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The new tactical-strategic configuration of the US Forces in Syria

Giancarlo Elia Valori

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The operations carried out by Inherent Resolve, the complex US-led coalition in Syria, had been announced as early as April 1, 2016 by the Head of PYD Kurdish Joint Forces, Salih Muslim. Currently Salih Muslim is the co-President of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), which has long been managing power in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of Rojava, in Northern Syria.

Salih Muslim is also the vice-coordinator of the National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change, a coalition of 13 center-left and left-wing parties, with some other Kurdish activists defined as “independent.”

It is a structure, however, which has always cooperated actively with Bashar al-Assad’s government, even though the “National Committee” had recognized the Free Syrian Army as early as September 2012.

The Free Syrian Army was established – also with the support of some countries among the over 60 ones which later adhered to Inherent Resolve – by eight officers of Assad’s Armed Forces, who aimed at overthrowing the Alawite regime.

Meanwhile, in Iraq – which is the gateway and the real base of ISIS – the situation is getting more complex and radicalized.

The Iraqi Security Forces – the governmental ones, albeit with the recent massive introduction of Shiite militants linked to Moqtada al-Sadr – are now closely connected with the local Sunni tribes and to a share of recently-trained fighters.

These Forces have been the first to launch a major operation to reconquer Fallujah – a military action that began on May 23, 2016.

They have quickly gained ground in the North, including the Garma district, the traditional “base” of ISIS and of the Al-Nusra Front, the Syrian faction of Al Qaeda.

Nevertheless, the highly unstable political situation in Iraq could even stultify some of the operations against ISIS, as the Caliphate launched suicide attacks both against Balad (on May 12) and Dujail (on May 21), not to mention the vast attack launched by ISIS against the Taji gas networks on May 15 last.

The large coalition of Inherent Resolve, the Kurds and the Shiites – certainly favoured by the agreements reached between the United States and the Russian Federation, which still effectively controls the area near the Mediterranean coast of Syria – reconquered Rutba (on May 19) and most of the highway running from Ramadi to the Jordanian border (on May 20).

Hence the encirclement of Fallujah has been completed with Forces certainly larger than the Caliphate’s, while ISIS has been wiped out of the Diyala district, which is the necessary passageway to Fallujah.

Therefore the Caliphate has lost most of its areas operating in Iraq, but it has organized other terrorist attacks from its new “Governorate”, the Wilayat Sahel, established on the northwest coast of Syria, with the capacity for launching attacks of shaheed (“martyrs”) to Tartous and Jableh (which took place on May 23).

ISIS also reconquered the gas field of Sha’er and later attacked the areas of Maher and Jazal, other fields for the extraction of natural gas.

Hence while the units of the Syrian Democratic Forces are heading for Raqqa, the capital of the Caliphate, so as to isolate it from the rest of the jihadist territory, the Kurdish Peshmerga of the PYD and the People’s Mobilization Forces, recently created with the support of the local Sunni tribes, reconquered Bashir (on April 30).

As already mentioned, the organizations present in the Iraqi Security Forces have reconquered Rutba and Garma on their own.

Hence two concentric encirclements – the one heading for Raqqa and the other, more external but essential to the conquest of the ISIS capital, for Fallujah and then the network of more distant areas, but equally useful at strategic level, such as Ramla, Garma and Rutba.

The US and Syrian-Iraqi Sunni tribes want above all: a) to stabilize the whole Iraqi region of Al Anbar; 2) to encircle Mosul by means of the Iraqi Security Forces; 3) to create a network of Sunni tribes encircling Raqqa before its final conquest; 4) to support the logistics of fighters, especially the Kurdish Peshmerga and the Free Syrian Army.

As shown by the latest data from Inherent Resolve’s official sources, so far there have been five attacks launched by the coalition on the Syrian territory against ISIS targets.

24 attacks have been launched in Iraq, which is rightly regarded by the US CENTCOM as a single front with Syria.

However the relations between the Sunni tribes, the Caliphate and the Inherent Resolve actions are more complex than it may seem.

In 2014, for example, the Albu Ajeel tribe supported Isis, although it had invaded its land.

