Trump’s plan for cooperation with Putin in Syria and for preserving Assad in power

This time Rex Tillerson did not act on their own initiative, and in accordance with the directions.

On Wednesday evening, before the first meeting Donald trump, and Vladimir Putin, the Secretary of state said that the United States is prepared to create a “joint arrangements” with Russia to stabilize the situation and stop the brutal civil war in Syria.

After a series of dizzying political changes in the Syrian issue, management and sources from the Congress told The Daily Beast that the team trump is embarking on the beginnings of a new strategy on Syria. In the short term, this strategy involves the following steps:

to leave Bashar al-Assad in power;

agree with the proposal about security zones, put forward by Russia and its allies;

to bet on cooperation with Moscow, including the use of Russian troops to patrol in certain areas of the country.

Observers have long suspected that this plan will come from the pen of trump, despite his statements that Assad “has no place” in the leadership of Syria and its people. Top aides of trump, since Jared Kushner to former national security Advisor, Michael Flynn, has for several months insisted on closer collaboration with Russia on Syria.

Informed senior administration discussed the new strategy with The Daily Beast, put forward the condition that his words will only summarize, but not quote, because he was not authorized to discuss the matter officially. His account confirmed by two sources from the White house and one from Congress.

The aim of the new strategy is to inflict the final defeat of the so-called “Islamic state” (banned in Russia organization — approx. TRANS.). Now the Syrian allies of America, backed by special forces, the race to try to discuss more important issues about what will happen when they will be cleared from LIH to such places as a stronghold of the jihadists in raqqa. Regrettably, the United States realized on the example of Iraq, if not the present effective force to protect the territory from the militants, they will come back.

The situation is complicated by the convergence in the disputed territory of those forces that have the support of the USA and Russia. The probability of collisions in the liberated areas from ISIS is very high. If there is chaos, ISIS may again get the start in life. In the Syrian Manuge captured in August last year, the Syrian democratic forces led by the Kurds, the Arabs complain of their so-called liberators who opened the door for the return of the Assad regime and the establishment of his power.

According to a senior source, the interaction with the Russian, the aim of which is to prevent such clashes and their escalation in the conflict between the great powers, it is simply a recognition of reality.

But this raises the question of who will manage the settlements when there will be expelled ISIL.

According to this source, the United States does not intend to transfer the Assad liberated from ISIS territory. American troops will ensure order in these areas, and to monitor compliance with the ceasefire. In those areas that will free US allies such as the Syrian democratic forces, they will perform these tasks. But in areas controlled by Assad is part of the job of patrolling will be borne by the Russian military police, as happened in Aleppo. Even more situation is aggravated by the fact that Turks are also ready to send troops that are currently deployed on Syrian territory, reclaimed in the past year, ISIL.

Part of this plan was developed in recent months. American and Russian military used the so-called channel deconfliction in order to avoid confrontation and tension. The link continues to work, despite the friction that arose after the Americans last month shot down a Syrian military plane. The overall working methods of interaction in combat, in which the Pro-American forces and Russian-Syrian-Iranian troops are near, but separately. The case of the downed plane showed the Russians that the United States is ready to defend its allies. As a result, they began to take more seriously to prevent conflict situations.

And then came Tillerson.

At the table with Putin

Before leaving for the summit of “Big twenty” the Secretary of state called the “zone of deconfliction” proof that Russia and the United States is ready for “the way forward”. This promotion, according to Tillerson, may include a “together with Russia joint mechanisms for ensuring stability, including no-fly zones, observers over observance of conditions of ceasefire, and the organization coordinated the delivery of humanitarian assistance”. According to a senior official, all of the above Tillerson based on the already established Russian-American mechanism of deconfliction.

The most important is the words Tillerson that Russia and America can “work together, providing stability, which will lay the foundations for success in addressing the political future of Syria.”

Tillerson had put forward foreign policy proposals, the White house rejected them. Trump ignored the desire Tillerson to remain in the framework of the Paris climate agreement, gave part of important diplomatic powers on the middle East to his son-in-law Kouchner, and last month was supported by Saudi Arabia, which established a blockade of Qatar immediately after Tillerson called for reconciliation.

But this time it’s different.

It is expected that the plan of the Secretary of state will be discussed on Friday at the trump meeting with Putin, except when they up the number of American officials will be present only Tillerson. After this meeting he will fly to Turkey, where the plan for Syria will probably be included in the discussion agenda.

According to a senior administration official, the proposal Tillerson is a preliminary step, a measure to build trust. It will attempt to see if longtime adversaries to work together in the interests of ending the conflict. This idea has many critics. When the Secretary of state by President Obama, John Kerry proposed to establish limited cooperation with Russia for a ceasefire in Aleppo in 2016, the Pentagon and Congress, where Republicans predominated, loudly expressed his displeasure.

It was largely due to a long-standing distrust of Russia. But there was another reason for different goals, the United States and Russia in Syria. Russia intervened in the Syrian conflict to support his client Assad, when his forces quickly lost territory under pressure from the advancing rebels. Under Obama the US has taken the position that because of the atrocities of Assad he has no place in Syria, and it needs to go.

