complexities of the syria deconfliction

Russia, Jordan agree to speed de-escalation zone in south Syria
Suleiman Al-Khalidi, Reuters, Sep 11 2017

Screen Shot 2017-09-12 at 06.32.58S Lavrov with Jordan’s FM A Safadi at a news conference in Amman today.
(Photo: Muhammad Hamed/Reuters)

AMMAN – Jordan said on Monday it was working with Russia to roll out a plan to end fighting in southwestern Syria “in the fastest possible time,” as part of a peace pact for the border area brokered by Amman, Moscow and Faschingstein. Jordan and Russia’s foreign ministers met in Amman to discuss progress in setting up a “de-escalation zone” in the particularly sensitive region that includes Syrian territory neighboring Israel. Neither side gave details on any sticking points, but diplomats told Reuters they have included the final positions of fighting forces, pindo unease about Russian involvement in policing the deal, and when to reopen a key border crossing. Russia and Pindostan met secretly in Jordan in June and announced a ceasefire in Syria’s south-west a month later. The truce has reduced fighting there and is meant to lead to a longer-lasting deescalation, a step toward a full settlement more than six years into the complex war. Sergei Lavrov told reporters in Amman:

We expressed our support to resolve all issues relating to the deescalation zones’ performance.

Safadi added:

Our priority is that our borders are secure and that means that there should be no Daesh nor Nusra nor sectarian militias.

Various senior boxtops told Reuters the powers (sic, means russia & pindostan – RB) have made progress in drawing up a map of the deescalation zone, including Quneitra province bordering Israel, alongside the southern Deraa province adjoining Jordan, and Faschingstein had secured an understanding with Moscow that militias backed by Iran must be pushed 40 km from the border. That might help allay Israeli and Jordanian concerns about the presence of Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah group in the area. Boxtops said Lavrov also pressed Jordan to re-open its Nasib border crossing with Syria, something Amman has so far resisted, saying it needs more security. But it has strongly backed the broader deescalation deal, seeing it as paving the way for an eventual return of tens of thousands of refugees in its territory. Rebels say the ceasefire remains fragile and fear Syria’s army will return to attack them once it has consolidated gains in the north and other areas. Insurgents say the de-escalation zones merely free up Syria’s army to make territorial gains elsewhere. Syria’s army, supported by Russian air power and Iranian-backed militias, has in recent weeks gained a string of post along the border with Jordan in south-eastern Syria, a zone that is outside the ceasefire area.

A New Clash Looms in Syria’s East
Moon of Alabama, Sep 12 2017

When the Daesh siege on Deir ez-Zor was broken by the Syrian Arab Army we asked:

Will the SAA cross the Euphrates at Deir ez-Zor to retake the valuable oilfields east of it? Or will it stay south of the river and leave those oilfields to the Kurdish pindo proxies in the north?

To cross the river is clearly desirable but also potentially contentious. Since then several convoys of military bridging equipment have been seen on the road to Deir ez-Zor. It is now obvious that the SAA will bridge the river (all regular bridges have been destroyed by pindo bombing) and send significant forces across. New questions now are: When, where and with what aim? As soon as the government intent became clear, Pindostan pushed its local proxy forces to immediately snatch the Daesh-held oilfields. In less than two days, they deployed over 30 km deep into the Daesh-held areas north of the Euphrates. It is obvious that such progress could not have been made if Daesh had defended itself. I find it likely that a deal has been made between those two sides. The pindo diplomat tasked with the job, Brett McGurk, recently met with local tribal dignitaries of the area. Pictures of the meeting were published. Several people pointed out that the very same dignitaries were earlier pictured swearing allegiance to Daesh.

isismcgurk

Just like during the “Anbar Awakening” in its war on Iraq Pindostan is bribing the local radicals to temporarily change over to its side. This will help Pindostan to claim that it defeated Daesh. But as soon as the payments stop the very same forces will revert back to their old game. Originally Pindostan had planned to let ISIS take Deir ez-Zor. It had twice attacked Syrian government forces in the area killing more than a hundred of them. This had allowed Daesh to capture large chunks of the government enclave and to disable the airport which was needed for resupplies.

deirusplan

After Russian support for the SAA changed the balance of power, and after the election of Donald Trump, those plans had to change. Syria and its allies created facts on the ground and it is now again in control of the area it had lost to ISIS. It will also liberate the rest of the city. Here is current map of the east-Syrian Euphrates area.

eastsyriamap20170911

The SAA (red) has liberated parts of the city and the airport. The road from Damascus to Deir Ezzor is completely under SAA control. The population, which had nearly starved under the ISIS siege, is receiving fresh food, other necessary goods and medical attention. The hatched areas of the map show possible next aims for the pindo proxy campaign (yellow) and the Syrian government forces (red) in their fight against Daesh (grey) and against each other. Critical oil fields are north and east of Mayadin. The Omar oil field in the east is the biggest one in all Syria. Pindostan wants these under its control to finance its Kurdish and Arab proxies in north-east Syria. The Syrian government needs the oil to rebuild the country. Should the pindo-supported forces try to annex the area, we will likely see a direct conflict between them and the Syrian government forces. Would Pindostan and Russia join that fight? Areas in the north-west and south-west of Syria have been relatively quiet. In recent weeks no relevant change of positions took place. In the south-east, around the Syria-Jordan-Iraq border triangle, the Syrian government retook several border points. The move comes after an agreement between Russia and Jordan conceded the area back to Syrian government control. The “rebels” in the area were CIA-financed but are now out of income. They were ordered by their masters to move to Jordan but several groups refused to do that. The Syrian army and air force will take care of them.

jordantriangle

The Syrian government again pointed out that pindo (and Turkish) forces on its ground are uninvited and that their presence is illegal. The Russian foreign minster made the same point in a press conference today. Yesterday the Turkish president said “we mustn’t allow foreign powers intervene in Syria to serve their own interests.” (His palace seems to lack mirrors.) These are clear signals to Pindostan that its presence and that of pindo proxy forces in Syria will not be condoned. Pres Trump had clearly said that his only interest in Syria is to get rid of Daesh:

As far as Syria is concerned, we have very little to do with Syria other than killing Daesh.

But Trump is now under the influence (or control?) of the Pentagon, and those forces influencing it might have their own plans. The war is mostly decided. The Syrian government will prevail. But the war is not yet over. Undesirable surprises may still come from Pindostan or other interested sides. Adding: Several recent rumors about incidents in Syria were and are obvious fakes. Please be careful distributing wild claims when these have not been verified by a multitude of sources. The truth is: NO deconfliction line exists east of Deir ez-Zor. The SAA did NOT shoot down an Israeli jet over Lebanon. NO pindo general said that the Syrian army would be bombed if it tried to cross the Euphrates. NO attack on a SAA convoy by the pindo airforce happened today.

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