By Pepe Escobar,
There could hardly have been a more appropriate start for the Chinese Year of the Monkey, geopolitically, than the prime monkey business enacted in Munich between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
The Syrian charade now proceeds under a vague “cessation of hostilities” – which is not a ceasefire – to be implemented within a week. Further on down the road, as this is the real world, “hostilities” will inevitably resume.
As Lavrov stressed multiple times, “we made proposals on implementing a ceasefire, quite specific ones.” And yet Washington and the Saudi-Turkish combo relented. A frightened, cornered House of Saud – with its remote-controlled “moderate rebel” gaggle being routed on the ground – even started spinning the ludicrous notion of sending ground troops, a.k.a. a bunch of mercenaries, to “help the US effort” against Daesh (ISIS/ISIL/IS).
The monkey business reached such a level of un-sustainability that Russian premier Dmitry Medvedev felt compelled to tell an interviewer from Germany’s Handelsblatt, “The Americans and our [Arab] partners must think hard about this: Do they want a permanent war?”
Sultan Erdogan and the House of Saud certainly do – because their Syrian regime change dreams are in tatters. But the lame duck Obama administration’s case is way more complicated.
True to its trademark, clueless foreign policy mode, there’s not much left for Team Obama except spinning.
The proverbial unnamed “US officials” spin on overdrive on Western corporate media that this postponed “cessation of hostilities” is a Russian trap – as Washington wanted an immediate ceasefire (no wonder; CIA remote-controlled “moderate rebels” are also being routed.) European and Arab vassals spin that Damascus and Moscow are “torpedoeing the peace efforts.”
And yet Kerry caved in – to realism, actually. Lavrov must have made it very clear the two non-negotiables for Russia; win the Battle of Aleppo, still in progress, and seal the Syria/Turkey border against any manifestation of the Jihadi Highway, “moderate” or otherwise.
Do the Munich Spin
There’s a nifty historical echo about the war in Syria being negotiated in parallel to the Munich Security Conference – traditionally dedicated to global security. But the most pressing question is whether this new Munich Pact will actually hold.
What’s certain is that Daesh (ISIS/ISIL/IS) and al-Nusra Front, a.k.a al-Qaeda in Syria, will keep being targeted by both Russians and Americans even after the “cessation of hostilities”.
The “4+1” coalition – Russia, Syria, Iran, Iraq, plus Hezbollah – will also keep targeting every outfit remotely connected with Jabhat al-Nusra (and they are legion).
The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) will for its part intensify its attacks against Daesh (ISIS/ISIL/IS). Call it the “all roads lead to Raqqa” syndrome. As soon as the Syria/Turkey border is sealed – with crucial input by the YPG Kurds – the march to Raqqa will be inevitable.
This is the ground scenario for the next few days. So no wonder the Saudi-Turkish combo is absolutely desperate; if they as much as try to support their “moderate rebels” with their aerial assets, they will be reduced to ashes by the Russian Air Force.
Enter extra Exceptionalistan spin, according to which NATO is “exploring the possibility” of joining the US-led from behind coalition against Daesh (ISIS/ISIL/IS).
This is nonsense; the Pentagon is already implicated. Major powers at NATO such as France and Germany want to extricate themselves from a Syrian crisis, not to get into a ground war. The whole charade amounts to Turkey’s Sultan Erdogan desperately trying, over and over again, to get NATO into the fray, even if it that takes a lethal provocation of Russia; after all his dream – now in tatters – of creating a “safe zone” on the Turkey/Syria border refuses to die.
That Hostile Sultan
Behind the whole “cessation of hostilities” charade, there’s a stark fact; the lame duck Obama administration does not seem to want to escalate those proverbial “tensions” with Moscow to an irreversibly critical level (Pentagon/NATO Cold War 2.0 obsession is another story.) The skies above Syria won’t offer a prelude for a US-Russia total war.
But that doesn’t mean the Pentagon will desist from trying.
The Pentagon’s Ash “Empire of Whining” Carter and Britain’s Michael Fallon will be meeting with GCC and Turkey brass in Brussels. And guess who’s the head of the Saudi delegation: Warrior Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the actual House of Saud supremo as it stands (considering King Salman drifts on and off), as well as defense minister and responsible for the Saudi debacle in Yemen.
The Warrior Prince is absolutely livid that his remote-controlled “rebels” are being shellacked on the ground by the SAA and the Russian Air Force. Yet Yemen will be nothing compared to the drubbing his “Special Forces”, a.k.a. mercenaries will suffer under experienced SAA, Iranian and Hezbollah fighters.
The plot thickens. Both sides will deny it, but there are back-room channels being used by the House of Saud and Moscow to clearly demarcate areas to be run by the SAA and some acceptable “rebels” under the framework of fighting ISIS/ISIL/Daesh. This proves Saudis and Russians can join their efforts as long as it’s against hardcore jihadism.
With deranged Sultan Erdogan, on the other hand, any possibility of a deal is beyond remote. Especially after the PYD northeastern Syrian Kurds — which Ankara regards as “terrorists” — opened a representative office in Moscow this past Wednesday, at the invitation of President Putin.
So keep an eye on this “cessation of hostilities”. Because the real hostilities may be just about to begin.