After six years of constant conflict between the great powers in and around Syria, the US, Russia and Turkish military leaders have gathered in Antalya, Turkey to discuss how best to coordinate their operation to drive the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham/Levant (ISIS/ISL) from Raqqa. Discussions also include operations in Iraq. Some are calling this summit a potential game changer, but that really depends on whether the new game is any improvement to the situation.
This high-level meeting included General Staff, Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar, Russian Chief of General Staff Gen. Valery Gerasimov, and Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford.
On the surface, it’s certainly good to see the top US, Russian and Turkish brass at the same table. Granted, this development is a direct result of the change in government in Washington, even while back home Capitol Hill is engulfed in a fit of anti-Russian hysteria where any overture or bilateral meeting between a US and Russian official is being billed as a prelude to treason. Indeed, no military dialogue with Russia would have been possible under President Obama, who seemed to be married to his Administration’s stated policy of regime change in Syria and arming and supporting Sunni extremist militant groups, many who are designated as terrorists, in Syria – both policies that are vehemently opposed by Moscow.
According to one Turkish official, speaking on condition of anonymity, the results of this trilateral meeting “could change the whole picture” in Syria. Will it be a change for the better?
That all depends of course, on the sincerity of Turkey, which, since the very beginning of this conflict in 2011, has been the number one facilitator for the war across its southern border, by allowing its country to provide safe haven to tens of thousands of terrorist fighters, as well as maintaining continuous supply lines in and out of Syria.
For nearly six years, Turkey has allowed its border city of Gaziantep to be used as the main ISIS supply center for terrorist commerce, including the trafficking of stolen goods, antiques – and also children and human organs too. It’s also the central terrorist hub for ‘opposition fighters’ – a place for recruiting, housing, training, dispatching and providing medical triage for terrorists wounded in Syria.
All this has been done under the watchful eye and supervision of NATO member state Turkey. A number of dubious western-funded ‘NGOs’ like the White Helmets are based in Gaziantep. Likewise, the joint US-NATO military facility at Incirlik Air Base is nearby, which has been used for various special training, equipping and deployment operations involving ‘rebel’ fighters. Without Turkey’s facilitation in these matters, the Syrian War might have ended years ago, with countless lives saved.
In addition, despite hollow denials by the government, Turkey has provided ISIS its main financial lifeline by trafficking in oil, stolen by ISIS from Syria, and laundered through Turkey for sale on the open market.
Meanwhile, the US military has begun its roll-out of ground assets into Syria. You wouldn’t know it if you were watching CNN though, who kept mostly busy covering ‘Women’s Day’ this week, along with labouring over idiosyncratic aspects of Obama-Trumpcare. This week reports suggest that the Pentagon just deployed a 3rd Ranger US battalion based out of Fort Benning, Georgia… inside of Syria. You would think this would be headline news, if nothing else but to ignite what is left of the liberal anti-war movement in the US who should jump at the chance to attribute this latest military action to their symbol of evil, President Donald Trump. Even FOX News passed-up on the patriotic scene of an armoured convoy of M1126 Stryker Armoured Vehicles flying Old Glory while parading through the northern Syrian countryside.
The US forces were heading for the outskirts of Manbij where they’ll be joined by Kurdish YPG forces, camped there under the latest US-sponsored militia banner de jour, a confab known as the ‘Syrian Democratic Forces’ (SDF). If the US media kept mostly quiet e about this deployment, aside from a few casual media and web references, then that’s probably what the Pentagon wanted.
Here’s where the tension lies: the United States may also have sent in ground assets as show of force in support of its allies the YPG (Kurdish People’s Protect Units in Syria). This is a potential spat between the two NATO member states – which is a major problem for Turkey. The Turkish government considers them a terrorist organisation, an appendage to its nemesis the Kurdish PKK. It’s also a problem for Russia too, insofar as Russia is attempting détente with Turkey by coordinating military operations as they pertain to fighting ISIS in northern Syria, and with the eventual joint siege of Raqqa.
