Strategy Watch issued a report entitled, the “Syrian Strategic Report” in which it monitored the most prominent features of the developments east of the Euphrates from Oct. 9 to Oct. 17, 2019, in light of the military operation launched by Turkey and then later suspended.
Strategy Watch said that Russian President Vladimir Putin and American President Donald Trump had worked “hand in hand” to complete a deal for northern Syria. The study said: “The deal included enticing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to carry out a military operation against the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which paved the way for the American withdrawal and the move by Russian forces to take over US custody.”
It added: “There was in fact an agreement to carry out a limited operation of about 100 kilometers, which could be stopped if Moscow or Washington objected. Ankara then expanded the military operation and suggested it would include all of northern Syria. But the Turkish operation did not occur suddenly. Rather, it was preceded by the SDF’s Self-Administration withdrawing their forces and destroying fortifications, filling trenches, and taking down sand bags from the cities of Ras al-Ayn and Tel Abyad on the Syrian-Turkish border, based on instructions from Washington at the end of August. These were the two areas that Turkish forces then specifically advanced towards on Oct. 9, 2019.”
The report also said that the agreement between the United States and Russia became clear during the Security Council session on Oct. 10, 2019, when Washington and Moscow derailed a proposal to condemn Operation Peace Spring put forward by five member states in the European Union during a closed Security Council session.
How Assad’s forces entered Manbij
Strategy Watch addressed the “barter agreement” between Washington and Moscow that included American forces withdrawing from the area east of the Euphrates in exchange for Russian forces mobilizing to take control over it and preventing Turkey from setting up the planned “safe zone”, with both of these strategic aims achieved.
The report added: “When Turkish forces mobilized on the border of the area agreed upon (100 km between Tel Abyad and Ras al-Ayn), American forces began to withdraw. Russian forces then moved to fill the gap and take control over ten American bases, which fell into the hands of regime forces under the Russian umbrella. This coincided with the arrival of the American delegation to Ankara to persuade Erdogan to stop the operation, which had achieved both Washington and Moscow’s aims.”
The report said that: “With that, Ankara had achieved a partial aim of breaking up the SDF in the border areas and putting an end to its ambitions of establishing a self-governing area. Moscow was able to restore a larger portion of the area to regime control. Washington achieved its aim of withdrawing its forces without notable losses and pushed the SDF to make an agreement, which it had tried to settle with the regime over the last few months to no avail.”
“Peace Spring” in exchange for Russian escalation in Idleb
The Strategy Watch report, which was based on testimonies and views from security sources, said that it was “not possible to separate the ongoing events east of the Euphrates from the collapse of the situation west of the Euphrates, where Russian forces have mobilized to carry out a new, wide-ranging operation in Idleb, with the Turkish president speaking about a plan to resettle refugees in northern Syria at a cost of 27 billion US dollars.”
The report said that Iran, the Assad regime’s ally, was the biggest loser in the Turkish military operation east of the Euphrates, especially given that Russia and Turkey, “did not make any efforts to consult Iran with regards to Operation Peace Spring. The Iranian position was limited to contradictory statements and carrying out undeclared military exercises for its forces along its border with Turkey. However, it did not attract the slightest attention from Washington or Moscow or Ankara, or even Kurdish forces in Syria and Iraq.”
It added that “The protests that broke out in Baghdad and Beirut and the secret diplomacy carried out by Ankara with Washington and Moscow has put Tehran in a very difficult position. The Idleb operations have confirmed Iran’s fears that it has become isolated by its allies” in Syria and the Middle East.
The report also reviewed the political performance of Trump regarding the operation east of the Euphrates, saying that it had caused confusion inside the United States and had made Washington’s allies indignant about the American policy.
It also noted that Russian forces have taken control over ten former American bases in the Euphrates.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.