The First of Many Cauldrons Form in the Middle East — Tom LUONGO
The Syrian Arab Army with Russian air support not only retook the
important town of Khan Sheikoun in Syria recently, it did so in classic Russian
military style, encircling their enemies and cutting off their retreat.
In Russian military parlance this is
known as a cauldron.
will be the first of many such cauldrons the SAA and Russia complete as they
battle their way across Idlib and retake the province, now seven years under
control by Al-Qaeda linked militants who change their names and allegiances
like most people change their underwear.
But the real cauldron is forming not in
Syria but in Israel.
hardline expansionists, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, finally have
a US President completely committed to their side in Donald Trump. Trump has
altered the US policy of destroying Syria to destabilize Russia and keep
Central Asia chaotic into an explicitly MIGA policy – Make Israel Great Again.
Trump has tipped the balance in Washington
from just sowing chaos to thwart longer-term integration plans of Russia, China
and Iran into one in which Israel would finally get its wish to rule over a
fractious and subjugated Middle East.
every victory by the SAA Tiger Forces and Russian air force in Syria that
policy has slipped away inch by inch. The stronger Bashar al-Assad’s rule in
Syria becomes, the more the country is rebuilt and the
American/Israeli/Saudi/British support for Islamic extremists known in western
media as ‘moderate rebels’ becomes common knowledge the more pressure mounts on
their secondary allies.
were Qatar, Turkey, the UAE, France and Germany.
one extent or the other, over the past four years since Russia moved into
Syria, openly defying the US, all of those countries have pulled back their
support for the regime change operation in Syria.
last holdout is Turkey who, under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, continue to
play the two factions off each other to wheedle what was originally promised to
him – Idlib, Aleppo and Manbij – out of the ensuing chaos.
mendacity was on full display this week when he cut a security deal with the US
to occupy land east of the Euphrates River while at the same time tried to use
the deal he cut with Vladimir Putin for a demilitarized zone around Idlib to
resupply pet militants about to be encircled by SAA forces.
air support bombing the resupply convoy was a stern message to Erdogan that he
is not setting the tempo anymore in Syria and his time is up. Time to choose
sides or be allowed to wither on the vine.
would prefer Erdogan to stay in power in Turkey, but he has to balance his
expansionist goals vis a vis Syria with the realpolitik of his situation, which
is that without Chinese and Russia economic support Turkey collapses.
battle for Idlib will likely be less bloody than was originally projected
because Erdogan will have to abandon his dreams of it and settle for rupturing
the friendship between the Kurds and the US, which is the existential threat to
So, get ready for a replay of 2016-17
in the run up to the liberation of Aleppo. Systematic dismantling of the
Islamist forces in Idlib will occur now that Khan Sheikoun is in government
hands. Turkey will not risk open warfare with Russia over this. Erdogan’s
forces are already over-committed around the region.
forms the Western part of the cauldron around Israel. Once Idlib is
consolidated then the US base near the border crossing at Al-Tanf comes into
Iraqi government is furious with Israel for bombing an ammunition depot in
Baghdad recently and declared a no-fly zone over the country. Israel understands
how important the Shi’a militia, known locally as the Popular Mobilization
Units, are to securing Iraq’s independence from de facto US control.
And with Trump refusing the invitation
by his advisors, Israel and likely British intelligence, to begin open warfare
with Iran, Israel is feeling especially vulnerable given how quickly pieces are
falling into place to link Iran, Iraq and Syria.
then unveils its new anti-missile system
publicly, the Bravar 373, which boasts better performance than the
Russian S-300 with stealth detection capabilities. Not only does Iran enter the
global arms sale business but it also made an explicit threat to Israel that
its days of sending its planes around the region bombing everything it doesn’t
like will be over soon.
has to maintain its air force has control of the skies around the Middle East
and can openly attack targets at will. This helps the propaganda war here in
the US to win more support within the obviously captured House and Senate
Foreign Relations Committees as well as drum up support back home.
But it’s an illusion. The cauldron is
tightening. And with each incident like the last one the stench of desperation
Saudis have lost in Yemen. The Houthis have survived the onslaught and
Iran’s drones give them the capability to strike whenever and wherever they
want, threatening Saudi oil production.
has reopened the Albukamal border crossing between it and Syria for the first
time in seven years. And Tehran is working on improving highway connections
between Iran and Syria, to facilitate trade. This leads to terrestrially
breaking down Trump’s sanctions/embargoes on Iran and Syria.
supplies from both Iran and Iraq can commence from there now. And US
prohibitions on rebuilding Syria have zero support internationally.
to the source, two options for the pipeline are on the table – a new 1,000 km
pipeline running through Iraq into Syria, or repairs by the Iranian side to the
Kirkuk-Baniyas pipeline, an 800 km pipeline first commissioned in the early
1950s stretching from the northern Iraqi city to Syria, but whose operation was
stopped in 1982 during the Iran-Iraq War, and which was severely damaged by
airstrikes during the 2003 US invasion of Iraq.
estimated that the overall capacity of that pipeline would be about 1.25
million barrels of oil per day, which could theoretically account for nearly
half of the country’s pre-sanctions crude oil exports.
Plans like this wouldn’t be on the
table or discussed openly if there wasn’t confidence of them coming to
fruition. We’re at the negotiating stage of these pipelines between Iraq and
Iran. The US and Israel simply won’t be a factor now since Israel has
thoroughly alienated the current Iraqi government.
the cauldron around Israel is forming. With the Saudis in deep trouble, Egypt
refusing to go along with any of Trump’s plans – Arab NATO, the Kushner Deal of
the Century – the game board has fundamentally shifted against them.
Netanyahu bet the farm on Trump and Trump failed to deliver.
They were countered at every turn by patient and scrupulous opponents who read
the board better and didn’t respond muscularly to repeated provocations. They
let events come to them and waited for the moment of over-commitment.
Now the counter attack will commence, I suspect, with brutal