By Aram Mirzaei for The Saker Blog
Last night, Washington together with its British and French vassals launched an attack on Syria after days of threats and speculation. Initial reports seem to indicate that over 100 missiles were fired into areas of the Damascus and Homs provinces. It was expected that the strikes would occur before the weekend and the Syrian military had been placed on high alert on Friday night in anticipation of these strikes.
As I mentioned weeks ago, Moscow seemed to be standing firm in its resolve to prevent Washington and its vassals from attacking Syria and trying to change the course of the war, while Washington has placed itself in a position where it cannot back down anymore, unless it wants to hurt its own reputation on the global stage. U.S president Trump chose to embarrassingly take to twitter and threaten Russia with “nice, new and smart” missiles, while U.S ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley put up an act at the UNSC meeting, worthy of an Oscar. These pointless outbursts aside, Washington was mostly looking to show the world that it still is a relevant player in the Syrian war. Of course, whatever Washington does, the Europeans will hop on board, even with Trump in office, even though Washington has not presented a single shred of evidence to back its claim, even when they know that this move will only serve to strengthen terrorism in the country. This shows how weak the European regimes truly are.
Last week, the Iranian, Turkish and Russian presidents met once more in Ankara to discuss how to move forward with the Syrian war that has been dragging on for over seven years now. All in all the meeting reaffirmed the answer to the question of who’s in charge in Syria while it also shows how irrelevant Washington is being considered these days. The three leaders issued a joint statement where they “rejected all attempts to create new realities on the ground under the pretext of combatting terrorism and expressed their determination to stand against separatist agendas aimed at undermining the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria as well as the national security of neighbouring countries”.
The realities that Washington refuses to admit is that it can no longer make any difference on the ground in Syria. There are no more “moderate rebels”, no more ISIL, no more Al-Qaeda and now with Turkey’s intervention in Afrin, no more Kurds either that can potentially change the game. Washington has no strategies left in Syria and are only looking to hit back at Moscow for humiliating them through a mix of master strokes of diplomacy and a highly effective military campaign, leaving Washington side-lined in Syria.
So what happened last night then? The fact that they launched the attack hours before the OPCW probe was about to start in Douma, indicates that Washington has something to hide. According to preliminary reports, U.S together with its British and French allies launched over 100 cruise missiles, targeting Damascus and Homs. The same reports indicate that they didn’t hit anything of significance whatsoever and the Russian Ministry of Defence stated that 71 of these cruise missiles were intercepted by Syrian Air Defence. No political institutions were hit, no Iranian or Hezbollah personnel, and of course no Russian personnel were even remotely in danger. What they seem to have targeted are a few empty bases and warehouses, which clearly indicates that Washington was well deterred by Moscow and Tehran’s threats (I will explain this soon). So why did Moscow allow Washington to fire these missiles then? The answer is simple: because Russia is a responsible player in the international arena, while Washington is filled with a bunch of children with too powerful toys to play with. Washington and its allies knew they would be hitting empty bases as the Syrian military had moved many of its assets to Russian bases several days before, this was about a “show of strength” to these complete idiots.
Moscow did its utmost to avert a dangerous escalation of the situation, despite warning that it will respond to Washington’s aggression, this is evident if we look at what happened right the day before last night’s strikes. Moscow had warned that it will down any missiles targeting Syria which coincided with several traditional U.S allies stating that they will not join in on the attack on Syria, including Germany, Italy and Canada. The relatively few U.S allies willing to join in on the latest round of aggression based on bogus charges shows that Washington’s allies are losing their resolve and that only Washington’s closest lapdogs stood by their side when faced with a potential standoff with Russia.
The fact that Moscow still didn’t reply to Washington’s aggression when push came to shove, disappointed many, but I argue that they fail to see beyond the rhetoric offered by Washington. Moscow isn’t known for bloating and posturing like Washington and its vassals do, but the truth is that the outcome of Washington’s futile aggression is the result of a successful Russian-Iranian deterrence strategy along with pragmatic diplomacy. While Russia had stated that it would engage any missile launched at Syria, some reports indicated that Tehran had informed Moscow that it would respond “harshly” if Israel were to take part in any kind of attack or intervention, this information was later passed on to Tel Aviv.
Meanwhile, Russia maintained several times that the lines of communication with Washington was still open, and Macron declared he wanted to intensify the dialogue on Syria in order to “de-escalate” the situation, only hours before the strikes began. We don’t know what the leaders of these countries said to each other exactly, but the only logical explanation to this outcome is that they must have agreed to a compromise to de-escalate the very dangerous situation that had developed the days before. This compromise allowed Washington to save face while Moscow would not respond to Washington’s symbolic attack on empty facilities. It is easy to think that Washington humiliated Moscow by striking Syria and with Moscow opting not to respond, but it is Moscow that has been humiliating Washington, not only last night or last week but since it entered Syria in 2015. Since then, president Putin’s successful Syria policy has managed to tame Turkey, side-line Washington and help the Syrian Army become a fighting force again.
So what happens now? In this crazy war where over a dozen countries are involved, your guess is as good as mine, but one thing remains as clear as it was last week after the Ankara meeting: Washington has utterly lost the war in Syria. Their resolve is shattered, and they have now proven that they indeed do fear Moscow’s military might, or they would have actually struck something of value to prove a point.
But Washington will not stop its fight here. Syria and Iran are too much of a problem for them to back down, ever.