The U.S. foreign policy establishment will not go gently into that good night in Syria. For weeks I’ve been keeping only half an eye on the situation there waiting for confirmation of U.S. intentions now that the bulk of the country has been returned to government control.
And with the attack on the Khmeimim air base at in Latakia we now have our answer. On January 6th the so-called moderate rebels – who have been getting routed by the Syrian Arab Army – launched a major offensive on the air base using more than a dozen drones dropping mortar shells.
The Russian air defense systems thwarted the attack with damage to a couple of planes. The Russians are convinced (and said publicly) that this attack could only have been pulled off with assistance from a technologically-advanced state.
This is the Russian way of saying that the U.S. was behind the attack. This report from Southfront has one of our Boeing P-8 Spy planes in the area during the attack.
The U.S., of course, denies this saying that the technology is available on the open market. Yes, but so what? It takes a little more than buying these drones to put them in the air and coordinate an attack with them.
In effect, this was not a denial.
Moreover, over the weekend, it was reported that U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis promised to send U.S. diplomats to the Kurdish controlled area east of the Euphrates River. If true then the U.S. is putting paid its intentions to balkanize Syria and create an open wound in the region with which everyone there will have to contend with.
The goal of that will be to create another false propaganda campaign at home for the U.S. electorate to get on board with supporting Kurdish independence.
While at the same time SDF leaders have already met with Syrian government officials about the state of their autonomy post-political process. Facts on the ground are that there are thousands of U.S. troops in eastern Syria having built anywhere from seven to thirteen bases.
Even if the Kurds wanted to settle things with President Bashar al-Assad the U.S. presence there is making it very difficult for them to do so. And this will only delay any final political resolution to the Syrian War.
The neoconservative leadership of the U.S. Deep State will not leave Syria without being dragged out. President Trump is still in enough of a precarious position politically at home that he needs the support of military leaders like Mattis and Kelly to, in my opinion, stay alive.
With everything that’s happening at home and the noose tightening around the Russia-gate conspiracy to overthrow Trump orchestrated by the Clinton Campaign, Never-Trumpers like John McCain in the GOP and the intelligence agencies, Trump has to tread very lightly and keep the Israeli Firsters and uber Iran hawks in D.C. placated.
So, nothing it going to change in Syria until the last ISIS and al-Qaeda cells are ousted and then there will still be the Kurdish issue.
So, attacks like these should be expected. They are designed to make it expensive both financially and politically for Russian President Vladimir Putin during his re-election campaign. The U.S. is pushing him on every front right now. From Syria to Iran, Ukraine to North Korea, the goal continues to be bind Putin down with distractions and derail the Russian economic recovery for as long as possible.
And Trump will use this pressure as best as he can to craft the best deal possible for both the U.S. and Israel in the Middle East, knowing that the position is a fundamentally weak one in the long run.
But for now, the intentions of the U.S. establishment is clear, delay and distract the reunification of Syria for as long as possible to stop an overland route from Iran to Lebanon. And if these provocations can get Putin to over-commit and retaliate all the better.
It will then tie Trump’s hands and force him to go to war in Syria which will be both wholly unpopular at home and continue the chaos there through the end of the decade. But it won’t work. This is the same basic miscalculation that Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State and Barack Obama made originally.
They continue to underestimate Putin’s patience and grasp of both strategy and tactics. He doesn’t react emotionally to these events. He simply acts. And if the Russians have evidence of the U.S. assisting in the attack in Latakia then it will be used as a bludgeon during the Geneva talks on Syria’s future as well as at the U.N. Security Council.