In mid-October of last year, President Trump’s order to leave the Syrian territory as quickly as possible led the Russian military to quickly filling the void left by the U.S. forces.
Certainly some U.S. special forces are still operational, but the strategic aim is obviously lacking.
On the edge of the 32kilometre corridor from the border line between Turkey and Syria, Bashar al-Assad’s army now controls Manbiji, at the beginning of the buffer area requested by Turkey, up to Ayn Issa, Tel Amer and Qamishli.
Below this line there are only the YPG and PKK Kurds, of whom it is difficult, in fact, to separate and distinguish the militancy.
When Assad regained control of North-East Syria, with the decisive Russian help, President Putin was still on a diplomatic tour between Saudi Arabia and the Emirates.
To say the least, none of the US traditional Sunni allies has appreciated the fast US acquiescence and Turkey’s unequal agreement with the United States. In fact, this is exactly the way in which the Syrian and Kurdish policy followed by the United States and Turkey has been interpreted by Saudi Arabia and the Emirates.
The Sunni powers regard Turkey as a dangerous side effect of the Muslim Brotherhood – and this holds true at least for Saudi Arabia – or also as a geopolitical wild card – and this applies to the Emirates.
This holds true also for the countries, like Qatar, which have always been interested friends of the Ikhwan, namely the Muslim Brotherhood.
Hostile to God and to his enemies – this is the future of the Turkish global strategy, rebus sic stantibus. Either it binds itself to Russia, under its terms and conditions, or it remains alone in the new Greater Middle East, by now deprived of support from the United States.
The Sunnis who count, namely those of the Arabian Peninsula, and Al Jazeera have understood the U.S. countermelody and are already looking for new allies. They cannot succeed on their own and hence Russia sets in.
“Russia is my second home” – as Prince Mohammed bin Zayed from the dynasty ruling in Abu Dhabi has cleverly stated – but the withdrawal of U.S. soldiers ordered by President Trump is really a strategic, moral and historical turning point.
The Kurds, betrayed in no time by the United States, have immediately negotiated and reached a good agreement with Assad, mediated only by Russia and organized above all by the Shiite factions of the Kurdish nation, present especially in Iraq and with excellent relations with Iran.
Syria, i.e. the place where Turkey wants to enter so as to avoid the strategic link between Syrian Kurds, Anatolian Kurds and Iraqi Kurds – which would constitute a Kurdish State capable of annihilating the rest of the ethnically Turkish population – needs an ally that can “keep firm and alive” (as Machiavelli said with reference to France) Syria as a solid unitary entity, Kurds included.
President Putin still wants to stay in Syria, because he hopes that, in the future, Turkey will leave NATO and become a Russian peripheral ally. Is it an impossible dream? Not necessarily so.
Turkey may also adhere to Russia’s project: the Atlantic Alliance is now the wreck of a war which ended seventy years ago and which has never supported Turkey except in the long series of military coups in 1961, 1980 and again in 1997. Finally, in the changing of the guard that saw all the NATO Mediterranean countries oust their ruling classes, Turkey had to face the AKP, a party reborn from the ashes of an Islamist organization that had been banned by the Turkish Constitutional Court.
The Muslim Brotherhood, acting as US agents – also when Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State – to “bring democracy”, i.e. its own democracy, throughout the Islamic world. A masterpiece in reverse.
Currently, after the end of the “Cold War”, only those who can be blackmailed rise to power. Hence the transfer of power in Italy, in the Middle East, but also in Latin America and even in Asia.
Briefly President Putin currently wants Turkey to leave NATO to start collaboration with Russia in Central Asia and, above all, in the great future business of pipelines from Asia to Europe.
The “Middle Corridor” – if organized by Turkey – favours the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative.
There is also the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway opened in October 2017, as well as Turkmenistan’s port on the Caspian Sea, built by Turkish companies closely linked to the Turkish Presidency, which has been operational since 2018.
As early as 1992, the Western powers have conveyed the message to Turkey that it only needs to become the secular Sunni rampart against Iran.
