Washington’s past decade of Syria policy has been driven by fears of the so-called “Shia crescent” or Iranian land bridge which would conceivably connect Tehran with the Mediterranean in a continuous arch of influence.
– Tyler Durden
With events rapidly unfolding in Iraq and Syria, foremost among them the defeat of ISIS and the connection of Syrian and Iraqi national forces at the shared border, that land bridge has now been established for the first time in recent history.
Plans to undermine the Syrian government were manifest as early as the mid-2000’s, when Damascus was put on notice by the US that “you are next” after the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Indeed, this was so well-known and openly talked about in diplomatic circles that CNN’s Christian Amanpour directly informed Assad on camera that he was being targeted for regime change in a 2005 interview. She told him, “Mr. President, you know the rhetoric of regime change is headed towards you, from the United States. They are actively looking for a new Syrian leader. They are granting visas and visit to Syrian opposition politicians. They’re talking about isolating you, diplomatically, then perhaps a coup d’etat or your regime crumbling.”
The geopolitics driving the current Middle East war were framed and set in motion under the Bush administration, as Seymour Hersh reported in 2007:
To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has cooperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.
But now as 2017 comes to a close, the Syria-Hezbollah-Iran alliance appears victorious, and it’s the House of Saud and US-backed alliance that is fragmented and in shambles. And consistent with what Hersh predicted all the way back in 2007, the US has for years supported a jihadist corridor in Syria in order to “isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran).”
This week Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah has once again accused the United States and its allies in Syria of aiding ISIS. In televised remarks on Monday related to the recent fight for Albu Kamal, Nasrallah said, “The US helped Daesh as much as it could in Albu Kamal short of directly engaging forces that fought to liberate the town from Daesh.” He further accused the US of giving air cover to ISIS terrorists in Syria’s east, as well as facilitating their escape from advancing Syrian army forces.
But what is the truth behind what Nasrallah calls “the Daesh conspiracy”? The current geopolitics of the Syrian battlefield, and US policy and interests east of the Euphrates, in reality gives the US military every incentive to pressure the Syrian Army while at the same time allowing a Daesh escape – as even a recent bombshell BBC investigation confirmed. But to understand the intricacies of how US policy and strategy is playing out, it is important to chart the significance of the establishment of the historic “Iranian land bridge” which occurred this month.
Below is a dispatch authored and submitted by Elijah Magnier, Middle East based chief international war correspondent for Al Rai Media, who is currently on the ground in the region and has interviewed multiple officials involved in the conflict.
A US buffer zone in northeastern Syria and a land-bridge from Tehran to Beirut. Map source: Stratfor
Following the victory of the Syrian army and its allies over the “Islamic State” group in the town of Albu Kamal in the northeast of the country, the road has been opened for the first time since the declaration of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979 between Tehran, Baghdad, Damascus and Beirut and become safe and non-hostile to the four capitals and their rulers.
The United States tried to block the road between Tehran and Beirut at the level of Albu Kamal by forcing the Kurdish forces into a frantic race, but Washington failed to achieve its goals.
The Syrian Army along with allied forces (the Lebanese Hezbollah, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and the Iraqi Harakat al-Nujaba’) liberated the city, opening the border with Iraq at al-Qa’im crossing. ISIS militants fled to the Iraqi al-Anbar desert and east of the Euphrates River where US and Kurdish forces are operating.
The United States established a new rule of engagement in the east of the Euphrates, informing the Russian forces that it will not accept any ground forces (the Syrian army and its allies) east of the Euphrates River and that it will bomb any target approaching the east of the river even if the objective of the ground forces is to pursue ISIS.
Thus, the US is establishing a new undeclared no-fly-zone without bothering to deny that this can serve ISIS forces east of the Euphrates and offer the terrorists a kind of protection. Moreover, the US-led international coalition air bombing against ISIS has reduced noticeably. …