There are clear signs that there is a new axis forming between President Trump, President Putin, and Prime Minister Netanyahu to control Syria. It aims at clipping Iran’s IRGC wings, cementing the Assad rule by raiding the province of Idlib, and forging a new policy of “terrorism” labeling to include Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Each member of this new axis will do its part for their own interests. Trump wants out of Syria. Putin wants full control of Syria. And Israel wants a peaceful Syria on its borders. Just like it used to be before the Syrian Revolution. The axis ultimate goal is to peel Assad from Iran.
Peeling Assad from Iran is an old diplomatic effort that started under President George W. Bush.
RUSSIAN HEAVYLIFTING IN SYRIA
Because of its influence in Syria, Russia is doing the heavy lifting.
Putin has started his bombing campaign in Idlib to soften the targets. He is also confronting the IRGC in Syria by evacuating the terrorist from air bases they occupied; as well as ordering the Iranian to pull out their sophisticated drones capable of harming Israel.
Putin even interfered to annul an agreement Assad struck with the IRGC to use the naval base in Latakia, which would have competed directly with Russia’s base in Tartous.
AMERICA’S ROLE IS IN SANCTION SLAPPING
When Trump spoke confidently about his telephone conversation with Vladimir Putin during a White House photo op, it was not so obvious that the coordination of this new axis forming was well underway.
Trump is elated he is able to work with Putin in Syria while ignoring Putin’s 2016 elections interference. Putin, for his part, sees this as an opportunity to influence Trump on issues related to direct Russian interests down the road. He is laying the grounds for a Quid Pro Quo.
IN NEW AXIS FORMING, ASSAD KNOWS KILLING
Assad is only good at one thing: Killing large numbers of people, which he is starting by dropping hundreds of barrel bombs on innocent civilians just because Islamist militants could be hiding in their midst. As far as he is concerned, the baby goes with the water in the bathtub.
Of immediate concern to Assad are the gas shortages that could lead to national uprisings. By siding with Russia against Iran, he is choosing survival over ideology. Furthermore, Assad might finally get his billions to rebuild Syria down the road. Unintentionally, he may also have to yield to a Kurdistan Syria to develop unhindered as an autonomous state.
ISRAELI BENEFITS ARE NUMEROUS
Israel, for its part, is exercising political goodwill by trading directly with the Assad regime. The remains of missing soldier Zachary Baumel for two Syrian prisoners one of whom is a genuine drug smuggler Assad chose to free. You know the adage. Birds of a feather…
Israeli benefits are numerous and quite considerable if Iran eventually exits Syria or is so hampered, it could do little harm. Israel is also eying, after some confidence-building measures with Assad, the remains of Eli Cohen; and possibly ignoring the Palestinian peace plan Jared Kushner might bring to the table.
DIRECT LOSERS, INDIRECT WINNERS, WORST LOSERS
With this new axis forming, the direct losers are Iran, Turkey, and Qatar. Turkey and Qatar for their Muslim Brotherhood support. The MB losing benefits Putin because it threatens the largest concentration of Orthodox Christians in Egypt.
The indirect winners are Mohammad bin Salman of Saudi Arabia; due mostly to his rapprochement with Assad, having Trump in his pocket, and public statements showing his antipathy to the Palestinian Cause.
And of course, the worst losers are the Syrian people. They seem always to find themselves at the bottom of the barrel or killed by a barrel.