The “Islamic State” and al-Qaeda are meeting: can they unite under one umbrella or even join forces?

 

Published here:  via

12 October 2017

By Elijah J. Magnier: 

The “Islamic State” (ISIS) and al-Qaeda (AQ) commanders and clerics have been engaged in a dialogue for some time to try to put their differences to one side, in order to join battle against their respective enemies. Although both groups employ the same Salafi Takfiri ideology, they differ in objectives and priorities and they have an issue around recognising the “Caliph” leadership (ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi al-Samarraei). But they have one element in common: both AQ and ISIS are losing the Levant and Mesopotamia.

AQ has gathered long experience since the beginning of its existence in the 80s, and learned from it. In marked contrast with ISIS, it recently adopted a relatively more friendly approach towards the population and towards other Muslims, even those religiously considered by the group as apostates. Keeping the society they operate in, if not on their side, at least not against them has been understood through Jihad al-Tamqeen (“maintain the holy struggle until you hold full power and control of territory”). This policy has been successfully demonstrated in the Levant and Yemen.

This is clearly AQ’s best approach in both the Muslim and non-Muslim societies where they operate, to avoid any distraction from their main “far enemy” objective. The first AQ generation started with Ayman al-Zawaheri, AbdallahAzzam and Osama Bin Laden who considered the “far enemy” to be the United States of America. The second generation produced Abu Mohamad al-Joulani, a chameleon ready to jump from one group to another to save his kingdom, but more productive of conflict between the groups that he demands allegiance from. Joulani fought against the “nearby local enemy” in Syria to expand his authority but hosted core al-Qaeda figures to benefit from their experience and prepare for the phase (Khorasan group) which will come after the “conquering” of the Levant. AQ in Syria has remained ambiguous about its long-term objectives.

ISIS adopted a more bloody approach and rushed headlong towards its impossible objectives (conquer the Middle East, Spain and Rome). It declared the entire world its enemy, hitting the “nearby enemy” as a priority and accepting Bay’a (loyalty) also through the Internet for those willing to carry out individual attacks in the western countries where they resided. “As long as the media talk about it, it’s ok.”

The modern ISIS generation (al-Qaeda in Iraq) was holding to the extreme Takfiri Salafi teaching of Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi and his more radical student Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Zarqawi developed the extreme approach by targeting both Muslims and non-Muslims in Iraq, aiming to create a sectarian war to align the largest number of Sunni behind them. This behaviour created anger in Bin Laden and Zawaheri who reproached Zarqawi for unacceptably targeting Shia Muslims rather than the US- but in vain. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (who replaced Abu Omar al-Baghdadi), born in 1971, belongs to the second generation, more violent and bloodthirsty but competently using the latest technology to expand its message. Baghdadi murdered both Shia Muslims and Sunni s (including Salafi Jihadi) in order to sit on the “Caliphate Throne,” the throne that is falling apart today.

The race for power and control between al-Qaeda and ISIS in Syria was detrimental to both groups but was manna to the multi-ethnic populations of the Levant and Mesopotamia. Had both joined forces, no army would have been able to stand against them. The split had been pronounced by ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani in his speech: ‘Othran (excuse us) Emir al-Qaeda”, using a condescending defiance towards AQ’s central leader AyamanZawaheri.

In fact it is unlikely that a new group will emerge from the combination of Al-Qaeda and ISIS, because the Salafi Takfiri arena is saturated with those same ideas and behaviour. In view of the obvious extremes they represent, and the tension between them (“temporarily less radical established al-Qaeda” versus the bloody ISIS who “invented all ways of killing”), no new group will be able to bring innovative religious doctrine (Takfiri Salafi Jihadi) or behaviour to their followers- who have already suffered such strong hits in Iraq and Syria, and are still suffering from it today, with the revenge aftermath.

The defeat of the Jihadi Salafi in the Middle East is making a noise that will be heard in all corners of the globe. Even if both groups decide to start again, based on their previous experience, the question will always remain: who is going to lead? Can they handle any kind of co-existence? Is ISIS going to appoint a new Caliph or a more modest new Emir to allow cohabitation? This is the problem of all extremist religious groups.

In the coming months, ISIS (who announced its existence in Syria in May 2011 under the name of Jabhat al-Nusraand before the split with the “Islamic State” in Iraq) is expected to lose all the territory it has controlled. This is equivalent to half of all Syrian territory (to-date only 15% of the Syrian territory is under ISIS control). ISIS is expected to retreat towards the Syrian and Iraqi deserts, hunted down and with no home or society to host its militants. ISIS is crumbling, and with it, its main objective and slogan: “remaining and expanding” (BaqiyawaTatamaddad). The Caliphate is fast disappearing with the loss of territory in both Iraq and Syria. That slogan is represented and dishonoured today by a perishable and shrinking group: it is on the run, adopting the old style guerrilla warfare (“hit-and-run“) as its only remaining strategy. It is no longer a “state” because it soon will be without any defined territory in the Middle East. Its “state” has dissolved.

Its late spokesperson al-Adnani, in his message entitled “This is not our creed and it will never be such” (ma kana Hatha Manhajuna walan Yaqun) prayed to Allah: “O God, if this “state” (ISIS) holds a group of Khawarij , please break its back [destroy it], kill its leaders, and bring down its flag…But if it be a real state of Islam, confirm it [its power], give it glory, victory and support its Caliphate”. As events unfolded, Allah clearly responded to Adnani, destroying the fake Caliphate and taking the life of most of its leaders, including that of Adnani himself.

 

At the beginning of its expansion, and as its main weapon, ISIS injected fear into the hearts of Iraqi and Syrian troops by beheading “Hollywood style” every prisoner captured; and they used knives, drowning, burning, explosives, and tanks to kill and crush the bodies of their enemy prisoners. With their suicide Person Borne Improvised Explosives Devices (PBIEDs)and their vehicles (VBIEDs) they created terror and managed to occupy many cities. Today, forces combatting ISIS have gathered enough willpower and experience to neutralise all methods used by the terror group, rendering these completely ineffective when it comes to confrontation on the battlefield.

ISIS’s only shelter today must be away from the population: civilians and societies who hosted the terrorist group for years for many reasons found their belongings destroyed- in fact due to the combats necessary to dislodge it. Many of their relatives and families were killed in the crossfire or while fighting the group. Sunni cities mainly suffered most and will need years to reconstruct what the war has destroyed. It cannot be excluded, however, that there are families who supported and continue to support ISIS in individual cases. These would be mainly in Iraq where the group was born. But that will not give the group sufficient strength to start again: the same campaign initiated in 2014 when it occupied the second city of Iraq, Mosul, along with many other Sunni groups is now out of the question

ISIS is expected to metamorphose into an insurgency group, becoming outlaws, hunted on both sides of the Syrian and Iraqi borders. Failing to conquer Bilad al-Sham (Levant) and Bilad ma Bayna al-Nahrayn (Mesopotamia) can only mean one thing: the heart of the Islamic Caliphate is no longer accessible or realisable to ISIS, indeed, to any other similar group. Damascus and Baghdad rejected ISIS attacks when the group was at the strongest moment in its history. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi al-Samarraei, the ISIS group leader, destroyed any hope there may have been for Salafi Jihadi Takfirito re-establish the 1400-year-old dynasty- and this for any time to come in future modern history.

But ISIS will remain in Egypt, Afghanistan, Yemen, Africa, and Asia and its presence will be manifested by spectacular tactical attacks by a few sporadic “lone wolves”. These terrorist hits in Muslim and western societies are capable of causing tactical but not strategically effective damage worldwide.

