This section of the article mentions the Astana talks, first announced by President Putin on December 29, 2017, to be held between Syria and the guarantors of the ceasefire regime, Russia, Iran and Turkey, on the one hand, and various armed opposition groups fighting against the Assad government in Syria on the other. The talks have also been attended by Jordan, the US ambassador to Kazakhstan, UN special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura and others. However, once it was determined that Russia and Syria were defeating the main terror groups in Syria, the US lost interest and Western news outlets almost completely ceased coverage of the talks, which have gone 9 rounds so far.
This creates the illusion that only Western talks, held in Geneva, will decide the outcome of the war. This article by Yevgeny Satanovsky indicates that the West will have almost zero influence on the post-war fate of Syria. After all, the US and its handmaidens in Europe have killed the prospects of rebuilding Syria and returning the refugees by categorically refusing to cooperate, eg, by lifting sanctions and contributing to the reconstruction effort – which will most likely be financed almost entirely by China.
How ironic that Trump vigorously opposes Merkel’s acceptance of the hordes of migrants to Germany and her enforcement of their acceptance by other EU countries and yet refuses to aid in allowing for the return of migrants to Syria, ie, the only sensible solution to the problem. In contrast to the non US-aligned East, the US operates solely on the ideological basis of maintaining a decrepit hegemony over the rest of the world rather than helping solve real problems as Russia and China do. This US focus on self-aggrandizement and indifference to other people’s problems explains why China’s influence is growing in leaps and bounds everywhere, and particularly in the Muslim world. Ironically, though, like a business that refuses to provide a vital service to its customers, the US, along with its allies, is cutting its own throat and in fact giving way voluntarily to the competition. All of China’s loans and material assistance to Syria will not only be sources of income to China but will almost certainly be denominated in yuan, thereby contributing to the further weakening of the US dollar.
It almost seems like suicide, doesn’t it?
The only way for the US to survive as a viable state in the long run is to adopt rational bipartisan policies based on practical solutions to real problems. So far there is precious little progress toward such a radical policy change.
BEGIN PART 2 OF TRANSLATION
In Astana [Kazakhstan], in July Turkey was given time until the next meeting in the fall to demonstrate that their proposals for the peaceful absorption of the pro-Saudi resistance segment are being implemented successfully. So far this has not worked out. The terrorists from Jabhat al-Nusra have arrested field commanders from groups willing to reconcile with the Syrian army in the province of Idlib. This was reported on August 10 by the newspaper Al-Akhbar. Under arrest are at least 50 commanders of militants who have entered into contact with the Syrian command. Jabhat an Nusra imposed a curfew in 17 settlements in the south-east of Idlib, fearing that their residents would stag an uprising against the gangs and call for the help of government troops, as had happened earlier in East Ghouta and in the southern province of Daraa.
Terrorists control about 60 percent of the province, which is located on the border with Turkey. The rest of it is in the hands of oppositionists from the Syrian Free Army and Islamic radical groups, the largest of which are Ahrar al-Sham and Nour al-Din al-Zenki Brigades, cooperating with Ankara. On August 1, the creation of the coalition "National Liberation Front" (FNO) in Idlib was announced, which included 14 opposition groups. Its strength is estimated at 40-50 thousand militants. The figure is clearly overstated - with such forces the issue of the Saudi presence in Idlib would have been settled. The former field commander of the Faylaq Al-Sham brigade, Fadlallah al-Haji, heads the NLF. According to Al-Akhbar, Ankara intends to use these forces to displace the Jabhat al-Nusra from Idlib. Pro-Turkish groups tried to take control of Idlib a couple of years ago. This ended then with the split of Ahrar al-Sham and the absorption of part of its military wing Jabhat an Nusra.
Damascus reserves the right to intervene in the situation. The Syrian Air Force and artillery struck on August 10 on the bases of Jabhat an Nusra in the administrative boundary between the provinces of Hama and Idlib. According to SANA, the attack on the position of the militants was in response to the violation of the ceasefire regime in the northern de-escalation zone. As a result, militant command posts and weapons depots were destroyed in the areas of Tal Waiat, Ziyarah and Al-Mansoura, resulting in casualties and wounded in the ranks of Jabhat al-Nusra. Blows were also inflicted on the bases of the Kataib al-Izza group in the settlements of Kafr Nabud Tall-es-Sakhr and Maraqba, 48 kilometres north-west of the administrative center of Hama. According to SANA, foreign mercenaries who are fighting within this group have infiltrated from the Turkish border to the Suq-al-Gahb valley near the Orontes River, from where they attack villages and army roadblocks.
As the news portal Suria al-NN reported, Syrian pilots dropped leaflets from the planes over the town of Taftanaz in the province of Idlib. In these, the command of the Armed Forces of the republic called upon local field commanders to follow the example of armed opposition formations in East Ghouta and southern Syria, who agreed to reconciliation with the authorities. The Syrian army is preparing an operation to liberate the city of Jisr al-Shughur, seized by terrorists in April 2015. It stands on a mountain pass through which the strategic Latakia-Aleppo highway runs. If the operation succeeds, the troops will be able to cut off southern areas of Idlib and block large outposts of bandit formations in Khan Sheikhoun, Maaret Naamane and Kfar Zita. As far as one can judge, regardless of Ankara's actions, it is planned to complete the dissection of the Idlib enclave in two parts, which the government forces tried to do on the eve of the exacerbation of the situation in the south in the spring of 2018. Apparently, the operation will start in the autumn and will be synchronized with the military activity of pro-Turkish groups in Idlib.
The army is awaiting the order
The command of the Syrian Armed Forces sends reinforcements to the provincial center of Aleppo (360 km from Damascus) in the north of the country, where an operation is being prepared against terrorists from the Jebhat an Nusra. According to the Al-Watan newspaper, the troops will advance on the cities of Kafr Hamrah, Khoreitan, Anadan, al-Bayanun and Khayan in order to clear them from the bandits that are shelling the western districts of Aleppo. The government forces are faced with the task of regaining control of the south-western part of Aleppo, where Ahrar al-Sham and Nour al-Din al-Zenki are operating. They are holding settlements near the highway leading to the Bab al-Hawa checkpoint on the Syrian-Turkish border. Their main outposts are in al-Mansour, Khan el-Asal and Atarib. According to Al-Watan, the operation is also aimed at securing the eastern neighbourhood of Greater Aleppo, which will allow the international airport in Nayrab to resume operation.
The offensive of the army will begin on the front along the administrative border of the provinces of Aleppo and Idlib, where the military airfield of Abu al-Duhur serves as the base of government forces. The troops will simultaneously strike at the bases of armed groups in the north-eastern provinces of Latakia and Hama in order to eliminate the threat of their invasion of the coastal areas and the Souk el-Ghab valley along the Orontes River. The Syrian Air Force is dropping leaflets over the cities of Jisr al-Shughur, Taftanaz and Saraqib (Idlib Province), captured by bandit groups, urging militants to lay down their arms and surrender following the example of armed opposition in East Ghouta. These three cities are part of the de-escalation zone, created in 2017 in the province of Idlib and the surrounding areas.
Preparations are under way for the beginning of military operations by government forces against not only pro-Saudi groups, but also in a number of cases of pro-Turkish groups, which is especially noticeable in the case of planned military operations in Aleppo. The beginning of the offensive is restrained only by the position of Moscow, which took a pause to determine the terms of compromise with Ankara on the actions in Idlib. The main question is how long did Moscow take to persuade Ankara to disengage the radicals and the moderate opposition and to absolve themselves of responsibility for the fate of the irreconcilable opposition?
END PART 2 OF TRANSLATION
To be continued