Grand Bargain Taking Shape? U.S. to Pull Out of al-Tanf

If you’ve followed my work for the past year you know that my default position has been there is a potential Grand Bargain for Peace in the Middle East.  From the moment President Trump first berated the Arabs in Riyidh last year on his first foreign trip for supporting terrorism, I’ve felt that the final outcome over Syria would culminate in such an agreement.

Elijah Magnier is reporting now that the framework for a U.S. pull out of its position at Al-Tanf near where the borders of Jordan, Syria and Iraq come together has pretty much been agreed upon in advance of Trump and Vladimir Putin’s Summit on July 16th in Helsinki.

Russian advisors visiting the Syrian capital Damascus are confident that the US forces will pull out of al-Tanf and will also aim to completely withdraw from north of Syria (al-Hasaka and Deir-Ezzour) in the next six months.

According to top decision makers based in Damascus, the US President Donald Trump is pushing his administration to approve an already prepared total withdrawal plan. Despite Trump’s limited knowledge of foreign policy and being unaware of the consequences of his decisions in the international arena, however, he found no convincing elements – said the sources, who asked to remain anonymous – in the presentation by his administration where US forces could benefit from the continuation of their presence in such a hostile environment and without suffering hits in the future. Trump’s biggest fear to see the US special forces deployed in the north of Syria and in Iraq returning to the country “in plastic bags”. He would certainly find it hard to offer any explanation for the US occupation of the Levant after the defeat of ISIS (the “Islamic State” group) or what remained of it in Syria and Iraq.

What Putin and Trump will work out is whether they can trust each other enough to allow each to do the job they need to do to make this work.  By the time the summit happens, the SAA Tiger forces should have taken back most of the province of Dara’a up to the Golan Heights, effectively restoring the 2011 border.

The Grand Bargain I’ve been proposing has been, simply put, the U.S. and the Russians acting as guarantors of the local actors behavior.  It requires Russia to remain in Syria indefinitely, supporting the Assad government’s rebuilding of the country.

And it requires the U.S. to remove its military presence, by declaring victory over ISIS and leaving.  But, in its wake leave an explicit guarantee of Israel’s and Saudi Arabia’s defense in the case of future Iranian adventurism.

The Russians act as a buffer to break up the Shia Crescent concerns of the Israelis, Turkey goes home, the Kurds negotiate a settlement with Damascus and the Saudis get to live a few more years before their domestic troubles overwhelm them.

I said on May 24th of last year just after Trump’s Speech in Riyadh:

Russia’s alliance with Iran and China is unbreakable at this point. They have designs to build a trade empire across Asia that the world hasn’t seen in centuries. Putin has the means and the respect by all parties on both sides to remove Iran’s troops from Syria and get Hezbollah to stand down if the right deal is signed.

He has the military might to make it all stick.

The Turks and President Erdogan have over-played their hand and have been abandoned by both Putin and Trump. He will behave himself or be removed from power. His days of playing both sides against each other are over…

… He [Putin] and Trump are in opposite domestic positions. Trump needs this win to shut up the loony left. Putin doesn’t, even though he’s facing a re-election campaign in 2018.

So, setting the table for Trump to come in, statesmanlike, and broker an historic peace deal is exactly his style.

We’re not there yet, but the pieces are in place. As long as Trump doesn’t make another mistake like the al-Shairat bombing and keeps a lid on his military commanders he will eventually gain Putin’s trust.

This story has not been without it twists and turns.  There have been the multitude of false flags, provocations and prevarications from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to try and scuttle this deal.

It even survived another colossal Trump mistake in responding to another false flag attack on civilians with chemical weapons this year.

But, over the course of it all, Trump has held firm while Putin made deals with everyone to give them a little of what they want.  The Saudis are going to get slightly more market share in oil to help with their fiscal situation.  Israel will likely get to keep the Golan Heights in perpetuity, much to the pleasure of the board of Genie Energy.

Trump and Netanyahu still wants regime change in Iran as part of this deal, but Trump is in no real position to get that concession from Putin.  That is exactly what the U.S. media is trying to position him to demand.

Bloomberg is trying to make this deal sound like Putin is betraying Iran by making deals over oil production caps, while offering up Iran’s withdrawal from Syria as some ‘big win.’

For Iran, the overriding goal is to maintain its influence inside Syria and keep supply lines open, said Ehud Yaari, an Israel-based fellow at the Washington Institute.

“Russia has an interest to bleed Iran in Syria, to weaken Iran but not collapse Iran because it may lose the Assad regime, which is its major card,” said Sami Nader, head of the Levant Institute for Strategic Studies in Beirut. “They want Iran in check and under control.”

This is pure Netanyahu-esque spin.  Russia doesn’t have the goal of bleeding out Iran in Syria, Israel does.  And every one of Bibi’s little lies have been calculated to convince Trump to extend the U.S. presence there indefinitely for his reasons.

If Magnier is correct then this strategy has failed completely.

Assad isn’t going anywhere and Iran has no desire to stay in Syria once the U.S. leaves.  As the Western media keeps trying to tell us, there’s a revolution happening back home.  IRGC forces are needed there, which is why Netanyahu is abjecting against any deal with Putin before said overthrow of the mullahs takes place.

Too bad Putin and Trump have both put the kibosh on that.  Trump needs another major geopolitical win to crush his deep state and Democratic (I repeat myself) opposition in the mid-terms while also changing the mandate for NATO.

Russia has Iran’s back when it comes to sanctions, fuel marketing, oil exports and the like.  Iran is key to the success of uniting Central Asia under China’s One Belt, One Road initiative, which includes making India and Turkey partners in the project.