In 1993 Turkey also founded the Alliance for Turkish Culture while, in 2009, the Turkish regime established the Cooperation Council of the Turkic Speaking States.
Now Turkey’s primary idea is to be a “central power” that, however, operates freely in Asia and, in any case, outside the interests of the Atlantic Alliance.
This is exactly what Vladimir Putin likes about it.
The Turkish energy mix, however, is linked to natural gas. Turkey imports it from Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran.
If the Trans-Anatolian Gas Pipeline Project (TANAP) is implemented, Turkey’s energy connection from Central Asian countries would be objectively more important than the old link with the USA and NATO.
Hence Russia could be a real trump card for Turkey.
President Putin, however, has favoured the connection and operational communication between Assad’s forces and the “Turkmen” militias linked to Turkey.
There is no channel of communication that Russia does not control in the Greater Middle East.
After all, if you wage war in the Middle East against a Western-style “villain” typical of comics, the only possible result is that your work is done by the old enemy.
There is also the Iraqi insurgency which concerns corruption, inefficiency and government irrelevance.
So far the toll has been 200 victims, with at least 6,000 injured people.
It is said that Iran has supplied snipers to hit the crowd, but there is no evidence about it.
The Asaib ahl-Al haq militia, i.e. the Shiite network of Al Ghazali that has already operated in Syria, was seen operating also in Iraq and often had to face strong negative reactions from the local population.
Meanwhile, Russia is reaching agreements with all Middle East countries obviously focusing on energy, but also on the media – and above all TV–as well as on infrastructure and the Armed Forces.
In January 2019 Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov hosted his Iraqi counterpart, Mohammed Alì al-Hakim.
Russian investment in Iraq has recently exceeded 10 billion US dollars, while Russia has cancelled an old Iraqi debt of 12.2 billion US dollars in exchange for a new 4 billion US dollar oil contract, which provides Russia with the opportunity of starting to exploit West-Qurna 2, one of the largest oil fields in the world.
Lukoil and Gazprom Neft officially entered the Iraqi Kurdistan’s oil market in 2012, thus paving the way for many new contracts.
Russia has also directly funded Kurdistan’s government, with a 3.5 billion US dollar loan, which will be repaid with the oil sold to Russia’s Rosneft as soon as possible.
In October 2013 Russia sold to the Kurdish world in Iraq and Syria 4.3 billion US dollars in weapons to replace the Iraqi ones. These funds make the Kurdish Rojava autonomous from Iraq, even strategically.
The old intelligence operational centre between Russia, Iran and Syria -opened by Russia in Iraq – is still very active.
Now it also carries out geoeconomic operations.
In September 2018, also the Iraqi-Russian Cultural Centre in Baghdad – closed down in 2003 – was reopened.
In Iraq, however, Russia never wants to compete with Iran. Moreover,Iran and Iraq work very well also with China.
There are 1.7 billion dollars of trade between Iraq and the Russian Federation, which cover the 30 million US dollars of debt that Iraq still holds with China.
On October 21, 2019, President Putin received Erdogan in Sochi and, after seven hours of discussion, the Turkish-Russian bilateral plan has been such as to further diminish the U.S. role, while the Russian one is increasing significantly.
All this is a continuation of the meeting between Russia, Turkey and Iran held in Astana on September 16 last.
Russia wants to weaken the Iranian security forces still present in Syria, by using both Iranian coldness about the Syrian conquest of Idlib and Iran’s traditional tendency to remain – with its forces – on the border between Iran and Syria and to operate, above all, in favour of the corridor between the Iranian Shiite capital and Southern Lebanon.
Russia has not much interest in it.
Moreover, the Russian Federation wants Turkey to quickly disarm its jihadist militias in Idlib, particularly Hayat Ahrir al-Sham, so as to make its ally Bashar al-Assad achieve full controlof the Afrin area, the key point of the North Syrian border and, above all, of the military relationship between Turkey and Syria.
With a view to counterbalancing this disagreement with Turkey, Iraq and possibly Iran, Russia is working on agreements with the most important Sunni leadership.
The issue is much wider: since early August 2019 the Lebanon and Iraq have been an integral part of the “Astana process”.
