McMaster Out, Bolton In: Implications for U.S. Syria Policy?
Expect a Doubling Down on the American Euphrates Occupation Zone
On a more mixed note, the forced resignation of National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster removed an anti-Russian neocon leaker from the Trump White House, less than 48 hours after The Washington [Langley/Bezos/Deep State rag] Post received a likely McMaster leaked story about Trump being admonished by his advisers NOT to congratulate President Vladimir Putin on the Russian's reelection during a scheduled phone call. However, McMaster's replacement, former UN Ambassador John Bolton, is known as a pro-Israeli Likud and anti-Iranian fanatic.
Bolton's very recent advocacy of bombing Iran and preemptive strikes on North Korea's nuclear facilities scares even Congressional Democrats, for whom nothing short of Trump declaring war on Russia has proven sufficient since the Kremlin supposedly meddled against Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election. Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) denounced Bolton's nomination over his lies about Iraq WMD during the George W. Bush Administration and accused the President of forming a 'war cabinet'. Perhaps after so much posturing about waging Cold War 2 against the Russians from supposedly progressive and formerly anti-war turned globalist fake left rags like Mother Jones, the prospect of an actual war with Iran or North Korea is sobering the Democrats up.
The immediate implications from the Kremlin's perspective of a Bolton-led Trump national security team are uncertain, but are likely to include greater anticipated efforts to drive a wedge between Moscow and its ally in Tehran. Such moves from Bolton would include ordering U.S. Army backed forces to attack Iranian-advised Shi'a militias embedded with Syrian Arab Army (SAA) units, notwithstanding the recent warnings from Gerasimov that Moscow would fight back if its personnel were killed or injured in American strikes and Dunford's subsequent hotline diplomacy to reduce tensions.
Washington has already grabbed oil and gas fields east of the Euphrates, which would bolster arguments from Bolton, ideological allies like UN Amb. Nikki Haley and other Administration neocons to their nominal boss that an occupation can be maintained on the cheap. The goal being to deny Syrian natural resources to 'the Assad regime', and indirectly, its ally Iran.
Now that the chemical false flags planned to justify U.S. strikes amidst a build up of American naval power in the eastern Med and Gulf region appear to have been foiled, the end of the jihadist presence in Ghouta is likely to accelerate Washington's efforts to put more boots on the ground east of the Euphrates. The swift defeat of Kurdish YPG units that had previously been backed by Washington at the hands of the Turks around Afrin will give the Americans plenty of garrison duty manpower to work with, though the willingness of the Kurds to actually fight Damascus or pro-Iranian militiamen on behalf of the superpower that betrayed their brothers in Afrin remains highly dubious (and a major flaw in the neocons' plans for occupying eastern Syria indefinitely). Nonetheless, the build up at the base around al-Tanf in southeastern Syria close to the Jordanian border is consistent with a reported draw down of U.S. forces at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey and their relocation to Jordan and adjoining Euphrates valley Syria.
After Trump's recent phone call congratulating Vladimir Putin, and his defense of it on Twitter from hysterical MSM attacks, the State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert predictably condemned Russia as abetting chemical attacks by Assad and denying its role in the [Ukrainian executed false flag] shoot down of MH17 in 2014 and the recent poisoning of Sergey Skripal in the UK. Thus the contrast between the Commander in Chief and the visible as well as deep state determined to push bogus accusations against Moscow continues. Russia policy, to the extent that Moscow backs Tehran and its support for Assad in Syria, is almost certainly going to lead to clashes between Trump and Bolton.
Green and Non-Green Busses to Idlib:
Thousands of Jihadis Agree to Safe Passage Exit With Their Families from Ghouta
The reason for the expected direction of U.S. policy to reinforce the Euphrates Valley occupation is obvious: the 'moderate' militants and not moderate Al-Qaeda terrorists have failed miserably. Although they launched one last big barrage that claimed dozens of killed and wounded in government held districts around Damascus, the terrorists are out of time, weapons and options. They can either hold out in the 20% of the pocket they formerly controlled and likely die in the rubble, or lay down their weapons and join their comrades and their families shuffling to the buses waiting at government checkpoints. Necessity is also governing American options in northern Syria, where Turkish forces skirmished with the SAA in artillery duels this week -- but haven't yet demonstrated resolve to press into government controlled territory near Aleppo.
Is the U.S. Set to Agree to a Joint Occupation of Manbij with the Turkish Army?
According to experienced Mideast correspondent Elijah J. Magnier, the Russians are deconflicting mediators in talks between Damascus and Ankara. That takes a Turkish advance on Aleppo's outskirts off the table for now -- an advance some of the 'Free Syrian [now fully revealed as the neo-Ottoman mercenaries they were all along] Army's backers had hoped to see. For now President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is riding a wave of popularity in Turkey, achieving relatively easy gains on the ground against Ankara's PKK linked YPG enemy while using Syrian manpower to seize Afrin. The next target for the Turkish Army and 'FSA' units is Manbij, where U.S. troops were photographed in town as part of a rumored joint occupation.
The Turkish side has been telling its media for many days that the Americans would concede to a joint presence in Manbij, rather than fight a NATO ally for it. That appears to be the case, despite denials about a U.S.-Turkish deal from CIA sock puppet WaPost columnist David Ignatius...and the complication that some hotheads in the 'FSA' ranks had previously embarrassed their fans in Washington by vowing on camera to kill American 'infidel' occupiers. The Turks are hedging their language to some degree, perhaps to allow the U.S. side to save face, but it's clear the Kurds are being thrown under the bus and paying dearly for their foolish misplaced faith in Washington.
Moscow is also unlikely to do much about Manbij after previously establishing observation posts among Syrian government forces near the town and just a few kilometers from American troops. The Turkish Army is likely to advance even more rapidly against demoralized YPG units around Manbij than it did versus Afrin, which the Kurds had vowed to defend until their leadership abandoned the city -- just as the Iraqi Peshmergas fled oil-rich Kirkuk months earlier.
As Magnier writes they are turning into the biggest losers of the Syria War, more so than the failed jihadis sponsors in Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Whether Damascus will be able to make the Turks leave from territory their irredentist government has openly claimed its intent to repopulate with resettled non-Kurdish Arabs and Turkomen as part of Turkey's pre-1920 borders, is another question.