Drums Along the Euphrates – TTG


Earlier today this tweet by Elijiah Magnier caught my eye.

“USA protects SDF and ISIS east of the Euphrates and agreed that Russia won't fly over the area occupied by the US Forces in north-east Syria. USA is officially an occupation force in the Levant.”

Seems the US and Russia have agreed to using the Euphrates as a de facto border between the SAA and its allies and the US-supported YPG/SDF… at least for a while. This is in line with statements made by Tillerson prior to the G20 summit held on 7 July in Hamburg. 

“The United States is prepared to explore the possibility of establishing with Russia joint mechanisms for ensuring stability, including no-fly zones, on the ground ceasefire observers, and coordinated delivery of humanitarian assistance” 

This temporary arrangement makes sense for Damascus. There are still plenty of fires to extinguish on Syrian territory west of the Euphrates. Why spread their forces thin again just when they are now able to concentrate their forces to address those fires. Besides, there is still plenty of time for the negotiation and reconciliation process to achieve victory without further bloodshed. I have no doubt. Syria will be whole once again.

I’m sure CENTCOM sees this differently. I think the grand scheme was to establish an enduring US-controlled enclave encompassing all of Iraqi Kurdistan, Rojava and the Arab lands of eastern Syria. I bet there was a plan for establishing a new CENTCOM forward headquarters in Erbil to oversee this vast enclave. The premature Kurdish bid for independence blew a gaping hole in that plan. Iraqi Kurdistan lost its border with Syria. With that loss went CENTCOM’s secure land route from Kirkuk and Erbil to its growing bases in northeast Syria.

Another purpose of this “CENTCOM Caliphate” was to prevent the establishment of a land route from Teheran to Damascus and on to Beirut. With the liberation of Abu Kamal by a combined force of SAA, IRGC, Hezbollah and allied militias, that part of the CENTCOM plan also floundered on the rocks. The presence of Qassem Soleimani at this victory must have been a bitter pill to swallow at CJTF—OIR headquarters.

Another disappointment CENTCOM must face is their now useless base at Al Tanf and the Rukban refugee camp. This base was meant to support our “moderate jihadis” and to help prevent the establishment of the Shia Crescent. Another dream dashed. We are now faced with a near abandoned base and a dire and embarrassing humanitarian crisis at Rubkan.

CENTCOM has always wanted a major physical presence in their AOR. They’ve had that for a long time now, ever since Desert Storm. Prior to that, they were bitterly jealous of EUCOM and PACOM. They would be much smarter to forgo their dreams of forward-based grandeur and return to being a CONUS-based command headquarters controlling training, exercise and limited operational deployments in their AOR. And for God’s sake, get out of Syria. Between the Astana meetings and the upcoming Sochi National Dialogue Conference, Russia has this covered.




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36 Responses to Drums Along the Euphrates – TTG

  1. Peter AU says:

    Is centcom a seperate entity to the US state.?
    Looks like centcom have moved deep into Obama’s ‘quagmire’.

  2. Peter AU,
    CENTCOM is the US Central Command, a combatant command of the Department of Defense. It has no connection to the Department of State. The chain of command goes from the President to the Secretary of Defense to the combatant commander.

  3. b says:

    There are at least 1,700 U.S. troops in Syria now, only 500 have been earlier admitted.
    Allover the U.S. deployment in the Middle East has increased by 33% over just four month. Turkey, UAE, Qatar and Bahrain seem to have the biggest increases. There are no reasonable explanations for these.
    The Trump administration is trying to dig up anything than could somehow be blamed on Iran (for one example see alleged Al-Qaeda Iran connection dropped by the CIA to FDD)
    Is this a build up to something?

  4. Green Zone Café says:

    It is bizarre that CENTCOM forward is in Qatar, a country which continues to be threatened by Saudia and its vassal the UAE. The Qatar stock market has been on a constant decline since the crisis, must be choking their economy.
    All events, including the Hariri drama, the US occupation of eastern Syria, and the Kurdistan independence bid, continue to indicate the relentless pressure to eventually Bomb Iran, something the neocons, Bibi and maybe the Saudis seemingly will never give up on.
    Your view is more optimistic than mine. I hope you are right and the US sees reality. Otherwise, what? Saudi, Israeli and maybe US bombing of Hezbollah in Lebanon? More US bombing of Syrian because “chemical weapons?” Congress directly arming the KDP in Iraq? Leading up to the main event – US, UAE, Saudis and Israelis bombing Iran.