Russia has also proposed a tripartite agreement between the Lebanon, Syria and Russia for the sole repatriation of Syrian refugees. If Iraq manages to carve out a credible role as mediator between Iran and Saudi Arabia, Russia could create a future duopoly with Iraq in Syria, so as to avoid the Iranian “mortmain” and the jihadist and Sunni pressure on the borders of Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
It should not seem strange that the other trump card of the Russian Federation is Egypt and the Emirates.
It is by no mere coincidence that all these countries have reopened diplomatic channels with Syria.
Russia views Egypt as a reliable partner in Syria, also considering the long-standing support provided by Egypt to Assad.
There is also the “Dialogue two plus two” between Egypt and Russia, an agreement between both countries’ Defence and Foreign Ministries.
Incidentally, this agreement is obviously as valid for Syria as it is for Libya.
In the near future, Egypt will directly support the Russian contractors recently made operational in Cirenaica and in the Libyan Fezzan.
In the meantime, the West is sadly counting the many useless ceasefires.
In December 2018, the Emirates reopened their Embassy in Damascus.
Meanwhile, Russia is always selling advanced weapons to Iran.
It cannot be ruled out that, considering that now the United States is no longer in Syria except for “showing the flag”, Iraq officially asks Russia to organize air raids on the ISIS networks currently present between Syria and Iraq, still largely operating outside the old “Islamic State”.
President Putin, however, will favour Iran’s access to the “Eurasian Union”, while Russia will do its utmost to minimize the risks connected both to Iran’s geopolitics and to the global energy market.
This means that the Russian leader will avoid lowering prices even faced with a rather rhapsodic market of Canadian and U.S. shale oil and gas.
Furthermore, Russia also want to normalize relations with the United States and its mediation between Iran and the United States is important, as well as the idea that each energy production area has and can maintain its optimal market without excessive overlapping between sellers.
Hence President Putin will mediate between all players in the Greater Middle East, by trying to focus both on investment in Syria’s reconstruction and in the new routes of the oil and gas market in Europe. Moreover, Russia will create ad hoc alliances to limit the use of weapons in the region and will finally try to protect Israel – its future pivot in the region – by finding a balance between Sunnis and Shiites and playing the Syrian card as the basis of economic communication between all of them.
Process to draft Syria constitution begins this week
The process of drafting a new constitution for Syria will begin this week, the UN Special Envoy for the country, Geir Pedersen, said on Sunday at a press conference in Geneva.
Mr. Pedersen was speaking following a meeting with the government and opposition co-chairs of the Syrian Constitutional Committee, who have agreed to start the process for constitutional reform.
The members of its so-called “small body”, tasked with preparing and drafting the Constitution, are in the Swiss city for their sixth round of talks in two years, which begin on Monday.
Their last meeting, held in January, ended without progress, and the UN envoy has been negotiating between the parties on a way forward.
“The two Co-Chairs now agree that we will not only prepare for constitutional reform, but we will prepare and start drafting for constitutional reform,” Mr. Pedersen told journalists.
“So, the new thing this week is that we will actually be starting a drafting process for constitutional reform in Syria.”
The UN continues to support efforts towards a Syrian-owned and led political solution to end more than a decade of war that has killed upwards of 350,000 people and left 13 million in need of humanitarian aid.
An important contribution
The Syrian Constitutional Committee was formed in 2019, comprising 150 men and women, with the Government, the opposition and civil society each nominating 50 people.
This larger group established the 45-member small body, which consists of 15 representatives from each of the three sectors.
For the first time ever, committee co-chairs Ahmad Kuzbari, the Syrian government representative, and Hadi al-Bahra, from the opposition side, met together with Mr. Pedersen on Sunday morning.
He described it as “a substantial and frank discussion on how we are to proceed with the constitutional reform and indeed in detail how we are planning for the week ahead of us.”
Mr. Pedersen told journalists that while the Syrian Constitutional Committee is an important contribution to the political process, “the committee in itself will not be able to solve the Syrian crisis, so we need to come together, with serious work, on the Constitutional Committee, but also address the other aspects of the Syrian crisis.”
