Following up on Colonel Lang's post regarding the Saudi Arabian/Egyptian debacle in trying to bully Qatar (please see Little Qatar has bested the GCC and Egypt. Mufaja'a!), there are two other major developments. First, Donald Trump reportedly has ordered the CIA to pull the plug on arming and training Islamic radicals bent on overthrowing Bashar Al Assad:
The program was a central plank of a policy begun by the Obama administration in 2013 to put pressure on Assad to step aside, but even its backers have questioned its efficacy once Russia deployed forces in Syria two years later. Preceding the CIA program was a Pentagon-led effort which was criticized by Foreign Policy for costing $500 million without yielding tangible results.
Officials said the phasing out of the secret program reflects Trump’s interest in finding ways to work with Russia after Trump's July 7 meeting with Putin at the G-20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany. It may also signal a lack of capability as well as desire in Washington to take steps to remove Assad from power in Syria. Officials told the Washington Post that Trump made the decision to scrap the CIA program nearly a month ago, after an Oval Office meeting with CIA Director Mike Pompeo and national security adviser H.R. McMaster.
After the Trump-Putin meeting, the United States and Russia announced an agreement to back a new cease-fire in southwest Syria, along the Jordanian border and adjoining the Israeli occupied Syrian Golan Heights, where many of the CIA-backed rebels have long operated. Trump described the limited cease-fire deal as one of the benefits of a constructive working relationship with Moscow. The ending of the CIA program was not a condition of the cease-fire negotiations according to officials.
Second, our "ally" Turkey has ratted out the location of US secret military bases in Syria and Iraq:
In a move that has angered the U.S. for obvious reason, Turkey’s state-run news agency, Anadolu Agency, has leaked the precise locations of U.S. bases in northern Syria. The move – which exposes the exact locations of American soldiers on the front lines in the war-torn nation has sent the ongoing feud between the two NATO allies to new lows. As Bloomberg details, in reports published in both Turkish and English on Tuesday, Anadolu provided detailed information about 10 U.S. bases in northern Syria, including troop counts and a map of the U.S. force presence in the Turkish version.
Without citing specific sources, the state-run news agency unveiled the ten US outposts located in areas controlled by “terrorist” Kurdish militias in the provinces of Aleppo, Hasakah and Raqqa. The reports said that the military outposts are “usually hidden for security reasons, making it hard to be detected.” It said they were located “in the terrorist PKK/PYD-held Syrian territories,” a reference to Kurdish groups that Turkey’s government considers terrorist organizations.
Personally I am happy that Trump is putting an end to the CIA covert program to provoke and promote war in Syria. The human cost of this idiotic policy alone justifies killing it. I am pleasantly surprised by Trump's decision. This clearly pokes a finger in the eyes of the Saudis and the Israelis, who each had a vested interest in backing the rebels against Assad.
I would like to tell you that I have tremendous insight into what Trump is thinking. I don't. Let me give you one possibility–Putin provided Trump positive steps to promote an Israeli/Palestinian peace process if the United States backs off of Syria. Here's another possibility (suggested by Colonel Lang)–Putin and French President Macron have delivered a coordinated message to Trump and have succeeded in getting him to understand some of the key dynamics in the Middle East.
Here's the bottomline. I really do not know. What do you think? Think of this as an open seminar. Put on your thinking caps.