In the same period, however, the al-Jughaifa tribe present in Anbar had harshly blocked the Caliphate before reaching the town of Haditha.

The issue, which is both theological and political – as is always the case with Islam – regards the separation between Syria and Iraq: on the Syrian territory, ISIS considers many Sunni tribes not regular from the religious viewpoint and hence fights them as “infidels”, while this happens to a lesser extent on the Iraqi territory.

If we do not reason in terms of tribes we do not even understand the jihad: it is by no mere coincidence that, at the beginning of his terrorist adventure, Bin Laden was supported by his “comrades” of the Asir Yemeni tribe.

Furthermore, the Yemeni Sunnis have always opposed the Wahhabi “normalization” of the Al-Saud family who, as usual, regards them as “infidels”.

ISIS has “won the support” of the Sunni tribes with terror and threats, with its particular Koranic welfare and with the protection of communication lines – just as criminal organizations do in Southern Italy or in Latin American countries with the drug production areas.

When there was only a single government welfare, and the Cold War ensured extra-profits for the peripheries of both Empires, Hafez el Assad “won the support” of the Sunni tribes with prominent public posts for their leaders, with subsidies, as well as with selective and favourable commercial and tax regulations.

Hence ISIS has replaced State cronysm with its territorial jihad.

Will Inherent Resolve alone be enough to solve this equation that is military, but also political and social?

It is also worth recalling that Al Baghdadi’s Caliphate punishes traitors brutally and ferociously: in 2014, when the Al-Shaitat tribe rose up against ISIS, over 1,000 tribal militants were killed during a “death march” heading for Deir Ez-Zor.

The Shiites in power in Iraq (but the Kurds are mostly Sunni, while being of Iranian ethnicity, hence Indo-Europeans) have mistreated and impoverished the Sunni tribal areas all too much, by excluding them from power.

In this case the war will be won after the cessation of hostilities, and we must be vigilant so that the agreements which will back the non-Shiite tribal areas are implemented on a permanent basis.

Hence the project of a tripartite Syria according to the ethnic-religious lines comes back: Alawistan, a de facto protectorate of the Russian Federation; the Sunni area, the real primary objective of the Turkish regime and finally a great Syrian-Iraqi Kurdistan, which would step up the separatist tensions of the Kurdish areas already present in Anatolia.

Not to mention the Turkish Alevi, a sect speaking Kurdish in religious ceremonies, that since 1970 (with a fatwa of Imam Khomeini) has been part of the Twelver Shia Islam, in power in Iran after 1979. Said sect is linked to the Bekhtashi Sufi brotherhood, largely present among the old Janissaries of the Ottoman Empire.

After the disbandment of the Janissary corps, in 1826, the Bekhtashi reestablished in Tirana, Albania.

The Sufi network in the Ottoman world was the basis for the specific “modernization” of Kemal Ataturk, a Sufi Western Mason and first protector of the Alevi and the Shia.

Currently, however, Inherent Resolve, the Kurdish forces, the Sunni tribal networks are all converging towards the communication networks leading to Raqqa.

Will it be enough to eliminate Al Baghdadi’s Caliphate? The answer to this question is both yes and no.

It will certainly reduce it to nothing or a little more than nothing at territorial level, but nothing prevents it from reestablishing as a purely non-territorial terrorist cell – a cell, somewhere not completely de-jihadized, of Iraq or, less likely, of Syria.

Hence from ISIS we will go back to the old Al Qaeda model.

And the possibility for the Caliphate to be reconverted into an informal network of jihadists operating in Europe, in the Balkans or Central Asia can hardly be considered negligible.

What about Turkey? How does it see this new US strategy in Inherent Resolve uniting Kurds, Sunni tribes, the Free Syrian Army, as well as other forces far from being Bashar al-Assad’s enemies?

Obviously it sees it negatively, but the problem is much more complex.

Both the US and Syrian (as well as Russian) aircraft have long been on alert, with the order of shooting down any Turkish and/or Saudi aircraft flying over Syrian skies.