An ISIS innovation was to open the door for an “internet Bay’a” (a pledge of allegiance) as long as a video is registered before any attack just to claim the responsibility. There was no real objective behind this apart from trying to spread fear and confusion in western societies. ISIS allowed youths on various continents to confuse reality with imagination through its excellent propaganda tools, its effective use of social media networking, and the excitement of mainstream media effectively “compelled” to help spread the ISIS message to a larger audience. All this is gone with the wind.

Today ISIS is surrounded and attacked on all fronts in Syria and Iraq. Its desperate situation has therefore pushed its leaders to accept a dialogue with the enemy, its competitor al-Qaeda. In fact, many encounters have taken place in various parts of Syria, including in the northern city of Idlib and in Turkey, with the objective of trying to reduce the gap between the two groups, both of which today face similar treatment. Al-Qaeda is cornered in Idlib and will be forced to change its name once more (from al-Nusra to Jabhat Fath al-Sham to Hay’at Tahrir al Sham), in order to hide under a new “moderate” dress, since they are no longer identified as “moderate rebels” by mainstream media and the western diplomats responsible for promoting regime change for years in Syria.

Al-Qaeda in Syria will have to join Turkey, who promised to “domesticate” the various groups in the northern Syrian city of Idlib, after declaring the city part of the four de-confliction zones. Al-Qaeda is expected to make a show, pulling out a few foreign militants, but it will definitely maintain its base. Al-Qaeda cannot give up on Bilad al-Sham and is used to working underground. The Levant is too important for the Salafist extremists, who are at the heart of the ancient Caliphate.

Al-Qaeda has a mission adopted for a few years now (unlike the bloody and brutal ISIS), to win “hearts and minds”. In Syria, both al-Qaeda in Bilad al-Sham Leader Abu Mohamad al-Joulani and Al-Qaeda central leader Ayman al-Zawaheri found a “marriage” suitable for both interests. Joulani protected himself from being overwhelmed by Baghdadi who asked him to return to his origin as a simple Emir within ISIS (before 2011 when he was in Iraq under Islamic State in Iraq). He chose to become an independent leader following a wider group,creating a huge division between the two groups. Zawaheri recognised the opportunity presented by Joulani that allowed the old AQ central chief to increase his followers and therefore jumped on the occasion, making the biggest mistake in his jihadi career, for the benefit of expanding his honorific authority into the Levant. Zawaheri’s decision to keep the split between Joulani and Baghdadi created a war between the same jihadists over who will control Syria. Today both AQ and ISIS are in the same situation, both losing territories and control.

However, AQ is not only based in the Levant but in around 50 other countries. Although the US drones and Special Forces killed over 60 of its leaders and operatives, it is producing a seemingly endless reserve of commanders. It is also managing to adapt to local conditions and protect the interests of its host society: in Yemen, AQAP (AQ Arabian Peninsula) pulled out of cities to avoid battles that could have destroyed homes. Moreover, AQAP called itself also “Abna’ (sons of) Hadramout”, to indicate the local involvement of the group.

The meeting of the two groups ISIS and al-Qaeda (the biggest losers after the “regime change” does not really come as a surprise, since they hold the same ideology. It emanates from a blend of the 20th Century Egyptian SayedQutub – who defined the Takfiri philosophy from his jail– and (before him) the 13th Century Islamic cleric Sheikh al-Islam Taqi ad-Din Ahmad Ibn Taymiyyah. Sayed Qutub wrote “Fi Thylal al-Quran”, “Ma’alem fil Tareeq (with its eight chapters on the Islamic creed), and “Khasaes al Tusawer Al-Islami” (on the cosmic and human existence). Sayed Qutub considered Islam a revolution, and that the Islamic societies are living a Jazziliyya (pre-Islamic Arabia ignorance), and in consequence in need of a renewed understanding of the religion in a harsher way. Ibin Taymiyyah wrote “Al Aqeedah al Wasitiyah (the principles of Islam), Al Uboodiyah (a true slave of God) and many other books calling all those who don’t follow the “real path and creed” as he sees it “worthy of being killed”- even if they are Muslims by birth and practice. His teaching emanates from the 780 AD Iraqi scholar Ahmad ibn Hanbal, whose teaching is, of course, recognised and followed by al-Qaeda and ISIS.

Therefore it is not simply a question of ideology and creed, but ultimately the development of a political approach based on the objectives, priorities and recognition of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as Caliph. As long as Baghdadi is alive, he declares himself the Caliph, imposing obedience on all Muslims. AQ discussed the shape of the Caliphate declared by ISIS: is it a particular one linked to a time and place? Is it a war Caliphate? Or it is a general Caliphate all Muslims should follow? Scepticism dominated Salafi jihadists around the Islamic World, aware that such a “premature caliphate” not holding the right circumstances around it to survive, is doomed to fall.

Al-Qaeda considers it is time to return to Iraq and call followers to prepare to fill the gap, predicting the fall of the bloody style of ISIS (the same style was used by AQ some time ago and recognised as ineffective and damaging to any host society). AQ may have a better chance than ISIS in Iraq, depending on the central government in Baghdad and its way of dealing with those Sunni areas devastated by the war with ISIS.

 

 

If Baghdadi is killed, the Caliphate and Bay’a given to him will fall, much as the ISIS dynasty (as a state) is falling into bits and pieces now but the group will remain. Therefore, the time of AQ will come, stronger than ISIS, with a solid base and plenty of experience behind it, unlike the ISIS followers, victims of a bushfire which consumed them. It doesn’t mean religious terrorist groups are hierarchical (led by one person who holds the group together and with it the grops falls if he disappears) but work horizontal (many can replace the leader in case of death or removal): there is always a new Emir that can lead the group. But in the case of the “Caliph” Baghdadi, the Bay’a was given to him for his “state”, for the seizure of the territory he controls, and the money he invested in other wilayats across the world. With Baghdadi removed, with ISIS losing its territory in the Middle East, with Baghdad and Damascus (the ancient Islam centre of the Caliphate) out of reach, and without money to distribute (surely ISIS kept financial backup to resurrect in one way or another but not enough to distribute), ISIS central will be weaker than any of itsaffiliates outside the Middle East, however small.

The era of Zarqawi (who considered Bin Laden soft!) al-Thab’bah” (the slaughterer) and that of Baghdadi after him (who attacked Zawaheri and belittled him) is fading. That danger is also reaching AQ. So the two groups are forced to collaborate without necessarily merging. The strong-headed ISIS can’t adapt to AQ Emir Abu Muhammad al-Joulani who flirted with atheists in the Free Syrian Army and tolerated groups with “weak” beliefs (among Islamic groups fighting within the Syrian rebels with loyalties to Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the US). ISIS will have to deal with Zawaheri and its inner circle in the Levant (not with Joulani considered a traitor).

ISIS is prepared for the “dark days”: today ISIS has lost all generated wealth (most oil fields are passing to the hands of the Iraqi and Syrian governments) and can no longer impose taxes similar to the one during its rule that generated millions of dollars daily. But its leadership is prepared for the era after defeat, mainly after the battle of Mosul (Iraq) and the fall of Palmyra and Deir al-Zour (Syria).

Both groups, as stated above, need to put their differences on one side and find common ground: this is not impossible given the situation both sides are in. Joint work is expected to take place between AQ and ISIS- but not a merger. A unified front against their enemies is very necessary and a kind of truce between them is soon expected. Alas, the ending of the war in Syria and Iraq does not mean that the troubles of the Middle East will be over.

La Turquie à Idlib sous couvert de l’aviation russe et Les forces syriennes et irakiennes feront jonction à leurs frontières respectives

 

 

Publié ici:   via

Article en Anglais: 

Par Elijah J. Magnier: @ejmalrai

Traduction : Daniel G.

