The civil war in Syria has already lasted 9 years. After Washington actively intervened in the Syrian conflict in 2014 and created a so-called international coalition under its leadership to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS is a terrorist organization banned in the Russian Federation), the time has come for the USA to finally taste defeat.
Over the past 9 years, USA’s aggressive policy towards the Syrian Arab Republic (SAR) has changed on more than one occasion, i.e. not only in 2015. At the time, Washington started preparations for the US occupation of the oil-rich Al Jazira Province under the guise of “providing assistance” to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in their fight against Daesh (Daesh or ISIS is a terrorist organization banned in Russia) in the Ayn al-Arab District. Initially, SDF members were encouraged by Washington to portray themselves as practically the only ones fighting Daesh in Transeuphratia. However, soon it became apparent that there were plenty of criminals in the SDF ranks. Still, the Pentagon had no qualms about actively providing financial assistance to this group, and even recognized SDF as a legitimate opposition force, which it used as a tool against the official government in Damascus. Apparently, the SDF received more than $300 million from the USA on an annual basis.
While pursuing its own strategy in Syria, the United States, with its persistent efforts throughout the years-long Syrian conflict, has managed to essentially divide this nation into regions influenced by different forces. Washington made sure that the Deir ez-Zor oil fields in Al-Hasakah Governorate fell within its purview. Turkey is in charge of a (fairly substantial) territory in Syria too. And certain regions remain under the control of Syria’s government forces. There are also areas where Iranian or pro-Iranian armed forces have been operating, and Washington has dispatched Israel to “hunt them down”.
European nations have essentially been sidelined when it comes to Syria and its issues. And although Syria and the Levant used to be under France’s mandate, the European nation has practically no influence on the situation in the region at present.
Overall, USA’s standing in the Middle East has significantly weakened especially in recent months. And although US forces are still in Syria, guarding several oil fields, the overall current political landscape in the Middle East indicates that Washington’s advice is no longer heeded even by close allies, such as Ankara.
Since the United States has realized that it is losing, it, recently, began actively searching for an alternative plan of action in order to meet at least its minimal goals in Syria, such as keeping Syrian oil and gas fields under its control. After all, these Syrian riches can be used to fill up US coffers. If earlier, only a few US experts were present in this region, not long ago, American military convoys carrying a large amount of equipment began arriving there from Iraq. As a result, despite the current collapse of oil markets and excess oil world-wide, nowadays, Syrian fields are being guarded by reinforced US troops, staff of private military companies and mercenaries. The airspace in this region is also being protected by drones of the international coalition and American helicopters. There is a key reason behind such concentrated actions: if fuel were to continue to be brought by tank trucks to Iraq and Turkey from Syria, the cost of transporting the oil for the USA would soon exceed that of the product itself. And at present, Americans cannot use pipelines because they pass through territories that are under the control of the Syrian Armed Forces.
Turkey’s Anadolu news agency reported on April 29, that for all these reasons the United States had begun putting together special units, comprising SDF members (who primarily come from the People’s Protection Units, YPG/PKK), in order to guard the oil fields to the east of the Euphrates river. These units have been tasked with countering potential attacks by pro-Iranian fighters stationed in Deir ez-Zor Governorate who support Bashar al-Assad’s government troops. Supposedly, the US military will pay its new recruits $350 a month, while YPG fighters from pro-American Syrian Democratic Forces earn only $100. Members of the special unit will be trained in the region of Al-Shaddadah in US occupied al-Hasakah Governorate, near the Syrian-Iraqi border. It will be comprised of up to a thousand fighters and will be under the direct command of US forces.
Moreover, Israel, clearly with permission and support from the United States, began to operate more actively in the region. To please Washington, Israel is trying to cause chaos and mayhem among pro-Iranian forces in Syria (who oppose the United States) by carrying out fairly regular air strikes against them. And if earlier, they focused their attacks on territories along the Golan Heights, occupied by Israel, recently, the Israeli Air Force started bombing central and northern parts of Syria. And aside from staging air strikes from the direction of the Mediterranean Sea, Israel has also carried out several attacks from Lebanon’s territory. Israel is probably counting on the Syrian government responding to such a provocation with a missile strike to defend its territories. Hence, the Israeli attacks could result in an escalation of tensions in the region and in the involvement of Lebanon (as well as nations that support it) in the armed conflict. In addition, such acts of aggressions could provide an opportunity for an attack against Syria by, for instance, the US coalition in the region.
Syria has already filed more than one complaint to the UN Security Council over Israeli attacks. However, due the stance taken by the United States, Great Britain and France on the conflict, Israeli actions have not been strongly condemned thus far.
It is, therefore, no secret to anyone that the United States, whose presence in Syria was not sanctioned by Bashar al-Assad’s legitimate government, is the nation that is not only violating international law but also exacerbating the armed conflict in SAR by facilitating actions taken by Israel.
Valery Kulikov, political analyst, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.