According to the legend, Midas' father, Gordios, is a poor villager, who came to the Phrygian city with an ox cart and was declared king by a prophecy. After the new king is proclaimed, Gordios tied the ox cart to the temple of the Phrygian God with a knot from the cranberry branches. The node is famous throughout the region, with the rumour that the person who will untie this node will dominate all of Asia. Alexander the Great tried to untie the knot when he came to the city, but he could not. He drew his sword with arrogance and cut the knot. He died at the age of 33 on the eve of the conquest of the Persian Empire and the domination of Asia. This untimely death is interpreted as the punishment of Alexander acting arrogantly instead of wisely untying the Gordian knot.
Today, to understand the situation in Idlib, it is necessary to go back in time. Perhaps not to mythological times but the early stages of the Syrian war. Erdogan acted to take his share from Syria which was weakened by war while his "close friend" Assad transformed into "enemy" Assad.
Everyone will remember the Syrian maps of the times when the civil war was at its height. The black regions represented the Islamic State, the red regions were the forces of Assad, the blue regions were the Free Syrian Army and the small jihadist organisations, and the yellow regions referred to the Syrian Democratic Forces. Erdogan provided financial, military, and diplomatic support to the organisations that formed the Free Syrian Army and other jihadist groups such as Ahmar al-Sham, Jaish al-Islam, and the Sultan Murad Brigade to pull his share from the war. At this point, Turkey took the position as the third guarantor of Astana talks besides Russia and Iran as the representative of these organisations.
"Red" and "yellow" spreading on the Syrian map
After YPG grabbed a slice of history with the Kobane resistance which drew the attention of the whole world, the Syrian-Turkish border line was cleared from the Islamic State with the support of the International Coalition. While the territory controlled by the YPG expanded in the direction of Raqqa, Assad scored a major victory with the regaining of Aleppo as the Syrian government began to regain lost fronts with the involvement of Russia in the war.
During the war, Turkey could not persuade the U.S. to join a coalition with their elements of the Free Syrian Army and other jihadist organisations which are in coordination with Turkey to fight against Islamic State. Erdogan watched the advance of the SDF with great dissatisfaction.
At this point, the military operations of the Syrian state in the Aleppo and Hama regions were seen as a great opportunity for Turkey. Erdogan, who agreed with Putin, ensured that the jihadists in Aleppo were convinced to evacuate the city, and arranged the transfer of jihadists with buses to Idlib which is under Al Nusra's control.
Thanks to the agreement, Erdogan "got permission" for the Euphrates Shield operation including in the Al-Bab and Jarablus regions, which would cut off the Kurds' connection between Afrin and Manbij cantons. This operation was very critical for Turkey, as it would prevent the Syrian Democratic Forces from controlling all of the Turkey-Syria borders. Turkey could keep itself in the game in Syria by creating a corridor from Turkey to Syria.
Putin was happy that the jihadists had been moved to Idlib for "annihilating later" because the transfer of the jihadists from Aleppo was a chance to concentrate on more strategic points that should be taken back from Islamic State, a relatively stronger enemy.
During the Euphrates Shield operation preparations, Erdogan carried some of the jihadists transferred to Idlib to the Azez region through Turkey by using the Antioch Cilvegozu Border Gate and Kilis Oncupinar Border Gate. Turkish forces were able to take control of the territory from Turkey's Kilis to Syria's Aleppo in a short time.
When the war is nearing the end: "Black" is about to run out, now new target is "blue"
The downing of the Russian warplane by Turkey and the diplomatic-economic crisis with Russia in its aftermath seriously damaged the relationship between Turkey and Russia. Erdogan, for his part, refused to admit that he lost the initiative in Syria. Erdogan thought that he still had a say over Syria taking into account the jihadist organisations deployed in Idlib and the territory Turkey controls after the Operation of Euphrates Shield. However, Erdogan, who is involved in the war in Syria to "stop the Kurds" and take his share from Syria, seems to be unable to succeed, just like Alexander. Idlib is the clearest example of the situation. Erdogan, who is aiming to follow "one step backwards, two steps forward" like a Janissary band even if he cannot run at full gallop in Syria, moves one step forward and goes backwards by a long chalk.
Let's try to explain the situation in Idlib without naming the groups fighting each other or specifying their political position, in order not to create any confusion. When Erdogan transferred the jihadists to Idlib and then carried them to fight in Al-Bab and Jarablus under Euphrates Shield operation, he thought "that takes care of that".
In the Astana talks between Iran, Turkey, and Russia, Idlib and the territories controlled by the jihadist groups other than IS and Al-Nusra were planned as "de-escalation zones", and the question of who controlled them was to be postponed. However, the Syrian-Russian-Iranian trio plans to not recognise the jihadist groups, and ensuring that they can get rid of these organizations just after taking back the control of the strategic points in Syria. Subsequently, there was a race between US-led coalition and Russia-Syria-Iran-backed forces in the territories to be recaptured from IS. The most striking example is Deir al-Zor. The city is divided into two by the two coalition armies, much like Berlin after World War II.