  5. JohnB says:

    Thanks for the update TTG
    The Duran article is very much on the ball for me. It’s good to see that Trump & Putin have the sort of ‘chemistry’ that can allow things to be done, which is one shafts of light in US/Russia relations.
    I am not a Trump fan but i think he was and is genuine in wanting better relations with Russia but sadly the shadow of Russiagate has made that really difficult.

  6. turcopolier says:

    Perhaps Peter AU means independent of the US government. Great piece. Once again I think it would be better to have he overland route to Iran terminate in a Syrian port rather than Beirut. pl

  7. AEL says:

    TTG: Does the emerging Shia Highway interact with China’s One Belt, One Road initiative? If so, will it draw Turkish eyes eastward as they trade even more with Turkic language markets in central Asia?

  8. What is here postulated is a Kurdish entity in North-Eastern Syria taking in as much non-Kurdish or minority Kurdish territory as can be achieved and hosting military bases. Presumably it would be re-inforced by Kurdish refugees from other areas and would also be a slightly less toxic ally for our client ME states than Israel.
    Is that what we are hoping is on the cards? If so, it would be difficult to think of anything more foolish. It would be a message to other troubled regions. Don’t let the West in at any cost because if you do they’ll use your minorities as a lever against you.
    On Trump, one of the links contains this:-
    “Though Trump is extremely inexperienced and many of his ideas about foreign policy are frankly amateur, he nonetheless comes across as warm and approachable in a way that his cold and aloof predecessor Barack Obama never did.
    “The result is that other world leaders – especially those outside Europe – like him in a way that they never liked Barack Obama, and are prepared to cut him slack, even when they disagree with him.
    “That suggests that if the US bureaucracy was prepared to work with Trump and not against him, and instead of seeking to undermine him at every turn sought to help him gain the experience and understanding of world affairs he needs to do his job, then he could in time become an extremely effective foreign policy President.”
    Maybe an effective domestic policy President too, if they let him.

  9. plantman says:

    Boy, you have to be impressed with the way Putin is handling this deal.
    He basically declares victory and calls a big meeting to see if everyone has had enough.
    He huddled with Assad yesterday and must have told him he’ll have to make concessions he otherwise would not have made.
    My guess, is that there will be more of a federal arrangement post-Astana (but that’s just a guess)
    The Kurds will abandon statehood if they get sufficient autonomy and the Turks will partially withdraw if the get assurances that the Kurds won’t set up a state along the southern border.
    But what does Trump want, or does he know?
    And will he be sandbagged by Izzie into causing more trouble?
    Stay tuned!

  10. Willybilly says:

    It will terminate at the Tabbouleh line, come hell or high water or any other Zioconned dreams…..

  11. Enrico Malatesta says:

    Even economically, one has to admire Putin’s grasp of the long game. The US/SDF may have captured Eastern Syria oilfields, but who will they sell the output to, and how will they get it to market? It seems the best that the US/SDF can do is act like a crude version of Exxon/BP while shoveling US$$’s to local tribal leaders in the David Petraeus model.

  12. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Kurds, in my opinion, will not abandon the idea of statehood in Iran, or Iraq, or in Turkey; no matter how impractical; as the recent earthquake in Kermanshah demonstrated the utter and abject dependence of so many people’s recovery on the rest of Iran. The dream will live on.

  13. outthere says:

