefire" and "settlement" for Syria then appears chiefly as a negotiated cover for (partial?) Russian pull-out. And Moscow can't wait. The pullout was ordered even before the ceasefire officially started yet, which is to be only tomorrow. And then we will see how this will work. Not well as before is the best possible guess.

Apparently, Russia negotiated/bought political transition and change of Syria with a promise of or demand for its own military pullout and possibly also with a promise of Hezbollah's (and Iran's?) withdrawal as well.

Putin's "ceasefire" and "settlement" for Syria also serves as an attempt to freeze conflict (in theory) and to divide/federalize Syria. Thus Reuters (twitter) also reported: "Syrian Kurdish groups and their allies approve blueprint for federal government in northern Syria - federal official." 

Politically and symbolically, the new "ceasefire" for Syria also confirms Russia's recognition of/respect for the rising power of Turkey. And not just as a rising new power. Russia's actions and cozening up to Erdogan is a tale-tell sign that Turkey began to act and is in this also supported by Putin as a new regional hegemon and a new effective ruler who controls through its jihadist proxies (and al Qaeda) northern Syria (minus the SDF-controlled areas).

Russia is now even assisting Turkish attack on strategic Al-Bab with Russian air strikes (one year after losing a SU-25 to Turkey).

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