Now, when the war against IS nearing its end, Russia and Iran pressured Erdogan to clean Idlib from Erdogan's "old friends". While "enemy" Assad is transforming back to "friend" Assad for Erdogan, he has started fighting for Syria's sovereignty and territorial integrity. Of course, this is not a simple forced operation. Erdogan is planning to get a visa to Afrin- the Syrian Democratic Forces controlled city- in return for clearing Idlib. To succeed in his goal, he is shuttling back and forth between Tehran and Moscow. On the other hand, Russia and Iran have not given the green light to Erdogan for Afrin because Putin wants to hold the Afrin card as a bargaining chip against Syrian Democratic Forces.
The other side of the fighting forces in Syria, the United States, is also very disturbed about the Idlib operation. Just one day after the operation was initiated in Idlib, the U.S. imposed restrictions on visas from Turkey. With the S-400 air defence systems bought from Russia and current cooperation attempts with Iran, escalating tensions peaked with Idlib.
The Turkish media presents the Idlib operation as an example of the heroism of the Turkish army. However, it is unlikely that Idlib will end like a heroic tale because Idlib borders Syria's coastal cities Latakia and Tartus. Russia has plans to transfer the oil and natural gas of Syria and the region through a pipeline from these two cities to Europe via a route outside of Turkish territory. For this reason, the inevitable end for Turkey will be to surrender Idlib to Assad after it is cleared from jihadists. There is almost no chance that Erdogan's strategy in Idlib will succeed. Now, he is trying to persuade Al Nusra and other jihadist organizations of his plan using little "stimulating" attacks. He wants to collect the jihadists around his plans with as few losses as possible and to continue his existence in Syria. However, even if a part of Al Nusra agrees with Erdogan, there is a great backlash against the occupation of Idlib. It seems that the operation will not be completed without Turkey entering into a major battle in the city. When the operation is completed, Idlib will be handed over to Assad’s forces. If we think that the dreams of attacking Afrin have not been rejected just yet, the situation seems underwhelming for Erdogan.
Moreover, if Al Nusra being a widespread organisation in Turkey is considered, it is very likely that a war in Idlib might come to bite many cities of Turkey.
Erdogan, whose short-term plan is to break the dominance of the Syrian Democratic Forces in Afrin, seems unable to do so.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday said that he hopes a ceasefire will be observed in Afrin, in reaction to Turkish threats to attack Afrin in northern Syria. "As for the situation in Afrin and Syria overall ... We are seeking full compliance with the ceasefire agreements," Lavrov said. It's crystal clear that Russia is not fully convinced about abandoning the Kurds.
Putin firstly got the jihadists out of his way with the help of Erdogan and is now using the Turkish Army to clear Idlib from jihadists. Turkey bought the S-400 air defence systems from Russia as a goodwill gesture which created tensions in Turkey's relations with the U.S. and NATO. In return, Turkey only regained its right to sell tomatoes to Russia. Idlib became the last straw, and Turkey took its place alongside Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Chad, North Korea and Venezuela as countries on which the United States imposed travel restrictions.
Erdogan’s vow to one day pray in Damascus’ Umayyad mosque ended up with Erdogan entering the Syrian war as Alexander once did -- swaying his with anger and arrogance to untie the knot. Now, his hands are hog-tied in Idlib. Even if not as massive as Alexander's dreams, Erdogan was planning to get "his share" in the Middle East motivated by his dreams of neo-Ottomanism. However, Alexander lost his life in the 15th year of his ruling without accomplishing his dreams. Erdogan has started to make his calculations of how to hold power in his hands in the 15th year of his rule by taking the least amount of damage from the war in Syria that he got Turkey into because of his neo-Ottoman dreams.
WEST KURDISTAN (SYRIA) – 17 Jan 2018 – MESOP – Coalition spokesman Col. Ryan Dillon: We are not operating in Afrin” – Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has extended Turkey’s threat against Kurdish militia, speaking with reporters after a conversation with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at a summit in Canada. Çavuşoğlu indicated that Turkey might not only move against Afrin in the northwest but also the city of Manbij in eastern Aleppo Province, held by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.The Foreign Minister framed the warning as “precautions” against the Kurdish militia YPG.The US military has indicated that it will not defend the Kurdish YPG militia from any Turkish attack on the Kurdish Afrin canton in northwest Syria.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan — angered at US plans for a 30,000-strong border force including the YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces — said over the weekend and again Monday that the Turkish military will remove “terrorism” in Afrin.
A Pentagon spokesman, Maj. Adrian Rankine-Galloway, told Turkey’s Anadolu News Agency that the US-led coalition is not involved with the YPG in the Afrin area: “”We don’t consider them as part of our ‘Defeat ISIS’ operations, which is what we are doing there and we do not support them. We are not involved with them at all.”Baghdad-based coalition spokesman Col. Ryan Dillon said, according to Anadolu, “We are not operating in Afrin. We are supporting our partners in defeating remaining ISIS pockets along the Middle Euphrates River Valley [in northeast Syria].”The coalition’s Public Affair Office was non-committal, in an e-mail to Al Jazeera English: “It would be inappropriate and irresponsible to speculate on hypothetical situations. “What we can tell you is that the international coalition is resolved to train, equip and support our SDF partners to attain the lasting defeat of ISIS.”
