March 20, the British news Agency Reuters published a report that Russia intends to establish a military base near the Syrian city of Afrin to study the people’s protection Units (YPG), the Syrian wing of the Kurdistan workers party (PKK). Russia quickly denied this message.
When they say Afrin, we are talking about a distance of 45 kilometres from the centre of Kırıkhan in Hatay and 30 kilometers from the city center of Kilis — that is, right under our noses.
Then came another news from Reuters, which more than pays propaganda Beirut production: YPG plan to increase the number of its armed forces to 100 thousand. (For comparison, recall that the German army is 90 thousand soldiers, of Italian — 99 thousand, the Israeli — 176 thousand).
In that moment, when I received these messages, we with one senior official source said on whether a positive or negative response to the plan of operation in raqqa that Turkey in recent times introduced the United States and Russia on 7-8 March in Antalya.
As you may remember, last week, arguing that at the meeting in Antalya Turkey, apparently, are unable to convince neither the US nor Russia in his plan, in raqqa, we wrote that answer has not yet come.
Yesterday it was also unknown.
Turkey’s offer in respect of Raqqa is the following: previous U.S. President, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump President Tayyip Erdogan has proposed to take Raqqa from ISIS (banned in Russia — approx. ed.) in the event of the failure of the US YPG.
Moreover, after a meeting in Antalya, Turkey, and Russia, and the United States quite clearly given to understand that they are not interested in the plan of Ankara. The U.S. Central command (CENTCOM) even wished to throw in the Syria artillery unit and to show that does not need NATO partner Turkey on this issue.
In this position of Ankara — waiting for the official statement of the President of the United States of trump. Of course, it is not necessary to overlook, that this expectation coincides with the process associated with the referendum on the 16th of April in Turkey, as the question of Turkey’s participation in the operations in raqqa, of course, would have political value to the government of the party of justice and development.
That is, time is also running out.
Today is the first day of spring — Navruz, warm days on the threshold. And if the operation in raqqa even more delayed and, for example, will be over beginning of may, Syrian hot season primarily terrestrial compounds have particularly difficult: these are estimates of the military.
If trump and does not make decisions, and offer Turkey — in present or revised form — will not receive official endorsement, there’s two basic scenarios for the liberation of Raqqa from ISIS.
1. The course of the US — YPG against Raqqa
Forces of the Syrian regime, supported by Russia, can leave the surgery in raqqa forces led by the US and along the West Bank of the Euphrates into the Southeast of Deir-ez-Zor. Together with the forces that come from Palmyra, they can continue the operation towards Iraq.
In this situation, the operation in respect of Raqqa, which from January 2014 is in the hands of ISIS, CENTCOM (Central command of the armed forces of the United States — approx. ed.) will probably be hold with the Democratic forces of Syria (SDG), which form the backbone of the YPG. CENTCOM cooperates with the YPG since then, as Kobani is not passed into the hands of ISIS in the fall of 2014, ISIS had taken the city of al-Hasaka and finally, Manbij in August 2016.
The reason why Americans do not bow to the Turkish proposal is a concern that the change in the plan of operation established for two years, will entail time and budgetary costs and perhaps even a new wave of “extremism”.
On paper, according to the Americans, Turkey is not obstructed also join the operation, but the government, which has identified YPG as its red line, can hardly agree to this.
At the same time, Americans say that even if the release of Raqqa in this way the city with the Arab population will not be in control of YPG. Opposed by Arab elements in the ranks of the SDG.
2. The course of the Russia — Syria — YPG against Raqqa
Forces of the Syrian regime with the support of Russia can make the decision to move from Manija to the East and get to Raqqa.
In this situation, is realized one of two options.
In the first case, they might leave Raqqa (as in Jerablus in the course of the operation “shield of the Euphrates”), or fighting (as in al Bab), retreat (probably in the direction of Deir ez-Zor or Iraq). In these circumstances, the forces of the Syrian regime will go to Raqqa, and the United States would not intervene.
The second option they might choose the path of resistance in raqqa, which she somehow finds its political center.
In such a situation, the United States does not want to be face to face with Russia and Russian-backed Syrian army. USA, maybe, and will not go on open collaboration, but to interfere, definitely not.
However, the Syrian regime supported by Russia, which in this case is going to need a larger ground force, may try to negotiate with the Party “Democratic Union” (PYD), the Syrian wing of the PKK, which is associated with YPG. Fighters of the YPG can again start to fight against ISIS, but this time not in the ranks of the United States, and on the Syrian-Russian flank.
By such an operation, Turkey will not be involved, and she does not wish to participate.
Obviously, in each of the two considered scenarios on Turkey does not lie in any important role. This, of course, may imply a step backward in the Syrian policy of the Turkish government, but the fact that Turkey will be more involved in the civil war in Syria, it is also possible to calculate a favorable development of events.
However, in these two scenarios is missing one important element that must be taken into account: Iran.
The forces of “El-Quds” division of external operations, led by Qasem Soleimani (Kasım Süleymani) as part of the Islamic revolutionary guard Corps, many organizations Shiite militias and Pro-Iranian Lebanese Hezbollah — all of them together represent the most effective ground force on the battlefield in Syria (and Iraq) that are not related to the national army.
Russia and Iran as the two countries that support the Assad regime, a good relationship, but you can not say that their interests coincide.
For example, as soon as Hezbollah and Shiite militants appeared near the Golan heights, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the blink of an eye was in Moscow and asked President Vladimir Putin to keep Iran away from his borders.
But yesterday, March 20, Russia, Israel sent a sharp note of protest, condemned the Israeli aircraft strikes on Shiite fighters in close Russian connections nearby Palmyra and demanded that it not be repeated.
You can continue to give details, but I think the question is clear.
While the picture in Syria, along with new developments becoming more complex, Ankara continues to wait in silence, risking to stay away from operations in raqqa.