It gets worse – in addition to the Rangers armoured regiment, on Thursday the US also announced that additional US Marines from an amphibious task force have also been deployed to Syria from their ships in the Middle East, setting up artillery positions in range of Raqqa. So, that’s it – Trump is now busy putting American boots on the ground inside Syria, and meanwhile the US media and liberal establishment are still too busy obsessing over baseless Russian Hacking conspiracy theories. If there was ever a moment in history that demonstrates just how useless the Fourth Estate in America has become, this is that moment.
According to one Turkish official, this US alliance with the YPG would be an unacceptable obstacle to Turkey’s ambitions in Syria:
“… It appears that the U.S. may carry out this operation with the YPG, not with Turkey. And at the same time the U.S. is giving weapons to the YPG,” the official said.
Reuters also reports:
“Ankara has been pressing the United States to change its strategy for fighting Islamic State in Syria by abandoning the YPG and instead drawing on Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebels to retake Raqqa. Turkey views the YPG and its political affiliate the PYD as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is waging an insurgency against the Turkish government.”
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan maintains that his military’s next target is Manbij, but the only problem is the town is already controlled by the SDF. To make matters worse for Turkey, after battling with Turkish-backed FSA rebels west of Manbij at the beginning of March, the Manbij Military Council (SDF and related militias) quickly struck a deal, apparently brokered by Russian officials, to hand over front-line villages to Syrian government control – effectively preventing the area from coming under Turkish control. This move has reportedly incensed Erdogan who hoped to keep the area under Turkish control. The situation is already complex, and therefore highly risky for the diverging interests of US and Turkey. Suffice to say, if there’s no serious coordination between all parties, not just the US, Russia and Turkey, but also the Syrian army and its allies – then the chances of success drop dramatically. That said, Manbij could easily end in tears for everyone.
Back in August 2016, western media blotted-out another important story – when Turkey invaded Syria. As usual, crickets from CNN, FOX and the rest of the press corps. At the time, Turkey was supposedly working with “Allied Syrian rebels” backed by both the United States and Turkey – to seize the ISIS-held border town of Jarabulus in Syria, allegedly to cut off ISIS’s last supply intoTurkey. Looking at Turkey’s longstanding interaction with ISIS to date, this seemed improbable. The “allied rebels” working with Turkey included the ‘Free Syrian Army’ and Faylaq al-Sham; both are known radical militant terrorist groups whom the West spuriously lists as “moderates.” This terrorist joint force then proceeded to march through the streets of Jarabulus flying their “Syrian Independence Flag” (the infamous green, black and white flag adopted by the Syrian ‘opposition’). Shortly after Turkey’s illegal invasion, it was reported that ISIS had actually left the town a week or so earlier indicating that it was most likely tipped-off in advance (by whom?) and had evacuated the border town up before Turkey’s ‘surprise’ invasion. A possible cover story for this was that US airstrikes ‘drove ISIS out.’ Bear in mind, Turkey is doing all of this inside Syrian territory, without any invitation from Damascus.
In terms of fighting ISIS in this part of Syria, only the Kurdish forces have a proven track record of fighting – and winning – against ISIS. Compare this to Turkey’s matador-style relationship ISIS, which does not have a track record of effectiveness, and who could blame them, afterall, Turkey is host enough of them within its own borders. The last thing Ankara would want to do is to get on the bad side of its house guests. If anything, Turkey seems to favour ISIS, particularly if they prove useful in achieving Ankara’s own containment objectives against both the Kurdish YPG and the Syrian Army, but also in assisting with Turkey’s other stated objective which is the ouster of Bashar al Assad.
It should also be noted that in August 2015, PKK leader Cemil Bayik based in Iraqi Kurdistan, told the BBC that Turkey is protecting ISIS by attacking Kurds. Based on the events on the ground over the last 18 months, and not the rhetoric of the Erdogan government, this statement appears to be factually true.