The US created the SDF in autumn 2015, providing it with special forces, armored vehicles, and arms to defeat ISIS in northern and eastern Syria. Turkey considers the Syrian Kurdistan Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its YPG militia to be part of the Turkish Kurdish insurgency PKK.The coalition’s Public Affairs Office said on Tuesday that there is no problem: Security forces are internally oriented and do not pose any threat to our coalition partner and NATO member, Turkey. Furthermore, they do not pose any threat to any other country in the region,.
These internal forces are focused on preventing the flow of terrorists across borders, thus bringing more stability to the region.
Turkey’s head of armed forces Gen. Hulusi Akar said at a NATO meeting in Brussels on Tuesday that Ankara “will not allow an extension of the PKK to be given support and armed under the guise of being an ‘operational partner”. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan emphasized the message in a phone call to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, later declaring, “NATO! You are obliged to take a stand against those who harass the borders of one of your partners.”
Ενώ η πολιτική απόφαση του ΡΚΚ για συμμαχία με τις Η.Π.Α είναι όντως απαράδεκτη και στρατηγικά καταστροφική και για το κίνημά του και για τον κουρδικό λαό, ενώ η συμμαχία των Κούρδων του Ιράκ με τις Η.Π.Α και το Ισραήλ είναι όντως απαράδεκτη και στρατηγικά καταστροφική για τους ίδιους, και την ηγεσία και τον λαό, παρατηρήστε ωστόσο στο παρακάτω κείμενο τον "σοβαρό" Άραβα φιλο-χομεϊνιστή και φιλο-ρώσο αναλυτή πόσο χυδαίος ρατσιστής και κακοήθης είναι απέναντί τους.
Παρατηρήστε πως ο σωβινιστής Άραβας χαίρεται με το ενδεχόμενο να εγκαταλειφθούν οι Κούρδοι τής Συρίας από τις Η.Π.Α (και το Ισραήλ) και να πέσουν στα νύχια του Άσσαντ, του Ιράν, της Ρωσίας, και στο τέλος στα ματοβαμμένα νύχια της Τουρκίας του Ερντογάν.
Αυτή την άθλια χαιρεκακία, και αυτό το ελεεινό ρατσιστικό μίσος το μοιράζεται με πολλούς αριστερούς "αντι-ιμπεριαλιστές" της δύσης.
Όλα αυτά: και η απόφαση του ΡΚΚ και το αντικουρδικό μίσος των Αράβων Τούρκων Ιρανών καθεστωτικών/θεοκρατοεθνικιστών και η πολιτική της Δύσης συνολικά (Ε.Ε, Η.Π.Α και Ισραήλ) και η πολιτική της Ρωσίας, δεν έχουν καμία σχέση με την φιλία των λαών, την ελευθερία, την ισότητα, την αλληλεγγύη.
Πάντως δεν είναι οι Κούρδοι οι μοναδικοί υπεύθυνοι, ωθήθηκαν και ωθούνται σε τραγικές επιλογές, χωρίς την πραγματική βοήθεια καμίας αριστεράς ή χωρίς την αληθινή στήριξη κάποιας άλλης μορφής κινήματος.
Οι δε "αντι-ιμπεριαλιστές" που χαίρονται με την κατάπτωσή τους είναι οι χειρότεροι όλων.
Για τους "αλληλέγγυους" και κατά φαντασίαν αναρχικούς που πήραν και το όπλο άνευ όρων για να συμμετέχουν σε εκστρατεία υπό την αεροπορική κάλυψη των Η.Π.Α, και έγραψαν και το όνομα της φαντασιόπληκτης ομαδούλας τους στους τοίχους της Ράκκα, για να έχουν τις ψεύτικες δάφνες των αγώνων και των λαθών άλλων έτερων και εντελώς άσχετων ανθρώπων, έχω να πω πως πραγματικά έχουν τον οίκτο μου, αλλά "αθωώνονται" λόγω ανοησίας.
Το τραγικό πλαίσιο της Μέσης Ανατολής είναι κατά κάποιο ομοιωματικό τρόπο σχετικό με τα πολιτικά αδιέξοδα της ζωής μας "εδώ", τα οποία δεν πρόκειται να λυθούν ούτε μέσω της ανοησίας ιδεοληπτικών "αντικρατιστών" που αξιοποιούν το αδιέξοδο του κουρδικού αγώνα για να εκσπερματώνουν ιδέες ούτε μέσω της ανοησίας των "αντι-ιμπεριαλιστών" αλλά σίγουρα ούτε από τα ίδια τα κράτη.
It is clear today the US forces will stay and occupy the north-east of Syria where the Kurds of al-Hasaka and Deir-Ezzour, along with Arab tribes, are in control.
Washington declared the formation of 30,000 proxies to “defend the borders” of this newly declared “state within a state”.
The question is: can this US occupation last for very long?
And this question poses another, crucial, one: can a Kurdish “state” survive?
There is no doubt the US doesn’t want to leave Syria and let Russia extend its presence and control, as long as it there is a possibility of Washington disturbing and diminishing Moscow’s influence in the Levant.
By declaring itself an occupation force and therefore its will to form a “proxy state”, the US position justifies (to itself only but not to the American people, nor to the world) its presence for as long as it sees fit until the time comes to abandon the Kurds and leave them to their destiny.
The US is mainly using as an excuse,the Iranian presence on Syrian territory and the US obsession to limit the control of Tehran over Damascus.
