Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
May 26, 2018

Syria - U.S. Moves To Protect Al-Qaeda And ISIS in Daraa

The Syrian government and its Russian ally plan to clean up the southwest region of Syria around the city of Daraa. The move should open the M5 highway, Syria's lifeline, between Damascus and Jordan and secure the border with Jordan as well as the demarcation line with the Israel occupied Golan Heights.

The operation was supposed to start in a day or two, but the U.S. has now threatened to intervene. As the southwest Daraa governorate is infested with a large Islamic State (ISIS) group as well as al-Qaeda and associated groups the U.S.move must be interpreted as protection for these terrorists.

On July 7 2017 The U.S, Russia and Jordan agreed to set up a de-escalation zone in southwest Syria. The parameters were not publicized and the implementation lagged. Russia had offered to let its military police supervise the zone but the U.S. rejected that. The opening of the important M5 highway to Jordan which was originally part of the plan did likewise not happen. The ceasefire in the region was broken several times. There was also infighting between ISIS and al-Qaeda.

In November 2017 the presidents of the United States and Russia met and agreed to a Memorandum of Principals which covered southwest Syria. The memorandum was not published.

The neo-conservatives at the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) disliked the agreement. It headlined Southern Syria Deal Fails to Constrain Iran, al Qaeda. Israel had demanded that no groups associated with Iran should come near the zone, but no such rule was agreed upon. ISW also noted:

Al Qaeda has exploited the ‘de-escalation zone’ to develop a new durable safe haven along the Syrian-Jordanian border.

Neither al-Qaeda nor the Islamic State are covered by the de-escalation and ceasefire agreement. UN Security Council resolutions 2249 and 2254 demand that all UN members fight Al Qaeda, ISIS and individuals and groups associate with them. It calls upon UN member states "to eradicate the safe haven they have established over significant parts of Syria".

At that time ISW published a map of southwest Syria which shows the strategic positions taken by ISIS (grey), al-Qaeda (brown) and aligned groups (light brown):

full size with full legend

In December 2017 the U.S. stopped payments to "rebels" in the south west. Some of the groups, including al-Qaeda, receive money, weapons and fire support from Israel.

In April 2018 ISW published a new version of its map of the area. Amusingly al-Qaeda had vanished from it:

full size with legend

Over the last days Syrian helicopters have dropped leaflets over "rebel" held towns in the western part of the rebel held areas. They demand that the rebels give up fighting and reconcile with the Syrian government.

The Iranian ambassador to Jordan Mojtaba Ferdowsi-pour publicly declared that Iran has no role in any military operation in south of Syria. He added:

'After ending its mission in Syria, Iran will not remain in Syria and whenever Syrian government ask us, Iran will leave the country.'

It is obvious that the Syrian government and its Russian allies have all rights to fight ISIS and al-Qaeda independent of any de-escalation agreement. The UNSC resolutions even demand that. But the U.S. thinks different.

Last night the U.S. State Department published this threat:

The United States is concerned by reports of an impending Assad regime operation in southwest Syria within the boundaries of the de-escalation zone negotiated between the United States, Jordan, and the Russian Federation last year and reaffirmed between Presidents Trump and Putin in Da Nang, Vietnam in November. The United States remains committed to maintaining the stability of the southwest de-escalation zone and to the ceasefire underpinning it. We also caution the Syrian regime against any actions that risk broadening the conflict or jeopardize the ceasefire. As a guarantor of this de-escalation area with Russia and Jordan, the United States will take firm and appropriate measures in response to Assad regime violations.

One wonders what "firm and appropriate measures" the U.S. has planned for. Strong words? Cruise missile attacks? Nukes?

I have not seen any reaction yet from the Syrian or Russian side.

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Posted by b on May 26, 2018 at 03:14 PM | Permalink

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Deleted a bunch of trolling and nonsensical comments in this thread from BG, DrTT, OJS, ...
Also - attacks on other commentators do not help any discussion. Refrain or have your comment deleted.

Posted by: b | May 29, 2018 8:38:28 AM | 101

"The Russians are certainly being most of the visible resistance to the Evil Empire." "@Cyril | May 28, 2018 8:04:35 PM | 102

Really? Russia seem to act out of no choice under self inflicted attack of Evil Empire, still very keen to be in collaboration at every opportunity if their service is wanted.