À la suite de la violation, par Al-Qaeda (AQ) au Levant (alias Front al-Nosra, alias Hay’at Tahrir al-Cham), de l’accord d’Astana visant une zone de désescalade dans la ville d’Idlib au nord de la Syrie, la Turquie et la Russie, avec la bénédiction de Damas, ont convenu de permettre aux troupes d’Ankara de progresser en territoire syrien pour s’occuper d’Al-Qaeda dans la ville. Les forces armées turques sont entrées dans le secteur contrôlé par AQ à la suite d’une entente entre les parties afin d’éviter une confrontation directe pour plusieurs raisons.

-Al-Qaeda est doté du meilleur arsenal militaire importé par l’intermédiaire de la Turquie au fil des années qu’a duré la guerre syrienne. Ses sympathisants internationaux (l’Occident, avec les USA en tête) et des pays du Moyen-Orient (principalement l’Arabie saoudite et le Qatar) ont fourni des armements au groupe terroriste en Syrie pour qu’il poursuive le combat contre l’armée syrienne et affaiblisse l’Iran et ses alliés au Levant. Al-Qaeda a également confisqué des armes perfectionnées américaines aux soi-disant rebelles modérés de « l’Armée syrienne libre » et de ses diverses divisions, que la CIA et le Pentagone avaient armés et entraînés.

-Al-Qaeda s’est révélé l’organisation djihadiste la mieux organisée, malgré ses pertes dans différentes guerres (en particulier la bataille d’Alep et ses combats récents autour d’Idlib à la suite de l’accord d’Astana au Kazakhstan). Les officiers de l’armée syrienne et du Hezbollah parlent avec respect de la capacité militaire d’Al-Qaeda, de sa détermination sur le champ de bataille et dans son idéologie, et reconnaissent le courage de ses militants.

-Al Qaeda a mis au point des drones armés et des véhicules blindés commandés à distance dont il se sert dans diverses attaques (avec ou sans conducteur), qui se sont révélés plutôt efficaces sur le champ de bataille. AQ a utilisé aussi un nombre modéré de kamikazes comparativement au groupe armé « État islamique » (Daech), qui envoie inutilement de façon chaotique des dizaines de kamikazes à chacune de ses attaques. Cela confirme qu’AQ est un bon planificateur et qu’il accorde de la valeur à ses militants, ce qui en fait un adversaire bien plus féroce et beaucoup plus puissant que Daech.

-L’armée turque est restée immobilisée aux portes d’al-Bab pendant des mois, car Daech les empêchait de progresser. La Turquie a pu occuper cette ville du nord de la Syrie seulement après avoir conclu des accords bilatéraux avec Daech, pour qu’il puisse se retirer sans livrer combat. La faiblesse des forces loyales à la Turquie est ressortie dans les affrontements, tout comme son incapacité à occuper toute ville importante où des forces idéologiques sont présentes (AQ et Daech). Refusant d’admettre ses pertes, la Turquie a été réticente à reconnaître le meurtre barbare de soldats turcs ayant été capturés. Ankara ne sera assurément pas heureux de voir d’autres soldats turcs capturés de nouveau au cours de batailles à venir en Syrie.

Tout ce qui précède indique qu’Ankara, malgré le soutien aérien russe, n’osera pas s’engager dans une confrontation militaire d’envergure contre Al-Qaeda, mais qu’il cherchera plutôt à s’entendre avec le groupe, soit pour permettre à AQ de quitter les lieux en toute sécurité (si Al-Qaeda souhaite partir), soit pour l’autoriser à rester sous une nouvelle forme ou identité, en se faisant passer pour une organisation locale.

L’efficacité de l’aviation russe sur le champ de bataille syrien depuis septembre 2015 a été significative, car les bombardements aériens se faisaient en harmonie avec les troupes terrestres (l’armée syrienne et ses alliés), qui en tiraient un avantage réel. Les alliés de la Russie ne se souciaient pas des pertes humaines, préféraient la défaite des djihadistes à tout prix et voulaient reprendre le territoire occupé. Ce qui n’est pas le cas des forces turques censées collaborer avec l’aviation russe si AQ refuse de se désister et de livrer Idlib aux envoyés d’Ankara. Idlib est considéré comme une ville complètement contrôlée par AQ, qui a chassé les mandataires syriens proturcs d’« Ahrar al-Cham » il y a plusieurs mois.

La guerre en Syrie et le contrôle de villes syriennes par des organisations djihadistes (Daech et AQ) tirent à leur fin. Ce sera alors le début d’un processus politique complexe qui ne manquera pas d’entraîner des conflits d’intérêts entre de nombreux pays : les USA et la Turquie (qui occupent tous les deux une partie du nord), la Russie (qui maintient de bonnes relations avec le régime syrien et de nombreux groupes opposés au régime et qui veut absolument mettre fin à la guerre en Syrie pour marquer des points sur l’échiquier international), Damas (qui veut reprendre l’ensemble du territoire syrien), l’Iran (qui considère qu’il a gagné cette guerre avec ses alliés et qui est prêt à poursuivre la lutte, avec ou sans la Russie, jusqu’à la fin de l’existence des USA, de Daech et d’AQ au Levant) et, enfin, l’Arabie saoudite et le Qatar, qui ont soutenu les djihadistes et les rebelles syriens et qui tentent d’obtenir par voie politique, autour de la table de négociations, ce qu’ils n’ont pu réaliser sur le champ de bataille.

Cependant, les USA cherchent encore à mélanger les cartes en se servant des Kurdes (en Irak et en Syrie) pour s’assurer que des parties de la Syrie échappent au contrôle de Damas (et de Bagdad), et pour empêcher l’arrivée de l’armée syrienne et de ses alliés au poste-frontière d’Al-Qaim, dernier bastion de Daech (des deux côtés de la frontière irako-syrienne), où il est encore puissant.

Les forces américaines tiennent encore le poste-frontière d’al-Tanf et ont imposé un périmètre de sécurité de 60 km pour empêcher l’armée syrienne et ses alliés de s’approcher d’un rassemblement inutile de forces engagées dans la soi-disant « lutte contre le terrorisme ». En fait, ce mois-ci, des combattants de Daech ont traversé la région semi-désertique faisant partie de ce corridor de sécurité de 60 km sous contrôle américain pour mener une attaque militaire massive contre l’armée syrienne. Les USA, dont les forces sont censées surveiller ce secteur, n’ont rien fait contre ces centaines de militants de Daech qui ont attaqué la route menant à Der Ezzor qui avait été libérée. Même si l’armée syrienne a repris la majeure partie du territoire, la Russie a exprimé son profond mécontentement envers la politique américaine : c’était un « coup bas », dans le but apparent de prolonger la guerre en Syrie.

Cela a incité Bagdad et Damas à unifier leur soutien militaire en déployant leurs forces armées vers la frontière (Al-Qaim), afin de mieux frapper Daech et de mettre fin à son occupation du territoire une fois pour toutes.

Le dernier chapitre de la guerre en Syrie n’est pas encore écrit, mais sa rédaction devrait commencer l’an prochain (2018), quand tous les intervenants se réuniront autour de la table de négociations. Les pays concernés n’auront alors pas d’autre choix que de révéler leurs véritables intentions et objectifs.

Turkey in Idlib under Russian Air Force cover and Syrian and Iraqi forces will meet at their respective borders


Published here:  via

By Elijah J. Magnier: @ejmalrai

After the violation by Al-Qaeda (AQ) in the Levant (aka Jabhat al-Nusra, aka Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham) of the Astana de-escalation agreement over the northern Syrian city of Idlib North, Turkey and Russia – with the blessing of Damascus – agreed to allow Ankara’s troops to push forward into Syrian territory to deal with al-Qaeda in the city. Turkish forces moved into the AQ controlled area following an understanding between the parties to avoid direct engagement for several reasons.

