Here below is the original Q&A of the interview I had with Sputnik on Monday. To read the full Sputnik articles please see here:
Sputnik: What is behind Donald Trump’s decision to end the CIA covert program to arm the so-called “Syrian rebels”? How will it affect US positions in Syria? Will it help the Syrian Arab Army to defeat al-Qaeda and Daesh and restore the country’s sovereignty?
The Saker: I believe that the Americans have finally given up, at least temporarily, on the “good terrorists” (aka the Free Syrian Army) because they simple have run out of options. Militarily, the coalition of Syria-Iran-Russia-Hezbollah is winning, Daesh are on the ropes, as for the “good terrorists” they have (correctly) concluded that they are much better off taking the deal Russia has offered to them through the negotiations process than to be eliminated alongside the Daesh hardliners.
Sputnik: Meanwhile, the Kurdish-dominated SDF, backed by the US, continues to gain ground in northern Syria. Is it possible that the suspension of the CIA covert program is simply the way to strengthen the Pentagon’s positions in Syria? (It was earlier reported that there had been repeated clashes between the Pentagon-backed SDF and the CIA-backed Syrian militants). Does Trump’s move mean that he is seeking more support from the DoD while trying to diminish the CIA’s power?
The Saker: The Kurds are the only possible candidates for the role of “boots on the ground” for the USA. It is therefore no wonder that the Americans would try to use them in some way. That, in turn, implies that the Americans must give the Kurds *something*, such as a promise of some kind of more or less independent Kurdistan, to entice them to play this role. Furthermore, the Kurds are the only combat-capable force which is not part of the Syria-Iran-Russia-Hezbollah coalition and that also makes them an extremely attractive potential ally for the USA. The problem is that nobody, not Turkey, not Syria, not Iraq and not Iran, want any type of independent Kurdistan, especially not a de jure independent one. So the Kurds are only fighting in Syria as long as the big guys (Turkey, Iran, Syria) are willing to tolerate this. But if they overplay their hand they will be stopped.
Sputnik: What do you think about the Kurds’ attempts to hold a local election in Rojava? Will the Trump administration support the Kurdish aspirations for independence? Is Washington still planning to implement the so-called “Kerry’s plan B” aimed at splitting Syria up? How could this be avoided?
The Saker: I am convinced that the USA will eventually try to break up Syria. That is typical US strategy: what they cannot control they will try to break. Also, Israel, which is a key, if covert, player in all this, will want to weaken Syria as much as possible, including breaking the country up. The good news is that Russia is opposed to that plan and that Iran and Turkey are also opposed to it as a direct consequence of their opposition to the creation of any type of Kurdistan. This reality on the ground means that any US plan to create some type of Kurdistan to weaken Syria and put pressure on Turkey and Iran will end up being a pipe dream. There is a darn good reason why no Kurdistan has happened so far – nobody in the region wants it.
Sputnik: Is it possible that the US is covertly supporting the Kurds’ independence in Iraq and Syria, trying to create a brand new player in the region that could be used to exert pressure and, if needed, undermine Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey in the long run? Is Washington intended to realize the notorious plan of Ralph Peters and redraw the map of the Middle East?
The Saker: It has *always* been the US policy to support minorities against majorities. And while this policy is always cloaked in pious political speech about democracy, human rights, self-determination and freedom, the real motive is very primitive: majorities do not need, or depend on, the USA to prevail. Minorities do. Thus, any minority which accepts the support of the USA becomes dependent on this support for its very survival and that inevitably makes it an obedient tool in the hands of global US imperial policies. The situation with the Kurds is exactly the same. The one and only way out of this trap is for the minority to accept a “less than ideal” deal with a local majority power and to never reply on the USA for its survival. So far different Kurdish factions have had different approaches towards this dilemma and that further complicates the situation.
Sputnik: Did the US really give up its plan to oust Assad? What is behind this apparent “change of heart”?
The Saker: For the time being, it appears to be the case. As for what resulted in this change of heart – I would say the reality on the ground. I don’t think anybody, besides McCain, seriously believes that the Syrian government will be defeated, least of all by some tiny (and entirely fictional) “good terrorists”. The CIA and the Pentagon have probably concluded that they are getting nowhere with their plans to oust Assad.
Sputnik: What do you think about the possibility of the creation of the US-Russian coalition in Syria?
