Events in the Middle East are developing with increasing speed and directly affect countries, primarily Syria and Iran, whose future is closely linked with the prospects for the development of the Eurasian space. Coalition forces led by the United States have struck a new blow against the Syrian pro-government forces. In Iran, armed terrorists attacked the parliament. Finally, 10 states have joined the unprecedented blockade of Qatar. Is there a connection between these events? The situation in an interview with "Eurasia. Expert" commented Professor NRU HSE Dmitry Evstafiev.
- The official version of the reasons for the coalition's attack on Syria is the refusal of pro-government forces to leave the conflict prevention zone. How realistic goals of the strike coincide with the official version of the coalition? Why did you need to hit Syria again?
- The last episode with shelling of a column of pro-government forces, probably paramilitary Shiite formations, the allied Syrian army, has two key sources.
On the one hand, the maneuvers of all the participants in the conflict, both the Syrian troops, and the Americans and the armed groups controlled by them, "rested" in certain limits - political, geographic and other. The agreement on conflict prevention zones is such a political obstacle. This barrier in this particular place - at the At-Tanf border crossing - ceases to suit both sides.
Both Americans and Syrians are trying to probe how far they can go in violating agreements. The Syrians, with the hands of satellite formations, are trying to feel how close they can get to at-Tanfu, for example, to exercise fire control over it. Americans - can they, without significant consequences, strike at Syrian troops, if necessary.
Moreover, it seems that nobody doubts that the Americans will need to strike at the Syrian troops. But while attempts to feel the limits of the possible are on both sides an emphatically cautious character. And the main factor here is Russia: some do not know whether Moscow will defend them in the event of escalation, others do not quite understand what the Russian response will be and whether it will be asymmetrical as usual or there will be a head-on collision whose consequences may turn out to be unpredictable.
On the other hand, in today's conditions of a sharp increase in the maneuverability of hostilities and the impossibility of more preserving the main potential of US-led Islamists in the "near-Palmer" zone, the Americans are faced with the question of where to withdraw these units, and preferably that part of the military-military potential of IGIL Forbidden terrorist organization - note "EE"), which can then be reformatted. And the direction to at-tanf, three months ago secondary, becomes a strategic corridor. Alas, this is the specificity of logistics in Syria.
- Will the US try to save part of the IGIL?
- To radical Islamism and the system of the "Arab Spring" for the last 7-8 years have invested too much effort simply to "reset", "reset". Especially considering that people who "ran around", starting with the events in North Africa even before Tunisia, will not go anywhere. And under certain conditions can move "not there", which is already partially happening. This potential is more advantageous to keep under control, directing periodically against enemies or simply those who in the region or even outside it are not going to obey.
Of course, IGIL will not save either the Americans or the Saudis exactly as Igil. But to reformat the remaining structures using those colossal "brainwashing" opportunities that the West has - quite. And the fact that the Americans and Saudis are aimed in Syria for political legalization, at least part of radical Islamists, it seems, is no longer contested by anyone.
- Should we wait for new coalition strikes in the near future?
- Yes, I would have prepared for this in advance. This is probably in the area of Rakki, where the Syrian troops are about to come to the line of contact with the Kurdish satellites of the United States and where progress, even at 5-7 kilometers in one direction or another, will be extremely important. The US attempts to prevent the advance of Syrian troops in Latakia are not ruled out. Of course, the Americans would very much like to get involved in the struggle for control over the "great Damascus", but they are still afraid of this.
And in general, given what the modern American administration is, we can very soon see a new provocation, such as another story about the use of chemical weapons or the discovery of some mass graves of the "victims of the regime," after which the Americans will significantly More powerful blow, moreover, it is precisely on the Syrian troops and much more powerful than what we see in the at-Tanf.
- Is it possible to talk about fundamental changes in the zone of the Syrian conflict after the events that have taken place?
"Contrary to the opinion of [Syrian President Bashar] Asad, who said that for Syria the worst is behind us, I believe that we are entering an extremely important, almost critical period, in the development of the situation in Syria. This period is the final consolidation of the framework of the military-force presence, which will be fundamental, not only for a peaceful settlement, but also for the subsequent process of re-establishing the Syrian statehood. Today it is a focal point for the application of all major military resources, all the accumulated military potential.
And to give up in an effort to capture as much space as possible and "miss a blow" now for Damascus would be akin to a strategic defeat. This will nullify all of his recent successes. Yes, and the successes of Russia, too, if we speak frankly.
Therefore, the hardest battles that are now taking place around Palmyra and in Deir ez Zor are absolutely central to the entire Syrian campaign. Both politically and militarily, considering that now the pro-American forces quite frankly release the most combat-capable IGIL units to the Syrian troops.
Syrians now need to withstand and disavow this upcoming "fist", although it is clear that it will be extremely difficult. But the difference between victory and defeat in the current confrontation can be enormous: control over the near-Palmar space, for which there is a struggle, is, after all, not just control over the oil and gas fields (although this alone is extremely important). This is the final consolidation of the claims of Damascus and personally B. Assad in order to preserve the unity of the country, which is of fundamental importance for him.
- The next aggravation of the situation around Syria coincided with the terrorist attacks in Iran and the unprecedented isolation of Qatar. Can we talk about some coordinated actions with the goal of reformatting the balance of forces in the region or is this a simple coincidence?
"We must be utterly naive in order not to understand that all the events of the last four days, not excluding the new awakening of the theme of" Russian hackers "that created the crisis around Qatar and very strange fluctuations in the oil market, are links of one chain.
Undoubtedly, we are dealing with a forcible attempt to launch a new process of reformatting the region, if one can say so, on the model of the "post-Arab spring".
As they say, this "Arab spring broke," carry the next one. And, believe me, it will be brought and, I'm sure, it will be even more destructive than the "first". The question is different: too many external forces and, above all, the United States have ceased to be interested in maintaining the political status quo in the region.
In Washington, it seems, is very seriously preparing for a confrontation with Iran, but there are also worried about penetration into the region of China, the strengthening of Russia.
This has already created great competition for the United States in their main product, which they sell in the region: a service (more often - visibility, but "consumers" learn about it too late) for military-force stabilization of friendly regimes and provision of military security guarantees.
And the trends, especially taking into account the inconsistent, obviously "on your mind" policy of Qatar, as the key "money bag" in the region, as well as the gradual global legalization of Iran aimed at strategic partnership with EU countries, were not in favor of the Americans. The situation in Syria is also superimposed here, where Washington managed to defend its significant positions for its counterparts, but this position is "at a minimum", nothing more.
Therefore, the situation and began to "break", and quickly, without even waiting a decent time after Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia. But now the main question is: the situation in the region of the United States and their closest allies, of course, swung, but do they have the resources to manage it? For me, this is still a big question.
- How will Russia and the Syrian government respond?
- A recurring situation, and a blow to the allies of the army of Bashar Assad is applied a second time, as a rule, leads to an escalation. Of course, from a tactical point of view, it would be more advantageous to demonstrate to the Americans the possibility of a power escalation. But on the other hand, the military situation is already complicated enough to create another additional hotbed of tension. Moreover, the "Qatari" situation is also developing.
In this sense, both Damascus and Russia, which largely determine the actions of Damascus against the United States, face a very difficult choice. And, probably, this time they will choose the option to "keep silent". But, here, after the third time it will be more difficult to keep silent. And this is a big risk, first of all, for Moscow, since it will be up to her to respond.