In grand Ottoman style, Turkey is calling their regional conquest “Operation Euphrates Shield“. Turkish military claims it is fighting terrorists, but all evidence suggests that it is undermining the Syrian government forces at every turn.
Czech-born American journalist Andre Vltchek recently spoke to one resident who aptly described the farce along the Turkish-Syrian border:
““Jarabulus is under the control of the Turkish military. Just imagine: the Turkish government doesn’t allow Syrian President Assad to send fighter jets nearer than 3 kilometers to the border, but it allows ISIS to come as close as 3 meters. We should have never interfered with the domestic policy of Syria, and there would be peace!”
One thing that Turkey and the US agree on is to freeze out the Syrian Army and its allies as much as possible, presumably, so they can broker the eventual carving-up of this part of Syria into semi-autonomous ethnic cantons (sowing the seeds for a future territorial dispute, in the great colonial tradition) and other hackneyed constructs like ‘Safe Zones’ and certain refugees camps which will certainly grow out out of the eventual multi-nation attack on Raqqa. How does Damascus feel about the Turkey, the US and its ‘Coalition’, alongside Russia – all making plans that will most likely end up in Syria losing significant chunks of its territory and natural resources? In that sense, Russia is playing a key role here, and can possibly act as a mediator between Turkey and Syria.
Like the operation to retake Mosul in Iraq, the operation to retake Raqqa in Syria will likely result in at least half of the city’s 200,000 population fleeing towards Turkey, and so the US and Turkey would like nothing more than to play the saviour for the global media, taking credit for “saving countless lives” and looking after all of those poor ‘victims of war.’ Already in Mosul, the US-led Coalition is responsible for killing hundreds of civilians through its airstrikes, and who knows how many more from artillery and crossfire. Considering the relative success of the retaking of East Aleppo by the Syrian Army, in conjunction with the Russian military and its ground partners, Lebanese Hezbollah militias and Iranian Special Forces, liberated a large urban area from four and half years of terrorist occupation under Al Nusra Front and its assorted ‘rebel’ (terrorist) affiliates like Arar al Sham and others – it would make sense to bring in the Syrian Army, Russia and their ground partners into the fold to help defeat a common enemy – ISIS, but that is not what is happening. This is a segregated affair.
Whatever Turkey’s interests are in this story, one thing is for sure it is not publicising them to the world. Divergent interests and fundamental goals might result a serious fracture in how this delicate operation will be negotiated and executed, and this could mean more unintended consequences, not just for Turkey, US, Russia, and let’s please not forget Syria, but for the entire region, and possibly the world. Turkey will most certainly use this opportunity to take control of that which it believes is its rightful booty, and use this result to help reshape the region as part of its own ‘Great Middle East Project’, Ankara’s overlay to the US-NATO blueprint of a similar name.
Below is a segment from earlier this week with Press TV, where we discussed some of the dynamics at play with the current trilateral strategy negotiations between Russia, Turkey and the US:
Why Turkey insists on being in control of a situation that it has played a founding role in creating – is beyond analysis at this point. It seems that events and geopolitical outcomes may have overtaken any possibility of adjudicating the crimes of the sponsors of this horrific war against Syria. If that’s the case, then this will be an even greater tragedy because, as was the case with NATO member states’ sponsorship of extremist brigades in Kosovo, no one will be held to account, which increases the chances of another repeat in the future.
For the United States and Trump, it’s still all about “Defeating ISIS”. How they square this with Turkey’s regional hegemonic designs may determine how the final act of this tiresome epic eventually plays out.
An American-born writer, global affairs analyst, Patrick Henningsen is founder and Executive Editor of 21st Century Wire and is a regular guest commentator for RT International and host of the successful SUNDAY WIRE weekly radio show broadcast globally over the Alternate Current Radio Network (ACR), and on AM terrestrial radio in the US with ‘Patrick Henningsen LIVE’ on Independent Talk 1100 KFNX in Phoenix. His work has appeared in a number of international publications including the UK Column, The Guardian and Consortium News.