For Putin to get a restructuring of NATO, border security in Syria, draw-down of U.S. troops there and probably in Afghanistan as well and potentially recognition of Crimea, there has to be something else on the table.

The bargaining chips are Jerusalem, Yemen, Nordstream 2 and Iranian regime change.  Nordstream 2 and regime change are off the table.  The big question is are the other two within their purview to negotiate.

Doubtful, certainly at this point in time.

For now, the Grand Bargain is taking shape.  Phase one is the hardest part, the trust part. Since U.S. and Russian military commanders have been in communication for nearly three years coordinating around each other it seems plausible the trust is there.

The work’s been done.  Now, just sing the deals and remove/reposition the troops.  It is the next phase that is murkier.  Trump wants explicit guarantees from Putin that Iran won’t develop a nuclear weapon.

For him to get that guarantee means removing the regime change threat from the table as well as allowing Tehran to develop trade relations without the U.S. stifling them.  This is why I think the most likely casualty in this situation will be Yemen.  Iran will have to withdraw support from the Houthi rebels like Trump will remove the U.S. troops from Syria.

As one of my readers said to me privately, the other day, this is beginning to feel like 1945, the only difference is that Trump and Putin aren’t meeting at Yalta. to remake the world.

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36 thoughts on “Grand Bargain Taking Shape? U.S. to Pull Out of al-Tanf

  1. Well written Tom.
    It’s to bad so many Syrians especially civilians had to die for this madness purpatrated by the the greater Israel project , the Neo Cons , the Saudis, and the military industrial complex . The Iranians fought an eight year war against Iraq who were backed by America, Russia and France with the Kurds the only people who came to their aid. 500,000 Iranians and Iraqis died with an equal amount of civilians. Both Russia and Iran knew they could not allow Syria to fall allowing access to their borders. I still feel that the British Government and the CIA will do everything they can to scuttle peace in the middle East backed by Israel intelligence. On top of this we now know that the biggest crime syndicate in the world , the Clinton Foundation, Pay for Play involves players around the world in corporations, government, banks no doubt , and now after seeing the corruption in the FBI ,CIA and JUSTICE, it looks like even committing treason is acceptable and those at the top will get off Scott free with a few low hanging fruit Maybe going to jail. I don’t understand the consiquences of what this means to a large portion of the US population that is aware of this on going corruption and criminality in the Republic. That is something I do not want to think about.

    • Since the major institutions involved in the Deep State are systemically corrupt their effectiveness will decline day after day, month after month, and year after year. There is no future for US military power only money thrown away to contractors. Eventually, the American people will gradually understand that their public institutions are corrupt beyond remedy and then it will get interesting.

  2. The way the events have played out, the US et al will figure out a way to paint itself into a corner so all Syrian territory, including the Golan–as specified by many UN resolutions–will return to Syrian control (Israel might get a cut of oil and water from the Golan). The Russians are keen on sovereignty issues and the rest of the world has refused to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan at the point of a gun. I believe it unlikely that the Iranians will ever turn their backs on the Yemeni people.

      • Israel gets out its paint can and starts defining the corner it will occupy:

        “Israeli forces strike Syrian Army outpost in response to cross-border shelling”


        The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have attacked an outpost of the Syrian Army near the occupied Golan Heights after shells flew across the border.

        The Israeli military “attacked a Syrian outpost” after mortar shells were fired from that area towards the occupied Golan Heights, the IDF said in a statement on Friday. The shells fell in the buffer zone without reaching Israeli-held territory or causing any damage, the statement said.

        It also noted that the shelling was apparently part of the fighting between the Syrian government forces and the militants entrenched in the area. Still, the IDF decided to retaliate. The Israeli forces are not involved in the internal conflict in Syria, the statement said, adding that Tel Aviv would still insist on “compliance with the 1974 disengagement agreement,” which includes maintaining a buffer zone in the Golan Heights.

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  5. “What will Putin give us?”

    That’s not the question. The question is:

    What will Putin give Donald, personally?

    Remember, Donald is the president who didn’t divest and he seems to be getting away with emoluments violations at will. So what will Putin give to Donald, personally, to get what Putin wants? And, how bad will that hurt America and the rest of the free world? Which is what the rest of the free world is asking too.

  6. I’m left with the feeling that you haven’t accurately portrayed the level of fragility this bargain for peace is subject to at all times. There’s much to lose if it doesn’t go through though, for all players involved. The 1945 analogy is to my mind simply forced.

    Lastly a question. Have you perhaps heard or read what Col. Lawrence Wilkinson has had to say on all of this? In case you haven’t, I’ll drop a few links, I hope it’s alright

    • Lorenzo,
      I haven’t discounted how fragile the possibility for this is. But, at the same time, I don’t see Trump as someone who will back down from a fight with the ‘DeepState’/Davos crowd who are putting a gun to our heads and threatening us with nuclear war in exchange for them retaining power. That is the bargain in front of him and Putin. They are trying to stoke a nuclear conflict between the U.S. and Russia to maintain the status quo.

      And Trump’s performance in Singapore tells me he’s ready to take this fight to ‘defcon 1’ and win it by calling their bluff.

      The Yalta reference may be ‘forced’ but when I said that Putin’s intervention into Syria would be remembered as the ‘peak of the U.S.’s ability to project power around the world’ I was told that was daft as well. Time is proving me right on some of my hyperbole. At the end of the day, no one truly wants to blow up the world. And knowing the people’s motivations (retaining power, bringing Utopia for them and feudalism for us) leaves only one conclusion, there will be no war with Russia. It kills too many bottom lines.

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