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IRAQ:

  • France has called for a meeting of the US-led International Coalition over the “revival” of the Islamic State in Iraq. The so-called Coalition against Daesh has not met for a long time, despite France, which is also part of the international coalition, called on new US President Joe Biden to continue fighting ISIS as a priority.

SOURCE: SHAFAQ


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EUROPE:

UKRAINE:

  • The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) has discovered an Islamic State (IS) cell near Ukraine’s capital of Kiev, which was allegedly led by a combatant wanted for participating in combat in Syria.

SOURCE: RMX NEWS


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Expert Analysis

Balancing Regional Interests In Syria Is The Only Way Reach A Compromise Solution

8 FEBRUARY 2021

Balancing Regional Interests In Syria Is The Only Way Reach A Compromise Solution

Politically resolving the Hybrid War of Terror on Syria will involve difficult compromises on all sides, but this is only possible if each party acknowledges their counterparts’ regional interests and Russian diplomats are able to successfully devise a creative solution for “balancing” between them as best as possible.

The Impossibility Of A Military Solution

The Hybrid War of Terror on Syria cannot be resolved militarily by any of the participating parties. The US and its fellow anti-Syrian allies, which importantly include “Israel” and Turkey to differing but not necessarily always coordinated degrees, are unable to forcefully overthrow the country’s democratically elected and legitimate government. In fact, one can argue that they don’t even pursue that goal all that seriously anymore after having informally accepted President Assad’s continued leadership of Syria, who they’ve learned to imperfectly live with after all these years. At the same time, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) is unable to unilaterally liberate all of its territory from the occupying American and Turkish forces. This is especially the case after Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov reaffirmed late last month that Russia “cannot expel it, and we will not clash with US forces” in Syria, hence why he reminded everyone of his country’s “so-called deconfliction” talks with it. It’s for this reason why the war has largely remained frozen on the military front over the past few years.

The Long Path Towards A Political Solution

The only solution is therefore a political one, but this is only possible if each party acknowledges their counterparts’ regional interests and Russian’ diplomats are able to successfully devise a creative solution for “balancing” between them as best as possible. This might sound like wishful thinking to many at the moment, but it’s the only realistic way out of the present impasse, no matter how difficult some of the compromises might be. Of course, any potential solution must involve the means to verify each party’s compliance and ensure enforcement against all violators without discrimination. It might still be a long way off before anything like that is agreed to, but that noble goal must be the basis for beginning talks to that end at the soonest possible moment. To facilitate these efforts, it’s worthwhile remembering each party’s regional interests, after which a discussion can commence for exploring the most realistic extent to which each one of them might compromise on reaching a final Russian-brokered agreement to end the war.

Respective Interests

Syria:

* Sustain Anti-Terrorist Gains

* Liberate The Rest Of The Occupied Territories

* Retain The Centralized State Structure

* Remove The Crippling Sanctions Regime

* Reconstruct The Country

Russia:

* Sustain Anti-Terrorist Gains

* Maintain A Long-Term Military Presence In Syria

Avoid A Larger War Erupting In Syria Between Iran & “Israel”

* Leverage Diplomatic Leadership To “Balance” The Region

* Maximize Post-War Economic Dividends

Iran:

* Sustain Anti-Terrorist Gains

* Prove To Damascus That It’s More Of An All-Around Reliable Ally Than Russia

* Receive An Eventual Economic “Return On Investment” For Saving Syria

* Entrench Military Presence In Syria As Long-Term Strategic Leverage Against “Israel”

* Strengthen The Axis Of Resistance

Turkey:

* Prevent The Emergence Of A PKK-Pioneered Terror Corridor In Northern Syria

* Ensure That Turkish-Backed “Rebels” Have A Political Role In Post-War Syria

* Demonstrate To Regional Allies That It’s A Reliable Partner

* Strengthen Strategic Relations With Russia And Iran Through The Astana Process

* Establish Global Respect As A Rising Great Power

US/”Israel”

* Maintain Pressure On Damascus Through Unconventional (“Rebel”/Terrorist/Sanctions) Means