NOTE: As turned out, I had to go to a Russian news agency, RT’s video outlet RUPTLY in order to first see images of this US military deployment in Syria. If we had to rely solely on the US media, we’d all be extremely under-informed (it would be great to see someone make this point at the upcoming March 20th US Congressional Hearings on alleged ‘Russian meddling’ into the US elections).
Copyright © Patrick Henningsen, 21st Century Wire, 2017
TRUMPDOM: The Curious World of Trump’s Foreign Policy Explained
21st Century Wire
It is barely seven weeks since Donald Trump became the 45th President of the United States. Perhaps too early to figure out the details of America’s foreign policy during his presidency. However, some broad contours of his policies are taking shape, which may provide pointers to what he is likely to do in the next four years.
These pointers are based partly on what Trump said during his election campaign and partly on what has happened since he became President. Actually, quite a lot has happened in the last seven weeks or so, including considerable turbulence in US domestic and foreign policy.
Before proceeding further, it may be useful to recall that Trump’s victory in the Nov. 2016 elections was unexpected. Most opinion polls and the mainstream media (MSM) predicted victory for Hillary Clinton, who was the candidate of the US Establishment and the “Deep State” (DS), which includes the military-industrial complex, the intelligence agencies, the MSM, Wall Street, and the Jewish Lobby.
The DS is a permanent, unelected, group of institutions, lobbies, and individuals which wields enormous power from behind the scenes and continues to do so irrespective of who is the President and which party controls the US Congress. It is driven by the quest for money and power, among other things.
The present DS began taking shape almost thirty-five years ago when Jimmy Carter was President. There was a DS before that too, going back to the 1950s, which came into existence after the Second World War. However, it was much less powerful and entrenched than the present one. John F. Kennedy tried to defy it but did not succeed. Some believe he paid for it with his life.
The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 speeded up the consolidation of the current DS, which found that there was nobody to restrain the military power of the US. America could do what it liked. The 1990s also witnessed the emergence of a group of individuals known as the “neoconservatives,” or “neocons,” who believed in using the American military for global domination, irrespective of international laws or institutions, such as the UN.
The first military adventure of the neocons was the illegal NATO bombing of the then Yugoslavia in 1999, which was carried out without UN approval. It resulted in the disintegration of the country. Russia was too weak to counter it militarily. Having gotten away with it, the US and NATO embarked upon a series of wars in the next fifteen years, aimed at “regime change” in countries whose leaders were not US allies.
Thus, the US and its NATO allies invaded Iraq in 2003 to overthrow Saddam Hussain, bombed Libya and killed Qaddafi in 2011, intervened in Syria in 2011 to oust President Bashar al-Assad, effected regime change in Ukraine in 2014, and are currently involved in a very destructive war in Yemen along with Saudi Arabia.
The US has therefore continuously been at war during the last fifteen years. Some of these wars are still continuing, with no end in sight. It is estimated that the US has lost more than 5000 soldiers and spent around US$ seven trillion to fight these wars. Tens of thousands of US soldiers have been injured, straining the social and economic fabric of the country.
But these wars have also greatly benefited elements of the Deep State, who have made enormous amounts of money by selling weapons and other material needed to fight wars. “Follow the Money” is a useful dictum to identify these elements, for whom continuous warfare has become a way of life. And to sustain that, a powerful enemy is required.
It is here that Russia comes in. Since Putin came to power in 1999, Russia has slowly but steadily nursed its economy and military back to health. Russia’s resurgence has upset the neocons and other members of the DS, who had gotten used to unfettered use of American military to invade countries and overthrow regimes, as mentioned above.
It was not a coincidence that Russia, and Putin personally, were strongly demonized by the DS during the US presidential campaign in 2016. Russia was accused of all types of subversion, including hacking the Democratic National Committee emails, hacking the elections themselves, and supporting Trump. Hillary Clinton’s campaign theme was that Trump was a Russian agent.
What is noteworthy is that not a shred of credible evidence was provided by Clinton or anyone else in the DS to support the above allegations. What was provided included fake news, unsubstantiated dossiers, and rumours. They failed to impress the voters, and Trump won the election by a comfortable margin.