There is no doubt that the US forces can look after their interests in Syrian occupied territory and prevent any regular force from advancing. However, the safety of its soldiers depends on the milieu these are based in, in this case an environment which is totally hostile all around it and within it.
Attacks against US forces and their Kurdish proxies are not at all excluded.
This is when the US will have to re-think about the necessity of its presence in a newly occupied territory, so far from home and where American lives can be lost for little return and little benefit to US national security.
Iran has long experience in combatting US forces in the Middle East, where Iraqi groups, sponsored and trained by Iran, managed to inflict substantial damage and loss of human life during the US occupation of Iraq in 2003.
And much before that, when the Islamic Republic was very young, in 1983, pro-Iranian groups hit the US Marines in one of the biggest attacks against these forces who –illegitimately – were engaged in the Lebanese civil war.
Of course, the US forces have also gained their own experience in fighting non-state actors.
Nevertheless, this experience shall not protect it from serious damage, which is likely to force its withdrawal sooner or later.
The US project of occupation has many holes.
The 30,000 Kurdish forces men are expected to:
-Protect the borders of Qamishlo to Ya’rubiya-al bu Kamal, facing the Syrian Army and its allies.
Damascus has already rejected the US occupation forces and declared the Kurds collaborating with the occupation forces to be traitors.
-Protect the borders of al-Hasaka, Ain al-Arab, Tel Abiyad, Manbij with a Turkey that has declared war on the Kurds and threatened to destroy them and at all costs prevent a state on its borders. Ankara will not stand idly by, watching a Kurdish state unfold.
On an almost daily basis, the Turkish president RecepTayyeb Erdogan threatens to invade Syrian-Kurdish controlled territory and bomb areas in the bordering provinces.
-Protect the long borders with Iraq where the Popular Mobilisation Units are ready to offer any assistance to any group (apart from ISIS) willing to remove the US forces from the Iraqi borders, particularly when the ISIS pocket remaining is right on the Syrian-Iraqi borders.
Iraq – despite its control of its borders – is very discontented to see ISIS on the Syrian side of the borders under US protection, aware that Washington, unwilling to end the group, allowed several thousand terrorists to flee Raqqah, and can use ISIS to “influence” either the Iraqi or the Syrian governments.
Despite the US apparent commitment to the stability of Iraq, Baghdad sees no justification for the US protection of ISIS in an enclave in north-east Syria, a group capable of crossing the borders it has lived in for many years and that knows its way around.
The US may use its experience gathered in Iraq and other parts of the Islamic World to buy the loyalty of local tribes, like the Iraqi ‘Sahwa’.
Saudi Arabia is willing to reconstruct damaged areas – despite its own financial crisis – following US’s request, and willing to finance and equip the Arab tribes in al-Hasaka and Deir-ezzour.
But those who will sell their loyalty to any buyer can also collect money from the opponents, as happened in Iraq. After all, the Arab tribes in the north-east Syria are part of those same tribes in Iraq.
-Protect itself from internal disputes and infighting among Kurds loyal to Damascus and the separatists, and from inside attacks by IEDs or hit-and-run tactics by Arab tribes willing to support the Syrian government to recover its territory and render unstable the Kurdish provinces.
-Protect a vast territory, around 39,500 sq km, a hugearea.
This means for every militant 1.3 sq km to protect in provinces surrounded by enemies and forces unwilling to allow the creation of this “state within a state”, whatever the US superior air force and drones that never leave the sky of the area can do.
The Kurds of al-Hasaka (there are large Kurdish concentrations in Afrin and Aleppo unwilling to split from Damascus) are putting themselves in an awkward position under US protection, an ally known for abandoning its ‘friends’ when these no longer serve its interests.
Damascus will not ultimately accept the US occupation on its territory and will fight an enemy considered greater and more dangerous than Turkey, who is also occupying Syrian territory.
Some observers believe the US may have decided to abandon Turkey to protect and hold on to its Kurdish proxies who are willing to stand by the US’s best allies in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, and the US strategic ally, Israel.
This view is weak because the US administration is aware that the Kurds can’t sustain this enclave for very long, and that the surrounding countries will wait as long as is needed (one or ten years) to remove this threat on their respective borders.
Damascus will not abandon its very rich energy resources in al-Hasaka and Deir-ezzour provinces, and its allies will support the removal of the US forces, by military means, from Syria. Damascus’s allies have already trained and shared their guerrilla-like experience in warfare with several Syrian groups, to be ready to prevent ISIS’s return, and claim back the southern occupied Golan Heights and north-east Syria.
At this moment, Damascus sees the biggest danger as coming from al-Qaeda (along with Hay’atTahrir al-Sham these account for over 10,000 fighters) in the first place and ISIS next.
Of course, the Syrian government will always call for the withdrawal of the Turkish forces even if Russia and Turkey are becoming necessary allies.
The Turkish president is trying to hold the stick from the middle, maintaining a foot in the US camp and another with Russia, unwilling to lose both and continue to benefit from the two superpowers who share vital military and economic interests with Ankara (and vice versa).
Erdogan can also count on Damascus’s rejection of a Kurdish “state within a state”, as a common goal of the two countries even with no alliance and despite declared mutual animosity from both presidents Erdogan and Assad.