The Saker: It was a real possibility until Trump basically caved in to the Neocons. Now that the US Congress has essentially neutered Trump and the russophobic hysteria has reached even new heights, I don’t think that Trump can do anything of substance with Russia least he appear like some kind of “Putin agent”. What the Neocons have done is to self-lobotomize the US Executive Branch which is now completely unable to intelligently deal with any situation involving Russia. This is a crying shame as the potential for joint action on common interests was immense. But petty internal US politics have ruined it all.
Sputnik: What is your prognosis for the future of the military actions in Syria: Will the SAA manage to restore the country’s unity and to what extent? What will be the US moves if the SDF liberate Raqqa? Will Daesh stop its activities in Syria or just go underground and continue its struggle, like Al-Qaeda did in Iraq following the US invasion? What should be done to ultimately defeat Daesh?
The Saker: To use a Russian example, the situation on Syria is much more similar to the situation in Dagestan than it is to the situation in Chechna. Syria is a mosaic of different ethnic and religious groups who all have different affiliations, agenda and foreign sponsors. This means that it is far easier to maintain some kind of low simmering civil war going on in Syria than in a more homogeneous country. Neither Daesh nor al-Qaeda will simply disappear. What they will have to do is scale down the scope and nature of their operations. As for the Syrian government, it will have a never ending struggle in protecting and keeping safe the zones it liberated from the Takfiris. The Assad family and the Baath Party could only maintain peace, law and order by means of an iron grip on the Syrian society. Now that secular Arab nationalism has been weakened and religious extremism is on the rise, there is no possibility for Bashar al-Assad to re-create the kind of control is father had. Nor can he replace it with a religious order like what we have in Iran. Last but not least, Israel will never cease to sabotage, subvert and destabilize Syria which it sees as its most dangerous neighbor and as a key ally to Hezbollah. For all these reasons, I don’t see Syria returning to the status quo ante. What I do hope for is that with the assistance of Russia, Iran, Iraq and Hezbollah most of Syria will be liberated from the Takfiri crazies and that the normal civil society and economy will flourish again in the liberated zones. But Daesh type terrorists will probably remain in hiding in the deserts of Syria for a long time.
An excellent choice of analyst by Sputnik!!!!!!
Excellent stuff as always, Saker. Very informative.
I’d like to add on Iranian Kurds: Their contentment in Iran is sky-higher than in Turkey, Iraq or Syria. That’s for a multitude of reasons, but mainly because Iran’s modern revolution embraces its many ethnic groups. An Iran without Kurds would not be Iran. This is common knowledge, and it’s a major thorn in the West’s plan for an independent (and quite regionally divisive Kurdistan).
However, it is worrying – but not unsurprising – to see Western media try to manipulate the recent ISIL terror attack in Tehran to fan the flames of the extremely weak Kurdish separatist movement in Iran. I would assume Tehran is prepared for this pathetic tactic from the West, but Iran is too unified and modern to succumb to this, Inshallah.
Thank you. Any thoughts about so many “troublemakers” seem to be heading to Idlib…ie Hezbollah permitted a whole bus load the other day to go there….HTS are the main protagonists in a power grab there…..,hopefully Deir Ez Zour is gonna be one big brew up for the nasties and al tanf usa coalition might be on the way out..Russian MP presence where they are might work but suppose they become collateral damage heaven forbid…..presumably Syrias recent protests to the UN have all been ignored there………
I believe the Idlib policy makes sense. Assad is making all kinds of “reconciliation” deals with the moderate opposition. If he manages to continue this he will at some point arrive at the point that all territory outside Idlib is held by the government with in many formerly opposition held areas some kind of deal.
That would leave the Idlib extremists in a delicate position. They can keep fighting – but the superiority of the government forces will at that moment be beyond doubt so that it would be a kind of suicide mission. They can resign to the fact that the rest of the country doesn’t want their stuff. Or they can retire into exile.
Good assessments on Kurdish /American role in Syria.
Yet, exactly the same assessments and predictions I wrote in a Saker comments section some 18 moths ago, on March 28 2016:
“But whatever this “wishful thinking” about Kurds in the historical northern borders of Syria suggests, it is also an absurd that Turkey, which is military mighty country, would peacefully look at such decision of Kurds south of the Taurus Mountains. Erdogan, or whoever be the Turkish leader would immediately launch a war of the huge proportions to keep the status quo of the current Turkish southern borders. This war would for sure engulf entire Syria and could probably drag in other countries too.”
Actually that happened much later and Erdogan launched limited offensive in Northern Syria , as I predicted.
