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.