Safe-Zone Judo as Syrian Forces Cross the Euphrates

by Tony Cartalucci, October 2, 2017, via Land Destroyer Report

Syrian forces with the support of their Russian and Iranian allies, have crossed the Euphrates River near the city of Deir ez-Zor in eastern Syria.
TCartalucci October 2 2017-1
The move is not only a significant step forward in restoring security nationwide and ensuring the nation’s territorial integrity, it is also a significant step toward turning the tables on the very interests who provoked and have perpetuated this conflict since 2011.
US policymakers as early as 2012 openly declared their intent to partition Syria through the use of “safe zones” or “buffer zones.” From these zones – established with and protected by direct US military intervention – militant proxies would attempt to expand deeper into Syrian territory until the nation could either be toppled entirely, or sufficiently partitioned, effectively eliminating the Syrian Arab Republic as it was known before the conflict began.

Understanding “Safe Zones” 

A March 2012 Brookings Institute paper titled, “Middle East Memo #21: Saving Syria: Assessing Options for Regime Change” (PDF), proposed the concept of “safe zones” or “safe-havens” not to fight the yet-to-be invented so-called Islamic State (ISIS), but specifically to assist US-backed regime change. It claims (emphasis added):

An alternative is for diplomatic efforts to focus first on how to end the violence and how to gain humanitarian access, as is being done under Annan’s leadership. This may lead to the creation of safe-havens and humanitarian corridors, which would have to be backed by limited military power. This would, of course, fall short of U.S. goals for Syria and could preserve Assad in power. From that starting point, however, it is possible that a broad coalition with the appropriate international mandate could add further coercive action to its efforts.

A 2015 Brookings paper titled, “Deconstructing Syria: Towards a regionalized strategy for a confederal country” would elaborate on the nature of these zones, not as bases for fighting terrorism – but as a means of incrementally dividing and literally “deconstructing” Syria as a unified nation-state (emphasis added):

The end-game for these zones would not have to be determined in advance. The interim goal might be a confederal Syria, with several highly autonomous zones and a modest (eventual) national government. The confederation would likely require support from an international peacekeeping force, if this arrangement could ever be formalized by accord. But in the short term, the ambitions would be lower—to make these zones defensible and governable, to help provide relief for populations within them, and to train and equip more recruits so that the zones could be stabilized and then gradually expanded.

It would also elaborate regarding the role ISIS specifically plays in all of this – not as an enemy to be defeated – but as a pawn to be used against the Syrian government:

The  idea would be to help moderate elements establish reliable safe zones within Syria once they were able. American, as well as Saudi and Turkish and British and Jordanian and other Arab forces would actin support, not only from the air but eventually on the ground via the  presence  of  special  forces  as  well. The  approach would  benefit  from  Syria’s open desert  terrain  which  could  allow  creation  of  buffer  zones  that could  be  monitored  for possible  signs  of  enemy  attack  through  a  combination  of  technologies, patrols,  and other methods that outside special forces could help Syrian local fighters set up.
Were Assad foolish enough to challenge these zones, even if he somehow forced the withdrawal  of  the  outside  special  forces,  he  would  be  likely  to  lose  his  air power  in ensuing  retaliatory  strikes  by  outside  forces,  depriving  his  military  of  one  of its  few advantages over  ISIL. Thus, he would be unlikely to do this.

It was clear in 2012 and being demonstrated on the ground by 2015 that US commitment to this policy of creating “safe zones” was complete.

Safe-Zone Judo 

The nearly full manifestation of this policy can be seen in northeast Syria, where the United States has military forces literally occupying Syrian territory while US forces accompany Kurdish and Arab militants as they push southwest deeper toward Syria’s heartland, supposedly fighting ISIS. However, even within the deepest Kurdish-held regions of Syria, the Syrian government maintains a presence.
And now, with Syrian forces on the east bank of the Euphrates, the Syrian government maintains an even greater presence within and along the edges of this tenuous “safe zone.”
TCartalucci October 2 2017-2
Today – just as US policymakers had planned the US and its proxies would do in 2012 – Syrian forces can at any time during this current conflict or after it – expand incrementally into America’s “safe-zone.” The crossing of the Euphrates and the increasingly exhausted political legs the United States stands on regarding its military aggression in Syria, combined with Russia’s direct military intervention upon Damascus’ request – have severely complicated this “safe zone” policy.
It is no longer a matter of “Assad” being “foolish enough to challenge these zones”; they are being challenged, regularly, and by Syrian forces backed by Russian airpower, which is in turn backed by a nuclear deterrence preventing the sort of escalation against Damascus US policymakers envisioned before the Russian intervention.
In essence, the crossing of the Euphrates represents geopolitical judo – an example of US policy describing an act of military aggression, invasion, occupation, and conquest being turned into a tactic of defense and the incremental uprooting of a foreign invader and the neutralization of its militant proxies.

