The Duran, Sept 5, 2016
First we got the news that no deal could be reached between Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama on the war raging in Syria. Now reports coming out of Reuters say that a possible solution to the Syrian crisis may be in the works.
Russia needs to proceed with caution. Last time deals were made Obama used the time-outs to re-arm his ‘good guy’ terrorists.
Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama did not clarify what a deal will look like, but they did announce that progress to clarify "the remaining gaps” had been made and directed Kerry and Lavrov to meet as early as this week to hammer out a deal. As Reuters reports, the main sticking point is:
Russia has insisted that it cannot agree to a deal unless opposition fighters, backed by the United States and Middle East allies, are separated from al-Qaeda linked militants they overlap with in some areas.
And therein lies the rub. The crux of the Syrian war. Russia holds firm to its position that the United States, after five years of supporting "moderate rebels” in Syria, finally reveal to the entire world who these guys are, and separate them from the bad terrorist forces known as Al Nusra, aka Al Qaeda, aka ISIS.
Problem is, Obama has no clue who the "moderate rebels” in Syria are, or could be. What was a name branding/marketing trick to get the American public on board for another U.S. war/regime change operation in the Middle East, has turned into another exceptional American foreign policy disaster.
Obama’s first and foremost priority in Syria was and is regime change… arming Al Qaeda/Al Nusra (and a little ISIS) in order to achieve those aims was not a major concern for the Obama White House.
Obama’s concern was fooling the American public into believing that he was not funding Al Qaeda and ISIS, but rather was weaponising a rag tag band of democracy loving underdogs, fighting to win freedom from a brutal dictator. The ridiculous script began to fall apart when the "freedom loving rebels” began chopping off little boy’s heads, and running over people on the streets on Nice.
Enter Russian President Vladimir Putin to pull the curtain back on Obama’s charade, as Russia began bombing all terrorists, even the "good guy” terrorists funded by America.
So here we are, September 4-5, 2016 at the G20 Summit in the Chinese city of Hangzhou. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said:
The meeting was longer than planned. Syria was first and foremost discussed, and Ukraine. After that Obama and Putin talked one-on-one.
Work will continue.
Judging from a few pictures released during Putin and Obama’s talks, the Russian President appears confident and committed, Obama looks confused.
On Monday in Hangzhou, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry continued their talks on the sidelines of the summit. Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement:
The discussion continued on cooperation mechanisms between our countries, in order to eliminate terrorists on Syrian territory; this should help develop a political solution to the conflict in Syria, which has lasted for many years.
Reuters says it has obtained a copy of a letter from Washington’s Syria envoy, Michael Ratney, dated September 3, to the armed opposition, which lays out some of the ceasefire terms:
"It would oblige Russia to prevent warplanes from bombing areas held by the mainstream opposition, require the withdrawal of Damascus’s forces from a supply route north of Aleppo, and focus on the delivery of humanitarian aid, unhindered by warring sides, to the city’s population,” the agency quotes the letter as saying.
"In return, the United States would coordinate with Russia in fighting against al-Qaeda, it said, without elaborating,” the agency adds.
"The Syrian government and Russia were also to avoid bombing areas where more moderate insurgent groups are operating close to Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, previously the al Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front,” it says.
… President Obama’s policy toward Syria has barely budged in the last year and shows no sign of change for the remainder of his term. The White House has faced little pressure over the issue, in part because Syria is getting scant attention on the campaign trail from either Donald J. Trump or Hillary Clinton.
… The lack of substantive political debate about Syria is all the more striking given that the Obama administration is engaged in an increasingly desperate effort to broker a deal with Russia for a cease-fire that would halt the rain of bombs on Aleppo.
Those negotiations moved on Sunday to China, where Secretary of State John Kerry met for two hours with the Russian foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, at a Group of 20 meeting. At one point, the State Department was confident enough to schedule a news conference, at which the two were supposed to announce a deal.
But Mr. Kerry turned up alone, acknowledging that there were still "a couple of tough issues” dividing them. "We’re not going to rush,” he said, "and we’re not going to do something that we think has less than a legitimate opportunity to get the job done.”
… In October, Mrs. Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, proposed enforcing a partial no-fly zone over Syria to create safe zones for civilians in places like Aleppo. She has said little about the plan in recent months, and people familiar with her thinking say she now acknowledges that the complexity of the battlefield — with Russian planes flying raids — would make it far more difficult.
Mrs. Clinton, these people said, would be open to other measures to ground Mr. Assad’s Air Force. They did not offer details, but officials in the Obama administration, including 51 State Department employees who signed a "dissent channel” memo on Syria, have pressed privately for the United States to carry out airstrikes to hit Mr. Assad’s planes on the ground and their runways.
… And yet, Mrs. Clinton’s aides say, Syria remains a priority for her. At a private fund-raiser in the Hamptons last week, Mrs. Clinton delivered, unprompted, a lengthy policy prescription for what to do in Syria, including a gentle critique of the Obama administration for not pursuing her original proposal of a no-fly zone, according to a person who attended and described her remarks on the condition of anonymity.
…In the meantime, Mr. Kerry is persevering with his diplomacy, while the situation in Syria is growing ever murkier. A particular point of contention is the central role that the Nusra Front has played during the pitched battles against the Syrian military. The Nusra fighters are commingled with rebels supplied by the C.I.A. and other Arab nations. The Russians have used the presence of Nusra fighters to justify airstrikes around Aleppo, saying the city is an important front in its campaign against terrorism.
The fact that the Nusra Front was not a party to past cease-fire agreements, allowing the group to continue its attacks on Syrian government troops during the fragile pauses in violence, has given added fuel to the Russian argument.
The "marbling” of the various rebel groups with more extremist groups has been a sticking point in the negotiations. American officials insist that they give no support to Nusra fighters despite the group’s name change and split with Al Qaeda…
Russia angles for deals on Ukraine, Syria at G20 summit, by Ben Aris, published in bne IntelliNews, September 5, 2016