    the usa/israel neocons (and the saudis) are so desperate to blame iran for anything/everything
    they want usa to destroy iran for their benefit as iran is too powerful for israel to attack alone
    gareth porter is xlnt at examining their claims
    > The 19-page Arabic-language document, which was translated in full for TAC, doesn’t support the media narrative of new evidence of Iran-Al Qaeda cooperation, either before or after 9/11, at all. It provides no evidence whatsoever of tangible Iranian assistance to Al Qaeda. On the contrary, it confirms previous evidence that Iranian authorities quickly rounded up those Al Qaeda operatives living in the country when they were able to track them down, and held them in isolation to prevent any further contact with Al Qaeda units outside Iran.
    > The first Iranian campaign to round up Al Qaeda personnel, which the author of the documents says was focused on Zahedan, came in May or June 2002—no more than three months after they have had entered Iran. Those arrested were either jailed or deported to their home countries. The Saudi Foreign Minister praised Iran in August for having transferred 16 Al Qaeda suspects to the Saudi government in June.
    > In February 2003 Iranian security launched a new wave of arrests. This time they captured three major groups of Al Qaeda operatives in Tehran and Mashad, including Zarqawi and other top leaders in the country, according to the document. Saif al Adel later revealed in a post on a pro-Al Qaeda website in 2005 (reported in the Saudi-owned newspaper Asharq al-Awsat), that the Iranians had succeeded in capturing 80 percent of the group associated with Zarqawi, and that it had “caused the failure of 75 percent of our plan.”
    > The anonymous author writes that the initial Iran policy was to deport those arrested and that Zarqawi was allowed to go to Iraq (where he plotted attacks on Shia and coalition forces until his death in 2006). But then, he says, the policy suddenly changed and the Iranians stopped deportations, instead opting to keep the Al Qaeda senior leadership in custody—presumably as bargaining chips. Yes, Iran deported 225 Al Qaeda suspects to other countries, including Saudi Arabia, in 2003. But the Al Qaeda leaders were held in Iran, not as bargaining chips, but under tight security to prevent them from communicating with the Al Qaeda networks elsewhere in the region, which Bush administration officials eventually acknowledged.
    > After the arrests and imprisonment of senior al Qaeda figures, the Al Qaeda leadership became increasingly angry at Iran. In November 2008, unknown gunmen abducted an Iran consular official in Peshawar, Pakistan, and in July 2013, al Qaeda operatives in Yemen kidnapped an Iranian diplomat. In March 2015, Iran reportedly released five of the senior al Qaeda in prison, including Said al-Adel, in return for the release of the diplomat in Yemen. In a document taken from the Abbottabad compound and published by West Point’s Counter-Terrorism Center in 2012, a senior Al Qaeda official wrote, “We believe that our efforts, which included escalating a political and media campaign, the threats we made, the kidnapping of their friend the commercial counselor in the Iranian Consulate in Peshawar, and other reasons that scared them based on what they saw (we are capable of), to be among the reasons that led them to expedite (the release of these prisoners).”
    > There was a time when Iran did view Al Qaeda as an ally. It was during and immediately after the war of the mujahedin against Soviet troops in Afghanistan. That, of course, was the period when the CIA was backing bin Laden’s efforts as well. But after the Taliban seized power in Kabul in 1996— and especially after Taliban troops killed 11 Iranian diplomats in Mazar-i-Sharif in 1998—the Iranian view of Al Qaeda changed fundamentally. Since then, Iran has clearly regarded it as an extreme sectarian terrorist organization and its sworn enemy. What has not changed is the determination of the U.S. national security state and the supporters of Israel to maintain the myth of an enduring Iranian support for Al Qaeda.

  14. eakens says:

    All Russia and Iran are doing is taking advantage of situations where their opponents can’t explain, in clear terms, what they’re fighting for.

  15. Kooshy says:

    Happy Thanksgiving to all SST corespondents and commentators, special thanks to Colonel Lang for SST.

  16. Sid Finster,
    Someone made that same observation to that original tweet. The SDF is incorporating tribal militias formerly allied with IS. Some of that probably works, but it does also provide a safe haven to to die hard jihadis. As long as we impede the YPG/SDF reconciliation with Damascus, we continue to provide aid and comfort to the anti-Assad jihadis. Our smartest move would be to continue striking the remnants of IS east of the Euphrates and encourage (or at least non discourage) YPG/SDF reconciliation with Damascus. I just don’t know if we can get over our “Assad must go” mentality to do this.

  17. AEL,
    That all could come about and I think it would be a smart move for Turkey. I don’t think the US, Israelis and Saudis will stand still for any of that happening though.

