Written on 23/5/2016 here: alraimedia.com/ar/article/special-reports/2016/05/23/681748/nr/lebanon … via @
Key terms: Syria, Lebanon, ISIS, ISIL, IS, Jabhat al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Russia, Iran, U.S., USA.
By Elijah J. Magnier: (on Twitter @ )
- The military solution is over, what remains is scattered internal fighting.
- The battle against ISIS continues until Deir Ezzour; Russia will participate in it.
The U.S. and Russia are trying to freeze the war in Syria to direct the military apparatus against the self-proclaimed “Islamic State” (ISIS) and Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda franchise in Syria. According to source within the decision makers in Syria, “Secretary of State John Kerry told his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov the U.S. is aiming to end the war in Syria, that is to freeze the situation on all fronts until a matured political solution can be agreed upon by all actors involved in the war in Syria”.
“ The US advised the Russians to avoid drowning in the Syrian quagmire as was the case for ground forces in Iraq following the 2003 invasion. The regional countries – Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey – are ready to continue supplying weapons and finance to rebels endlessly and we (the USA) won’t allow the rebels to be defeated, ensuring that the opposition withstands any assault by the Syrian regime and its allies for a long period. The cease-fire would force everyone to come to the negotiation table and would weaken ISIS and contain its militants within a defined geographic area.”
According to the source “The aim is to create the kind of demarcation lines in Syria, similar to the ones in the Lebanese civil war during the 80s, to be endured for many years to come. Inevitably, there will be the normal sporadic fighting along these lines and the situation may even deteriorate for a while. Nevertheless, the beginning of the end of the war in Syria will be on track. The political solution will have no victors and no losers, but a solution that will neither satisfy nor provoke either side. The Americans will hold back the Syrian opposition regional backers and Russia will use its influence over its allies led by Damascus. Such an agreement is supposed to hold at least until the end of the Obama administration is in office”.
No doubt such an agreement will cause squabbling between allies. For example in Ghouta, over 500 rebel fighters were killed due to fighting between Jaish Al-Islam and Faylaq Al-Rahman that is supported by Jaabhat Al-Nusra (Al-Qaeda in Syria), Ajnad Al-Sham and the Fustat army (without the participation of Ahrar Al-Sham). Ghouta is divided into an eastern and western part where brothers in arms fight each other, similar to what used to happen in Lebanon during the civil war between “Amal” movement and the Palestinians, or between “Amal” and the progressive socialist Druse party, or between the Palestinians and “Al-Murabetoon”. Therefore, the aim is to freeze the fight against Damascus long enough to have rebel factions killing each other. The population is armed and, inevitably, infighting is a natural reaction among the warlords to impose their control over weaker groups.
The new situation in Syria has led the Lebanese Hezbollah to redeploy its forces and withdraw a significant number of militants from the established demarcation lines – and decide not to be part of the U.S-Russia political agreement. The decision was taken at high command level in Lebanon, ordering Hezbollah to return to the main cities since all military offensives had been put on ice. Hezbollah will have a defensive military role, will protect the already controlled cities but will also take part in hit-and-run tactics in “enemy land”. Since Damascus agreed to join the political process for the moment, Hezbollah won’t go against the Russian-American deal.
Nevertheless, two issues persist: ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra. As for Al-Nusra, in Syria, regional countries with Syrian proxies on the ground believe that the cease-fire is enough to turn the tide against Nusra if its disengagement with al-Qaeda Central does not happen. The Americans believe that the Syrian society and the various rebel factions will turn against Nusra.
As far as ISIS is concerned, it is probable that Obama won’t be able to defeat it before the end of his mandate, due in seven months, but hoping instead to degrade it and reduce its forces significantly. ISIS is the weakest force in Syria and Damascus is planning to move toward the al-Shaeer filed west of Syria and break the siege around Deir-ezzour. There is no intention of sending the Syrian Army and its allies to Raqqa because the liberation of this northern ISIS city will be a collective effort.
A new phase in the Syrian war has begun were most forces are heading toward de-escalation of the fighting between belligerents (at the exception of al-Qaeda and ISI), leaving the scene clear for the lords of war, though the Syrian people have not said their last word yet.