A string of recent provocations against both Russia and Syria are meant to look like isolated incidents, but in fact constitute incremental “mission creep” into what may become full-scale US intervention in Syria.
It was clear in 2011 that the United States sought regime change in Syria, just as it did in Libya. It was clear that it had backed heavily armed sectarian extremists to carry out this regime change. What wasn’t clear, at least apparently to US policymakers, was the resolve the Syrian government, the Syrian Arab Army, and the Syrian people themselves had to defeat this conspiracy, revealed as early as 2007 by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh in his 2007 New Yorker piece, “The Redirection.”
In it, Hersh revealed that the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Israel were determined to build a proxy army of sectarian extremists aligned with or sympathetic to Al Qaeda, for the purpose of undermining and overthrowing the nations of Syria and Iran.
By 2011, with Libya already decimated by NATO-backed extremists, the US State Department was busy transferring weapons and terrorists from Benghazi and Eastern Europe to Turkey where they would be staged, armed, trained, and sent in to invade Syria.
As the Syrian government confounded the US’ proxy war, at various stages attempts were made for a more direct intervention – again, just like in Libya. However, attempts to create a “safe zone” in northern Syria or otherwise carry out strikes on the Syrian military itself were blocked by both the realities on the ground and the support of Syria’s allies – Russia, China, and Iran.
When Russia entered the conflict, the calculus changed dramatically. The prospects of direct intervention by the West against the Syrian government all but dimmed entirely, and what was exposed as a feigned US “fight” with the self-proclaimed “Islamic State” (ISIS) gave way to a very real Russian-led war on the terrorist group and its affiliates across the country, in coordination with Syrian troops on the ground.
Quickly the true source of ISIS’ fighting capacity – supply lines stretching out of NATO-member Turkey’s territory, long protected by NATO itself since the conflict began – came under threat. Russian warplanes are now flying sorties directly along the border, decimating ISIS-bound convoys long before delivering their supplies, weapons, and fresh fighters. Syrian troops have likewise made significant gains near borders they once were deterred from approaching because of NATO treachery.
The endgame is soon approaching, and to prevent this, the US and its regional allies have begun a series of provocations meant to tip toe the West into deeper war in the region, and in particular, against Russia and Syria.
Turkey’s downing of a Russian Su-24 bomber inside Syrian airspace, with Turkish-backed terrorists then gunning down one of the parachuting pilots – a blatant war crime – before ambushing a subsequent rescue mission which left a Russian Marine dead, was the first major provocation. While the United States has attempted to distance itself publicly from Turkey’s actions, it is clear that Turkey would never have undertaken such a brazen move without coordinating it with the US directly.
In the days and weeks before the incident, US Senators openly called for the shooting down of Russian planes over Syria. Their goal has been clear since 2011, overthrow the government of Syria before moving on to Iran, then finally Russia and China.
Turkey then moved troops and heavy armor into northern Iraq to begin what it claims will be a permanent occupation. It has carried out a “beta test” for its long-sought after “safe zone” the US has engineered and attempted to implement in northern Syria since at least as early as 2012.
And now reports indicate that the US itself has struck Syrian troops near Deir ez Zor City, Deir ez Zor province. There are also unconfirmed reports that the airstrikes which the Syrian government claims killed several of its soldiers, was also followed up by a coordinated ISIS counterattack.
The UK Independent reported in its article, “Syria calls US-led coalition air strike on Assad regime forces an ‘act of aggression’,” that:
An air strike carried out by the US-led coalition in Syria is reported to have targeted regime forces for the first time, killing at least three soldiers and destroying a number of vehicles.
The Syrian government said four warplanes bombed its Saega military camp in Deir al-Zor province, describing it as an “act of aggression” by coalition forces.
Whether reports of a counterattack are true or not, the US strikes appear to have happened. While the US denies that carried out the strikes, it has refused to coordinate with the Syrian Arab Army throughout its illegal operations in Syrian airspace. And just as in the case of the downed Russian bomber, US senators had also been eager to see US strikes against Syrian forces carried out as “retaliation” for Russia striking US proxies in the region.
With the US and its axis of collaborators attempting to normalize the violation of foreign nations’ airspace, territory, and now the normalization of striking at forces unrelated to its alleged mission to “fight” ISIS, we see a pattern developing that indicates an escalation toward direct confrontation between the West and Syria which includes a direct confrontation between the West and Syria’s allies as well.
The Need to Raise American Costs in Syria
The inability of Syria and its allies to fully secure Syria’s territory has invited these incremental transgressions. The fact that US warplanes are not only still violating Syrian airspace with absolute impunity, but being joined by French and British planes who equally have no real intention of stopping the terrorist menace of their own creation is a sign of hesitation on Syria and its allies’ part that they lack the will to draw a risky line and then enforce it.
Indeed, it would be a risky line to draw – to declare Syria’s airspace and territory off-limits to all nations not formally permitted by the Syrian government. To enforce such a line while legally sound, would require Syria or its allies to eventually target and shoot down Western planes that would inevitably continue violating Syria’s airspace. Such a confrontation could serve as ample impetus for the West to make a limited, full-scale invasion of certain parts of Syria where Syrian forces and their allies are weakest, thus effectively carving Syria into pieces.
However, incremental steps taken now toward establishing such a line coupled with continuously expanding military operations aimed at displacing Western military operations and restoring order across all of Syria’s territory by the government in Damascus and its allies, could help blunt, delay, and even eventually roll back America’s creeping war in Syria.
Likely there are cards yet to be played by Syria and its allies, which include wider roles for Iran and China to contribute in if and when necessary. The idea is to make continued Western intervention in Syria as costly as possible. It must be remembered that beyond the deepening rhetoric of the West, they still have only one goal – the same goal that they had when first beginning their proxy war with Syria – regime change in Damascus before pursuing regime change in Tehran, then Moscow and then Beijing.
It is likely the West will not stop until forced to tactically, strategically, economically, and politically. It is therefore incumbent upon Syria and its allies to create and apply the necessary force to do this.
Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine“New Eastern Outlook”.