  18. turcopolier says:

    One of the interesting things going on is the way the MSM accepts the Ziocon/Israeli line that all the fighting in Syria west of the Euphrates is done by Iranian forces or its associated militias. I wonder if the Israelis are so blind as to believe that. pl

  19. ISL says:

    To summarize your very apt summary (thanks), multiple major US foreign policy initiatives by/within CENTCOM in the middle east have all been checkmated. Do you think anyone will be held responsible and lose their position as a result? Or had their career shuttled into a dead-end? Or is success completely irrelevant?
    Certainly in the political sphere the neocons get it wrong and wrong and wrong and continue (perhaps akin to patronage in Rome?) to have positions of influence. How fare has the rot spread?

  20. Kooshy says:

    Historically Aleppo=Halab was, is a Silk Road city, where Karavans went south to Egypt and Africa or north to Europe. Very important traders city or a Depot

  21. ISL,
    I don’t know of anyone being dismissed for incompetence or ineffectiveness for actions in the CENTCOM AOR, in or out of uniform. I find the situation pretty damned disheartening.

  22. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Why should they be punished for carrying out legitimate orders of a Legitimate Government?

  23. Peter AU says:

    In Syria – on one side, Trump pulled support to the so called rebels and has been on better terms with Russia there, allowing SAA to focus on ISIS.
    On the other hand he is allowing the US to hold hold the Tanf border crossing to the extent they will fire on any SAA forces approaching nearer than fifty five kilometres. Same east of the Euphrates. Why does the Trump admin want to hold this ground? US now seem to be putting together a Kurds and takfiri’s as a fighting force for some purpose, most likely to be used in the near future as the US position in Syria is not feasible in the long term as things stand. I guess this will be ready to go when the remainder of ISIS has been brought under the SDF flag and any holdouts destroyed.
    The common denominator amongst Trump appointees is their hatred of Israel.
    How militarily useful would the US positions in Syria be for a war against Iran that includes a wider war against Hezbollah in Syria and Lebanon?
    I have thought for awhile now that Trumps hatred of Iran and Hezbollah goes back to the Tehran embassy siege and the Beirut bombings.

  24. FB Ali says:

    Thank you for another review of the situation in Syria. These are very useful in following what is going on there. Your comments on these events are also very worthwhile.

  25. VietnamVet says:

    TTG & Beaver
    Thanks. It simply is impossible for the western governing elite to back down. They are raising the stakes. Almost 50,000 troops can do a lot of mischief and will keep the gulf monarchs from attacking each other. But, against 81 million Iranians they would do squat. The Iranian militias will open a land line from Lebanon to Iran. Protecting Shia homes and towns is why they are fighting and dying. Only Israel has an army to do something about it. To date, Bibi has held back from opening the gates of hell. Only a Middle East peace treaty and secure federated nations can lock the doors.

  26. Alaric says:

    So how will the Syrian gov retrieve those eastern area that are now occupied by the SDF? I doubt the US gov will remove its troops unless it is forced to do so.

  27. GeneO says:

    SAA, or to be more specific the Syrian NDF, have also incorporated tribal militias formerly allied with IS.

  28. JohnB says:

    I am more hopefully than you in that regard. The negotiations on Syria will mover fairly quickly in 2018. Putin has given the POTUS a ‘Golden Bridge’ to escape Syria with a level of dignity. A bridge that is not really deserved but Putin is a pragmatist, lets hope the Administration are wise enough to cross it.
    The Kurds will get some sort of cultural & political automomy within a United Syria out of the deal. Foreign and Defence policy will remain with Damascus, as it should be.
    Maybe we will see a Confederate States of Syria emerge in a generation or a Syrian Commonwealth that includes Lebanon.

  29. el sid says:

    Sort of related, since we’re talking about Syria.
    Revelations of a High-Profile Qatari Official Reveal a Wider anti-Syria Conspiracy
    It seems that for some odd reason the former Prime Minister of Qatar has suddenly decided to spill the beans to the BBC of how and why the usual suspects decided to initiate ths Syrian “Civil War”.
    Read and enjoy.

  30. sid_finster says:

    I don’t think Trump has sufficient authority to take that exit ramp.

  31. Procopius says:

    “The common denominator amongst Trump appointees is their hatred of Israel.” You think McMaster and Mattis are not sworn to defend Israel against all enemies, including American? What color is the sky on your planet? Both are dedicated to promoting war with Iran.

  32. Procopius says:

    The stock market has no effect on the economy. The stock market is barely affected by the economy. While there is some correlation between expected future profits and stock prices, stock markets are nut used to allocate capital.

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