Agreed that China is doing the real decisive resistance behind, de-dollarization!!! Without China backing, Russia has already collapse.

Posted by: a | May 29, 2018 11:12:55 AM | 102

@ Alaric, #54

"...Russia has allowed the US/Israel to attack the Syrian army, its allies and even Russians with impunity..."

How many times need to repeat [smth] to make the issue clear and terminate all myths\speculations\fantasies etc?
It was said hundreds of times - what's Russia's purpose(s) in Syria, what Russia can\must\will do [in Syria] and what it will not\must not\can't do [in Syria].
But still(!) there's this kind of claims - "Russia has allowed the US/Israel to attack the Syrian army".

Well, for instance, take a look at this (comment #216). Maybe you'll leave the illusions and stop giving a wishful thinking (a.k.a. "Russia must repel all the attacks of external aggressors - US\Israel - against Syrian army").


@ Nev, #56

"Putin will continue to be a disappointment to the Syrians as more Syrians die."

Putin will continue to be a disappointment...? You mean, he already was a disappointment for Syrians for quite some time?
Why is this so?

V.Putin is a "disappointment to the Syrians" (as you said) because Russia for more than 2,5 years help Syrians to eliminate all kinds of terrorist scum in the country? Because Russia provide hundreds of tons of humanitarian aid to the Syrians, practically in every-day mode? Because Russia provide Syrians with a medical assistance (more that 65000 Syrians received a medical help from a Russian doctors), considering a fact that Russian doctors often risking their own lives providing this assistance? V.Putin is a "disappointment to the Syrians" because Russian military instructors continue to help Syrian forces to improve their skills? Because it was a Russian military instructors who created\developed practically all plans of successful military operations [in Syria] which resulted in such an events as liberation of Aleppo, liberation of Palmyra, liberation of Deir-ez-Zour and many other Syrian towns\settlements? Maybe V.Putin is a "disappointment to the Syrians" because Russian military police guarantee the order & law in many liberated Syrian cities? Or because the unique Russian Reconciliation Center obtained a fact that more than 2200 Syrian settlements joined a truce (i.e. they are not involved in war = people not die) - that's the reason why V.Putin is a "disappointment to the Syrians"? Or maybe because Russian sappers demined many Syrian cities of dangerous explosive devices, and also trained Syrian military so they can properly demine territories? I guess V.Putin is a "disappointment to the Syrians" because Russia tries really hard to establish peace in Syria, support\protect this country on international scene (in particular, in the UNSC), develop & suggest a lot of peaceful initiatives - creating of Astana format for negotiations (much more useful than 'Geneva format'), organising a Congress of a Syrian National Dialogue in Sochi, suggested a variant\project of a Syrian Constitution (just as a starting point to discuss this issue), creating de-escalation zones etc.? And what about numerous humanitarian corridors organised by the Russian military to let citizens withdraw\escape from a dangerous areas - I guess this is also a reason V.Putin is a "disappointment to the Syrians"? I'll not even mention a dozens of thousands of terrorists eliminated by the Russian Aerospace Forces, and dozens of Russian servicemen (from regular soldiers to high rank military) who died on this war protecting Syrians (the last case happened just a few days ago when 4 Russian soldiers were killed, presumably by the terrorists (aka "rebels") trained by the Americans in at-Tanf camp).

Let me know what other country on the planet Earth do for Syrians at least 1/10 part of all the aforesaid?
Yep, definitely Syrians have a lot of reasons to think that V.Putin (personally, as you said) is a "disappointment" to them.

Hmm, on the whole, very interesting logic: the more Syrians die - the more Putin is a disappointment. Does V.Putin a president of Syria?
I doubt.
What about B.Assad?

Natural logic is: if the president of a country allow its citizens to die (he can't protect them, or he betray them, or afraid to take some necessary decisions etc.) then he is a disappointment for citizens, but definitely not the president of some other country.
But in your logic it is the president of the other country who's "guilty".

Posted by: alaff | May 29, 2018 12:18:15 PM | 103

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