Although not officially engaged in Syria’s civil war, America is caught up in a dizzying crossfire of conflicting allied and enemy agendas directly impacting our interests. Syria’s oppressive Bashar al-Assad regime is supported by Iran, North Korea and Russia, while Russia has also fought against our common Islamic State enemy. Iran’s Russia-backed Lebanese Hezbollah proxy poses direct threats to our close ally Israel. Meanwhile, Turkey, our anti-Assad — ISIS NATO partner, has mixed U.S. — Russia-Iran alliances.
A main U.S. issue with Turkey centers upon American support for Kurdish fighters in Syria who we have helped to strengthen with money, weapons and training by elite U.S. forces to successfully defeat the Islamic State in their self-declared capital of Raqqa, Syria. Turkey regards the U.S. — allied Kurdish YPG military as terrorists aligned with the Kurdistan Worker’s party (PKK).
Turkey views liberated Kurdish-controlled northern Syria border cities of Manbij where U.S. forces are stationed, and Afrin, where the U.S. has had no major role, as undermining their border security. This circumstance has prompted President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to threaten to attack Kurdish forces in Manbij, putting American troops embed with them in jeopardy.
Turkey and their Syrian insurgent allies have been mounting extensive air strikes and a ground offensive on Afrin, which in turn, are diverting Kurdish forces fighting against the Islamic State in order to defend the city.
In an attempt to resolve conflicting loyalties, the Trump administration has reportedly offered to set up joint military observation posts with Turkey to help them secure their southern border from Kurdish fighters. The U.S. is also working to transform Kurdish fighters into a local security force alongside U.S. forces.
Meanwhile, Turkey is deepening its alliances with Russia and Iran, who in turn are actively supporting Turkey’s sworn enemy, Russia, Iran, and North Korea-backed Bashar al-Assad.
A newly-released U.N. report states that North Korea has provided Assad with large-scale chemical weapons production equipment used in perpetrating brutal serine and chlorine gas atrocities upon helpless Damascus populations.
Russia has been playing the situation multiple ways. They are currying favor with Turkey by providing them with advanced anti-missiles, while actively joining with Assad in his quest to reclaim northern Syria oil-rich Kurdish territories east of the Euphrates which were liberated by the U.S.-backed YPG and Arab allies.
On Feb. 7, Russian mercenary contractors joined with Iran-backed Lebanese Hezbollah forces to attack a U.S. Special Forces-Kurdish base near Deir al-Zour in eastern Syria just west of the Euphrates River. This action violated a proposed Russia-Iran-Turkey "deconfliction" agreement which had established the river as a peace-keeping boundary between pro and anti-Assad militants.
U.S. forces responded to the assault with a deadly combination of air and artillery strikes which reportedly killed as many as 100 pro-Assad fighters and a significant number of Russians
Together with Russia, Iran is using cover of peace talks to re-establish Assad’s control over Syria. As schemed, Russia will keep its military bases, and Iran will create a new imperial outpost on the border with Syria as part of its growing Shiite-Persian empire.
Iran is constructing Syrian military bases and weapons factories, and is also investing in local economy to help Assad "rebuild" and convert local Alawites to Shiite Islam. Recent satellite images reveal that Iran’s elite Al Quds forces are establishing a missile base eight miles northeast of Damascus which is positioned to launch strikes against Israel.
The Iran-supported Hezbollah began deploying military assets to Syria six years ago. In addition to sending advanced weaponry to Lebanon by way of Damascus, they have established an "Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps" of Lebanese Hezbollah foreign fighters from Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan, and local Syrian militia in Assad-controlled areas. The force’s stated goal is "the eradication of Israel."
With more than 100,000 rockets already pointed at Israel from its home base in Lebanon - and soon to be more from Syria — Iran’s Hezbollah now opens up another perilous war front. Israel’s robust antimissile system will be even further challenged if Iran succeeds in upgrading Hezbollah’s arsenal with precision-guided weapons. They can well afford to purchase them from Russia or North Korea using money released by President Obama’s "Iran nuclear deal."
Israel has bombed Iranian and Hezbollah sites in Syria many times. After recently intercepting an Iranian drone launched from Syria’s Homs area that had infiltrated its airspace from Syria, they retaliated with airstrikes on Syrian military positions.
So, as our close ally Israel stands pretty much alone against Iran and its Lebanon Hezbollah proxy — Russia, Iran, and North Korea stand with Syria’s Assad — Turkey stands with Russia and Iran, but against the U.S. — supported Kurds — the U.S., Kurds, Turkey, and Russia stand together against the Islamic State.
If you are a bit confused by all of this, you have every right to be.
Larry Bell is an endowed professor of space architecture at the University of Houston where he founded the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA) and the graduate program in space architecture. He is the author of "Scared Witless: Prophets and Profits of Climate Doom" (2015) and "Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax" (2012). He is currently working on a new book with Buzz Aldrin, "Beyond Footprints and Flagpoles." Read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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