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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 7/5/18

Eagle-meets-Bear and the Syria tug-of-war

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From Asia Times

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Trump and Putin are likely to discuss the tricky situation in southern Syria when they meet; while the US president says he wants US forces back home, the CIA, Pentagon and Israel may be happier to see them stay so the war-torn state remains unstable


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Ahead of the Eagle-meets-Bear Trump-Putin summit on July 16 in Helsinki, Syria-centered spin has gone into overdrive. Unknown sources have leaked what is billed as President Trump's alleged Syria deal discussed with Jordan's King Abdullah.

Trump would "allow" Damascus, supported by Russian air power, to regain its territory along the borders of Jordan, Israel and Iraq. In return, President Putin and Bashar al-Assad would agree to establish an extended demilitarized zone (DMZ) along these same borders, off-limits to any Iranian forces.

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That would set the scene for Trump's already announced desire to extract US forces out of Syria before October and the US mid-term elections. The president would be able to declare the proverbial "Mission Accomplished" in defeating Daesh or Islamic State.

The CIA and the Pentagon are not exactly enthusiastic with Trump's alleged Syria gambit, to say the least. For assorted neocons and powerful factions of the industrial-military-surveillance complex, "Assad must go" Syria simply cannot be traded off.

And yet there's nothing to trade. Syria cannot be "offered" to Russia because Russia is already the major player in deciding what happens in Syria, not only militarily but via the ongoing Astana format alongside Iran and Turkey. No wonder the alleged Trump "deal" was duly dismissed by the Kremlin.

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What will be negotiated in the Trump-Putin summit, as Asia Times has learned, is something completely different. This negotiation, incidentally, will happen after the NATO summit in Brussels and before the next Astana format meeting in Sochi on July 30, as confirmed by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin.


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The heart of the matter remains Syria's territorial integrity and the legitimacy of the government in Damascus. Russia, Iran and, after countless circumvolutions, even Turkey are for it. The NATO-Gulf Cooperation Council alliance is ferociously against it -- especially after having, over the past few years, funded and weaponized those notorious "moderate rebels," the overwhelming majority of which are nothing but takfiri jihadis.

Back to Daraa

And so, as a gloomy serpent biting its own tail, the tragic war in Syria is back to where it first started, seven and a half years ago, to a dusty, dirt-poor, religiously intolerant, back of beyond Daraa. Just across the border with Jordan, it is splendidly convenient crossroads for weapons smuggling destined to the takfiri hordes.

As it stands, the main narrative in Western media is that "regime forces" have unleashed air strikes and barrel bombs over "rebel-held" sections of southern Syria.

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Mohammad Hawari, the UNHCR spokesman in Amman, may be correct when he says: "We're facing a real humanitarian crisis in southern Syria." What he does not say is that quite a few "opposition bodies" -- code for takfiri jihadis -- have rejected Damascus-proposed deals to be back under government control, thus inflating the humanitarian crisis.

Analyst Elijah Magnier has correctly identified the state of things in the battlefield, and some key sticking points have already been agreed on by Moscow and Washington.

The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) is proceeding flat out in an offensive to reopen the nation's borders. What has not been negotiated is what happens to a tricky patch partially bordering Jordan and partially in Quneitra province, near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

Damascus wants to reopen full trade connectivity between Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, a route that goes all the way to the Gulf via Masna, between Lebanon and Syria, and Naseeb between Syria and Jordan, that is essential to business for all concerned.

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Pepe Escobar is an independent geopolitical analyst. He writes for RT, Sputnik and TomDispatch, and is a frequent contributor to websites and radio and TV shows ranging from the US to East Asia. He is the former roving correspondent for Asia (more...)
 

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