Obama’s Winning Battles in Syria

Sep 6th, 2016 by Fadi al-Dahouk for Al-Modon (Lebanese news website)

The Obama administration registered an advantage over all the analysts and experts in their political reading of its policies toward Syria, especially in that it has pursued a policy similar to that of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, based on wiliness and extortion and bartering.

With the start of the Russian military intervention in Syria, and the imposition of conditions and dictations in the political track in Geneva, the United States turned from a party controlling and supporting its allies in the Syrian opposition to one of the audience members who have come to watch the Syrian fight club. The US now waits for Moscow to consult with Secretary of State John Kerry about decisions taken in Syria, offering to assist Russia in implementing these decisions in practice on the ground.

The current negotiations in Geneva between the team of Russian and American experts may be a testament to the extent of the fragility of the US policy in Syria. More precisely, it is correct to describe these negotiations as chatter between two sides in agreement, since it is not possible in any case for a negotiating process to occur between two sides in the current form in Geneva between Washington and Moscow. The negotiating process requires trust-building measures, and this essential condition is completely missing, or is an exception, before the reality which indicates the two sides agree on everything, especially in the field, and which Moscow rules through its engineering, and decides the number of raids which the warplanes must carry out daily, and which areas residents must flee today.

During recent days, the American contradiction has become unreasonably harsh around the agreement the two countries’ experts are discussing in Geneva, in addition to the existing state of lack of candor with the Syrian opposition and the countries concerned with the Syrian crisis. This has pushed American special envoy for Syria Michael Ratney to repeatedly clarify the position of his country around the deal with Russia.

Before his recent message to the Syrian rebel groups, in which Ratney revealed that they were nearing a deal with Russia, he had issued a statement on August 29 denying the “inaccurate reports” that have been circulated about Washington’s understandings with Russia, especially in relation to the situation in Aleppo. According to Ratney, Washington considered the situation in Aleppo city to be unacceptable, especially from the angle of the regime’s repeated attempts to besiege the eastern part under opposition control.

In his message he sent to rebel groups on Sunday, Ratney reassured the opposition that Washington would not concede to Russia in Aleppo and specified conditions required to be fulfilled by the opposition, without noting any commitments Moscow will offer, whether pressuring the regime to stop targeting rebels, and opening the Castello road to deliver aid to Aleppo’s suburbs, both east and west — as if it was not the real commander of the military operations on these fronts, but the regime!

The American lack of clarity is offset by a clear picture in the field: Russia pushed the opposition from the areas it controlled and allowed them to open the Al-Ramousa path. This happened less than 24 hours after Ratney’s message and placed the eastern Aleppo districts under a new siege.

It does not seem that Obama is far from joining the list of the Russian president’s fans, especially in that he was keen throughout his second term, which witnessed a terrible escalation in the brutality of the Assad regime against its opposition, to stand on the side of the victors. The constant search for winning battles in Syria, to the extent that Washington has abandoned the groups it had supported as they were attacked by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units in Aleppo, and abandoned the Kurdish fighters they supported when they were attacked by Turkey, and abandoned the New Syrian Army in their tough fight against ISIS in the Syrian desert along the border with Iraq as the Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Forces) won a battle against ISIS near Fallujah.

In the midst of all this, it seems that Syrians have betrayed their ambitions, and have died from the severity of hunger alone while the tables of their backers were full of food as they watched them die. Amid all of this, Obama has reserved a seat among the ranks of the winners in this war, and those responsible for turning Syria into a country drowning in hunger and crime, and from a country that was ugly in terms of human rights violations and oppressions with little mercy, into a country that has become far uglier with no mercy at all.

This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.

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