Russia, from its side, will try its best to support Erdogan and, simultaneously, buildstrong ties with the Kurds of Afrin, in the hope that these Kurds (in Afrin and al-Hasaka) can talk to each other and widen their understanding of what they may have to face, the day the US decides to pull out from Syria.
The US administration is putting itself, once more, into a hornet’s nest, thinking (if that is the right word) through its military muscles – rather than intelligently – to secure its interests in Syria, pretending to forget that its “almighty” military power revealed itself to be severely limited in Lebanon, Afghanistan, and Iraq. How is it that Donald Trump’s administration can believe it is possible to succeed in Syria? America is flying in the face of the facts.
Η ενότητα και η διατήρηση της κυριαρχίας του ιρανικού πολυεθνοτικού έθνους κράτους είναι σε έναν μακροχρόνιο ιστορικό ορίζοντα όρος για την ειρήνη, την ανεξαρτησία και την συναδέλφωση των λαών της Μέσης Ανατολής και της Μεσοποταμίας.
Η λογική των ανταγωνιστών του σημερινού Ιράν στην διεθνή πολιτική είναι απαράδεκτη και τυχοδιωκτική όσο στηρίζεται στο "ενδεχόμενο" διάσπασης και διάλυσης της ιρανικής πολυεθνοτικής εθνικής ενότητας.
Αυτή την λογική την ενισχύει έμμεσα, όχι βέβαια σκόπιμα αλλά δια αντανακλάσεως, τόσο ο ιρανοπερσικός εθνικισμός όσο και ο θεοκρατικός εθνοφονταμενταλισμός που δεν είναι "ξενωμένος" από τα μονοεθνοτικά μοτίβα του αμιγούς ιρανοπερσικού εθνικισμού.
Ούτε οι Κούρδοι του Ιράν ούτε οι άλλες εθνοτικές ομάδες που δεν είναι περσικές, αλλά ανήκουν στον ευρύ ιρανικό κύκλο (πλην των Αράβων του δυτικού Ιράν οι οποίοι δεν ανήκουν σε αυτό τον κύκλο) επιθυμούν να διασπάσουν το Ιράν, αλλά ακόμα τουλάχιστον επιθυμούν ένα δημοκρατικό ομοσπονδιακό σύστημα με εδραιωμένη την ιρανική εθνική κυριαρχία.
Οι σεπαρατιστικές τυχοδιωκτικές ομάδες είναι σχεδόν ανύπαρκτες, αλλά οι κυρίαρχες αγωνιστικές ομάδες των αντικαθεστωτικών εθνοτικών πολιτικοστρατιωτικών ελίτ δεν αποκλείουν αν συνεχίσει η καταπίεση από τους θεοκράτες να "παίξουν" στο σενάριο της διάσπασης.
Όλα καθορίζονται και θα καθοριστούν από την "στιγμή" και τους συσχετισμούς δυνάμεων μεταξύ όλων των πολιτικών ιδεολογικών ταξικών και εθνοτικών ομάδων και υπο-ομάδων.
Πάντως το ευρύ σχήμα της σιιτικής ταυτότητας που επιτρέπει αλλά με πολύ "στενό" τρόπο έναν πολυεθνοτικό καθορισμό του ιρανικού έθνους έχει εξαντλήσει την δυναμική του.
Αναπτύσσονται και μέσα στην πολιτικοστρατιωτική ελίτ του καθεστώτος φυγόκεντρες ιδεολογικές δυνάμεις που δεν αντανακλούν πάντα άμεσα εσωτερικές αστικές ή γραφειοκρατικές διαιρέσεις ή "συνωμοσίες" του ιρανικού κράτους, αλλά προβλήματα εθνικής στρατηγικής υπόστασης.
Γι΄αυτό και αυτές οι δυναμικές υπάρχουν και σε όλες τις αντιπολιτευόμενες ομάδες.
Πάντως αν και χρησιμοποιείται ως φόβητρο η κατάσταση εθνικής διάλυσης και αποδόμησης δεν ενθουσιάζει κανέναν Ιρανό πολίτη που δεν είναι εμπλεκόμενος με διεθνείς ιμπεριαλιστικούς μηχανισμούς.
Όσοι συλλαμβάνονται, βασανίζονται, διώκονται, εκτελούνται ως πολιτικοί εχθροί του καθεστώτος είναι οι περισσότεροι περήφανοι δημοκράτες Ιρανοί πατριώτες και όχι ιρανικού τύπου "εθνομηδενιστές".
Το καθεστώς τους συκοφαντεί ως "προδότες" και όταν τούτη η συκοφαντία δεν πιάνει, απλά κραδαίνει το πραγματικότερο (όντως) φόβητρο ενός εσωτερικού εθνοτικού και ιδεολογικού εμφυλίου πολέμου που θα έφερνε μια ξένη επέμβαση ή θα έφερνε η ξένη επέμβαση.
Ακόμα και η πιο "διαταραγμένη" και φιλο-ιμπεριαλιστική δυτικόφιλη πλέον ομάδα των Μουτζαχεντίν του λαού με την τυχοδιωκτική ηγεσία, η οποία συμμετείχε στον πόλεμο Ιράν Ιράκ με το μέρος του Ιράκ, αν καταλάμβανε την εξουσία θα ήταν ικανή μάλλον να εδραιώσει ένα εθνικιστικό λαϊκιστικό αυταρχικό κοσμικό καθεστώς με άλλες διεθνείς συμμαχίες, δεν θα ήταν πρόθυμη δηλαδή να δεχτεί σε καμία περίπτωση την διάσπαση της χώρας.
