The US and its handmaidens in Europe have trodden heavily on Syria for years despite the presence of Russian pilots, warplanes and other materiel fighting their proxies in that country. In fact, since the Russian intervention, the US has run roughshod over Russia with now-familiar unsubstantiated accusations of “meddling in elections,” attempted murder (with absolutely no evidence), sanctions, embassy invasions, crippling tariffs and other unwarranted attacks on Russia and its economy, which have left the rouble in tatters and left the Russian people with the impression that America will never be their friend no matter what they do.
Many observers have been anxiously awaiting some sign from Beijing of a possible intervention by the Chinese military in Syria. Such intervention could possibly put the fear of the Lord in US officials playing with fire as if they have no fear whatsoever of military reprisals.
But the evidence of such a possible entry of China in the military side of the war has been slim to none.
On the other hand, the obstinacy and belligerence of the current US regime toward both Russia and China have brought about subtle changes. The Russians, for example, have very recently changed their military policy to allow Russia to deploy and use tactical nukes in the case of an attack on their country as a means of offsetting the superior numbers of US and Coalition arms arrayed against them in military exercises right up to the Russian border under the pretext of stopping “Russian aggression.”
As for China, Middle East expert Yevgeny Satanovsky, whose analysis appears in our translation from Russian (source: vpk-news.ru) appears below, believes that under certain circumstances, notably if a deal can be reached with Turkey, China may enter the fray to fight the Chinese Uyghurs, who have joined the terrorists in significant numbers. In view of the upcoming Vostok-2018 exercises involving Chinese troops and warplanes, any Chinese military involvement in Idlib could trigger an episode of temporary sanity in Washington.
The European Union boycotts the Syrian initiatives of Russia
President of the Middle East Institute
August 20, 2018
The hopes of Russian diplomats in the participation of the United States, EU countries and UN humanitarian agencies in the restoration of Syria and the return of refugees to its territory have been vain. At the same time, China intends to intensify its participation in the conflict, and Damascus, with the support of the Russian Air Force, is working to return the last stronghold of the Islamists, Idlib Province, to the control of the government.
In the Syrian crisis, the PRC will try its hand at mediating between the opposition and Damascus. Considering that the bulk of the pro-Saudi opposition (Jabhat an Nusra, banned in the Russian Federation) is located in Idlib and the fact that Moscow, Tehran and Damascus have been focused on this province since the closure of the de-escalation zone in the south, we can conclude that Beijing is trying to determine the feasibility of actively participating in the Syrian dossier with reference to Idlib, with more active interaction with Damascus in the medium term, including participation in large-scale infrastructure projects for restoration of the Syrian economy.
On August 3, the Chinese Ambassador to Syria and the Chinese military attaché discussed with SAR (Syrian Arab Republic) representatives the possibility of involving their forces in the actions of government forces in Idlib. With the exception of UN peacekeeping operations, Beijing avoids participation in hostilities outside its own borders or its immediate region. The operation in Syria could be the first step for a more active presence in the areas of China's national interests, not counting the PRC’s military base in Djibouti.
For China, first of all, the issue of militants from the Islamic Party of Turkestan acting in Idlib is important. Beijing is interested in destroying Uyghur separatists before they return to central Asia or China. Therefore, if the PRC decides to support the campaign to liberate Idlib, it will be of local character and focus on the neutralization of the Uyghur leaders and militants. In this case, the participation will take the form of military advisers, intelligence structures and spetsnaz forces. During the consultations, the military attaché touched upon the question of involving the "Snow Leopard" unit of the Chinese police in such operations.
In terms of the possible foreign policy risks involved in the operation in Idlib, Beijing must take into account the possible complication of relations with Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Ankara regards the Uyghurs as a loyal force and an instrument in strengthening its influence in Idlib against the pro-Saudi groups. So China will have to carefully approach any military intervention in Syria. Beijing needs coordination with Russia, the Syrian government and Turkey to avoid serious complications. The relevant statements by officials in Beijing, as well as the outcome of the talks between Russia, Iran, Syria, Turkey and China on the status of Idlib, may be indicators of the possible participation of the military PRC in the operation in Idlib.
Idlib is a bargaining venue.
Currently, Idlib is home to the most irreconcilable opponents of President Assad, functioning freely with the permission of Moscow, Damascus, Tehran and Ankara. The existence of this stronghold of Jabhat an Nusra runs athwart the plans of Moscow and Damascus for the post-war arrangement of Syria. The question now is not even the extent to which this zone will exist, but how the pro-Saudi component of the resistance will be eliminated there. The solution to Idlib's problem is the withdrawal from the scene of one of the main foreign sponsors of resistance, ie, the Saudis. For Saudi Arabia, the elimination of the pro-Saudi armed opposition wing in Syria means a sharp decrease in the level of its influence in this part of the Middle East, which changes the alignment of forces throughout the region.
To understand the situation with Idlib more clearly, it is worth recalling the positions of the parties (Russia, Iran and Turkey). There is a consensus that Idlib is the zone where Ankara is the guarantor of peace. But the Turks do not agree with the position of Moscow and Damascus on the elimination of Jabhat an Nusra. Ankara advocates their "peaceful" takeover following the example of the Southern de-escalation zone, while Russia advocates the combination of the carrot and the stick, believing that unless the militants see the prospect of their destruction, they will not make compromises. The Turks want to keep this area under their control as a bargaining chip in the dialogue with Damascus and create a Sunni force there that will oppose Damascus, claiming leading roles in the executive branch. At the same time, they are thereby creating pressure on the Kurds in the north of Syria, as the blessing and hopes for the fulfilment of Turkey's agreements with the US on the Kurdish issue were apparently unachievable.
To be continued