Putin Defies Trump’s Demands to Expel Iran From Syria
Henry Meyer and Ilya Arkhipov
Vladimir Putin is done making concessions to the U.S.
over Iran’s presence in Syria.
Having pushed Iranian-backed forces away from the frontier with the Israeli-held Golan Heights in July, the Russian president is defying the Trump administration’s demand to expel Iran completely from Syria after the civil war there winds down. With Washington’s credibility on the ropes both in Moscow and Tehran, and the U.S. eager to end its involvement in Syria, the Russians and Iranians may well prevail.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday urged the U.S. to abandon its demands for Iran to surrender its influence in the region, describing them as “unprofessional and unrealistic.’’
The issue is expected to be a central one when the presidents of Russia, Iran and Turkey meet in Tehran on Friday to cement roles in postwar Syria. They’ll also try to work out their disagreement over an impending offensive against the last major opposition bastion in Idlib, which risks sending a new wave of refugees across the Turkish border.
All three powers are under separate U.S. sanctions.
The need to map out postwar spheres of influence comes at a critical juncture in Syria’s civil war. Russia’s intervention in the conflict three years ago turned the tide in President Bashar al-Assad’s favor at a time when he held less than a quarter of his country’s territory. Now, major patrons Moscow and Iran are looking to consolidate gains as the last major battle in Idlib approaches.
Russian warplanes are already bombing Idlib, and Syrian troops have shelled it. Almost 3 million civilians live there, and the prospects for a humanitarian catastrophe are high if the government doesn’t allow an escape route. Trump warned Assad this week against committing a “slaughter” in the northwest province.
With Russia, the American president is holding out incentives, not threats. He’s dangled the prospect of rolling back punitive steps against Russia if he gets what he wants in Syria, but Putin has little reason to trust that, Russian officials say. Even if he did, Iran isn’t ready to back down, though it faces crippling U.S. sanctions after Trump pulled out of the Iranian nuclear deal.
“Russia and Iran are almost in an identical situation,’’ said Andrey Kortunov, head of the Russian International Affairs Council, a research group set up by the Kremlin. “They’re getting demands but are being offered nothing in return.’’
Trump, whose presidency is clouded by Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 election, has made countering Iran a key strategic goal. Securing an Iranian exit from Syria would give him much-needed ammunition against critics of his Kremlin outreach.
But with bipartisan consensus on the need to squeeze Russia, Congress is turning up the heat on Moscow, weighing additional sanctions including banning purchases of Russian sovereign debt and cutting off Russian state-run banks from the U.S. financial system.
After a summit in Helsinki in July between Putin and Trump, Russia convinced Iran to pull back its troops and allied militias 85 kilometers (50 miles) from the Israeli-held Golan.
To coax Russia into greater concessions, National Security Adviser John Bolton last month raised the prospect of an eventual withdrawal of the 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria’s northeast.
An American pullout could only happen when all Iranian fighters, as well as their weapons and militia allies, are also gone, a person familiar with the talks said. The U.S. would also have to be satisfied that Islamic State has been completely crushed in Syria, the person added.
U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis, without mentioning Iran, laid down an additional condition for withdrawing American troops on Aug. 28: the United Nations-led talks in Geneva on a political transition in Syria to loosen Assad’s grip on power must be “making traction.’’
That’s totally unrealistic, said Marianna Belenkaya, a Middle East expert in Moscow. “If Assad takes back Idlib, he will control nearly the entire country apart from some areas, mainly under U.S. protection,’’ she said in a commentary for the Carnegie Moscow Center. “This will make the Syrian regime even less flexible in the Geneva process.”
Making it even harder for the U.S. to achieve its goals is the intertwined relationship between Assad and his Iranian patrons. The Iranians have deeply penetrated the Syrian armed forces, limiting Russia’s ability to use any leverage over Syria, said two people with knowledge of the matter in Moscow.
“It’s in the interest of the Syrian government at the moment for Iranian troops and advisers to be in Syria,’’ said Foad Izadi, a foreign policy specialist at the University of Tehran.
Despite threats of U.S. reprisals against any new Assad chemical attack in Idlib, there’s no sign the U.S. is willing to intervene to reverse the situation on the ground.
“In a war, mere diplomatic language won’t suffice when the other side is determined to use military force,” said Robert Ford, a former U.S. ambassador to Syria. “American rhetoric isn’t going to slow down the Russians, Syrians and Iranians for very long.’’