Υπό αυτό το πρίσμα η παρέμβαση των ξένων δυνάμεων (δύση-Η.Π.Α και Ισραήλ) δεν είναι μόνον απαράδεκτη όπως συμβαίνει τώρα και όπως σχεδιάζεται να συμβεί, αλλά αποτελεί το απόλυτο καταστροφικό φασιστικό σενάριο.
Το πρόβλημα για το μεγάλο ιστορικό πολυεθνοτικό έθνος του Ιράν είναι να μεταβεί στην επιθυμητή από τον λαό του κοσμική δημοκρατία χωρίς αυτό να σημαίνει καταστροφή της χώρας.
Οι εργάτες αλλά και αστικά στρώματα του Ιράν καθορίζονται από την ιρανική περηφάνεια και δικαίως, διότι το Ιράν είναι ένα σπουδαίο ιστορικό έθνος και ο ιρανικός (και ειδικά ο περσικός) λαός είναι ένας μεγαλόψυχος πολιτισμένος λαός.
Τα σενάρια καταστροφής του, με δικαιολογία την άθλια πολιτική του θεοκρατικού κατεστημένου, είναι σενάρια ενάντια στην ανθρωπότητα και ενάντια στον πολιτισμό.
Και μόνον για αυτό τον λόγο θα αρκούσε κάποιος να ζητήσει την ιστορική ήττα και της δύσης (Η.Π.Α και λοιποί) και του Ισραήλ στην διαμάχη τους με το Ιράν υπό οποιεσδήποτε συνθήκες.
Και μόνον για αυτό τον λόγο θα αρκούσε κάποιος να έχει μέσα του τις μεγαλύτερες καχυποψίες απέναντι στο κουρδικό απελευθερωτικό κίνημα στον βαθμό που δεν αποκλείει απόλυτα τα αποσχιστικά και διασπαστικά σενάρια των Η.Π.Α και του Ισραήλ.
Το Ιράν ακόμα και με την άθλια θεοκρατική "ένδυσή" του έχει επιδείξει μεγαλύτερο σεβασμό απέναντι στο Κουρδιστάν από ό,τι όλος ο υπόλοιπος μεσανατολικός κόσμος, Άραβες και Τούρκοι.
Αυτό δεν σημαίνει ότι δεν υπάρχει καταπιεστική και αφομοιωτική πολιτική του ιρανικού κράτους, μέχρι σήμερα, ενάντια στους Κούρδους, αλλά ότι αυτή πάντα ισορροπείται από τον έμφυτο ιρανικό πολιτισμικό και πολιτικοπολιτισμικό τροπισμό που είναι μετριοπαθής ανοιχτός υψηλός και επηρεάζει, έστω και μόνον "ισορροπιστικά", ακόμα και τους θεοκράτες φονταμενταλιστές του ιρανικού σιιτισμού.
Και μια προσωπική θέση, ως κατακλείδα:
Σε περίπτωση που θα εκτυλιχθούν καταστροφικά σενάρια για "διάλυση" του Ιράν, συγγνώμη από τους φίλους Κούρδους και από τους αριστερούς φίλους των Κούρδων, αλλά δεν θα μπορέσω να συμφωνήσω μαζί τους.
Θα είμαι, ως ταπεινός σχολιαστής και σκεπτόμενος άνθρωπος, ενάντιος.
Ταλαντεύτηκα αρκετά στο θέμα αυτό λόγω της αγάπης μου στο Κουρδιστάν, αλλά έχω καταλήξει σε σταθερή θέση.
Το Ιράν είναι μια σημαντική ιστορική υπόθεση για να "θυσιαστεί" για τις "κουρδικές" φαντασιώσεις του δυτικού αριστερισμού.
Αυτό που κάνει το θεοκρατικό καθεστώς πλέον επικίνδυνο είναι ότι θέτει σε κίνδυνο την ενότητα του μεγάλου ιρανικού έθνους, αλλά αυτό δεν αποτελεί δικαιολογία για να διαλυθούν όλα.
Αυτό εξάλλου πιστεύουν και οι περισσότεροι δημοκρατικοί άνθρωποι στο ίδιο το Ιράν που διακινδυνεύουν την ζωή τους πολεμώντας το καθεστώς.
The 80-plus members of the Palestinian Central Council (PCC) who are expected to convene for a two-day meeting Jan. 14 in Ramallah face potentially monumental choices. Yet, on the eve of this crucial meeting, nothing resembling consensus can be discerned. The choices range from dissolving the Palestinian Authority (PA) to ending security cooperation with Israel to withdrawing Palestinian recognition of Israel to the declaration of Palestine as a state under occupation. Each choice has its advantages and disadvantages, its supporters and opponents.
While the location of the meeting has been set, two logistical unknowns remain. They are whether Hamas and Islamic Jihad representatives will attend (either as full members or in a symbolic manner) and whether members unable to reach Ramallah (whether from Gaza or from outside of Palestine) will be able to participate via video conferencing.