-Al-Qaeda is equipped with the best military arsenal imported via Turkey throughout the years of the Syrian war. International supporters (the West, led by US) and Middle Eastern countries (mainly Saudi Arabia and Qatar) provided armaments to the terrorist group in Syria to keep fighting the Syrian Army and exhaust Iran and its allies in the Levant. Al-Qaeda also confiscated sophisticated US weapons seized from the so-called moderate “Free Syrian Army” and its various branches, armed and trained by both the CIA and the Pentagon.

-Al-Qaeda has proven to be the best organized jihadist organization, despite its losses in different wars (most notably the battle of Aleppo and its recent battles around Idlib following the Astana-Kazakhstan agreement). Syrian and Hezbollah officers speak with respect about al-Qaeda military capability, determination in the battlefield and ideology and they appreciate the courage of its militants.

-Al Qaeda has developed armed drones and armoured  vehicles operating remotely and used in various attacks (with and without driver), proving quite effective in the battlefield. AQ also provided a moderate number of suicide bombers in contrast to the chaotic “Islamic state” (ISIS) which used dozens of unnecessary suicide bombers in every attack. This confirms that AQ is a good planner, and values its own militants, rendering it much fiercer and a far more powerful opponent than ISIS.

-The Turkish army was stopped at the gates of al-Bab for months: ISIS prevented Ankara’s troops from advancing. Turkey has been able to occupy the northern city of al-Bab only after bilateral understandings with ISIS to secure a withdrawal without fighting. The weakness of the forces loyal to Turkey has emerged in the fighting and its incapacity to occupy any important city where there are ideological forces (AQ and ISIS). Turkey, refusing to admit its public loss, was reluctant to acknowledge the barbaric murder of its captured Turkish soldiers: Ankara will definitely not be happy to see its soldiers captured again in future battles in Syria.

All of the above indicates that Ankara – despite Russian air support – will not dare to engage in full-scale military confrontation with al-Qaeda, but rather needs an understanding with the group to secure either AQ’s exit (if al-Qaeda wants to leave) or to allow AQ to remain under a new form or identity, pretending to be a local organisation.

The effectiveness of Russian aviation since September 2015 in the Syrian battlefield was significant because the ground troops (the Syrian Army and its allies) were in harmony and managed to take real advantage of the air bombardment. Russian allies disregarded human losses, favouring the defeat of jihadists at all costs, wanting to recover the occupied territory. This does not apply to the Turkish forces that are supposed to work with Russian aviation if AQ refuses to stand down and deliver the city of Idlib to Ankara’s envoys. Idlib has been announced as a city under AQ full control which expelled the pro-Turkish Syrian proxies of “Ahrar Sham” several months ago.

Syria is headed towards ending the war and ending also the jihadist (ISIS and AQ) organisations’ control of the Syrian cities. This would allow the beginning of a complex political process in which the interests of many countries clash: US and Turkey (both countries occupy part of the north), Russia (who maintains good relationship with the Syrian regime and many anti-regime groups, desperate to end the war in Syria to register a worldwide achievement), Damascus (which wishes to regain the entire Syrian territory), Iran (which considers itself and its allies winners in this war and does not mind continuing the battles with or without Russia until the end of existence of the US, ISIS and AQ in the Levant), and finally Saudi Arabia and Qatar (who supported the Syrian jihadists and rebels, and who are trying to take through politics – around the negotiation table – what they couldn’t achieve on the battlefield).

However, the US is still trying to shuffle the cards by using the Kurds (in Iraq and Syria) to separate part of Syria from Damascus’s control (and Baghdad) and prevent the arrival of the Syrian army and its allies at the Al-Qaim crossing, where ISIS’s last stronghold (on both sides of the Syrian-Iraqi border) is still standing firm.

US forces still keep al-Tanf crossing and have imposed a 60km security perimeter to prevent the Syrian Army and its allies from approaching what is an unnecessary gathering of forces in the so-called “fight against terrorism”. In fact, this month ISIS crossed the Syrian semi-desert from within this 60km safe corridor under US control to conduct a massive military attack on the Syrian Army. The US, whose forces are supposed to monitor the area, failed to deal with hundreds of ISIS militants who were attacking the Deir-ezzour liberated highway. Despite the recovery of most of the territory by the Syrian Army, Russia expressed serious anger towards the US policy: it was a punch “below the belt” apparently with the aim of prolonging the Syrian war and to slow down the Syrian Army and its allies on the Deir-ezzour front against ISIS.

This prompted Baghdad and Damascus to agree to unify military support by sending their troops to the border (Al-Qaim) and to strike and end the ISIS territory occupation once and for all.

The final chapter in Syria has not yet been written, but the beginning of the writing will begin next year (2018) when all the players will meet around the negotiation table. At that time the countries concerned will have no alternative but to reveal the reality of their intentions and objectives.

Le Liban pourrait se diriger vers un nouveau « 7 mai » à la suite de la réconciliation arabo-israélienne et de la partition du Moyen-Orient

 

Publié ici:  http://alrai.li/mb8nn4f Par Elijah J. Magnier – @ejmalrai

Traduction : Daniel G.

Le Hezbollah et l’Iran croient que les protagonistes du Moyen-Orient et d’ailleurs dans le monde, qui sont impliqués dans la guerre en Syrie depuis 2011 et qui ont perdu leur guerre au profit de la Russie, de l’Iran et de leurs alliés, ne sont pas prêts à accepter la défaite. Ils chercheront plutôt à parvenir à un rapprochement officiel avec Israël, ce qui ne manquera pas d’entraîner une vive réaction du Hezbollah contre ses ennemis politiques au Liban. Le Hezbollah, de pair avec ses alliés locaux, n’hésitera pas à reprendre le contrôle du pays, ou du moins à renvoyer ceux qui prônent une réconciliation Arabo-israélienne.

Les USA préparent un bouquet de sanctions contre le Hezbollah libanais qui frapperont les institutions civiles qui lui sont affiliées, y compris les municipalités, les réseaux de services sociaux, les entreprises de construction et de rénovation, les stations de radio et de télé, bref, toute personne proche du Hezbollah ou sympathisante. Cette étape intervient après la visite au Liban de Thamer Al-Sabhan, ministre d’État saoudien pour les affaires du golfe Persique, où il a rencontré ses mandataires libano-saoudiens faisant partie de « l’alliance du 14 mars ». Il a également demandé au groupe et au peuple libanais « de prendre position pour ou contre le Hezb-al-Shaytan » [Hezbollah, le « parti de Satan »].

Il est clair que l’Arabie saoudite, Israël et les USA ne reconnaîtront pas que le changement de régime qu’ils souhaitaient en Syrie a échoué. Ils n’accepteront pas la victoire militaire du Hezbollah, de l’Iran et du président syrien Bachar al-Assad, obtenue après plus de six années de guerre en Syrie. L’administration en place aux USA a adopté une attitude hostile à l’égard de l’Iran et du Hezbollah. De concert avec Israël et l’Arabie saoudite, elle voudrait voir l’Iran et ses alliés complètement mis en échec au Moyen-Orient. L’envoyé de l’Arabie saoudite a averti ses alliés libanais que le Royaume compte couper les vivres à tout parti qui ne s’en prendra pas ouvertement au Hezbollah pendant les prochaines élections parlementaires.