“There is another fact that we must not overlook and forgotten: the Kurdish “federalization” declaration and Kurdish manifest of Democratic Syria” are nothing else than CIA written pamphlet served to Kurds in order to prepare Kurds to be the next USA proxy army in the region, once Daesh is defeated and US/Turkish / Saudi support for Daesh is so badly exposed.
If it is not so clear what are real intentions of Syrian Kurds let me remind you on hte manifest published in 2015 called “The Project of a Democratic Syria” by the “Movement for a Democratic Society, Rojava/Northern Syria”
Despite nice name this is the hatred filled pamphlet showing the reality and intentions of at least part of Syrian Kurds supported heavily by US intelligence services and US establishment.
The manifesto and Federalization declaration are noting but American plan B for the Middle East and in such light mentioned “silver lining” not only a dream and wishful thinking but it is also counter productive as the idea which actually stays in line with USA and it’s allies plans of partitioning Syria and redrawing the borders of the Middle East and as such it is very dangerous for the future of Syria.”
This is again accurate prediction which is now obvious to everyone.
If we can envision Syria a few months after the war ends, we could imagine that tiny pockets of leftover ISIS, AQ and al Nusra out in the desert.
But with elite forces of Syria, Russia, Hezbollah and Quds Force free from the then-ended war, there will be more than enough ways to eradicate all the terrorists.
Drones, missiles, air power would make mincemeat of the terrorists. Their battle style is to cluster, not unlike Taliban. They will be “signaling” by their behaviors that they exist. Local tribes will want them gone. I just don’t see, without them embedded in an urban setting lasting too long.
Their tactics would be to maraud, take hostages, and then ambush any rescuers. But, sector by sector, they will be liquidated. I also think that the PMUs of Iraq will be available to come across the border and pincer the Wahhabis.
The most dangerous area is where Israel can assist them, in the southwest.
But with Russian MPs, especially Chechens, security will be like it is in Russia. Now and then a gunfight. But most encounters, one-sided destruction of the Wahhabis.
Russia is going to be half the enforcement of national security for the Syrian government. The 50-year leases of bases and the population support for Russians will keep the operational necessity to maintain a whole and secure Syria. If the US resists leaving all its bases, there may be a confrontation decided by Kalibrs. Syria will be a object lesson for the US that this is not 1999.
Russia was able to come save Syria, unlike in Serbia. And they will cleanse the desert as a matter of practice.
read-somewhere-last night that Russian military in Syriabeing issued with Verbans ??? ie RF ‘manpads’….might be useful in Golan Heights….?
Forgive my ignorance.
What are the issues with kurds?
About all I know is they are us proxies.
If there’s one thing we know about the Outlaw US Empire’s will to attain a policy goal, it is tenacious as proven by the Cuban embargo and other very longstanding actions South of its border, such as Venezuela and Haiti. The goal to attain Full Spectrum Dominance–which is what Syria is all about–will continue until the Imperialist War Party within the Outlaw US Empire is destroyed–not just neutered. Only then will the world’s nations have a chance at peaceful development; fortunately, those nation’s are finally awakening to that salient fact.
Tulsi Gabbard votes ‘yea’ to H.R. 3364: Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act
Go ahead, check it.
She also voted for the 2014 sanctions against Russia. Also endorsed clinton. While she made some decent noises recently, she tows the line on the big picture stuff. This is as far as one can expect from the dem-rep scam and why the usa needs to get a real political system up with real representation. Both dems and reps have long been orchestrated dead ends as far as democracy is concerned and emphatically need to be sidelined by real political engagement.
First step would be prosecuting the israeli lobby, and eradicating zionazi influence in the media.
Just attempting to register the Israeli lobby as foreign agents got Jack and Bobby Kennedy killed.
Israel owns the US, as Ariel Sharon stated on October 3, 2001…
“every time we do something you tell me Americans will do this and will do that. I want to tell you something very clear, don’t worry about American pressure on Israel, we, the Jewish people control America, and the Americans know it.”
She’s also refused to endorse #UNRIG. Robert David Steele has called her a fraud, but I think that’s a little harsh.
Cynthia McKinney’s credentials are impressive but I would be cautious of Mr Steele. Robert David Steele is a strong Trump supporter and has stated to Jeff Rense that the purpose of his partnership with Dr McKinney is the goal of reelecting Trump in 2020. To quote Steele:
“this (Dr McKinney) is a woman who can deliver 50% of the black voters to Donald Trump if he will only give them policy outcomes”.
