Syrian north redrawing Mideast map

Syrian north redrawing Mideast map

Eva J. Koulouriotis

Six years since the start of the Syrian revolution, the Syrian regime and its Iranian and Russian allies have killed more than half a million, displaced more than eight million people and destroyed a 6,000 years old civilization. Day after day, the Syrian revolution still reveals to us the true face of terrorism. 
After the failure of the truce and Lavrov-Kerry agreement in Geneva, Russia started to throw fire over the heads of civilians in Aleppo, using new deadlier weapons such as GBU-28 missiles, that are used to kill people hiding deep in shelters. Russian anger came after three days of debates and discussions in New York in electrifying atmosphere within Syria support group, without reaching so far an agreement to end the suffering.
The main reasons for the failure of the Geneva agreement is the US and Russian faith in their ability to impose their choices on all actors in the Syrian arena, where the wind is not always fair, and the mistrust between the Russians and the Americans.
There were two more new developments in the last two weeks: International and regional actors entered into a new circle of own decision making regarding the Syrian crisis against Lavrov and Kerry’s will. Moreover, strong moves within the US administration by the Pentagon began to affect American foreign policy decisions.
The failed coup in Turkey had a significant effect on the Syrian crisis. Turkey restored relations with Russia on one hand and at the same time took a firm stance toward the US partner. The first step showing this effect was Turkey’s direct penetration in Syria through the launch of the operation “Euphrates Shield” which aimed to remove Daesh from the Turkish border.
This operation was successful and allowed the Syrian armed opposition to control over 1.000 square kilometers of the northern countryside of Aleppo with the support of the Turkish army.
However, it resulted in dragging 6.000 fighters of the Syrian opposition forces to “Euphrates Shield” operation from the battle field of Aleppo and its countryside, thus bringing back the siege of a city where more than 350.000 civilians, mostly women and children, live.
Iranians were, practically, the first to reject the agreement between Kerry and Lavrov. They were responsible for the non-access of humanitarian aid to the city of Aleppo, which was an essential condition for the success of this agreement.
Tehran also gave orders to the affiliated militias within Syria for breaking the cease-fire in Aleppo, Hama, Damascus and Homs. Gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi, military adviser to Iranian leader Ali Khamenei, also stressed that this agreement made under the table, ignores the interests of Iran in Syria. Iran always believed and continues to believe that its presence in Syria is necessary for the completion of its expansion plan in the region, and what is happening in Yemen, is part of this plan.
Iran so far paid more than $100 billion to support the survival of Assad in Syria, and lost more than 500 Iranian soldiers in the ongoing war there.
Iran has also worked hard to transform the conflict in Syria to a sectarian civil war by creating sectarian militias such as Fatemiyun and Zainabiyun and gave orders to Hezbollah terrorist militia to enter Syria.
Saudi Arabia stood with the Syrian revolution in all international fora. It called on the international community to shoulder its responsibilities to put limits on Assad’s actions.
The Kingdom also contributed to the organization of the Syrian political opposition and the formation of the Syrian opposition coalition.
The Kingdom has exercised all its influence on the regional countries and international actors in the Syrian crisis to try to find a solution that could lead to the end of the suffering experienced by the Syrian people.
Saudi Arabia worked hard to soften Russian steel stance on the Syrian crisis. The ongoing talks with Russia about the installation of oil production are related to this. Many Saudi officials’ visits to a number of European countries were aimed at re-internationalization of the Syrian crisis. The notable results of these moves have become visible through the return of the French, the British and the German to the new table of Syrian talks.
Finally, the upcoming visit of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif to Ankara to re-adjust the movements of the allies of the Syrian revolution will have a positive effect on what is happening in northern Syria.
Despite the bleak picture of killings and disasters that prevailed in Syrian territory, the hope to give the people of this great nation their freedom still exists.
The military opposition within Syria should overcome the ideological conflicts, as the political opposition abroad must rearrange its lines in front of the international pressure. The road map constituted by the opposition and presented in London two weeks ago, is a good step to prove their merit and their ability to lead the next phase.
All regional parties and supporters of the Syrian people have to understand that what is happening in northern Syria will redraw the map of the entire Middle East. What Turkey has achieved by “Euphrates shield” operation deployment, is crossing the American red line. This shows that the language of facts is actually the most successful.
In the coming days a new offensive will be deployed to break the siege of the eastern part of the city of Aleppo.
There are references in Western circles that underscore Washington’s intention, with the support of the United Nations and the international coalition to fight terrorism, to ban flights starting from Aleppo city, to later expand to the entire Syrian territory. This prohibition includes the Syrian regime’s air force and Russian air force, although final decision has not been taken yet, expecting the Russian answer.

— Eva J. Koulouriotis is Greek political analyst specialized in Middle East.

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