North Africa: Is Algeria Weaponizing Airspace and Natural Gas?
In a series of shocking and unintelligible decisions, the Algerian Government closed its airspace to Moroccan military and civilian aircraft on September 22, 2021, banned French military planes from using its airspace on October 3rd, and decided not to renew the contract relative to the Maghreb-Europe gas pipeline, which goes through Morocco and has been up and running since 1996–a contract that comes to end on October 31.
In the case of Morocco, Algeria advanced ‘provocations and hostile’ actions as a reason to shut airspace and end the pipeline contract, a claim that has yet to be substantiated with evidence. Whereas in the case of France, Algeria got angry regarding visa restrictions and comments by French President Emmanuel Macron on the Algerian military grip on power and whether the North African country was a nation prior to French colonization in 1830.
Algeria has had continued tensions with Morocco for decades, over border issues and over the Western Sahara, a territory claimed by Morocco as part of its historical territorial unity, but contested by Algeria which supports an alleged liberation movement that desperately fights for independence since the 1970s.
With France, the relation is even more complex and plagued with memories of colonial exactions and liberation and post-colonial traumas, passions and injuries. France and Algeria have therefore developed, over the post-independence decades, a love-hate attitude that quite often mars otherwise strong economic and social relations.
Algeria has often reacted to the two countries’ alleged ‘misbehavior’ by closing borders –as is the case with Morocco since 1994—or calling its ambassadors for consultations, or even cutting diplomatic relations, as just happened in August when it cut ties with its western neighbor.
But it is the first-time Algeria resorts to the weaponization of energy and airspace. “Weaponization” is a term used in geostrategy to mean the use of goods and commodities, that are mainly destined for civilian use and are beneficial for international trade and the welfare of nations, for geostrategic, political and even military gains. As such “weaponization” is contrary to the spirit of free trade, open borders, and solidarity among nations, values that are at the core of common international action and positive globalization.
Some observers advance continued domestic political and social unrest in Algeria, whereby thousands of Algerians have been taking to the streets for years to demand regime-change and profound political and economic reforms. Instead of positively responding to the demands of Algerians, the government is probably looking for desperate ways to divert attention and cerate foreign enemies as sources of domestic woes. Morocco and France qualify perfectly for the role of national scapegoats.
It may be true also that in the case of Morocco, Algeria is getting nervous at its seeing its Western neighbor become a main trade and investment partner in Africa, a role it can levy to develop diplomatic clout regarding the Western Sahara issue. Algeria has been looking for ways to curb Morocco’s growing influence in Africa for years. A pro-Algerian German expert, by the name of Isabelle Werenfels, a senior fellow in the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, even recommended to the EU to put a halt to Morocco’s pace and economic clout so that Algeria could catch up. Weaponization may be a desperate attempt to hurt the Moroccan economy and curb its dynamism, especially in Africa.
The impact of Algeria’s weaponization of energy and airspace on the Moroccan economy is minimal and on French military presence in Mali is close to insignificant; however, it shows how far a country that has failed to administer the right reforms and to transfer power to democratically elected civilians can go.
In a region, that is beleaguered by threats and challenges of terrorism, organized crime, youth bulge, illegal migration and climate change, you would expect countries like Algeria, with its geographic extension and oil wealth, to be a beacon of peace and cooperation. Weaponization in international relations is inacceptable as it reminds us of an age when bullying and blackmail between nations, was the norm. The people of the two countries, which share the same history, language and ethnic fabric, will need natural gas and unrestricted travel to prosper and grow and overcome adversity; using energy and airspace as weapons is at odds with the dreams of millions of young people in Algeria and Morocco that aspire for a brighter future in an otherwise gloomy economic landscape. Please don’t shatter those dreams!
Breaking The Line of the Israel-Palestine Conflict
The conflict between Israel-Palestine is a prolonged conflict and has become a major problem, especially in the Middle East region.
A series of ceasefires and peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine that occurred repeatedly did not really “normalize” the relationship between the two parties.