Press reports have suggested that Hamas will participate symbolically as it did, along with Islamic Jihad, in the last PCC meeting, held in March 2015. Both organizations have been officially invited by the secretariat of the Palestinian National Council (PNC), the highest body of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
Hani Almasri, a well-respected Palestinian pundit and former director general of Masarat — The Palestinian Center for Policy Research and Strategic Studies, feels strongly about the need for meeting and for using video conferencing. Almasri said PCC meetings should be held more regularly and that it is crucial to deliver a message of unity among the Palestinian people regardless of where they live.
For a column published Jan. 9 on the Wattan website, Almasri wrote, “Between holding the PCC under the clutches of the occupation or holding it outside, the best combined option is to hold it inside but use the video conferencing option, similar to how the Palestinian Legislative Council was allowing members from Ramallah and Gaza to participate in deliberations.”
The last PCC meeting was held three years ago, at which time members decided to have regular meetings, every three months. PLO officials have not indicated why such meetings have not been held.
While the attendees and the logistics are a sign of the PLO's seriousness, the issue facing delegates will be how to respond to US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and what direction the Palestinian leadership should take.
For PLO Executive Committee member Tayseer Khaled, the point of departure for the meeting must be to honor previous resolutions. In a Dec. 26 Arab News report, Khaled is quoted as saying of the 2015 meeting, “It was decided to end our connection with the Oslo Accords and the security coordination with Israel, but this has not happened.”
Ziad Khalil Abu Zayyad, Fatah spokesman for international affairs, told Al-Monitor, “In the beginning of the PCC meeting, it is expected that members will discuss the matter of withdrawing recognition of Israel as a reaction to the US decision on Jerusalem.”
In 1993, the PLO and Israel agreed to mutual recognition. The move gave Israel legitimacy, but the PLO not so much. Members of PLO factions remained in jail for membership in a “terrorist organization,” and in March this year, Israel declared the Amman-based Palestinian National Fund, essentially the PLO’s treasury, a terrorist organization.
In a Jan. 7 column on the PCC meeting, Nasser Laham, a Palestinian television commentator and editor-in-chief of Maan News, called for suing the United States for violating international law and argued that every Arab state should expel the US ambassador. In addition, he wrote, the Palestinians should end security coordination with the Israelis.
Nabil Amer, a Fatah leader, believes that such an escalation would be a mistake. Speaking to Raya FM radio in on Ramallah Jan. 8, Amer said such moves would be painful for the Palestinian people. “I don’t add my voice to the calls for escalation,” he said. “Any such escalation will be costly. We have boycotted meetings with the US, that was a good decision and that is enough.”
Even the left-wing Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) was critical of the voices of escalation. Senior ideologue Iyad Joudeh wrote Jan. 3 in the DFLP’s flagship publication, al-Houria, “It is illogical to dissolve the PA, because Israel has been doing its utmost to weaken it, because it knows that the PA is the nucleus of the Palestinian state. We should think logically and retain our national accomplishments.”
Oraib Rantawi, director of Al Quds Center for Political Studies, also argued in a Dec. 15 column in the Jordanian daily Ad-Dustour that there is no realistic option of voluntarily dissolving the PA and giving the Israelis the keys to the West Bank. Rantawi believes such issues require deep and serious thought because Israel's reaction would be brutal.
“Whatever decision the Palestinian people take, it is highly unlikely that Israel will allow the PA to continue if the latter decides to move to the popular resistance option and end security coordination,” Rantawi wrote. “At such time, Tel Aviv will ‘assassinate’ the PA in the same way it did the PA’s founder and first head Yasser Arafat.”
The Palestinian leadership will indeed be confronted with some tough decisions when it meets. It needs a show of unity and resilience, but must also be careful not to burn all its bridges. Any choices made would likely have a major impact on the trajectory of the Palestinian struggle, so that could mean the leadership will delay any major decisions with the intention of putting them before the PNC.
The Astana process is on the verge of collapse, as Turkey and Russia are lining up on opposite sides in Idlib, which may prove to be the decisive battle in the Syria war.
Syria’s military operations in Idlib “are making Turkey so tense that it summoned the ambassadors of Iran and Russia and warned them that the Syrian army's moves violate the accord reached in Astana, Kazakhstan, which provides for de-escalation zones guaranteed by Iran, Russia and Turkey,” writes Fehim Tastekin.
Moscow has intimated that drones that targeted Russian facilities in Khmeimim and Tartus on Jan. 6 originated from areas controlled by Turkish-backed "moderate" opposition groups. Ankara has denied the charge, arguing that the attacks were the result of terrorist forces gaining a foothold in the region as a result of the Syrian offensive.
Turkey is the main backer of the "moderate" Free Syrian Army (FSA). Power in Idlib also rests with Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the jihadi group that is linked with al-Qaeda and includes fellow travelers from Ahrar al-Sham, which lost out in the power struggle with Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. Both groups see the future of Syria as based on Islamic law, and their rule in Idlib has been characterized by tyranny and torture, as documented by Amnesty International and reported in this column.
In Ankara’s score, the Syrian offensive in Idlib is a violation of the cease-fire agreement and a threat to fragile peace negotiations. “Turkey’s sharp reaction to the uptick in fighting suggests that the agreement struck in Astana, at least as it relates to Idlib, is unraveling," writes Amberin Zaman. “The immediate trigger appears to be the series of mysterious drone attacks on Russian military bases in Syria’s Latakia province since the start of the year. Moscow apparently believes Turkey did not stick to its side of the bargain either, amid accusations that Turkish forces chose to coexist rather than curb when they moved into Idlib last October as peace monitors.”
