I have the feeling, looking at what is happening, and what isn’t happening, that we are at the point where the future of Syria will be decided in broad form. Governments are saying things and doing things that, to my mind, show that the pattern is settling down and everyone is moving to secure their bit of the end result.
After years of chaos, death and destruction, after millions killed or driven to flee to refugee camps by what has become nothing less than a proxy war between the US and Russia, fought as part of the 21st century warm war between the two powers, one trying to retain its Imperial mantle and the other trying to reclaim what it lost when it fell from Empire in 1991.
Yes I did call the United States an Empire, I’ll explain that later.
Syria. We are hearing more and more strident comments from the propaganda arms of our western governments, more outlandish suggestions from the mouthpieces of the various tax exile billionaires with their own political agendas, sabre rattling and fear mongering left and right.
Did everyone hear the idea that the west should use cruise missiles to destroy the runways Russian and Syrian aircraft were using to bomb Aleppo, how about the one where the anti Assad forces in that city would be given modern ground to air missiles.
Though to be fair the latter one wasn’t popular with the Americans who thought (rightly) that such missiles would promptly be sold to terror groups. Which even the Pentagon has admitted has repeatedly happened in the past, not that it actually stopped them arming yet more 'Moderates'.
Another attempt at a truce to allow re supply of the people trapped in the city after the last one failed due to so many competing groups ignoring it (clearly Russia’s fault).
Then we have the relentless propaganda about how terrible things are in Syria and about how Russia is bombing civilian targets, no mention of the US ‘Accidentally’ destroying a Syrian army post, killing 60 and forcing the Syrian army to retreat so Islamic State fighters could immediately attack. Or the Hospital the US bombed and strafed repeatedly, or the funerals and weddings the US have bombed.
Nope, it’s that Evil Russia.
Sky were so desperate to put out as much anti Russian propaganda as possible that they clearly didn’t have time to censor their own output. A few days ago they interviewed a Syrian couple who lost their children and had finally made it to safety. The couple’s identity was hidden but while explaining why they fled they commented that the rebels had come into their home, were living there and had put rockets or bombs in the garden. This interview wasn’t repeated, odd that, being it was evidence that the civilian population are being used as human shields by the US supported anti Assad forces.
Israel bombs terrorists in Gaza who are hiding in the civilian population and no one bats an eye lid, Russia does the same in Syria and it’s a war crime. Politics in action
Now pro Assad forces are slowly but steadily advancing, the rebel held section may be about to fall. The Russians are having what the US would call a surge, a carrier, escorts, cruise missile armed warships and probably cargo ships with more supplies all heading down to Syria, sailing past the UK whose massive navy may be able to spare a frigate to escort them. To reinforce what is already in Syria, to increase the tempo of battle.
A final push!
China has been suggesting for a while now it would put troops into the country to fight IS, now we are hearing the same again, Chinese condemnation of Islamic terrorists, they border several countries where Islamic fundamentalism is widespread and have their own internal problems as well. Now we haven’t seen any solid commitment of troops yet but I think we may well do soon, after all reinforcing success is very Sun Tzu and gives China a place in the post civil war Syria.
Turkey is heavily pushing its own pro Turkish rebel groups into the country and pedalling its own propaganda, how peaceful things are along the border now the pro Turkish groups are in charge, Turkish flags flying overhead in Syrian towns and Turkish tanks tucked out of sight behind Syrian buildings. Cutting deep into northern Syria, leaving a secure corridor open where those in Turkey who buy so much oil from IS can still do business and incidentally cutting the Kurdish held lands in half. Preventing the Turkish nightmare of a single unified Turkish state along its entire southern border.
What with the Kurds being terrorists to Turkish eyes, even when they are working with the US and being supplied and armed by the CIA. It’s the Middle East, it happens all the time.
Israel is dug in on the Golan Heights while US company Genie Oil is busy drilling to see how much oil is in the ground, no appetite there for returning the territory to a unified Syria.
The Kurds have carved out a defacto homeland, they just need it to be recognized as a nation. But while everyone is happy to have them do the dirty work fighting Islamic state, not everyone seems happy for them to gain statehood out of it.
Iran and Shia Islam across the region are on the winning side, Iran, Iraq, the Lebanon and Syria, if they can secure a lasting peace together it will significantly improve their position in the world, with US sanctions lifted and peaceful trade and friendship they could perhaps stop killing each other and everyone benefits.
When the fighting stops Syria won’t be the same country, but unless something significant changes (such as direct intervention by the US) Assad or his replacement will control the big cities, the coast and the bulk of the resources with Russian and probably Chinese support.
The north will be a Kurdish nation that will reach across Syria and Iraq, mush to Turkish displeasure. The rest will be a handful of tiny states, warlords or towns, cut off and fending for themselves until they beg forgiveness and ask to be returned to the old country.
It may take another year, or several years. But I feel that things are changing, the endless fighting may be about to end. Assad and his Russian allies are turning the tide, they are winning and Syria may finally be at peace again, hesitant, faltering, beset by internal violence, but still some sort of peace.
Of course this all depends on the United States, and who wins the election.
My thinking is that Trump won’t care about Syria and there will be a rapid withdrawal of US support. Hilary on the other hand, under her leadership support for the anti Assad groups will increase as she tries to outspend Russia and possibly China as well. After all she is the woman who was reported by Reuters to have said “The most important thing in Syria is getting rid of Assad”.
But things do seem to be changing, for better or for worse, that depends on the US, if they are willing to accept they lost then maybe Allepo can be rebuilt and its people can go home. Or perhaps the warm war between the American Empire and Russia / China will keep the war going for another decade, year after year of death and destruction to prove a political point.
All empires generally have three phases that they go through, they are multinational powers ruling through direct authority, military might, puppet rulers or intimidation. They draw on the resources of the Empire to benefit the homeland and their identity becomes that of Empire rather than nation. The flag, the standard is held high, loyalty to the Empire is all, often the Empire claims Divine favour and blessing.
Individual Empires share many of these characteristics but the bottom line is, does one country control or influence multiple other countries by politics or force of arms.
The first stage of Empire is it’s rise to power, by force of arms, by conquest, coming together under the rule of a single person, it’s expansion and retention of power over it’s neighbours. It may be that a nation or city becomes an Empire because of a war, it emerges as the winner and finds itself in control of many other lands. Or perhaps it emerges because the existing leadership was too weak to resist a rising tide of expansionist greed and nationalism.
The Rise of Empire.
The second stage of Empire is the happy time, the fruits of Imperial power and majesty, the wealth and resources flowing into the home land, standing tall on the political stage, facing down any rivals who dare to offer challenge, Imperial arrogance that says the Empire knows best and overthrows governments or leaders who think otherwise.
The Golden age.
The final stage is the collapse, as it rots from within or is crushed by a stronger Empire. Corruption and greed caused by all that easy wealth, ruthless desire for power over the Empire or parts of it. Religious and nationalist fervour trying to stave off the inevitable end, desperate military adventures to keep the Empire together, to keep the lesser nations in line, to keep the army busy and the population united against someone other than their own failing leadership.
Is the US an Empire?
Was its first stage the second world war and the early post war years?
Was its second stage the post war years when the US towered above the world as an economic and industrial super power, its people happy and comfortable?
Is it now in its third and final stage before it collapses into isolation as new Empires rise across the world?
Answers on a postcard please.