The very recent choices made to further increase the daily oil production in Saudi Arabia suggest that the Kingdom wants to “make money” quickly to support military expenditure, which is deemed urgent.

Nor is it unlikely that, with Saudi Arabia’s implicit or explicit support, Turkey decides to invade the Syrian territory directly from the ground, with its large Second Army, so as to defend its national interests, certainly including oil ones, but above all to avoid manu militari that the Kurds – including those operating only in Syria – succeed in uniting.

For the jihadist groups supported so far by Turkey, the issue would lie in creating a sort of safe zone along the Turkish Southern border with Syria.

Obviously the NATO rules make this project very difficult, but nothing prevents Turkey from organizing a provocation, a ferocious attack typical of the false flag operations, so as to create the undisputable casus belli.

The Turkish Second Army has long been positioned along the Southern border with Syria, with its headquarters in Malatya, and counts 100,000 well-trained soldiers. It would create the safe zone for the Syrian jihad by clearly separating the Syrian-Iraqi Kurdistan north of Idlib from the one operating in Jarablus.

A Turkish limited invasion which could clash with the US network which is expanding towards Raqqa and Fallujah, but nothing still prevents Turkey from creating an additional buffer with some Sunni tribes that could prevent the operating contact between Inherent Resolve and the Turkish Second Army.

Surely, however, President Erdogan’s government will not simply stand idle watching the events.

Advisory Board Co-chair Honoris Causa Professor Giancarlo Elia Valori is an eminent Italian economist and businessman. He holds prestigious academic distinctions and national orders. Mr. Valori has lectured on international affairs and economics at the world’s leading universities such as Peking University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Yeshiva University in New York. He currently chairs “International World Group”, he is also the honorary president of Huawei Italy, economic adviser to the Chinese giant HNA Group. In 1992 he was appointed Officier de la Légion d’Honneur de la République Francaise, with this motivation: “A man who can see across borders to understand the world” and in 2002 he received the title “Honorable” of the Académie des Sciences de l’Institut de France. “

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Defense

How 1971 war Brought Pakistan Closer to Nuclear Bomb

Qura tul ain Hafeez

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Ever since its independence Pakistan is a neighbor of shrewd enemy who always tried nothing better than to undo and divide Pakistan into pieces like what it did in the war of 1971. So it was necessary for Pakistan to acquire a security mechanism that can balance the power equation in the region. It’s pertinent to flash back in the history to answer the answer of the question that why after the war of 1971 it was necessary for Pakistan to acquire nuclear weapon. It was not the first time when India entered into to direct full-fledged war with Pakistan in 1971.At that time of independence there were almost 650 princely states in subcontinent that were ruled by princes. These states were given the option by the British Government to either adjoin with India or Pakistan.  Based on the religious line the Majority of the population of Kashmir, Junagarh and Hyderabad Dakan decided to adjoin with Pakistan however India maintained its hostility and once again propagated with the Hindu Raja’s (the ruler of states) and included them in India. Only it was Kashmir which was divided into Indian occupied and Azad Jamu Kashmir as a result of Indo-Pak War of 1948.

Continuing in its conspiracy against Pakistan India waged a war once again in 1965. It did not stop here played its role in giving Pakistan a huge loss in 1971.In the history of Pakistan the Indo-Pak war of 1971 has marked perhaps the darkest memory. It was the time when Pakistan was already weak and trying to overcome the suffering of 1965.Moreover, the internal political instabilities due to the economic, political rights of the people of East Pakistan. Various ethnic and lingual differences were contributing to destabilize the central command. India who was already for the moment just jumped in the scenario. It further fueled the burning conflict the make the situation worse. Further. In all this scenario Bengali population was an easy prey for Indian propaganda because they were already being exploited economically and politically.Thus the political clashes between the eastern and the western side of Pakistan turned into ethnolinguistic civil war.  The Indian government supported muktibahini and fed them with the arms and weapons eventually declaring war against Pakistan. This shredded Pakistan into two pieces. Pakistan lost its eastern half-1,600km (990 miles) of India as a result Bangladesh emerged as a new country in south Asia’s map.

