By Ollie Richardson
With Russia currently trying to negotiate with the US a beneficial-for-all deal over Aleppo, Erdogan is giving Putin the leverage he needs to turn the tide in this war of attrition.
In the Syrian war, Sunday 4th September, 2016, is an important date to take note of. After the US-backed “moderates”, alongside their Jihadists friends, were able to break the Syrian Army’s encircling of Aleppo, creating a 1km corridor for weapons and general aid supplies to flow in to the trapped terrorists, the motivation and stamina of the Syrian Army was being called into question. The district of al-Ramouseh became a new hot spot for the Russian Airforce, who bombed the “1070” apartments and the Artillery Base mercilessly.
At this juncture, the US was in the driving seat, Russia was struggling to coordinate its airstrikes with the Syrian Army, Hezbollah, and IRGC’s offensives. At the request of Iran, Russia upped its airstrikes in Aleppo, but the results were limited in nature due to the entrenched positions of the Jihadists. Enter Putin’s ace – reconciliation with Turkey. After taking Jarablus, Turkey would move west, claiming most of Manbij in the process. As of September 4th, Turkey has now captured Azaz, creating a 90km line between Jarablus and Azaz and cut ISIS completely off from Turkey – all under the guise of “fighting ISIS”. Whilst ISIS’ territory is shrinking fast, operation Euphrates Shield was never about preventing the formation of a Caliphate, but about preventing the formation of the Kurdish state of Rojava.
Also relevant is the thwarting of the merger between Ahrar al-Sham and many other groups – in his latest interview, Muhaysni confesses that the merger “isn’t going as quick as he would have liked.
The Turkish X-factor, compensating for the fatigued condition of the Syrian Army, has allowed the ring around Aleppo to be reinstated courtesy of a Hezbollah offensive in the aforementioned academies. 1000 Jihadists died trying to break the siege, but now Putin can show Obama his unbeatable hand, which surely will top his measly 2-of-a-kind (“Moderate” of Diamonds + Al Qaeda of Spades).
Putin’s plan for peace, if successful, will enable the safe passage to safety of residents in Aleppo, and will disarm the “moderates” in east Aleppo. The US had already proposed a deal which would “demilitarise” both the Syrian Army and the “rebels”, but Russia waved it off, and instead waited for the circle around Aleppo to be reinstated. That has now happened, so eyes are now fixed on what concessions Lavrov and Kerry can offer each other. The Obama administration is now on borrowed time, and Russia is keen to secure Aleppo before the US elections in November. If the siege of Aleppo can hold this time around, it could well be game over for US’ dreams of partitioning Syria.
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