“..one of the things that she (Dr McKinney) and I are addressing, is that the American blacks, the original American blacks, can in fact be brought to the center in support of Donald Trump.”
Apparently he believes Dr McKinney will help deliver the black vote to Trump to offset any disappointed white working class supporters. The involvement of Dr. McKinney is more perplexing although she had encouraged voters to vote for Trump as well in 2016 despite her history with the Green Party.
See the following from YouTuber AmericanEveryman
I still have some hopes up for her. Since the resolution would be approved anyway, Tulsi would only have made a symbolic move, which probably would have ruined her chances for a future presidency, being framed as a Russian agent. That said, even as a future president, would she be able to drain the neocon swamp when Trump seems to totally have failed?
She could abstain. That would be symbolic in a good way.
Speaking of possible future presidents:
“Mark Zuckerberg appears to be building an army of presidential advisors. Is Zuckerberg preparing for a presidential run? The answer increasingly looks like “yes”. Of course, Zuckerberg denies everything.”
Great interview on Saker’s part. And good to see him get recognized by Sputnik. But there were two statements in the interview (by the Sputnik reporter) that shows just how far a “Russian” news service has accepted the Western MSN narrative. It is a disturbing sign,that it goes uncorrected by the Russian authorities.While Saker,rightfully called the jihadis “terrorists”. The reporter speaks of them as “militants”. The speech used in the Western media to avoid calling the jihadis terrorists. If Russians are doing that too now,there is a big problem. And secondly the reporter said “Will Daesh stop its activities in Syria or just go underground and continue its struggle, like Al-Qaeda did in Iraq following the US invasion? “. Which “implies” that there “was” Al-Qaeda “already” in Iraq. And they then just went underground. When as is well known,Saddam didn’t allow Al-Qaeda into Iraq. And Al-Qaeda only got a hold there in response to the US invasion. So once more the reporter “carried water” for the Western “narrative”. Something that a reporter working for a Russian state owned company should never do. The fact he/she did so is a very bad sign over how much the West has subverted the Russian press.Right under the nose of the Russian authorities.
Good spot, UB1. I noticed the al qaida in Iraq line, as well.
Though I still think the interviewer did a good job.
It doesn’t bother me so much to see ISIS or Daesh called militants, which they are if they are carrying arms and shooting at SAA/SDF/RF and others. When they set off a bomb in a civilian area, or massacre unarmed people, that is terrorism and the could be labeled terrorists as well.
I think it might be good journalism to label them as the least inflammatory, militant, rather than the most. We know who they are and what they are.
It does bother me, by comparison, to see civilians, or even tribesmen who have rifles, labeled as militant for the purpose of slaughtering them via Abrams tank, Predator drone, or any of the other indiscriminate means Hegemon uses. I think the least inflammatory label would be “armed civilians” which does not implicitly justify their killing.
You say “Al Qaeda only got a hold there in response to US invasion’.
I would rather say that Al Qaeda came there with the US invasion.
A slight semantical difference. :))
Жељко из Крајине
The last question was really interesting.However, I think IS has no future. At this stage, it plays role of convenient common enemy; attacked by all parties of the conflict, whenever they want to justify their involvement in the conflict. It has recently lost its leader, major cities, soon it would lose also means economic subsistence. IS does not pose any significant obstacle to integrity Syian statehood.
However, there are other such obstacles present – namely FSA/HTS and SDF. It is obvious that government has bound hands when dealing with them. Idlib province has been left alone for months, becoming a concentration dump of militants of various kinds. Government is even more constrained when it comes to SDF. I don’t see any chance of SAA gaining control of northern Syria anytime soon. US is the mightiest dog in the neghborhood, and they set the rules.
War’s outcome seems to be decided. That is – unless Turkey escalates its involvement significantly and eliminates the Kurdish control of Northern Syria. I don’t think US would oppose major Turkish action, regardless of all the tensions between the two countries.
Very good questions asked, and thoughtful, well reasoned answers in response.
I would like to see the Syrians push the Israelis out of the Golan Heights and reclaim their rightful territory after 50 years. Although that would likely lead to a major conflict.
Genie Energy, a Jewish owned company based in New Jersey with an affiliate in Israel, has been doing exploratory drilling in the Golan Heights and discovered a substantial oil reserve. The Strategic Advisory Board for Genie Energy consist of a who’s who of politicians, bankers and businessmen…