Consequently due to such a huge loss Pakistan suffered a lot economically as well as politically. In the very same era while Pakistan was not strong enough and suffering from the wounds of 1971 war India launched India launched it’s so called “peaceful nuclear test” in 1974. Indian nuclear tests create a security dilemma for Pakistan and a further hampered the security situation for Pakistan. South Asia whose geo strategic environment is very complex volatile and vulnerable it was now quite difficult for Pakistan to assure its survival and national security interests without nuclear technology. In order to secure its vital foreign policy, territorial integrity and to maintain deterrence against its enemy (hostile India) Pakistan started its efforts to acquire Nuclear weapon and in 1998 did successful nuclear tests.

Currently if Pakistan did not have acquired a nuclear technology India must have done the same on the western boarder i.e. Baluchistan what it has done earlier in East Pakistan. Although it is very much involved in watering the seeds of the terrorist activities in Baluchistan.  Pakistan

Today it has been 48 years still India is engaged in fermenting trouble in Pakistan through its proxies like BLA and TTP. Kulbushan Yadave an Indian Spay caught by Pakistan Intelligence Is an Example of Indian propaganda which shows that. India continues to kept propagating against Pakistan which is causing various internal security threats including the biggest one i.e. terrorism. Moreover the recently the attack on the Chinese consulate in Karachi on 23 November, 2018 by BLA is one of another Example of Indian Conspiracy by feeding the terrorist groups in Pakistan. However It’s now difficult for India to lodged a full fledge war against Pakistan like past because now Pakistan has acquired nuclear technology and war against Pakistan means mutual destruction for India as well. This time purpose behind India’s vested activities is to   distract the unity all across the country by targeting all those developmental and economic projects which are being established under the umbrella of CPEC.

Now Pakistan has learned security lessons from East Pakistan. It is aware of India’s motivations and its presence in Afghanistan and Iran. Pakistan is now moving for good diplomatic relations and friendly regime in Afghanistan so we can be friends with them. Pakistan is one of the top countries who are fighting against terrorism and extremism. Now Pakistan is the world’s 7th atomic power. It Army is one of the most efficient army of the world and it knows how to defend its countries against the enemies like India.

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European army: An apple of discord

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The initiative of creating a European Army actually is in the air of the European Union.

Both French president Emmanuel Macron and German chancellor Angela Merkel declared this month that they support the need to create a joint European army. By the way these two countries are the strongest EU member states from economic and political points of view. Their words are not just “air shaking” but the subject to think it over.

France is the only remaining nuclear power in the EU once Britain leaves the organization – and Germany – its major economic power. Both countries make up about 40 % of the industrial and technological base in Western and Central Europe, as well as 40 % of the EU overall capabilities and of combined defence budgets.

The main reason why European leaders voiced the initiative now can be considered from two different points of view. From one hand this can be the indicator of European fears of Russia, China and even the US military activities. According to Macron, “an EU army is needed to “protect ourselves” with respect to these states.”

On the other hand such initiative can be used by France and Germany to stop the US from weakening Europe and promoting its interests in the region. Donald Trump reacted to the statement by tweeting: “Emmanuel Macron suggests building its own army to protect Europe against the U.S., China and Russia. But it was Germany in World Wars One & Two – How did that work out for France? They were starting to learn German in Paris before the U.S. came along. Pay for NATO or not!” Thus, he tied closely the idea of a European Army to his demand to increase defence spending to NATO.

At the same time the initiative of strengthening the European collective defence capabilities not only irritates the US but scares many EU countries as well.

As for the Baltic States, they have not formed their official opinion yet. The matter is the Baltics are “between two fires.” The EU membership gives them good political positions in Europe where they try to gain respect and influence. But the US remains their main financial donor and security guarantee at the moment. They can’t sacrifice relationships with Washington for the sake of ephemeral European Army. It means that there is a greater likelihood that Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia will softly reject the idea. It is not necessary to expect strong opposition to Germany and France. But they surely will do their best to postpone decision making.

After all the initiative could become an “apple of discord” in the EU and split the organization in two sides making the organization even weaker than now.

