Is There a
US-Russia Grand Bargain in Syria?
spy thriller stuff; no one is talking. But there are
indications Russia would not announce a partial
withdrawal from Syria right before the Geneva
negotiations ramp up unless a grand bargain with
Washington had been struck.
of bargain is in play, of which we still don’t know
the details; that's what the CIA itself is basically
saying through their multiple US Think Tankland
mouthpieces. And that's the real meaning hidden
under a carefully timed Barack Obama
interview that, although inviting suspension
of disbelief, reads like a major policy change
invests in proverbial whitewashing, now admitting US
intel did not specifically identify the
Bashar al-Assad government as responsible
for the Ghouta chemical attack. And then there are
nuggets, such as Ukraine seen as not a vital
interest of the US – something that clashes head
on with the Brzezinski doctrine. Or Saudi Arabia
as freeloaders of US foreign policy – something that
provoked a fierce response from former
Osama bin Laden pal and Saudi intel supremo
to be imminent. And that would imply a power shift
has taken place above Obama — who is essentially a
messenger, a paperboy. Still that does not mean that
the bellicose agendas of both the Pentagon and the
CIA are now contained.
cannot possibly trust a US administration infested
with warmongering neocon cells. Moreover, the
Brzezinski doctrine has failed – but it’s not dead.
Part of the plan was to flood oil markets
with shut-in capacity in to destroy Russia.
damage, but the second part, which was to lure
Russia into an war in Ukraine for which Ukrainians
were to be the cannon fodder in the name of
“democracy”, failed miserably. Then there was the
wishful thinking that Syria would suck Russia into a
quagmire of Dubya in Iraq proportions – but that
also failed miserably with the current Russian time
Convincing explanations for the (partial) Russian
withdrawal from Syria are readily
What matters is that the Khmeimim air base and the
naval base in Tartus remain untouched. Key Russian
military advisers/trainers remain in place. Air
raids, ballistic missile launches from the Caspian
or the Mediterranean – everything remains
operational. Russian air power continues to protect
the forces deployed by Damascus and Tehran.
as Russia may be downsizing, Iran (and Hezbollah)
are not. Tehran has trained and weaponized key
paramilitary forces – thousands of soldiers
from Iraq and Afghanistan fighting side by side
with Hezbollah and the
Syrian Arab Army (SAA). The SAA will keep
advancing and establishing facts on the ground.
As the Geneva
negotiations pick up, those facts are now relatively
frozen. Which brings us to the key sticking point in
Geneva – which has got to be included in the
possible grand bargain.
bargain is based on the current ceasefire (or
"cessation of hostilities") holding, which is far
from a given. Assuming all these positions hold, a
federal Syria could emerge, what could be dubbed
Break Up Light.
Essentially, we would have three major provinces: a
Sunnistan, a Kurdistan and a Cosmopolistan.
would include Deir ez-Zor and
Raqqa, assuming the whole province may be
extensively purged of ISIS/ISIL/Daesh.
would be in place all along the Turkish border –
something that would freak out Sultan Erdogan
to Kingdom Come.
Cosmopolistan would unite the Alawi/ Christian/
Druze/ secular Sunni heart of Syria, or the Syria
that works, from Damascus up to Latakia and Aleppo.
are already busy spinning that a federal Syria would
be based on community spirit, not geographical
response, predictably, has been harsh; any Kurdish
federal system in northern Syria represents not only
a red line but an “existential threat” to Turkey.
Ankara may be falling under the illusion that
Moscow, with its partial demobilizing, would look
the other way if Erdogan orders a military invasion
of northern Syria, as long as it does not touch
in the shadows, lurks the possibility that Russian
intel may be ready to strike a deal with the Turkish
military – with the corollary that a possible
removal of Sultan Erdogan would pave the way for the
reestablishment of the Russia-Turkey friendship,
essential for Eurasia integration.
Syrian Kurds are planning has nothing to do
with separatism. Syrian Kurds are 2.2 million out of
a remaining Syrian population of roughly 18 million.
Their cantons across the Syria-Turkey
border —Jazeera, Kobani and Afrin – have been
established since 2013. The
YPG has already linked Jazeera to Kobani, and is
on their way to link them to Afrin. This, in a
nutshell, is Rojava province.
across Rojava – heavily influenced by concepts
developed by imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan —
are deep into consultations with Arabs and
Christians on how to implement federalism,
privileging a horizontal self-ruled model, a sort
of anarchist-style confederation. It’s a fascinating
political vision that would even include the Kurdish
communities in Damascus and Aleppo.
and that is absolutely key – supports the Kurds. So
they must be part of the Geneva negotiations. The
Russian long game is complex; not be strictly
aligned either with Damascus or with the discredited
“opposition” supported and weaponized by Turkey and
GCC. Team Obama, as usual, is on the fence.
There’s the “NATO ally” angle — but even Washington
is losing patience with Erdogan.
geopolitical winners and losers
proverbially clueless Western corporate media was
caught off-guard by Russia’s latest diplomatic coup
in Syria. Consistency has been the norm.
been consistently upgrading the Russia-China
strategic partnership. This has run in parallel
to the hybrid warfare in Ukraine (asymmetric
operations mixed with economic, political, military
and technological support to the Donetsk and Lugansk
republics); even NATO officials with a decent IQ had
to admit that without Russian diplomacy there’s no
solution to the war in Donbass.
Moscow accomplished the outstanding feat of making
Team Obama see the light beyond the fog
of neo-con-instilled war, leading to a solution
involving Syria’s chemical arsenal after Obama
ensnared himself in his own red line. Obama owes it
to Putin and Lavrov, who literally saved him not
only from tremendous embarrassment but from yet
another massive Middle East quagmire.
objectives in Syria already laid out in September
2015 have been fulfilled. Jihadists of all strands
are on the run – including, crucially, the
over 2,000 born in southern Caucasus republics.
Damascus has been spared from regime change a la
Saddam or Gaddafi. Russia’s presence in the
Mediterranean is secure.
be closely monitoring the current “cessation
of hostilities”; and if the War Party decides
to ramp up “support” for ISIS/ISIL/Daesh or the
“moderate rebel” front via any shadow war move,
Russia will be back in a flash. As for Sultan
Erdogan, he can brag what he wants about his
“no-fly zone” pipe dream; but the fact is the
northwestern Syria-Turkish border is now fully
protected by the S-400 air defense system.
the close collaboration of the “4+1” coalition –
Russia, Syria, Iran, Iraq, plus
Hezbollah – has broken more ground than a mere
Russia-Shi’te alignment. It prefigures a major
geopolitical shift, where NATO is not the only game
in town anymore, dictating humanitarian imperialism;
this “other” coalition could be seen as a
prefiguration of a future, key, global role for the
Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
stand, it may seem futile to talk about winners and
losers in the five-year-long Syrian tragedy –
especially with Syria destroyed by a vicious,
imposed proxy war. But facts on the ground point,
geopolitically, to a major victory for Russia, Iran
and Syrian Kurds, and a major loss for Turkey and
the GCC petrodollar gang, especially considering the
huge geo-energy interests in play.
crucial to stress that Syria is an energy war –
with the “prize” being who will be better positioned
to supply Europe with natural gas; the proposed
Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline, or the rival Qatar
pipeline to Turkey that would imply a pliable
serious geopolitical losers include the
self-proclaimed humanitarianism of the UN and the
EU. And most of all the Pentagon and the CIA and
their gaggle of weaponized “moderate rebels”. It
ain’t over till the last jihadi sings his Paradise
song. Meanwhile, “time out” Russia is watching.