* Permanently Neutralize The Anti-”Israeli” Capabilities Of The SAA

* Expel Iranian Military Forces From Syria

* Retain “Freedom Of Action” To Conduct “Surgical Strikes”

* “Decentralize” Syria To Redistribute Damascus’ Power To Allied Proxies

Assessing Strategic Successes And The Lack Thereof

With the above-mentioned strategic goals of all relevant players in mind, it’s now time to assess their successes and lack thereof. What follows is a simplified bullet point list of the present state of affairs:

* ISIS’ “Caliphate” Has Been Dismantled But Terror Threats Persist Along Syria’s Periphery

* Foreign Forces Continue To Support “Rebel”/Terrorist Groups

* Political Progress Towards Peace Is Practically Non-Existent Because Of A Refusal By All To Compromise

* Turkey Is The Only Party Continuing To Resist The Syrian Kurds’ Participation In The Peace Process

* US-Enforced Sanctions Will Remain Until Damascus Irreversibly Compromises On Political Issues

* Russia Sat Back While “Israel” Reportedly Hit 50 Targets In Syria Last Year Alone

* Russia Has Yet To Allow Syria To Operate The S-300s To Defend Itself From “Israeli” Strikes

* Russia’s Reshaping Syria’s ‘Deep State’ In Its Own Image” To Reduce Iranian Influence

* Russia’s Regional Diplomatic Role Continues To Rise As A Result Of Its “Balancing” Act

Zero-Sum Interests

Building off of these observations, the following zero-sum interests are presently obstructing a solution:

* Syria Won’t Consider Political Compromises Until Its Territory Is Liberated And Sanctions Removed; The US And Turkey Won’t Withdraw And Remove Their Sanctions Until Syria Makes Political Compromises

* Turkey Won’t Fully Support The Political Process In Syria If The Kurds Are Involved; All Other Players Believe That The Political Process Can’t Succeed Without The Kurds’ Involvement

* “Israel” Will Continue Bombing Iran In Syria Until The Latter Fully Withdraws; Iran Won’t Seriously Consider Withdrawing From Syria Until “Israel” No Longer Poses A Direct Threat To It And Its Syrian Ally’s Forces

* The US & “Israel” Will Continue Pressuring Damascus Through Unconventional Means Until It Politically Compromises And Expels Iran; Damascus Won’t Consider Either Until Those Two Stop Pressuring It

* Russia Is The Best Suited Of Syria’s Allies For Promoting Damascus’ Interests Among Relevant Hostile Players; Syrian Interests Will Always Be Subservient To Russia’s Own With Respect To Its “Balancing” Act

Summarized Insight

Considering everything, a Russian-brokered compromise solution would have to do the seemingly impossible by resolving the contradictions between each relevant players’ zero-sum interests. This would naturally involve painful compromises by each party except for itself since none of the others have the political will to cross its red lines by either militarily targeting its forces (relevant for Iran/Turkey/US/”Israel”) or expelling it from the country (such as if Syria ever became fed up with Russia’s “balancing” act being carried out as its “perceived expense”). The three most controversial issues in the grand scheme of things are the refusal of any domestic party to compromise on the peace process and thus lead to promised sanctions relief, the continued US and Turkish military occupations of Syria (“Israel’s” Golan one is taken for granted), and Iran’s continued military presence in Syria which is exploited by “Israel” to “justify” its regular attacks. Quite clearly, these three bones of connection must somehow be creatively addressed by any speculative Russian-brokered compromise solution.

Speculating On A Russian-Brokered Compromise Solution

As the most realistic starting point, Russia can “lean on” Syria to promise constitutionally enshrined decentralization in the currently occupied territories allowing for a greater degree of local political and cultural autonomy for groups opposed to Damascus’ centralization policies there while preventing them from conducting their own military and diplomatic relations with foreign powers. If agreed with all relevant players ahead of time, this could satisfy some of the US and Turkey’s political demands while also ensuring Syria’s national security interests. Should progress be made on this front, then Syria could request Iran’s dignified but phased withdrawal from the country in parallel with symmetrical US and Turkish steps culminating with the gradual lessening of sanctions in order to facilitate much-needed reconstruction. As a guarantee against continued “Israeli” aggression afterwards, Russia could then transfer control of the S-300s to the SAA and even consider exporting state-of-the-art S-400s to it too upon all foreign forces’ ultimate withdrawal from Syria.