But the matter did not end there. Humiliated by the defeat of its candidate Hillary Clinton in the election, the DS has launched a campaign to undermine Trump’s presidency, by promoting Russophobia and by portraying Russia and Putin as a threat to US security.
It was necessary to provide the above background in order to interpret Trump’s foreign policy moves since he took over as President. His policies relating to some major countries and issues will be analyzed.
First, Trump’s approach to Russia. During his election campaign, Trump had repeatedly said that he would work to normalize relations with Russia. He implied that Russia was not an enemy of the US, and could become a partner to find solutions to problems in certain countries.
In particular, Trump said that the US and Russia could jointly fight the ISIS and other terrorist groups in Syria. He suggested that since President Assad was also fighting the ISIS in Syria, dislodging him, or “regime change,” was not a priority.
Trump’s attitude to Moscow flew in the face of what Hillary Clinton and the DS had been saying for a long time—that Russia was an enemy which had to be deterred by overwhelming military power. Trump’s detractors, therefore, could not accept his Russia Policy. They had to make sure that he did not abandon their hard line towards Moscow.
They did so by targeting Gen. Michael Flynn, Trump’s National Security Advisor (NSA). On 9th Feb., the Washington Post carried a story claiming that Flynn had spoken on the phone to the Russian Ambassador to the US before Trump’s inauguration, and discussed US sanctions against Russia with him. It was also claimed that Flynn lied about the conversation to Vice President Pence.
Under intense media and Congressional pressure, Trump asked Flynn to resign, which he did on 13th Feb. The Deep State had claimed its first victim and shown Trump what it could do if he deviated from its Russia Policy. Though Flynn had not violated any US law and done nothing to compromise US security, he had to resign because Trump could not stand up to the DS and buckled under pressure.
But that was not the end of the matter. On 2nd March the Washington Post carried another story stating that Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions had spoken twice with the Russian Ambassador in 2016 when Sessions was a Senator and failed to disclose the same during his confirmation hearings.
This time Trump defended Sessions and said he had done no wrong, which was true. Trump even went on the offensive stating that the really important issue was the illegal leaking of secret information by US intelligence agencies to the media, which he asked the FBI to investigate. Trump also alleged on 4th March that President Obama had ordered wiretapping of his phones in Trump Tower ahead of the 2016 election.
After the attack on Flynn, Trump had realized that the final target of the DS was Trump himself. Flynn’s removal was the opening salvo, and the attack on Jeff Sessions was the second. Trump reluctantly accepted that he had to fall in line with the agenda of the DS on Russia, Syria, Ukraine, and other issues. Otherwise, the DS might try to remove him by impeachment, on charges of treason and conspiring with an enemy state.
Trump’s changed approach to Russia was reflected in his appointment on Feb. 20 of General H.R. McMaster as NSA, in place of Flynn. McMaster sees Russia as a “hostile revisionist power,” and does not support normalization of relations with that country. The appointment of McMaster has been widely seen as an attempt by Trump to placate his enemies in the Deep State; it also reflects his apprehension that if he does not do the bidding of the DS, he might end up like Flynn.
Trump has also proposed an increase in the Pentagon’s budget by ten percent, amounting to about US$ 54 billion. That is equal to around eighty percent of Russia’s entire military budget in 2015. The US expenditure on defense is about nine times that of Russia. These figures speak for themselves in the context of Russia’s purported threat to the US.
It is, therefore, safe to predict that Trump will abandon his objective to normalize relations with Russia, at least in public. He will depict Russia as a threat to US security and act accordingly. Thus, in the recent past, US troops have been deployed in Poland, Bulgaria, and Romania, while NATO troops have been sent to the Baltic states—all on Russia’s periphery. The White House has also asked Russia to “hand back Crimea to Ukraine.”
