Russia’s intervention in Syria has derailed US regime-change efforts aimed at Damascus. It also threatens America’s secondary objective of dividing and destroying Syria as a functioning, unified nation-state. Long sought after “buffer zones” also sometimes referred to as “free zones” or “safe zones” still stand as the primary strategy of choice by the US and its regional allies for the deconstruction of Syria’s sovereignty and the intentional creation of a weak, failed state not unlike what the US and NATO left within the borders of Libya since 2011.
And while the US seeks to sell its “buffer zone” strategy under a variety of pretexts – from protecting refugees to fighting the so-called “Islamic State” (ISIS/ISIL) – it is admittedly a tactic aimed instead at America’s true objectives in Syria – the destruction of its government, the division of its people, and the eradication of its sovereignty.
ISIS is Clearly the Product of State-Sponsorship
In 2012, it was clear that the region north of Aleppo and across the border into Turkey, had become one of two primary points (Jordan being the other) of staging and entry for NATO-backed terrorists operating in Syria. It was from across the border north of Aleppo and Idlib that NATO-armed, funded, and trained terrorists from Libya first flowed into Syrian territory and from where the initial 2012 invasion of Aleppo emanated.
While NATO opened up several other fronts along Syria’s northern border, this has remained their primary focus – specifically for the purpose of taking Idlib, Aleppo, or both, establishing them as a seat of government for a proxy regime, and as a strategic and logistical springboard to wage war deeper into Syrian territory from.
While initially the West attempted to make ISIS appear to be sustaining its fighting capacity within a vacuum deep within Syrian and Iraqi territory, allegedly sustaining itself on ransoms and black market oil, the scale of their operations has since betrayed this narrative, revealing immense state-sponsorship behind them.
If ISIS was being armed, funded, equipped, and its ranks replenished from abroad, it would need supply lines leading to and from these resources. Fighting along the Syrian-Turkish border, between ISIS and both Syrian troops and Kurds exposed NATO-ISIS ratlines – with maps published even by the Western media clearly indicating ISIS supply lines as “support zones” and “attack zones.”
Cutting NATO-ISIS Supply Lines
It was clear that as Syrian troops deep within Syria encircled, cut off the supplies of, and defeated terrorist bastions in cities like Homs and Hama, a much larger version of this would need to be accomplished to secure Syria’s borders. With Syrian troops themselves unable to operate along its borders with Turkey because of a defacto no-fly-zone established with the help of US anti-air missile systems, the burden has been shifted onto Syrian and Iranian-backed Kurds.
The Kurds with their advantages as irregular forces familiar with the territory and now receiving significant material support have managed to cut off ISIS from its NATO supply lines along nearly the entire Syrian-Turkish border, save for the region just north of Aleppo and Idlib. Kurds and Syrian forces have managed to secure the border on positions flanking this last NATO-ISIS logistical zone and threaten to cut it off as well.
Thus the intentionally confusing narrative and feigned jostling between Turkey and the US over the exact details of the impending “buffer zone” they seek to carve out of Syrian territory becomes crystal clear.
It is intended entirely to preserve ISIS, Al Nusra, and other Al Qaeda affiliates’ supply lines to and from Turkey. It, by necessity, will exclude Kurds – an immense betrayal by the Americans who have attempted to pose as their allies – and the Syrian Arab Army, to ensure no force is capable of harassing and disrupting NATO’s increasingly tenuous logistical and terrorist operations.
With Russia’s entry into the conflict, and its application of airpower across regions previously out of reach of Syria’s own heavily taxed air force, the prospect of Syrian and Kurdish forces now being able to close that last remaining gap has become a real possibility. Should this gap be closed and similar efforts accomplished in Syria’s south near its border with Jordan, not only will NATO’s mercenary forces be strangled, all prospects of NATO dividing and destroying Syria will be lost well into the foreseeable future.
“Buffer Zone” To Divide and Destroy, Not Save Syria
Western policymakers have made it quite clear precisely what these “buffer zones” are truly intended for. While they claim they are aimed at fighting ISIS or protecting refugees – these are but pretexts.
The Brookings Institution – a corporate-funded policy think-tank whose policymakers have helped craft upper-level strategy for the Iraqi, Afghan, Libyan, and now Syrian conflicts as well as plans laid for future confrontations with Iran and beyond – has been explicit regarding the true nature of these “buffer zones.” In a recent paper titled, “Deconstructing Syria: A new strategy for America’s most hopeless war,” it states:
…the idea would be to help moderate elements establish reliable safe zones within Syria once they were able. American, as well as Saudi and Turkish and British and Jordanian and other Arab forces would act in support, not only from the air but eventually on the ground via special forces.