Syria’s Kurds 

Attempts have been made – and have mostly failed – to foster greater conflict between Syria’s Kurdish minority and the government in Damascus. While seizing back every inch of Syrian territory may not be realistic in the near future, it is very possible in the intermediate future as America’s “guarantees” to the Kurds become increasingly irrelevant and as Damascus works on a deal to bring various groups, including the Kurds, back under the protection and prosperity of a unified Syrian state.
Syria’s Kurdish minority can only realistically hold small swaths of Syrian territory, confined mainly in the northeast. The Kurdish forces may have pushed toward Raqqa and even further south toward Deir ez-Zor with the help of significant US military support, but they now find themselves trying to occupy territory with no demographically significant Kurdish population present. A mainly Kurdish administration, or an Arab administration dependent on Kurdish military protection, is unsustainable.
With such an unsustainable grasp on the territory US proxies are attempting to hold, cracks both between these proxies themselves and as the Syrian government begins reasserting control over its own territory further east, this grasp will weaken further.
Time and momentum are on Damascus’ side. Syria’s Kurds face an unsustainable future as America’s proxies inside what is essentially an American “safe zone.” Syria’s Kurds have a much more sustainable future should they strike a deal with Damascus for greater autonomy. It is a crossroad quickly approaching, and one that will decide whether Syria faces years more of foreign-driven conflict, or the prospect of internal peace and prosperity.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazineNew Eastern Outlook”.


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Greg Bacon
Greg Bacon
Oct 5, 2017 12:04 PM

But Hollywood hasn’t given up on busting up Syria for the glory of Apartheid Israel and Wall Street banks. They’re putting out several pro-war TV shows, like the CBS show “Seal Team,” showing American assassins, sorry, SEAL team members going around the globe, killing bad guys.
Like last night’s show, which was about going into Syria to rescue some people under threat from Assad’s forces.
Or maybe they parachuted in to rescue that cute kid that’s been blogging about Syria, begging Americans to come and rescue her people before Assad kills them all.
When it comes to ME wars, Israel will fight to the last drop of American blood.

Big B
Big B
Oct 5, 2017 9:53 AM

The Anglo-Zionists are pushing for a cross-border Kurdish federation in ‘Syraq’; to control both Syrian and Iraqi oil. They care not whether it is the SDF, Peshmerga, Barzani’s KRG, or petro-Islamic State that deliver it for them. Only, it’s not going too well. Erdogan controls the on-off tap for the KRG in Iraq: and the allied Syrian forces are too strong and determined for ISIS. So the embedded U$ Special Operations Forces just turned an already dirty war even dirtier, murdering a Russian field commander on the frontline, General Asapov, and two of his colonels: a nefarious act that is tantamount to a declaration of war. [Alexander Mercouris at the Duran speculates that General Asapov may have been overseeing the deployment of the pontoon bridge across the Euphrates when he was targeted and killed? Whatever the circumstance, he was leading from the front.] In the 10 days since this cowardly… Read more »

Big B
Big B
Oct 5, 2017 10:15 AM
Reply to  Big B

Nope, can’t post the links. You’ll have to use a search engine of your choice that is not directly linked to the NSA – ie. not Gulag Google!

Oct 5, 2017 6:53 AM

This analysis is very useful as the Guardian is still presenting the Syrian conflict in a vacuum, devoid of any reason for the US involvement there:
This de-contextualisation by the Guardian using as always the UK based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights whose pronouncements are always dubious as they claim to have sources that can never be confirmed.
Theinformation light form of deception hinges on the premise that the reader knows very little of the conflict in Syria. The article ends in a rather interesting claim that suggests that the US and it’s allies including the UK (in a sovereign state illegally) can legitimise their presence by declaring how many civilians they have admitted to killing as opposed to Syria and Russia!

Oct 4, 2017 8:01 PM

Turkey’s moves trying to counter Syrian Kurds, and Israel inciting Iraqi Kurds, can’t be overstated as well. There’s already a reaction, might lead to Syrians opting for greater autonomy within the national state.

Marc Krizack
Marc Krizack
Oct 4, 2017 6:01 PM

Excellent analysis.

Oct 4, 2017 2:10 PM

The imperialistic powers of the US is on the decline because they have outplayed their hand .Visible to anyone that can see , the US has deemed itself the ruler of the world , deciding what happens in other nations , who survives and who dies or changed ,i.e. regime change . The world can no longer put up with this kind of mentality .A new multi-polar world is on the rise . It will be such a better place for all nations .

Oct 4, 2017 1:21 PM

It is amazing how US goals for Syria over-ride Syrian goals for Syria.
It is high time the world’s goals for the USA put to death the democratic will of the USA setting its own goals.
When will the USA learn that they have no right to live if they cannot understand the basics of life on earth?