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US Intervention in Syria at Crossroads

  • US Intervention in Syria at Crossroads
    by https://consortiumnews.com/
    Exclusive: The U.S. military incursion into Syria is literally at a crossroads, with U.S.-backed forces cut off at Al-Tanf where two strategic highways intersect and where President Trump may decide to escalate, says Daniel Lazare.

    By Daniel Lazare
    The U.S. has stumbled into a trap in the Syrian desert town of Al-Tanf, and the big question now is whether it will stay, leave, or try to save face by putting on a show of force. Given the crisis mentality in Washington these days, the answer is likely the last. If so, the effect will be to take a bad situation and make it much, much worse.

    Al-Tanf is strategically important because it straddles an east-west international highway as it branches off to the north, crossing into southern Syria and continuing on to Damascus and Beirut. Since the highway serves as a supply line linking Shi‘ite population centers in Iran and Iraq with those in western Syria and southern Lebanon, the U.S. thought that by severing the supply line at Al-Tanf, located just a few miles north of the Iraqi and Jordanian borders, it could check a bid by Syria’s ally Iran to open up a corridor to the Mediterranean, strengthening the so-called “Shi‘ite crescent.”

    But U.S. ambitions did not stop at dashing Iran’s strategic dreams in its regional Shi’ite-Sunni rivalry with Saudi Arabia. Beyond cutting off the road’s northern branch, the U.S. floated plans to convert the southern route into a modern U.S.-style toll road complete with service stations, rest stops, and cafés. The roadway would then be under the control of a military-linked security firm, the Reston, Virginia-based Constellis, which happens to be the owner of Academi, formerly known as Blackwater, whose heavily armed security guards were convicted of massacring 17 civilians in Nisour Square, Baghdad, in 2007.

    So, instead of a supply route linking far-flung Shi‘ite population centers, the upshot would be a U.S.-controlled highway connecting Sunni-dominated Anbar Province in western Iraq with Sunni-majority Jordan – a neat trick if the U.S. could pull it off. In the interim, the United States, which does not have permission from the Syrian government to have military forces inside Syria, sought to expand the U.S. desert garrison in Al-Tanf by unilaterally declaring a “de-confliction zone” extending 34 miles in every direction and defending it by force.

    On May 18, U.S. aircraft struck a column of pro-government fighters that had allegedly strayed over the perimeter. On June 6, the U.S. military struck other pro-government forces accused of doing the same, while on June 8, a U.S. warplane shot down an Iranian drone. With U.S. patrols ranging as far as 60 miles away, the United States was extending its sway over a larger and larger portion of southeastern Syria. Soon, no traffic would be able to enter from Iraq without express U.S. approval.

    Of course, the ultimate goal may have even been bigger: to link up the Al-Tanf garrison with U.S.-backed forces fighting to oust Islamic State militants from their self-declared capital of Raqqa, some 150 miles to the north.

    Letting ISIS Reposition
    Indeed, Sergey Surovikin, commander of Russia’s Syria forces, accused the U.S. on June 9 of allowing hundreds of Islamic State fighters to flee Raqqa for Palmyra, a hundred miles or so to the south. With Islamic State (also known as ISIS) strengthened in the central part of the country, the effect would be to block the Damascus government’s drive to the east. With the Syrian army immobilized, U.S.-backed forces would be in a position to seize more territory as ISIS resistance crumbles.


    read more.
https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/07/30/isis-j30.html

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June 23, 2017 - Posted by | GeoPolitics | , , , , , , , , , , ,

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