La préparation en vue d’un processus de paix entre les pays du Golfe et Israël suit son cours et se rapproche un peu plus chaque jour d’une relation ouverte. Adel Jubeir, le ministre des Affaires étrangères saoudien, a dit clairement à l’ONU que son pays ne trouve aucune raison de considérer Israël comme un ennemi. Le général à la retraite saoudien Anwar Eshki, qui s’est rendu en Israël, a qualifié l’Iran et le Hezbollah d’ennemis communs d’Israël et de l’Arabie saoudite, et a dit que son pays était prêt à ouvrir une ambassade en Israël si Tel-Aviv reconnaît l’initiative de paix arabe.

Bien des pays du Moyen-Orient ont en fait donné leur bénédiction à la guerre israélienne de 2006 et aimeraient bien que le Hezbollah et l’Iran soient défaits, en plus de considérer que la cause palestinienne a perdu de sa pertinence. Lors de la dernière guerre israélienne au Liban, le premier ministre pro-saoudien et anti-Hezbollah de l’époque, Fouad Sinioura, a tenté d’imposer au Hezbollah l’abandon total de ses armes pendant les 31 jours de guerre, une demande qui ne provenait même pas d’Israël. En fait, Israël voulait que le Hezbollah recule de quelques kilomètres de plus de la frontière, ce qui lui a été refusé.

Cette attitude hostile de la part des Saoudiens et des Américains à l’encontre du miraculeux équilibre politique libanais ne peut changer la dynamique locale à l’avantage des ennemis et des opposants du Hezbollah à l’intérieur du pays. Des milliards de dollars ont été investis lors des dernières élections parlementaires pour n’obtenir que quelques sièges marginaux de plus. Le véritable problème ne réside pas dans les élections. Sa portée est beaucoup plus vaste : Que va faire l’alliance libanaise pro-saoudienne lorsque, le cas échéant, l’Arabie saoudite décidera d’établir des relations ouvertes avec Israël?

Certains groupes au sein de l’Alliance du 14 mars ont des liens avec Israël, d’autres suivent aveuglément la politique et les désirs des Saoudiens pour le Liban. Ces derniers vont inévitablement se conformer à la politique de l’Arabie saoudite, en ouvrant le bazar libanais afin de promouvoir la paix avec Israël, ce qui nous amène à la question suivante : Quelle sera, en pareil cas, la réaction du Hezbollah à l’encontre de ses partenaires politiques libanais actuels?

Premièrement, le partenariat actuel du gouvernement avec le Parlement va cesser, parce que le Hezbollah ne tolérera aucun groupe cherchant à établir, à promouvoir ou à afficher de bonnes relations avec Israël. La résistance libanaise ne peut aller à l’encontre de ses objectifs, de son idéologie et de ses convictions. Il est vrai que l’objectif du Hezbollah déclaré en 1985, qui était d’établir un État islamique, a changé depuis, parce qu’en le poursuivant il aurait servi ses ennemis en mettant son existence en péril, ce qui était en fait dû à l’acceptation d’une société multiethnique. Le Hezbollah n’acceptera jamais de côtoyer des groupes locaux appelant à établir des liens avec Israël, un pays dont l’objectif est d’éliminer le Hezbollah.

Des divisions entre les différents groupes ethniques sont également à prévoir. Les chrétiens libanais, les Druzes et les sunnites seront fractionnés entre ceux qui soutiendront un accord de paix avec Israël, et ceux qui seront dans le camp opposé, qui rassemble quand même pas mal de monde au pays (les nationalistes et les islamistes qui considèrent Israël comme un ennemi et rejettent tout contact avec Israël). Cette scission fournira suffisamment de raisons en faveur d’une intervention militaire et d’une protection du Hezbollah à l’intérieur du pays.

Le spectre d’un accord de paix avec Israël a beaucoup plus d’importance pour le Hezbollah que le système de communication militaire pour lequel le groupe a occupé la capitale Beyrouth le 7 mai 2008, en quelques heures à peine. À l’époque, le Hezbollah ne disposait pas de son arsenal actuel et de l’expérience militaire colossale acquise dans la conduite de la guerre et les combats urbains en Syrie. Durant cette longue guerre, le Hezbollah est parvenu à contrôler des villes et des territoires cinq fois plus étendus que le Liban au complet.

Le Hezbollah ne sera pas seul et comptera sur l’appui de groupes libanais multiethniques qui transformeront la bataille en objectif national plutôt que sectaire. Toutes les possibilités seront bien entendu sur la table, et leurs conséquences ne seront pas nécessairement évidentes, surtout s’il y a une intervention étrangère.

Les USA, Israël et l’Arabie saoudite ont perdu la bataille militaire en Syrie aux mains de « l’axe de la résistance » (Iran, Syrie, Hezbollah), ainsi que de la Russie. Cependant, le résultat définitif n’est pas nécessairement une victoire complète. La Syrie est pratiquement détruite et divisée par deux forces d’occupation sur son territoire : les forces des USA au nord-est, et celles de la Turquie au nord. Le régime syrien n’est pas tombé, mais personne n’a encore dit son dernier mot :

-Dossier électoral : la communauté internationale insiste pour que les élections présidentielles se tiennent avant le retour des réfugiés syriens, de façon à ce qu’ils votent dans leur pays de résidence, dans l’espoir de faire tomber Assad.

-Question kurde en Irak et en Syrie : bien des pays vont tenter leur chance, en poussant les choses comme un cheval de Troie, dans le but de redéfinir les frontières nationales et la carte du Moyen-Orient.

Le leader du Hezbollah, Sayed Hasan Nasrallah, nous a révélé involontairement ce à quoi il s’attend et ce qu’il prépare : « Il y a ceux qui préparent une nouvelle confrontation politique et un nouvel alignement au Liban, (…) poussant le Liban à un nouvel affrontement interne. Il semble que les USA se préparent en vue de nouvelles guerres au Moyen-Orient. Où est l’intérêt du Liban dans tout cela, je me demande? Vous (les Libanais) savez tous que nous avons des forces militaires à revendre et vous vous demandez comment nous allons les employer? Nous n’avons pas peur, nous ne sommes pas inquiets ni préoccupés (par une guerre interne possible). Je ne permettrai à personne de pousser le Liban vers une conspiration ou une confrontation dont le résultat est connu à l’avance (le Hezbollah va triompher!). »

Nasrallah a également mis en garde contre l’arrivée d’une nouvelle ère marquée par la division du Moyen-Orient, en utilisant le Kurdistan irakien comme un endroit où des guerres internes pourraient se manifester.

Le Hezbollah a défendu son existence pendant de nombreuses années dans la guerre en Syrie qu’il a menée contre les takfiris : « Être ou ne pas être ». Le Hezbollah n’abandonnera pas sa force militaire et n’a aucunement l’intention de se soumettre. Il luttera contre tout accord conclu avec Israël, peu importe le prix à payer. Ce que les pays de la région et d’ailleurs dans le monde ne se rendent pas compte, c’est qu’ils ne peuvent faire tomber le Hezbollah comme ils le souhaiteraient. Mais ils peuvent sans aucun doute dépasser le point de non-retour au Liban, qui promet un avenir empreint d’une extrême violence

 

English version:https://elijahjm.wordpress.com/2017/10/04/lebanon-may-be-heading-towards-a-new-7th-may-due-to-the-arab-israeli-reconciliation-and-the-partition-of-the-middle-east/

 

Lebanon may be heading towards a new “7th May,” due to the Arab-Israeli reconciliation and the partition of the Middle East

Published here:  via

By Elijah J. Magnier – @ejmalrai

Hezbollah and Iran believe that the Middle Eastern and international players involved in the war in Syria since 2011, and who have lost their war to the benefit of Russia, Iran and its allies, are not ready to accept defeat, and will work instead towards an official rapprochement with Israel, triggering an inevitably harsh reaction from Hezbollah against political enemies in Lebanon. Hezbollah, along with domestic allies will not hesitate to regain control of the country and certainly at least remove those willing to follow any Arab-Israeli reconciliation.