Second, US relations with China. Trump raised Chinese hackles by speaking on the phone to the Taiwanese President soon after he was elected. China protested vigorously, eliciting a dismissive reaction from Trump, who said there was nothing wrong in receiving a congratulatory phone call from the Taiwanese President. China saw Trump’s action as undermining the US’s “One China” policy.
During his confirmation hearings, US Secretary of State Tillerson said that China’s activities in the South China Sea were not acceptable to the US, which will respond if China violates international law in that area. That cannot have pleased the Chinese.
However, in the recent past, Trump has climbed down by reaffirming the US’s “One China” policy and avoided making statements that could annoy the Chinese. He seems to have grasped China’s importance globally, as well as the massive US economic stakes in that country.
Nevertheless, it would not be surprising if US-China relations witness turbulence during Trump’s tenure in office. China is also a designated enemy of the US Deep State because that helps increase the Pentagon’s budget. The more the number of US enemies, the better for the DS.
Third, Mexico. Trump had repeatedly promised during his election campaign that he would build a wall along the US-Mexico border to reduce illegal immigration from that country. What’s more, he had also said he would ask Mexico to pay for the wall. Another issue that he had raised was NAFTA, which, according to him, was hurting the US economy, and needed to be scrapped.
After assuming power Trump continued to repeat what he had said about the US-Mexico wall. This angered the Mexican President, who cancelled a scheduled visit to the US in end-January 2017. After that, Trump sent Secretary of State Tillerson and Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly to Mexico on 23rd Feb. for damage control and normalization of relations. It is safe to say, however, that US-Mexico relations under Trump will continue to witness turbulence because Trump is serious both about the wall as well as NAFTA.
Fourth, Israel. In his approach to that country, Trump is proving to be even more pro-Israel than Hillary Clinton, who was the candidate of the Jewish lobby in the US. Trump’s Israel Policy seems to be driven by his son-in-law Jared Kushner, an Orthodox Jew, whose wife Ivanka, Trump’s daughter, converted to Judaism before marrying Kushner. During his election campaign, Trump had said that he would move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Washington in mid-Feb. 2017 to meet Trump. After their talks, Trump said that he would accept whatever the Israelis and the Palestinians decided between themselves— either a two or a one-state solution to the Palestinian issue. This was a significant departure from the official US and UN position on the issue—a two-state solution based on the land-for-peace formula.
By adopting the above position, Trump effectively washed his hands off the Israeli-Palestinian issue, leaving it to the Israelis to do whatever they liked, and abandoning the Palestinians to their fate. He has also sent a team of US officials to Israel to examine the feasibility of shifting the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as promised by him.
It is likely that during his presidency Trump will allow Israel to do what it wishes in the region, especially regarding the Palestinians, Syria, and Iran. That cannot be good for regional security.
Fifth, Iran. During his election campaign, Trump had repeatedly expressed his anti-Iran feelings and criticized the Iran nuclear deal engineered by Obama. On 6th March, Trump imposed a 90-day ban on travel to the US by Iranian nationals. As things stand, it would be safe to say that during his presidency, US-Iran relations will come under strain. His approach to Iran will also affect US policy in Syria.
Sixth, Syria. After becoming President, Trump has spoken about setting up “safe zones” in Syria which Obama had resisted because he did not want greater and direct US military involvement in that country. Trump has said that Syrian refugees should stay in “safe zones” in Syria, rather than migrating to Europe or America.
If Trump insists on setting up “safe zones” in Syria, significant numbers of US troops will have to be deployed in the country, in addition to the hundreds of US special forces already present in seven or eight bases in northern and eastern Syria. That would also increase the chances of a deliberate or inadvertent confrontation between the US and Russian forces, who are already present in the country.
Seventh, the European Union. Trump has taken steps to reassure the EU that the US commitment to NATO remains strong, though he insists that NATO members should contribute two per cent of their GDP to NATO’s budget. Whether he would be able to enforce that remains to be seen. Under Trump, US relations with EU are unlikely to be as close and warm as they were during Obama’s presidency. It is no secret that EU members would have been happier if Hillary Clinton were elected.