As Syrian forces advance, and come into conflict with the FSA and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, Turkey finds itself in an uneasy alignment with Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, putting it at odds with both Russia and Iran. “The struggle at Idlib is considered by many to be the last act of the war against a jihadi group that is basically controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham under the leadership of al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat Fatah al-Sham,” writes Tastekin. “Hayat Tahrir al-Sham labels the Astana and Geneva peace processes as treason, so the cease-fire Russia formulated excludes Hayat Tahrir al-Sham as well as the Islamic State (IS). From the outset, Russia said the cease-fire covers only ‘moderate’ opposition groups; operations against Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and IS will not cease. Turkey, on the other hand — despite its approval of the Astana process — decided to place Hayat Tahrir al-Sham in a different category. Ankara first tried to reshape that organization as it had earlier with Ahrar al-Sham. When that didn’t work, Turkey tried to split Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. When that didn’t work as well, Ankara accepted the facts of life and decided to cooperate.”
The top priority for Turkey is breaking the power of the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia, which it considers a terrorist organization, linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Turkey. “If the terrorists in Afrin don’t surrender we will tear them down,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Jan. 13.
“According to Hayat Tahrir al-Sham sources,” Tastekin reports, “there were three conditions to allow Turkey's army to enter the area without encountering any opposition. One was that the target would be Afrin, where the Kurds have declared autonomy. A second would be that there would be no operation against groups controlling Idlib. The third was that local groups affiliated with Turkey's Operation Euphrates Shield would not enter the area. … Turkey’s deployment — approved and escorted by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham — was not compatible with Iran's and Russia’s definition of the de-escalation zone. Turkey was indirectly providing a shield for the organizations already dominating Idlib.”
In addition to divisions among the Astana parties, Turkey’s fractures with Hayat Tahrir al-Sham sparked divisions within the jihadi group itself. “In such a risky atmosphere, Ankara is hoping to hold on to Idlib and the triangle of al-Bab, Jarablus and Azaz that Turkey had secured in Operation Euphrates Shield, to use them as a card against Damascus in a settlement process,” Tastekin concludes. “Such a card would have serious ramifications for the fate of the Syrian president and the future of the Kurds as they seek to build their autonomy in the north. Until he gets the concessions he seeks for these two key issues, Erdogan doesn’t want the Syrian army to approach the Turkish border and face Turkish troops.”
Al-Monitor detailed financial roots of Iranian demonstrations in June
The Wall Street Journal this week provided an in-depth report on the role of Iran’s unregulated financial and credit institutions in the current demonstrations.
The article reminded us of the outstanding and prescient analysis by Al-Monitor columnist Bijan Khajehpour, who in June 2017 warned of the risks if the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) did not license Iran’s unregulated credit and financial institutions.
Khajehpour wrote that “a sizable segment of the Iranian financial sector has become dominated by mostly unlicensed CFIs [credit and financial institutions]. These are usually affiliated with religious foundations, which claim the financial institutions are an extension of the religious responsibility of their umbrella organizations to extend interest-free loans to applicants. For a long time, the CBI was unable to challenge these entities as they claimed they were not engaging in mainstream banking and financial activities.”
Khajehpour wrote, “One apparent reason why there is a market for such institutions is that licensed public or private banks are not fully equipped to satisfy the demand for personal and business loans in the market, hence pushing many loan applicants to enter into a contract with CFIs. In other words, CFIs have filled a gap that has existed in the country’s money market in the absence of a more developed financial sector. At the same time, the mushrooming of unregulated CFIs and various cooperative funds across the country has led to unhealthy disruptions in the money market.”
He concluded, “Beyond the planned mergers and a potentially more stringent supervision by the CBI over CFIs and banks, the remaining core problem is a culture of corrupt dealings that needs to be addressed. In particular, entities closely affiliated with religious and political power centers have engaged in embezzlement schemes that have undermined the economic and social well-being of the country and further delegitimized the Islamic Republic as a political regime that can manage the complexities of a modern economy.”
AUB dedicates Halim and Aida Daniel Academic and Clinical Center
The American University of Beirut (AUB) this week dedicated the Halim and Aida Daniel Academic and Clinical Center, made possible through a generous gift from the Levant Foundation.
The center is named in honor of the parents of Jamal Daniel, the founder and chairman of Al-Monitor and founder and principal benefactor of the Levant Foundation.
AUB President Fadlo Khuri said, "The inauguration of the Aida and Halim Daniel ACC allows us to elevate our clinical care to a genuinely world-class level, and to launch clinical trials of the highest caliber. This is truly transformative change for the university, and we are grateful to the Daniel family for making this possible."
Jamal Daniel said, “We are delighted that the Halim and Aida Daniel Academic and Clinical Center will touch the lives of future generations by providing both world-class education and the very best medical care for Lebanon and the Region, with the benefit of this first-class building and facility. The AUB institution is part of our collective history, and we need altogether in the Levant Region to go on reclaiming that history, because only when we see the world as it really is, can we begin to imagine what it could be.”