The US is preparing a bouquet of sanctions on the Lebanese Hezbollah group covering its affiliated civilian institutions, including municipalities, social services networks, construction and restoration companies, plus media TV and radio: in fact hitting any individuals close to or sympathising with Hezbollah. This step follows the visit of Saudi Minister of State for Arab Gulf Affairs, Thamer al-Sabhan to Lebanon, where he met Lebanese-Saudi proxies within the “14th of March Alliance”. He also asked the group and the Lebanese people to choose “to either stand with or against Hezb-al-Shaytan”[Hezbollah, the“Party of Satan”].

It is clear that Saudi Arabia, Israel and the US won’t recognise the failure of regime change in Syria: they will not accept the military victory of Hezbollah, Iran and the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, achieved after more than 6 years of war in Syria. The current US administration is taking an aggressive stand against Iran and Hezbollah and, along with Israel and Saudi Arabia, would like to see Iran and its allies totally defeated in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia’s envoy has warned their Lebanese allies in Lebanon that the Kingdom is ready to cut funding for those parties unwilling to stand overtly against Hezbollah in advance of the forthcoming parliamentary elections.

The beginning of the preparation for a peace process between Gulf countries and Israel is ontrack and the path towards an overt relationship is clearer every day: what was permitted only in the shade is now coming to light. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir, clearly said at the UN that his country doesn’t find any reason to consider Israel as an enemy. The Saudi retired General Anwar Eshki visited Israel, considered Iran and Hezbollah as Israel’s and Saudi Arabia’s common enemies, and said that his country is ready to open an embassy in Israel if Tel Aviv acknowledges the Arab peace initiative.

In fact, many countries in the Middle East blessed the Israeli war in 2006, and would like to see Hezbollah and Iran defeated, considering the Palestinian cause as no longer relevant. In fact, during the last Israeli war on Lebanon, the pro-Saudi and anti-Hezbollah Prime Minister (then Fuad Sinioura) tried to impose on Hezbollah a total surrender of its weapons during the 31 days of war- a request not even forwarded by Israel. Israel in fact asked Hezbollah to pull back a few kilometres from the borders (request denied).

This aggressive Saudi and US stand against the miraculous Lebanese political balance cannot change the domestic dynamic to the benefit of Hezbollah’s local enemies and opposition. Billions of dollars were invested in the last parliamentary elections to obtain only few additional imbalanced marginal seats. The real problem doesn’t lie in the election. Much more than that: what will the Lebanese pro-Saudi alliance do if and when Saudi Arabia decides to establish an open relationship with Israel?

There are groups within the 14th of March alliance who had a relationship with Israel, and others who follow Saudi policy and wishes in Lebanon blindly. These will inevitably follow Saudi Arabia’s policy, opening the Lebanese bazaar to promote peace with Israel- which forces the following question- what (in that case) would be Hezbollah’s reaction against their present political Lebanese partners?

For a start, the actual partnership in the government with the Parliament will end because Hezbollah will not tolerate any group establishing, promoting, or advertising a good relationship with Israel. The Lebanese resistance cannot go against its own objectives, ideology and creed. It is true that Hezbollah changed the objectives which it declared in 1985 to establish an Islamic state, because pursuing them would have served its enemies and put at risk its survival, which turned out to be due to the acceptance of a multi-ethnic society. Hezbollah will never ever accept living with domestic groups calling for a relationship with Israel, a country whose aim is to eliminate Hezbollah.

What can also happen are divisions between the various ethnic groups. In fact, Lebanese Christian, Druse and Sunni camps will be split among those who will support a peace deal with Israel and those who will stand in the opposite camp. These are certainly not lacking in the country (nationalists and Islamists who consider Israel as an enemy and reject any contact with Israel). This split will give enough reasons and protection for a military intervention of Hezbollah domestically.

The threat of a peace deal with Israel is much more important for Hezbollah than its military communication system for which the group occupied the capital Beirut on the 7th of May 2008, in just a few hours. At that time Hezbollah had neither the arsenal nor the colossal military experience in warfare and urban fighting it has today after the long war in Syria. In this war, Hezbollah managed to control cities and territory five times larger than the entire surface of Lebanon.

Hezbollah won’t be alone but will be supported by multi-ethnic Lebanese groups that turn the battle into national rather than sectarian objectives. Of course, all possibilities will be on the table, and the consequences may not be straightforward, especially as foreign intervention is also possible.

The US, Israel and Saudi Arabia have lost the military battle in Syria and the “axis of the resistance” (Iran, Syria, Hezbollah), along with Russia, has won. However, the final outcome may not be a complete victory: Syria is virtually destroyed and divided by the two occupation forces on its territory- US forces in north-east Syria, and Turkey in the north. The Syrian regime did not fall-but the last word is yet to be told: see below.

-The electoral file: the international community is insisting on running a presidential election which prevents Syrian refugees from returning home and voting in their countries of residency, in order to bring down Assad.

-The Kurdish issue in Iraq and Syria: many countries will try to use their possibilities, like a Trojan horse, in order to re-define the Middle East’s borders and national boundaries.

Hezbollah leader Sayed Hasan Nasrallah unwittingly warned us what he expects and what he is planning: “There are those preparing for a new political confrontation and a new alignment in Lebanon, (..) pushing Lebanon to a new domestic clash. It seems the US is preparing for new wars in the Middle East. Where is Lebanon’s interest in all of this, I wonder? You (Lebanese) all know we have an excess of military force and wonder how are we going to use it? We are not afraid, neither worried nor concerned (about a possible domestic war). I shall not permit to anyone to push Lebanon towards a conspiracy or clash whose result is known in advance (Hezbollah will prevail!)”.

Nasrallah also warned of a new era where the Middle East is divided, using Kurdistan Iraq as a place where internal wars can be manifested.

Hezbollah fought for its existence in a war in Syria for many years against Takfiris: “to be or not to be”. Hezbollah won’t give up its military force and under no circumstances will it accept submission. It will fight against any deal with Israel, regardless of the cost. This is what regional and international countries fail to realise: it is not possible to take Hezbollah wherever they want. However they can certainly take Lebanon beyond the point of no return into a vicious and violent future.

The Kurdish referendum has reshuffled alliances in the Middle East Turkey won’t impose economic sanctions: The role of Ankara,Tehran

 

Published here: http://alrai.li/5lwd8hs

Erbil by Elijah J. Magnier – @ejmalrai

High-ranking sources in Kurdistan (Erbil) said that the Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani “expected the sanctions already announced by Baghdad and many more sanctions to come in the future”. Nevertheless, “the referendum was an essential step to undertake”, otherwise Barzani would no longer be considered the Kurdish leader.

“We are not afraid of Turkish sanctions because Ankara would lose more than it will gain if the common borders are closed. The Turkish representative promised us (months before the referendum) that harsh political measures will be adopted against Kurdistan but that no economic sanctions would be seriously considered. After all – he said – it is up to Turkey to stop sending its oil tankers to recover our oil production at a cheap price if (the Turkish President Recep Tayyib) Erdogan considers it a practical move within his own economy”, said the source.

The Erbil leadership knows that the Kurds lived through hunger and genocide throughout the years, sometimes living in the mountains for decades. Therefore, although any threat to their existence won’t be taken lightly, it cannot affect the process of independence that has been put on their desired track. The Kurdish leaders agree to allow Baghdad to control airports (Erbil and Suleymaniyeh) – as requested by Prime Minister Haidar Abadi – and would like to re-establish good neighbour relationships with all surrounding countries, particularly since the declaration of independence may require two or three years to put into concrete effect.