Eighth, immigration. Trump has linked his policy on immigration to the prevention of terrorism in the US. On 6th March, Trump signed an Executive Order banning travel to the US for 90 days by nationals of six Muslim-majority countries—Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. Ironically, the US has been responsible for launching wars and destabilizing three of these countries—Libya, Syria, and Yemen. The travel ban from these countries could not be more hypocritical and unjust.
International Trade and Globalization
Ninth, international trade and globalization. Trump has promised to implement an “America First” policy which may clash with globalization and free trade. Soon after taking over, he scrapped the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and blamed NAFTA for migration of manufacturing jobs to Mexico. Trump’s top priority during his tenure would be to fulfill his promise of bringing manufacturing jobs back to America. If, in the process, free trade and globalization are undermined, so be it.
Finally, US-India relations. While campaigning, Trump spoke positively about India. The Indian diaspora in the US, particularly some Hindu community groups, organized fundraisers for Trump. He was quoted as saying: “ I am a big fan of Hindu and India. Under the Trump administration, we are going to be even better friends. In fact, I would say…we are going to be the best of friends. There won’t be a relationship more important to us.”
However, Trump’s protectionist approach to trade may pose some problems for India, particularly regarding the H-1B visas, which are used by Indian software companies to send technical personnel for jobs in the US. It is possible that Trump may reduce the number of the visas or impose more stringent rules to obtain them. India has conveyed her concerns to the US side through various channels, and cannot do more than wait and see what Trump finally does. But it seems clear that he will give high priority to relations with India.
This is how Trump’s foreign policy looks at the moment. It is still early days, and things may play out differently. Only time will tell what actually happens.
Niraj Srivastava is a former Ambassador of India who has served in several countries including Syria, Libya, Saudi Arabia and the United States
READ MORE TRUMP NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire Trump Files
The Debate – US Syria Deployment
[ Editor’s Note: This was a good show to catch a guest slot on, as we have been spending a lot of time on the fast moving Syrian War. When things are moving like they are now, it is easy to miss key clues in the blur of what is happening.
As VT readers know we have been on pins and needles hoping that the Turks would not be so stupid to think they were going to fight their way through to Manbij, driving the Kurds out, when their main forces were fully engaged in trying to encircle Raqqa north of the Euphrates and cut the supply road to Deir Ezzor.
For Turkey to open a new front on the Western Kurdish territory border would be like a diversion attack to help out Daesh. But we saw US Special Forces and Russian military MPs deploy to Manbij quickly, closing that door.
The SAA has been clearing the territory east of al-Bab to Lake Assad quickly, because it was lightly held other than Deir-Hafer, which they bypassed Patton-style to avoid getting tied down with a siege there.
If I were running the Syrian war, I would be willing to make some tradeoffs to keep the military success moving along, as the more territory and population that Assad has recaptured, the stronger position that he and the Syrian army will be in with the political talks with the opposition.
The failure of the West’s strategy was failing to recognize something that I clearly saw on my first trip there in June of 2014 as an election monitor. Assad and the army were ONE. The people knew that; and they knew that, except for Assad and the army suffering huge losses while holding back the barbarian hordes, the head choppers would have been all over Syria.
The Syrian people are going to vote Assad and the army to rule over them because they saved them from the Balkanization they know had been planned for them. The opposition is going to get crushed in the next election, and the more the UN monitors it, the better they will be, so no one can claim it was rigged… Jim W. Dean ]
– First aired … March 09, 2017 –
When it comes to the war on Syria, the crown glory would be the takeover of Daesh’s self-declared caliphate Raqqa. Turkey wants to be that force to gain that glory, for it would elevate Erdogan to superstar status practically. But that won’t come easy. The situation has gotten even more complicated, with the U.S. confirming that it’s sending 400 additional troops to Syria.
In this debate, we’ll discuss the intricacies involved behind the push to takeover Raqqa, and the possibilities of a military engagement that may involve Turkey, the US-backed SDF forces, Syria and Russia.