_________________ Minds are like parachutes.
They only function when open.
Once Putin made it clear that Russia was going all in against Idlib,
it didn't take long for Erdogan to remind himself that the Kurds are
the NWO's thorn in his side and his bigger problem.
Now with he and Vlad on the same page they are the new powerbrokers.
Idlib will be demilitarized.
But the final shape of the new Syria is still in play.
And these two have the ball.
Putin & Erdogan agree Idlib buffer zone to avert new Syria crisis
SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - Russian and Turkish troops are to enforce a new demilitarised zone in Syria’s Idlib region from which “radical” rebels will be required to withdraw by the middle of next month, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday after a meeting with his Turkish counterpart.
Putin told a joint news conference with Erdogan: “We agreed that by Oct. 15 (we will) create along the contact line between the armed opposition and government troops a demilitarised zone of a depth of 15-20 km, with the withdrawal from there of radically-minded rebels, including al-Nusra.”
“By Oct. 10, at the suggestion of the Turkish president, (we agreed) on the withdrawal from that zone of the heavy weapons, tanks, rockets systems and mortars of all opposition groups,” Putin said, with Erdogan standing alongside him.
“The demilitarised zone will be monitored by mobile patrol groups of Turkish units and units of Russian military police.”
Erdoğan said Syrian Kurdish fighters east of the Euphrates river posed the biggest threat for Syria’s future.
Jan Egeland, an adviser to the UN envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, said: “Hope at long last for 3 million Syrian civilians in Idlib: Russia and Turkey agree on plan that may avert horrific war among displaced people. The Syrian government and armed opposition groups must respect deal, not provoke bloodshed and allow humanitarian access.
Suspected Israeli missiles were fired at several Syrian locations on Monday, including the coastal city of Latakia, , Homs and Hama, according to Syrian state media. The latest missiles, sent from sea, struck close to Russian military bases.
Just the Israelis reminding everybody that either
way they are not gonna allow an Iranian fiefdom. _________________ Minds are like parachutes.
They only function when open.
Presenting The Syria Deception:
Al Qaeda Goes to Hollywood
An exclusive Grayzone investigative documentary rips the cover
off of the most sophisticated and expensive campaign of humanitarian
interventionist propaganda in modern history.
By Dan Cohen
For decades, Western governments, corporate media and Hollywood have engaged in a project of mass deception to manufacture consent for military interventions. Waged in the name of lofty ideals like freedom, human rights and democracy, US-led wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya wound up bringing death, destruction and even the return of slavery to the African continent. As the wounds from those catastrophes festered, Washington embarked on its most ambitious project yet, marketing another war of regime change, this time in Syria.
This investigative mini-doc exposes the cynical deceptions and faux humanitarianism behind the campaign to sell the dirty war on Syria. It will also demonstrate the lengths that the US and its allies have gone to develop new ploys to tug at Western heartstrings and convince even liberal minded skeptics of war that a US intervention was necessary — even if it meant empowering Al Qaeda’s largest franchise since 9/11 and its theocratic allies among the insurgency.
Big lies and little children have formed the heart of what is perhaps the most expensive, sophisticated, and shameless propaganda blitz ever conducted. Welcome to the Syria Deception.
Hollywood’s role in promoting war is nothing new. The American film industry has collaborated over the years with the State Department, the Pentagon, and the intelligence services to produce an array of films burnishing the military’s image, revising controversial US actions, and propagating official accounts of critical events through action blockbusters.
As the American role in destabilizing Syria expanded, so too did the number of high budget documentaries produced on the crisis. This film will examine what is perhaps the most ambitious perception management documentary project of them all: Cries From Syria.
Produced by HBO, debuted at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival, and now available on Netflix, Cries from Syria was widely promoted in mainstream Western media outlets and was even screened in the International Court of Justice. The feature length documentary has been also promoted by public figures from the neoconservative Nikki Haley, who as us ambassador to the united nations has agitated for regime change from Syria to Iran, to recently-deceased rock musician Chris Cornell, who included footage from the film in his final music video before he committed suicide. pop diva Cher even composed an original song for the film.
Watch as I attended a screening of the film on Capitol Hill in May 2017 that brought together some of the key lawmakers, pseudo-experts, corporate media pundits, and professional regime change lobbyists behind the Syria deception.