The 1800 km long borders between Kurdistan and the rest of Iraq will force Erbil to send more Peshmerga troops to reinforce its security all along its borders and especially in disputed areas. However, for many countries the referendum has created embarrassment and reshuffled many of the alliances in the Middle East: the implications of this have yet to be considered.

It is Turkey that will be holding the key to the success or failure of a new “state” in the Middle East: Iraqi Kurdistan.

Turkey, its role in recent history in Syria and Iraq:

-Turkey supported the uprising of Sunni tribes in 2014 when these metamorphosed into the “Islamic State” (ISIS) terror group. Ankara didn’t ask its consulate diplomat to abandon the diplomatic mission, and so the diplomatic staff became prisoners in ISIS’s hands, to be later exchanged with hundreds of mujahedeen and their families held by Turkey.

-Ankara allowed the Iraqi Peshmerga to cross its territory into Syria to help the YPG (the Syrian branch of Turkey’s most sworn enemy: the PKK) and recover Ain al-Arab (Kobane) from ISIS in north of Syria.

-Turkey opened its borders to Jihadists from al-Qaeda and ISIS under the excuse of “bringing down the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad”.

-Turkey brought down a Russian jet while bombing jihadists along the Syrian borders, pushing Moscow to heavily engage in the Syrian war and give the upper hand to Assad.

-Turkey allowed al-Qaeda and the foreign fighters of the Turkistani group to occupy the bordering city of Kessab. The city was later recovered but Ankara created another military balance by expulsing from its territory thousands of members of al-Qaeda who then occupied the city of Idlib, today the centre of al-Qaeda in Syria (also known as Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham).

-Turkey asked its Syrian proxy to pull out of the city of Aleppo, rendering its liberation easier and less costly for the Syrian Army and its allies, which marked a real turning point in the war in Syria.

-Turkey joined the de-confliction negotiation in Astana (Kazakhstan) after reconciliation with Moscow and the return to normal relations between both countries.

-Turkey moved its forces into Syria to stop the creation of a Kurdish “state” known as “Rojava” (from al-Hasaka to Efrin) and disrupted a Kurdish Syrian access to the Mediterranean that could have been also used in the future for the Iraqi Kurds in case of sanctions against Iraqi Kurdistan.

-Turkey considered Iran a “terrorist state sponsor” but kept its diplomatic relationship with Tehran. Ankara increased economic exchanges and fully collaborated with Iran in Astana as partners and guarantors in Syria.

-Ankara did not hesitate to support the Iraqi Kurds in order to enjoy economic advantages, and to keep its forces in the north of Iraq. Despite many attempts by Baghdad to remove the Turkish troops, Ankara rejected all demands and hid behind “the Kurdistan request” so as to maintain several hundreds of officers and soldiers in Iraq.

-Turkey is not expected to implement any economic sanctions against Erbil despite Erdogan screaming, “the Kurds will go hungry”. There is no doubt the Turkish officials will continue launching menace after menace against Barzani but doubt remains about their action (economic sanctions and the cessation of oil purchase) against Erbil.

To sum it up: President Erdogan declared war on the Syrian Kurds but prevented them from losing Kobane; declared war on Assad but supported him to recover Aleppo; declared war on terrorism but allowed ISIS and al-Qaeda to enjoy all support from Turkey and bought oil from ISIS; threatened the Iraqi Kurds but still bought their oil- and kept its hundreds of trucks queuing up on their borders; promised to keep al-Qaeda under control in Idlib during the last Astana meeting, but allowed these to carry out more military offensives afterwards.

It is obvious that the Iraqi Kurds are aware of Ankara’s unstable and continuous changing of policy, very confident that any other measures by surrounding countries (Iraq and Iran) can be easily overcome in the future, as long as Erdogan is offering alternatives. The cost is that the Iraqi Kurds fall into Ankara’s hands and control, but it looks like Barzani is happy with this outcome; as long as he has his new state, pushing its place onto the Middle Eastern map, right in the middle.

Iran and Iraq:

The Kurdish referendum pushed Iraq into the arms of Iran when the relationship between the Iraqi Prime Minister HaidarAbadi and the Iranian officials was at its lowest level. Today Abadi (and most Iraqis) sees in Iran the only sincere partner to count on, and can rely on the Iranian Army and Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) in the case of any military escalation against Kurdistan, particularly in the disputed Iraqi cities, with Kirkuk at the top of the list.

Baghdad is confident that Barzani didn’t take this step without a blessing from the Americans, expected to become more visible in the coming months, according to Iraqi officials in the Iraqi capital. It seems Washington decided to swap its relationship with Baghdad with that of Erbil because, apparently, it won’t be able to support both at the same time.

Supporting Erbil is more attractive to the US and its regional allies (particularly Saudi Arabia), in the hope that the Kurdish Iraqi move would trigger the appetite of the Kurdish Iranians (and the Syrian Kurds who are already on this same path). If this happens and we observe an uprising in Iran (the Saudis already promised to support any unrest in Iran), the Iranian economy and that of the government of Baghdad will be both under severe pressure.

Iran supported Barzani in 2014 and provided him with weapons (at a time when the US was denying any support to Iraq, during the 6 months after the fall of Mosul in 2014), but it is today in an undeclared war against Erbil, fully behind Baghdad’s measures and supporting future escalation and punitive steps.

No one can wind back the clock to before the Kurdish referendum. However, it is still possible for Barzani to avoid contributing further mess to this hectic Middle East. He could indeed consider all these issues as an unnecessary concern- similar to a storm in a teacup. Unfortunately, it seems the Kurdish leader is determined to continue his path, denying any immediate independence intention, yet without excluding it.

 

 

 

Le référendum kurde bouleverse les alliances au Moyen-Orient. La Turquie n’imposera pas de sanctions économiques.

Publié ici:  http://alrai.li/5lwd8hs

Erbil by Elijah J. Magnier – @ejmalrai

 

Traduction : Daniel G.

Des sources haut placées au Kurdistan (Erbil) ont dit que le dirigeant kurde Massoud Barzani « s’attendait aux sanctions déjà annoncées par Bagdad et est convaincu que bien d’autres vont suivre ». Malgré tout, « le référendum était une étape essentielle à franchir », sans quoi Barzani n’aurait plus été considéré comme le dirigeant kurde.

« Les sanctions turques ne nous font pas peur, parce qu’Ankara aurait plus à perdre qu’à gagner si la frontière commune était fermée. Le représentant turc nous a promis (des mois avant le référendum) que des mesures politiques très dures seront adoptées contre le Kurdistan, mais qu’aucune sanction économique ne serait sérieusement envisagée. Après tout, c’est la Turquie qui doit cesser d’envoyer ses camions-citernes pour récupérer notre production pétrolière à bas prix, si (le président turc RecepTayyib) Erdogan juge que c’est une mesure pratique pour sa propre économie », a fait valoir la source.

Les dirigeants à Erbil savent que les Kurdes ont connu la faim et le génocide au fil des ans, en vivant parfois dans les montagnes pendant des décennies. Par conséquent, sans prendre à la légère toute menace à leur existence, rien ne peut nuire au processus menant à l’indépendance qui s’est placé dans la trajectoire voulue. Les dirigeants kurdes acceptent de laisser à Bagdad le contrôle des aéroports (Erbil and Souleimaniye), comme l’a demandé le premier ministre Haidar Abadi, et souhaitent rétablir de bonnes relations de voisinage avec tous les pays limitrophes, d’autant plus que deux ou trois ans pourraient s’écouler avant que la déclaration d’indépendance ne prenne véritablement effet.

