Syria crisis: the violence mapped by the UN
(Image by FreedomHouse) Details DMCA
I'm not usually on the president's side, but in this case I think he may have stumbled into the best of all possible solutions...if he doesn't blow it with some unpredictable action tomorrow.
To understand this, one has to first believe that war is the worst of all possible outcomes.
Yes, worse than continued Syrian rule under Assad.
Yes, worse than Russian/Iranian presence in Syria (more on that later).
Yes, worse than Hezboloah getting back their weapons conduit through Syria, which never really went away (more on that later too).Here are the checked boxes:
- Kurds reconciled with the Syrian Government. Check. The Kurds won't get their own country. Why should the U.S. care? It's none of our business. When the fighting dies down, maybe they can get a Federalized solution in Syria. We can even advocate for that,with Russian help too, which will want a continued strong military resistance to Turkish intrusion over Syria's northern border. Assad probably can't maintain this without Kurdish help.
- ISIS is opposed by the Kurds AND by Assad AND by Russia. That's enough to wipe them out. The U.S. doesn't need to be there too, though the US. can support them. As Trump said when he was campaigning about Syria "We should let the Russians handle it. They are better at it." He's finally fulfilling his promise. Check.
- Turkey can't wipe out the Kurds because they are now aligned with Assad, Russia and even Iran. Check. Reconciliation and cooperation between these forces is a good thing, not a bad thing.
- The EU has already cut Turkey off from weapon resupply. Turkey is not our friend in the region. There is evidence they supported ISIS groups themselves (as did the U.S. in the slippery-alliance world of the Middle East). Turkey will turn to the U.S. for more weapons and ammunition, but Congress is even more eager to impose sanctions than Trump in support of the Kurds, so that's out. Russia? No, Syria is their ally, and Turkey is just a recent purchaser of arms, which can be quickly reversed in favor of their old ally. China? No, they are aligned with Russia and have no dog in the hunt. Check (on Turkey's regional ambitions).
- Iran will get out of Syria once it is self-sufficient and stable again. The U.S. sanctions are hurting Iran's economy, and they are partly contingent of Iran ending its presence in Syria. They gain nothing by being a permanent military presence in Syria except more bombing by the Israelis and they will welcome a way to get out and save face while Syria regains its sovereignty and internal control. And that bombing of Iran-in-Syria bases stops when they leave, providing an incentive for Syria to kick the Iranians out when it's convenient. From Israels' POV it was always a bad idea to weaken Syria. Iran went from being an influence to being a physical presence. Israel lost ground, literally and figuratively. It is better to have Assad in control and then try to handle the situation. Iran is not going away, and now, after 8 years of bloody fighting, while Israel built itself up and the Palestinians have been diminished while the rest of the world moved on, it's clear Israel isn't going away either. Israel is even building new alliances with Russia and even Saudi Arabia that were inconceivable when the Syrian rebellion (can't really call it a Civil War since there is no clear "other side") began.
- Hezbollah goes back to Lebanon. Truthfully, this is the weakest outcome, but it is still better to deal with Hezbollah distinct in Lebanon than as a presence in Syria with direct access to Iran. It's Iran that Israel has to deal with, as the supplier to Hezbollah, and they have new options they didn't have when the rebellion began. Along with Syrian sovereignty, America can argue for Lebanese sovereignty, and actually sound credible for a change.
All in all, it's a win for the Syrian people, including the Kurds, though it may not seem like it yet. It's a win for Russia. And it's a win for the U.S. and against endless wars - always a good thing.
It's a loss for the M.I.C. and for the neocons who want endless wars, which means it's a win for every other American, including the soldiers who fight and die and get wounded, needlessly.
Now, if only Trump doesn't blow it...