by George Ades
The priority on the battlefield in Syria has shifted from Aleppo to Raqqa (so called capital of the Caliphate) in the East of the country.
The reason being that, if the US led alliance captures Raqqa first, it can still implement its plans for a Qatar-to-Europe-through-Turkey gas pipeline, the original route of which was through Aleppo. Since Aleppo is now completely out of the question, Raqqa appears to be the best alternative and thus the race between the Syrian government forces with their allies and the US-led coalition.
If Raqqa is liberated by the Syrian alliance, that plan goes down the tubes as the whole country, from east to west, will be controlled by the Syrian government. All other considerations, as far as the Americans are concerned, are of secondary importance; considerations such as securing a homeland for the Syrian Kurds. I firmly believe that the same question has already been addressed by the Russians who may very well have persuaded the Syrian government to agree to some kind of semi-autonomous region for the Kurds in the north, under a likely broader Syrian Federation.
The Syrian Army is making rapid headway towards liberating that city and it is expected to be in Syrian hands before the end of the summer.
As a consolation prize, the US will get real estate on Kurdish held territory on the triangle that joins Syria, Iraq and the new Kurdish state; a valuable asset for the Americans as they will no longer be dependent on the Turks and their base in Incirlic, which the US has made extensive use of since the first Iraqi war in 1991, but always paid through the nose for the privilege.
Of course, don’t expect the Americans to give up on Raqqa so easily and the [claimed] 300 US Special Forces are likely to drastically increase in number in the next couple of months. (Their boots won’t even touch the ground, of course.)