The paper goes on by explaining (emphasis added) :
The end-game for these zones would not have to be determined in advance. The interim goal might be a confederal Syria, with several highly autonomous zones and a modest (eventual) national government. The confederation would likely require support from an international peacekeeping force, if this arrangement could ever be formalized by accord. But in the short term, the ambitions would be lower—to make these zones defensible and governable, to help provide relief for populations within them, and to train and equip more recruits so that the zones could be stabilized and then gradually expanded.
In essence, these zones constitute a defacto NATO invasion and occupation. The territory seized would be used as springboards to launch attacks deeper still into Syrian territory until eventually the entire nation was either permanently Balkanized or destroyed. Despite Brookings’ claims that eventually a national government would emerge and the territory under it “stabilized,” a look at all other NATO interventions, invasions, and occupations (i.e. Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya) clearly indicates Syria’s true fate will be anything but stable and well-governed.
The President of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) Richard Haas, published an op-ed titled, “Testing Putin in Syria,” which echoed the Brookings plan (emphasis added):
In the meantime, the United States and others should pursue a two-track policy. One track would channel steps to improve the balance of power on the ground in Syria. This means doing more to help the Kurds and select Sunni tribes, as well as continuing to attack the Islamic State from the air.
Relatively safe enclaves should emerge from this effort. A Syria of enclaves or cantons may be the best possible outcome for now and the foreseeable future. Neither the US nor anyone else has a vital national interest in restoring a Syrian government that controls all of the country’s territory; what is essential is to roll back the Islamic State and similar groups.
It should be noted that the CFR plan was presented after Russia’s intervention, Brookings’ plan was presented beforehand, as early as June, and the concept of buffer zones has been proposed by US policymakers as early as 2012.
It was also recently revealed during a US Senate Committee on Armed Services hearing that retired US Army General John Keane suggested the creation of “free zones” in precisely the same manner. General Keane also suggested using refugees as a means of deterring Russian airstrikes in these zones – or in other words – using refugees as human shields. The common denominator between the Brookings, the CFR, and the US Senate Committee on Armed Services’ plans is the establishment of these zones for the destruction of Syria by perpetuating the fighting. To perpetuate the fighting terrorists like ISIS and Al Nusra must be continuously supplied and supported – a process now in jeopardy because of Russia’s intervention.
In a desperate last bid, the US may try to seize and expand “buffer zones” within Syrian territory in the hopes that these expansions can at least Balkanize Syria before Russia and Syria are able to roll back terrorist forces from most vital regions. It will be a race between Russia and Syria’s ability to drive out terrorists and stabilize liberated regions and America’s ability to bolster terrorists in regions along the border while obtaining public support for providing these terrorists with direct US-NATO military protection. Somewhere in between these two strategies lies the possibility of a direct confrontation between Russian-Syrian forces and US-NATO forces.
For the US and NATO, they would be provoking a wider war within the borders of a foreign nation in direct violation of the UN Charter, without a UN Security Council resolution, and with an entire planet now aware of their role in creating and perpetuating the very terrorist threat they have claimed now for a decade to be at ‘war’ with.
Revealing the true nature of NATO’s “buffer zones” and the fact that they are aimed at saving, not stopping ISIS, Al Nusra, and other Al Qaeda linked extremist factions, further undermines the moral, political, diplomatic, and even strategic viability of this plan. By revealing to the world the true solution to solving the “ISIS problem” – cutting their fighters off from their Western and Arabian state-sponsors, opens the door to more aggressive – not to mention more effective – measures to defeat them both in Syria and elsewhere.
That Russia has already begun taking these measures means that that window has closed further still for the US. The only question now will be whether the US concedes defeat, or escalates dangerously toward war with Russia to save a policy that has not only utterly failed, but has already been exposed to the world as a criminal conspiracy.
Logistics is the lifeblood of war. Understanding this and denying the enemy the resources they need to maintain their fighting capacity is the key to victory. The Russians, Syrians, Kurds, and Iranians are strangling NATO’s proxies at their very source and instinctively, NATO has raised its hands in the form of a “buffer zone” to defend them and relieve the pressure – thus revealing the true nature of this regional conflict and the central role the West has played in creating and perpetuating ISIS, Al Qaeda, and other extremists currently ravaging Syria and beyond.
Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine“New Eastern Outlook”.