Concluding Thoughts

The proposed Russian-brokered compromise solution for politically ending the Hybrid War of Terror on Syria is admittedly imperfect and might even be unrealistic so long as even one of the relevant parties lacks the political will to compromise on their zero-sum interests. The key to success lies in Russia leveraging its “balancing” act to foster indirect trust between hostile players through their shared belief in the sincerity of Moscow’s efforts to achieve tangible gains in these respects, after which they could all work on agreeing to timelines for each phase of the suggested peace plan. Nevertheless, partisan disagreements within each relevant party’s government could ultimately derail any progress that might be made if even one of them unilaterally reverses its previously (whether publicly or secretly) agreed commitments to each step, such as if their opponents provocatively presented their compromises as being a “loss of face”. It’ll therefore be very difficult to pull this off, but a political solution is the only possible one since a military solution is impossible.

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By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

Tags: Syria, US, Russia, Iran, Turkey, Israel, Kurds, ISIS, Balancing.


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MIDDLE EAST:

IRAQ:

  • More than two years after the end of the self-proclaimed ISIS caliphate in Iraq, Iraqi politicians and political factions are engulfed by waves of concerns about Washington’s plot to revive the terrorist group in their country. Reports suggest that the US is transferring to the Iraq-Syrian borders for future terrorist operations the ISIS prisoners who were kept in Hasakah jails in northeastern Syria.

SOURCE: ABNA 24


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terrorism

Africa

AFRICA

  • MOZAMBIQUE: In northeast Mozambique, a region rich in natural gas and mineral resources, an Islamic insurgency is escalating, using operational techniques similar to those from conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq. The ISIS-aligned group has escalated violence in Cabo Delgado, including grisly beheadings, kidnappings, and forced recruitment.

SOURCE: POLITICALVIOLENCEATAGLANCE

 

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Asia Pacific

ASIA PACIFIC

  • INDONESIA: Indonesia suffered a terrorist attack in a remote village in the country’s eastern province of Central Sulawesi that killed at least four people. Members of the Mujahidin Indonesia Timur (MIT), a terrorist group that supports ISIL, are suspected to be the attackers.

SOURCE: XINHUANET

 

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Middle East

MIDDLE EAST

  • IRAQ: The Iraqi Minister of Foreign Affairs warned that Daesh has intensified its activities in Iraq in recent months. At the end of 2017, the Iraqi authorities declared victory over the terrorist group, but the armed organization continues to operate through sleeper cells in some parts of the country.

SOURCE: MIDDLE EAST MONITOR

 

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South Asia

SOUTH ASIA

  • AFGHANISTAN: Trump to Order Further Drawdown of Troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. NATO warns against the pullout, saying “Afghanistan risks becoming once again a platform for international terrorists to plan and organize attacks on our homelands. ISIS could rebuild in Afghanistan the terror caliphate it lost in Syria and Iraq.” Al Qaeda will now be given time and space to regroup in Afghanistan for the next attack.

SOURCES: POLITICO PJ MEDIA

 

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Europe

EUROPE

  • AUSTRIA: ISIS claimed responsibility for deadly shooting rampage in Vienna (see also GGN November), but provided no evidence to back up its claims. ISIS recently asked its followers to carry out attacks in Europe.

SOURCE: THE NATIONAL NEWS

 

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Middle East

MIDDLE EAST

  • IRAQ: Security experts and strategists said that ISIS was trying to regain power in Iraq, trying to expand its operations. Meanwhile, the Iraqi security forces launched a military operation to pursue ISIS cells in various areas to the west of the country, including Kanous Island, one of ISIS’ strongholds.

SOURCE: ASHARQ AL-AWSAT

 

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