" … a senior US officer (sic) led a delegation that included officers (best read as officials) from several US intelligence and security agencies. Ali Mamlouk welcomed the visiting delegation, along with the head of the General Intelligence Directorate, Major General Deeb Zeitoun, and the Deputy Chief of the General Staff, Major General Mowafaq Asaad.
The meeting between the two sides continued for four hours. What happened?
According to information obtained by the Lebanese «Al-Akhbar» newspaper, the two sides reviewed the various aspects of the Syrian crisis and its stages of development and repercussions in the region, before talking to the most important topic.
The American side made a clear and specific offer: The United States is ready to withdraw its troops completely from Syrian territory, including the Al-Tanf and Eastern Euphrates according to security arrangements supervised by the Russian and Syrian armies. In exchange for three US demands:
First, Iran’s full withdrawal from the Syrian south.
Second, to obtain written guarantees that give US companies a share of the oil sector in the regions of eastern Syria.
Third, the Syrian side to provide the Americans with full data of the terrorist groups and their members, including the numbers of foreign fighter deads of these groups and those who survived, and those may return to Western countries, considering that «the terrorist threat is intercontinental. And what we can get, serve the international security.» Syriana-analysis
Assuming that all this happened the question arises for me of the sponsorship of the initiative.
This does not sound like a DoD sponsored idea. IMO the generals and admirals are still intent on continuing the war with an expectation of arriving at a position in which they do not lose face. They have lost or are losing the war in Afghanistan having predictably failed in COIN again. In Iraq their COINista efforts resulted in the birth and growth if the Islamic State in both Iraq and Syria. The generals are badly in need of a win to maintain their prestige and the continued acceptance of monstrously big budgets in the future. Having presented budgets to Congress I assure that the process is helped if you are seen as a winner. Even little me.
The neocons were surely not behind this. Assad and company are supposed to depart into the fiery depths of hell. The idea of Bonkers Bolton and Pompeo (first in his class) being for something as rational as this is just too much.
My WAG (educated guess) is that this started as an Israeli thought. The SW frontier zone is now firmly in SAA, UN and Russian control. The Israelis now accept that there will not be regime change in Damascus, and that the Russians will keep Assad's government "on the reservation." They still want what they see as the Iranian threat to be reduced. It would be very interesting to know what was meant by "south Syria." When this possible effort was exposed to Trump it is natural that he sought to make a few bucks ($$$) for the US out of the Syrian oil resources. This is the way he thinks and it would be a natural reaction for him even though the US is now an oil and gas superpower. After all, one must recover the money spent in Syria. No?
My SWAG (up a notch from WAG) is that Trump gave the go ahead over the objections of various parties and that the CIA was told to carry the water in this task. They would IMO be quite willing. They and the other IC barons would salivate mightily at the thought of Syrian intelligence data holdings on the jihadis.
I hope folks have stayed in touch. pl