By Aram Mirzaei for the Saker blog
On May 6, the Syrian Army finally kicked off the long awaited Idlib offensive to expel the US-backed Jihadists from the Idlib demilitarized zone. Having postponed the offensive for months due to Ankara’s reluctance to allow the Syrian Army to reclaim the area, Moscow and Damascus finally lost their patience after the latest Jihadist missile attack on Hmaimeem airport last week and decided to punish these terrorists once and for all. This is the first offensive that the Syrian Army and its allies are launching this year, and despite some claims that the Syrian Army offensive will target the entire Idlib Governorate, the operation will rather be limited to the so called demilitarized zone that stretches from the Al-Ghaab Plain to the Abu Dhuhour Crossing. The offensive is primarily lead by the Syrian Army in coordination with allied militias, with the Russian Air Force covering the skies, however Iranian forces will also be present to offer logistical support. Since launching the offensive, the Syrian Army has quickly managed to steamroll the terrorists in northwestern Hama, moving to capture the imperative town of Kafr Naboudeh, as they are marching towards the Al-Ghaab plain. To the west, Syrian Forces are moving to attack the remaining Jihadist-held towns in northeastern Latakia, especially targeting the imperative town of Kabbani. The Syrian Army will be successful if they can neutralize the Jihadist threat to the government held towns in the Hama and Idlib provinces, thus denying the terrorists to launch raids on these towns.
What remains to be seen now is how Ankara will react as they are deeply entrenched with the Jihadist forces across this area, having previously set up 12 “observation posts” stretching between Latakia and Aleppo provinces. It is also interesting to speculate what this offensive will mean for Ankara and its proxies, if the Syrian Army is successful. As the Jihadists lose more ground, Ankara loses influence over northwestern Syria while the SDF consolidates its hold over the land east of the Euphrates. One theory as to why Ankara has agreed to this territory could be that Moscow and Damascus have temporarily agreed to allow Ankara to launch an offensive on the SDF held territory to the east, as a way to replace the territorial losses sustained on the Idlib front. Indeed Damascus has vowed to retake every inch of Syria, but given the amount of players involved in this war and given the numerous obstacles standing in Damascus’ way, it seems that a pragmatic approach is the best way to go here. It would be preferable if eastern Syria was occupied by Ankara and its proxies rather than by Washington and its proxies due to the fact that Ankara is more likely to cooperate and strike deals with Moscow and Damascus than the insane people over in Washington.
Washington intensifies animosity towards Tehran
Another week, another threat. Washington’s threats against Iran have become a weekly ritual now as idiots Pompeo and Bolton issued new threats towards as part of Washington’s “maximum pressure” campaign on Tehran. Tehran had earlier warned that if Iran cannot use the strait of Hormuz, then the IRGC would close it for everyone. This prompted Washington to ramp up its threats as they sent an aircraft carrier strike group to the region, in what was described as a “clear and unmistakable message to Iran” by Bolton. He added that the decision was “in response to a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings.” Really? In this situation Iran is the aggressive one who is escalating things? The Persian Gulf is Iran’s lifeline, and Washington is looking to cut that lifeline, situated some 10 000 kilometres away from America’s eastern coastlines, yet Iran is the one that must argue for why it is not seeking war with the most aggressive evil regime the world has ever seen. On top of that the White House fool Trump issued an executive order on Wednesday, imposing new sanctions on Iran’s metal and mining sectors, with Trump even taking to Twitter to threaten anyone doing business with Iran to have their assets illegally seized by Washington. At the same time, the White House fool added that he is “looking forward to someday meeting with the leaders of Iran in order to work out an agreement and, very importantly, taking steps to give Iran the future it deserves,”
What kind of a sick statement is this? Washington truly has no limit as to how low it can sink. Do they actually believe that Tehran will capitulate and agree to humiliation? I have a hard time believing even the idiots in Washington are this stupid. They can’t seriously believe that Tehran is going to be enticed to come back to the table with these threats and sanctions imposed. As a matter of fact things in Iran is looking really bad for the proponents of the JCPOA and further negotiations with Washington and its vassals as the conservative bloc, known as “hardliners” in the West were actually proven right in their arguments that it is completely pointless to negotiate anything with the West. President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif have been facing a lot of scrutiny in Iran lately for their naïve belief that this deal would thaw relations with the West, and even Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has vocally criticized the deal in several speeches this year. As conservatives gain more ground in Iran, a fact I suspect Washington fully understands, Tehran is eyeing the only option remaining now: confrontation. It is either that or lying down and accepting death and defeat. The only conclusion I can draw from this mess is that Washington is actively looking for war. They want to provoke Tehran into a first strike so that they can start a larger regional war not only against Iran but also Tehran’s allies in Hezbollah and the Iraqi militias in a bid to destroy the entire resistance to the Zionist empire altogether.
This week also saw Iran informing the five remaining signatories to the JCPOA of its decision to suspend the implementation of some of its commitments under the multinational agreement, exactly one year after Washington unilaterally abandoned the agreement. I am amazed over the amount of self-restraint and patience exercised by Tehran since Washington’s exit from the deal last year, as Tehran has given the remaining signatories almost 12 months’ time to compensate for Washington’s withdrawal and guarantee the survival of the deal. Nevertheless, no measures to blunt the impact of economic sanctions re-imposed on Tehran have been taken by the remaining signatories. Not only is the Islamic Republic entitled to suspend the implementation of the deal, but it also has the right to withdraw from it altogether, what is the point of remaining in the deal when the main reason for entering it is now all but gone?
Iran’s Supreme National Security Council has also given the remaining signatories 60 days to meet their commitments, and if they fail to address Tehran’s concerns, Tehran will suspend the implementation of two more commitments under the JCPOA. Unsurprisingly, the EU immediately rejected the ultimatum and expressed “great concern” about Iran’s decision. In a statement issued on May 9, top EU diplomats said “We reject any ultimatums and we will assess Iran’s compliance on the basis of Iran’s performance regarding its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA and the NPT (Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons). In this respect, we recall the key role of IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) monitoring and verification of the implementation by Iran of its nuclear-related commitments.”
In the statement, the Europeans further expressed regret about the re-imposition of sanctions against Tehran and said they would stay fully committed to “the preservation and full implementation” of the JCPOA, which they described as “a key achievement of the global nuclear non-proliferation architecture, which is in the security interest of all.”
What a pathetic statement. When Washington withdrew from the deal, no one dared to even say a word, but when Tehran seeks to suspend some of its implementation after having been betrayed, the EU wants to “assess Iran’s compliance?” The EU has had a year to come up with a plan to continue the deal despite Washington’s withdrawal, but do not have the guts to stand up to Washington’s criminal behaviour of unilateral sanctions and threats. Instead all they have done is to talk nonsense and issue poor statements about their so called “commitments”. Washington has threatened to sanction anyone doing business with Iran, this includes its European vassals, why should Iran believe that the EU would dare to stand up to Washington and risk being slapped with sanctions themselves for the sake of Tehran? Ayatollah Khamenei previously warned that he does not trust the Europeans and has no faith in their promises, he is absolutely right as he fully understands that the EU has no will of its own and are a bunch of cowards who let Washington dictate their interests.
Tehran has nothing more to lose than it already has here, why remain in a deal that leaves Tehran without the deterrence of nuclear weapons and still be sanctioned? This situation is even worse than the one before the JCPOA deal. I usually don’t agree with the conservative bloc on foreign policy matters, but I see no other choice here for Tehran to guarantee its own survival in the face of Washington’s relentless aggression and criminal behaviour.