The attack on Syrian Arab Army troops near al-Tanf yesterday have the Russians hopping-mad. Defense Secretary James Mattis apparently is setting policy not only for his President but also for Russia in Syria.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has condemned the attack and the excuse for it saying that Russia knows nothing of the ‘agreed upon de-confliction zone’ that the U.S. air strike was supposed to be enforcing.
What this means is that all the nicey-nice noises that came out of the White House after Lavrov’s visit are nothing more than hot air. Donald Trump either signed off on this policy or he doesn’t have control over his chain of command.
The timing of this attack is suspicious considering the events unfolding in Qatar and the terrorist attack on Tehran yesterday. Trump is playing a very dangerous game if he thinks that pushing Russia, Syria and Iran to the brink is the path to peace.
Creating a buffer zone between Syria and Jordan and denying the SAA from hooking up with the Iraqi Popular Forces furthers U.S. plans to encircle Iran with forward bases by partitioning off Kurdistan and force them and Russia to strike a disadvantageous bargain.
Putin is not going to allow this to continue. I’m sure he applauds Turkey’s move to bring in troops. This way, nominal NATO allies, the U.S. and Turkey, cannot be at odds over the fate of the government in Doha.
Turkey pledged this morning to send troops to Qatar. If the U.S. troops stationed there get involved in any regime change operation on behalf of the Saudis then Trump is dumber than he looks.
The Saudi 10-point, 24-hour ultimatum is simply a pretext for a military invasion of a country that has almost zero military. They are trying to bluff their way into getting Qatar to submit to its rule as it has done in the past.
It is why the heart of the government in Tehran was attacked in coordination with the attack on the SAA by the U.S. and the diplomatic row with Qatar.
The Song Remains the Same
Trump has unleashed a firestorm in the region. Some of which he planned. The U.S. empire, under Trump, is willing to exit the region militarily so as to reduce costs and leave it to the people who live there.
But, never forget, that Trump wants the best deal for the U.S. and that means keeping as many Gulf Cooperation Council countries on the petrodollar system as possible. For without that, the U.S. dollar is in serious trouble.
Qatar, as Pepe Escobar’s latest reminded me this morning, just opened up a Yuan-clearing center. The significance of this cannot be overstated.
So, Trump’s backing Saudi (and in reality Israeli) aggression fits that scenario perfectly as long as one remembers that Qatar is rich enough as the world’s largest LNG exporter, to forge its own foreign and economic policy, independent from the GCC and OPEC.
So, for all of the talk of peace, we’re first going to be spared nothing in the chaos created regionally on our way there. I’ve been discussing Trump’s trip in broad terms of a grand peace bargain that will transform the region. But, it all hinges on Saudi Arabia’s ability to leverage Trump’s support into tangible geopolitical gains.
The next few days are key. If Qatar’s current Emir survives and the Saudi threat expires worthless, then that gives Turkey the opening to move substantial forces in and force the Saudis to back down.
Qatar, for its part, will likely agree to many of the Saudis’ demands, namely supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. They’ve already pulled back from al-Qaeda in Syria, early on realizing that Russia was not going to allow Assad to be removed from power.
That will appease Israel, and likely, the U.S. But, it will not give up its opportunity to consummate a deal with Iran over the North Gas Field.
Remember, it was Qatar that bought a major stake in Rosneft earlier this year. That was the first bomb tossed in this war. The Saudis are staring at an existential crisis. Qatar is flexing its muscles and looking at survival.
Should we be surprised the past 48 hours was the outcome?