If you want to see more exclusive content like this that confronts and exposes Washington’s dangerous bipartisan foreign policy establishment consensus, become a Grayzone patron here.
Dan Cohen is a journalist and filmmaker. He has produced widely distributed video reports and print dispatches from across Israel-Palestine. Dan is a correspondent at RT America and tweets at @DanCohen3000.
The Donald has pulled a political stroke and outsmarted the war hawks
in Washington with an order to IMMEDIATELY withdraw remaining US
troops from Syria. With the public focused on Christmas and with
Congress in recess, the troops could be home before Washington's
military hawks can mount a campaign to reverse the decision.
The troop pull out is a highly significant geopolitical move. It avoids a
looming confrontation with Turkey which had warned that it would not
allow the US neocons to set up a Kurdish sub-state spanning it's border
with Syria. The withdrawal ends the war party's hopes to keep a swathe
of Syria as a running political sore and source of future destabilization.
The deal likely also also includes a promise by Iran to keep at least
100 kilometers from the Golan Heights to placate Israel. And it helps
repair NATO's relationship with Turkey because we hear that the US is
to sell Turkey a Patriot missile defense system. No mention of whether
they will also buy S-400 missiles from Russia, as planned.
Jimmy Dore on
the war hawk backlash:
_________________ Minds are like parachutes.
They only function when open.
Last edited by Fintan on Wed Jan 09, 2019 2:52 am; edited 1 time in total
Jimmy Dore sums it up around 12:00
"The whole thing is based on DEBT and WAR."
The wars are necessary to force government to borrow new-debt based money into existence to pay the interest on that exponentially increasing debt. Also to bring zillion$$ in profits to the usury bankers and the MIC.
This is criminal insanity.
Just reading the latest headlines you posted Fintan about Bolton getting his ass handed to him by Erdogan.
Donald Trump’s national security adviser miscalculated if he thought he was going to dissuade Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan from his planned offensive against U.S. allies in Syria.
Erdogan rebuffed a meeting in Ankara on Tuesday with National Security Adviser John Bolton, then took to live television instead to insult him for a lack of perspective. The lira sank as investors recalibrated their views on a rapprochement between the two nations, which run the largest armies in NATO and have long been at odds on how to handle Syria.
The impasse highlights how Trump’s hasty announcement of a U.S. exit from the war-torn country is causing confusion and generating blowback from allies and adversaries alike. Erdogan has been massing Turkish troops on the Syrian border for weeks, preparing for an invasion to eradicate Kurdish forces that the U.S. has vowed to protect.
I agree with how it basically went down, but the bold shows how anti trump or just a case of bad journalism. It suggests that if Turkey does attack the Kurds it will be because of trumps announcement to pull troops out of Syria. Turkey's plans have been well known, and way before trump's plans.
The war hawks would rather keep troops in Syria, and risk the danger that entails than come flat out and say troops out of Syria is a good thing, and risk agreeing with trump or that it's maybe a good idea.
Let's hope the US, and it's 'allies' can keep out of it, and let them work it out between them. Russia should easily contain Turkey.
By Philip Issa and Zeina Karam | AP January 11 at 11:35 AM
BAGHDAD — After days of conflicting statements about a timeline for President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw American forces from Syria, a U.S. defense official said Friday the process has begun with the removal of some military cargo.
The official said the movement of equipment is part of what the military calls a “deliberate withdrawal” from Syria, where some 2,000 troops have been working with a coalition of Syrian Kurdish and Arab fighters to defeat the remnants of the Islamic State group.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss details that have not yet been publicly announced, provided no numbers, but said the equipment withdrawal is underway and that an unspecified number of additional U.S. troops have been brought into Syria to assist with the process, including by providing additional security.
Hours earlier, Col. Sean Ryan, spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group, said “the process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria” has started. He said the U.S. would not discuss a specific timeline, locations or troop movements out of concern for operational security.....
Scores of ground troops are headed toward Syria to help move troops out, and a group of naval vessels headed by the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge is headed to the region to back up troops at the vulnerable moment they are leaving the country, the officials said. The Kearsarge carries hundreds of Marines, helicopters and other aircraft.
"Nothing has changed," one defense official said. "We don’t take orders from Bolton."
To account for shifts in plans, the military will stage the personnel and equipment needed for a possible withdrawal, rather than move the U.S. forces out. Troops tasked to help with the eventual withdrawal already are in the area, in places like Kuwait and al-Asad air base in western Iraq.
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