According to a senior official from the White house, the administration essentially refused to consider the question of what to do with Assad, stating that it was another assignment given the uncomfortable situation. More pressing and urgent is the question of how to deal with ISIS and how to persuade Russia to take part in ensuring the fragile stability after his defeat. I will say about this administration trump out loud or not, but as long as she is willing to put up with the preservation of the Assad government, if he will continue the fight against ISIL.

“Of course, it’s our policy [against Assad] — said on Thursday The Daily Beast, one senior White house official. Is a natural conclusion from what we did.”

It waited for many observers, however, the attitude trump Assad can not be called strong and decisive. After the election, trump told The Wall Street Journal that he is skeptical about aid to the Syrian opposition. By the end of March Tillerson and the US representative to the UN, Nikki Haley has already said that Assad’s departure is not a priority.

But after a few days, and Assad, describing it as a green light from Washington, carried out the attack with sarin in the North-Western town of Khan Sheyhun. Trump suddenly struck Tomahawks at Syrian airbase, which was used by Russian. A few hours before hitting Tillerson has completely changed its position on Assad. “After what he did, is sure that he has no place in the leadership of Syria and its people,” he said.

Shortly after this blow the trump adviser for national security Herbert McMaster stressed the inadmissibility of the use of chemical weapons, and the impression that trump already is not seeking regime change. Last week the White house has threatened Assad with a new missile strike to find signs of another chemical attack, and Tillerson discussed the issue with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov. If the Secretary of state has confirmed in the opinion that first of all we need to defeat ISIS but to overthrow Assad, Haley continues to adhere to that position. Speaking last week in the house of representatives Committee on foreign Affairs, she said: “In a healthy Syria, Assad has no place in government.”

To drive a wedge between Russia and Iran

There is another aspect of the new strategy on Syria, which is a very big gamble with the far-reaching goal: to alienate Russia from Iran.

Nobody in the administration does not believe that they will be able to split the relationship between the two main sponsors of the Assad regime in the near future. However, a White house spokesman said that the U.S. position that U.S. allies will not return to Assad seized from ISIS territory, closer to the Russian position than to the Iranian. Iran insists that Assad must lead all Syria, but the Kremlin believes that it is unrealistic.

Offers of cooperation with Russia in Syria, the White house trump bears for a long time. McMaster predecessor in the post of national security Advisor Mike Flynn has proposed to expand the channel deconfliction, creating a real mechanism of military cooperation in the fight against ISIS. The Pentagon did not go for it — partly due to the fact that Congress has imposed restrictions on the joint action of this kind. But sources in the Congress believe that this could create issues in the new strategy on Syria.

The Senate has not yet released its version of the bill on the military budget. But a source from the Congress said that in the version prepared by the Committee on the armed forces will be maintained the ban on cooperation with the Russian military. This source foresees that the new strategy on Syria, providing for the retention of power in the hands of Assad, will meet opposition in Congress, including from the hawks, such as the Chairman of the Committee John McCain. When Tillerson and Hayley for the first time put forward the idea that Assad remains in power, McCain condemned it, calling it “paustovskii deal with Assad and Putin, which is based on an empty promise of cooperation in the fight against terrorism.”

The official representative of national security Council said: “We are ready to consider various options to ensure stability in Syria. But I wouldn’t want to talk about it until negotiations with the Russians.”

To agree with the Russian proposal for peace

Such an approach to Syria is not only faces opposition in Congress but also puts US in an awkward position, when they silently agree with the peace process, initiated by Russia, Iran and Turkey. Gathered in the capital of Kazakhstan Astana without America, these countries proposed to create in Syria, the four “zones of de-escalation” for demilitarization, the return of displaced persons and refugees, humanitarian assistance and restoration of vital services. The fact that the principal drafters of the plan have become allies of the regime, has drawn objections from the opposition, which rejected him as an interim step to restore the power of Assad.

A senior administration official acknowledged that such a strategy there is a certain risk. Deconfliction required enormous effort, and most likely, this will continue. The representative linked the decrease in violence of the last days with the peace process in Astana, but refused to call the talks a success.

In addition, the U.S. made a big bet on the Kurds of Syrian democratic forces that control the territory on the border with Turkey, while Ankara considers incoming SDS in the people’s protection Units as a terrorist organization. Russia has a clear policy than the United States, and it is in support of Assad. In addition, she repeatedly disrupted the actions of the US in Syria, and even those who, according to American officials, correspond to the Russian interests.

And since Assad is responsible for destruction in Syria, the most important question the new strategy relates to the long-term, and trump Putin will not be able to answer during your meeting. It is how future generations of Syrians will look at the USA, who put up with Assad in the name of defeating ISIS.

Your material for this article was provided by Asavin, SUBANG (Asawin Suebsaeng), Markay Lachlan (Lachlan Markay), Betsy Woodruff (Woodruff Betsy) and Roy Gutman (Roy Gutman).