In order to end the conflict, a number of parties consider that the two-state solution is the best approach to create two independent and coexistent states. Although a number of other parties disagreed with the proposal, and instead proposed a one-state solution, combining Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip into one big state.
Throughout the period of stalemate reaching an ideal solution, the construction and expansion of settlements carried out illegally by Israel in the Palestinian territories, especially the West Bank and East Jerusalem, also continued without stopping and actually made the prospect of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian crisis increasingly eroded, and this could jeopardize any solutions.
The attempted forced eviction in the Sheikh Jarrah district, which became one of the sources of the conflict in May 2021, for example, is an example of how Israel has designed a system to be able to change the demographics of its territory by continuing to annex or “occupy” extensively in the East Jerusalem area. This is also done in other areas, including the West Bank.
In fact, Israel’s “occupation” of the eastern part of Jerusalem which began at the end of the 1967 war, is an act that has never received international recognition.
This is also confirmed in a number of resolutions issued by the UN Security Council Numbers 242, 252, 267, 298, 476, 478, 672, 681, 692, 726, 799, 2334 and also United Nations General Assembly Resolutions Number 2253, 55/130, 60/104, 70/89, 71/96, A/72/L.11 and A/ES-10/L.22 and supported by the Advisory Opinion issued by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 2004 on Legal Consequences of The Construction of A Wall in The Occupied Palestine Territory which states that East Jerusalem is part of the Palestinian territories under Israeli “occupation”.
1 or 2 country solution
Back to the issue of the two-state solution or the one-state solution that the author mentioned earlier. The author considers that the one-state solution does not seem to be the right choice.
Facts on the ground show how Israel has implemented a policy of “apartheid” that is so harsh against Palestinians. so that the one-state solution will further legitimize the policy and make Israel more dominant. In addition, there is another consideration that cannot be ignored that Israel and Palestine are 2 parties with very different and conflicting political and cultural identities that are difficult to reconcile.
Meanwhile, the idea of a two-state solution is an idea that is also difficult to implement. Because the idea still seems too abstract, especially on one thing that is very fundamental and becomes the core of the Israel-Palestine conflict, namely the “division” of territory between Israel and Palestine.
This is also what makes it difficult for Israel-Palestine to be able to break the line of conflict between them and repeatedly put them back into the status quo which is not a solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.
The status quo, is in fact a way for Israel to continue to “annex” more Palestinian territories by establishing widespread and systematic illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Today, more than 600,000 Israeli settlers now live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
In fact, a number of resolutions issued by the UN Security Council have explicitly and explicitly called for Israel to end the expansion of Israeli settlement construction in the occupied territory and require recognition of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of the region.
Thus, all efforts and actions of Israel both legislatively and administratively that can cause changes in the status and demographic composition in East Jerusalem and the West Bank must continue to be condemned. Because this is a violation of the provisions of international law.
To find a solution to the conflict, it is necessary to look back at the core of the conflict that the author has mentioned earlier, and the best way to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is to encourage Israel to immediately end the “occupation” that it began in 1967, and return the settlements to the pre-Islamic borders 1967 In accordance with UN Security Council resolution No. 242.
But the question is, who can stop the illegal Israeli settlements in the East Jerusalem and West Bank areas that violate the Palestinian territories?
In this condition, international political will is needed from countries in the world, to continue to urge Israel to comply with the provisions of international law, international humanitarian law, international human rights law and also the UN Security Council Resolutions.
At the same time, the international community must be able to encourage the United Nations, especially the United Nations Security Council, as the organ that has the main responsibility for maintaining and creating world peace and security based on Article 24 of the United Nations Charter to take constructive and effective steps in order to enforce all United Nations Resolutions, and dare to sanction violations committed by Israel, and also ensure that Palestinian rights are important to protect.
So, do not let this weak enforcement of international law become an external factor that also “perpetuates” the cycle of the Israel-Palestine conflict. It will demonstrate that John Austin was correct when he stated that international law is only positive morality and not real law.
And in the end, the most fundamental thing is that the blockade, illegal development, violence, and violations of international law must end. Because the ceasefire in the Israel-Palestine conflict is only a temporary solution to the conflict.
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