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Global arms industry: US companies dominate the Top 100, Russian arms industry moves to second place

MD Staff

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Sales of arms and military services by the world’s largest arms-producing and military services companies—the SIPRI Top 100—totalled $398.2 billion in 2017, according to new international arms industry data released today by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

The total for the SIPRI Top 100 in 2017 is 2.5 per cent higher than in 2016 and represents an increase of 44 per cent since 2002 (the first year for which comparable data is available; figures exclude China). This is the third consecutive year of growth in Top 100 arms sales.

US companies increase their share of total Top 100 arms sales 

With 42 companies listed in 2017, companies based in the United States continued to dominate the Top 100 in 2017. Taken together, the arms sales of US companies grew by 2.0 per cent in 2017, to $226.6 billion, which accounted for 57 per cent of total Top 100 arms sales. Five US companies were listed in the top 10 in 2017. ‘US companies directly benefit from the US Department of Defense’s ongoing demand for weapons,’ says Aude Fleurant, Director of SIPRI’s Arms and Military Expenditure Programme.

Lockheed Martin remained the world’s largest arms producer in 2017, with arms sales of $44.9 billion. ‘The gap between Lockheed Martin and Boeing—the two largest arms producers in the world—increased from $11 billion in 2016 to $18 billion in 2017,’ says Fleurant.

Russia becomes the second largest arms producer in the Top 100

The combined arms sales of Russian companies accounted for 9.5 per cent of the Top 100 total, making Russia the second largest arms producer in the Top 100 in 2017—a position that had been occupied by the United Kingdom since 2002. Taken together, the arms sales of the 10 Russian companies listed in the Top 100 increased by 8.5 per cent in 2017, to $37.7 billion. ‘Russian companies have experienced significant growth in their arms sales since 2011,’ says Siemon Wezeman, Senior Researcher with SIPRI’s Arms and Military Expenditure Programme. ‘This is in line with Russia’s increased spending on arms procurement to modernize its armed forces.’

In 2017 a Russian company appeared in the top 10 for the first time since SIPRI started publishing its annual Top 100 list. ‘Almaz-Antey, which was already Russia’s largest arms-producing company, increased its arms sales by 17 per cent in 2017, to $8.6 billion,’ says Alexandra Kuimova, Research Assistant with SIPRI’s Arms and Military Expenditure Programme.

Along with Almaz-Antey, three other Russian companies in the Top 100 increased their arms sales by more than 15 per cent: United Engine Corporation (25 per cent), High Precision Systems (22 per cent) and Tactical Missiles Corporation (19 per cent).

The UK remains the largest arms producer in Western Europe

The combined arms sales of the 24 companies in Western Europe listed in the Top 100 increased by 3.8 per cent in 2017, to $94.9 billion, which accounted for 23.8 per cent of the Top 100 total. The UK remained the largest arms producer in the region in 2017, with total arms sales of $35.7 billion and seven companies listed in the Top 100. ‘The combined arms sales of British companies were 2.3 per cent higher than in 2016,’ says Fleurant. ‘This was largely due to increases in the arms sales of BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce and GKN.’

BAE Systems, which is ranked fourth in the Top 100, is the UK’s biggest arms producer. Its arms sales rose by 3.3 per cent in 2017, to $22.9 billion.

Other notable developments

  • The arms sales of Turkish companies rose by 24 per cent in 2017. ‘This significant increase reflects Turkey’s ambitions to develop its arms industry to fulfil its growing demand for weapons and become less dependent on foreign suppliers,’ says Pieter Wezeman, Senior Researcher with SIPRI’s Arms and Military Expenditure Programme.
  • Taken together, the arms sales of the four Indian companies ranked in the Top 100 totalled $7.5 billion in 2017, representing a 1.9 per cent share of Top 100 arms sales.
  • Sales of the top 15 manufacturing companies listed in the Fortune Global 500 totalled $2311 billion in 2017. This is almost 10 times greater than the total arms sales of the top 15 arms producers ($231.6 billion) in 2017, and almost six times greater than the total combined arms sales of the Top 100 ($398.2 billion).
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