Les 1 800 km de frontière entre le Kurdistan et le reste de l’Irak obligeront Erbil à envoyer plus de Peshmergas pour renforcer sa sécurité tout au long de cette frontière, surtout dans les zones litigieuses. Cependant, pour de nombreux pays, le référendum a créé un embarras et bouleversé bien des alliances au Moyen-Orient, dont les effets restent encore à voir.

La clé du succès ou de l’échec de la création d’un « nouvel État » au Moyen-Orient, nommément le Kurdistan irakien, c’est dans les mains de la Turquie qu’elle se trouve.

Rôle de la Turquie dans l’histoire récente de la Syrie et de l’Irak

-La Turquie a soutenu le soulèvement des tribus sunnites en 2014, lorsqu’elles ont constitué le groupe terroriste « État islamique » (Daech). Ankara n’avait pas demandé au diplomate de son consulat à Mossoul d’abandonner la mission diplomatique, ce qui fait que les membres du corps diplomatique se sont retrouvés prisonniers de Daech, pour être échangés par la suite contre des centaines de moudjahidines et membres de leurs familles que la Turquie détenait.

-Ankara a autorisé les Peshmergas irakiens à traverser son territoire pour se rendre en Syrie donner un coup de pouce aux YPG (la branche syrienne du PKK, l’ennemi juré de la Turquie) et reprendre Ain al-Arab (Kobané) occupé par Daech au nord de la Syrie.

-La Turquie a ouvert ses frontières aux djihadistes d’Al-Qaeda et de Daech sous le prétexte de « renverser le régime syrien de Bachar al-Assad ».

-La Turquie a abattu un avion russe qui bombardait des djihadistes à la frontière syrienne, ce qui a poussé Moscou à s’engager plus activement dans la guerre syrienne et donné le dessus à Assad.

-La Turquie a permis à Al-Qaeda et aux combattants étrangers d’un groupe turkistani d’occuper la ville frontalière de Kessab. La ville a été ensuite reprise, mais Ankara a créé un nouvel équilibre militaire en expulsant de son territoire des milliers de membres d’Al-Qaeda, qui ont ensuite occupé la ville d’Idlib, devenue depuis le centre névralgique d’Al-Qaeda en Syrie (appelé aussi Hay’at Tahrir al-Cham).

-La Turquie a demandé à ses mandataires syriens de se retirer de la ville d’Alep, ce qui a facilité sa libération à un coût moindre pour l’armée syrienne et ses alliés, marquant ainsi un tournant dans la guerre en Syrie.

-La Turquie s’est jointe aux négociations sur les zones de désescalade à Astana (Kazakhstan), après sa réconciliation avec Moscou et le retour à des relations normales entre les deux pays.

-La Turquie a déployé ses forces armées en Syrie pour éviter la création d’un « État » kurde appelé « Rojava » (d’al-Hasaka à Efrin) et empêcher les Kurdes syriens d’avoir accès à la Méditerranée, accès qui aurait pu aussi être utilisé plus tard par les Kurdes irakiens en cas de sanctions contre le Kurdistan irakien.

-La Turquie considérait l’Iran comme un « État qui parraine le terrorisme », tout en maintenant ses relations avec Téhéran. Elle a augmenté ses échanges économiques et collaboré pleinement avec l’Iran à Astana à titre de partenaires et garants en Syrie.

-Ankara n’a pas hésité à soutenir les Kurdes irakiens afin d’en tirer des avantages économiques, et de maintenir la présence de ses forces armées dans le nord de l’Irak. Malgré les nombreuses tentatives de Bagdad visant le retrait des troupes turques, Ankara a refusé de les replier, en prétextant « la demande du Kurdistan » pour assurer le maintien de plusieurs centaines d’officiers et de soldats en Irak.

-La Turquie ne devrait pas imposer la moindre sanction économique contre Erbil, même si Erdogan dit à qui veut l’entendre que « les Kurdes vont mourir de faim ». Il ne fait aucun doute que les responsables turcs continueront de proférer menace après menace contre Barzani, mais un doute subsiste quant à savoir s’ils passeront de la parole aux actes (sanctions économiques et arrêt des achats de pétrole) contre Erbil.

Pour résumer, le président Erdogan a déclaré la guerre contre les Kurdes syriens, mais leur a évité de perdre Kobané; il a déclaré la guerre à Assad, mais l’a aidé à reprendre Alep; il a déclaré la guerre au terrorisme, mais il a permis à Daech et à Al-Qaeda d’obtenir tout le soutien qu’il leur fallait de la Turquie, en plus d’acheter du pétrole de Daech; il a menacé les Kurdes irakiens, mais il continue d’acheter leur pétrole et n’a pas rappelé les centaines de camions qui font la queue à la frontière; il a promis de maintenir Al-Qaeda sous son contrôle à Idlib lors de la dernière réunion d’Astana, mais il a laissé le groupe terroriste prendre d’autres offensives militaires par la suite.

Les Kurdes irakiens sont évidemment bien au fait de l’instabilité d’Ankara et de ses changements de politique continuels, tout en étant certains que toutes les autres mesures prises par les pays limitrophes (Irak et Iran) pourront être facilement surmontées à l’avenir, tant qu’Erdogan proposera des solutions de rechange. Le prix à payer, c’est que les Kurdes irakiens se retrouvent entre les mains et sous la coupe d’Ankara. Mais il semble que Barzani soit content du résultat, tant qu’il a son nouvel État, qui prendra sa place en plein centre de la carte du Moyen-Orient.

L’Iran et l’Irak

Le référendum kurde a poussé l’Irak dans les bras de l’Iran, alors que les relations entre le premier ministre irakien Haidar Abadi et les responsables iraniens étaient à leur plus bas. Aujourd’hui, Abadi (et la plupart des Irakiens) voient en l’Iran le seul partenaire sincère sur qui ils peuvent compter. Ils peuvent aussi se fier à l’armée iranienne et le Corps des gardiens de la révolution islamique en cas d’escalade militaire contre le Kurdistan, en particulier dans les villes irakiennes contestées, à commencer par Kirkouk.

Bagdad est convaincu que Barzani ne franchira pas le pas sans la bénédiction des Américains, qui devrait se faire plus visible dans les prochains mois, selon des responsables irakiens de la capitale. Washington aurait apparemment décidé de favoriser Erbil plutôt que Bagdad dans ses relations, apparemment parce qu’il ne pourra pas pouvoir soutenir les deux en même temps.

Soutenir Erbil est plus attrayant pour les USA et leurs alliés régionaux (en particulier l’Arabie saoudite), dans l’espoir que l’initiative des Kurdes irakiens mettra les Kurdes iraniens en appétit (ainsi que les Kurdes syriens, qui sont déjà engagés sur la même voie). Si cela se produit et que nous assistons à un soulèvement en Iran (les Saoudiens ont déjà promis de soutenir tout soulèvement en Iran), l’économie iranienne et celle de l’Irak seront toutes deux sous une énorme pression.

L’Iran a appuyé Barzani en 2014 et lui a fourni des armes (à un moment où les USA refusaient tout soutien à l’Irak, pendant les six mois qui ont suivi la chute de Mossoul en 2014). Mais aujourd’hui, l’Iran est en état de guerre non déclarée contre Erbil. Il appuie sans réserve les mesures de Bagdad et est pour une éventuelle escalade et des mesures punitives croissantes.

Nul ne peut remonter le temps jusqu’à avant la tenue du référendum kurde. Mais il est encore possible pour Barzani d’éviter de contribuer à un plus grand gâchis dans un Moyen-Orient en effervescence. Il peut bien sûr voir toutes ces questions comme une préoccupation inutile, une tempête dans un verre d’eau. Malheureusement, tout indique que le dirigeant kurde est déterminé à poursuivre dans sa voie, en niant toute intention d’indépendance immédiate, sans pour autant l’exclure.