The real moderate rebellion begins
While the tripartite aggression on Damascus conducted by the US, UK and France represented a final heave by the imperialist powers to try and shift the situation in south-western Syria, in north-eastern Syria, an already grim situation is deteriorating further for the US occupier and their SDF/YPG terrorist proxies.
The outlaw rule of the Daesh (aka ISIS) terrorist group in the north-eastern Syrian city of Raqqa has been replaced by a combination of US occupiers who have put virtually no effort into restoring order to the lawless and largely destroyed city, while what few material assets remain are being pillaged by the SDF militia whose members are primarily drawn from the PKK-aligned YPG terrorist organisation, as well as a free crypto-Takfiris and even some freed Daesh prisoners.
Pro-Assad but independent of the government
The indigenous Arabs of the region have already begun a rebellion that is comprised of both civilian protesters and armed groups, the latter adopting the name Resistance Popular Forces (RPF) in some instances and Popular Resistance of Raqqa (PRoR) in others. While the Arab rebels of north eastern Syria are loyal to the Syrian government, they do not appear to be affiliated in any way with the Syrian Arab Army, nor with any other regular fighting force.
The rebellion which is being shamefully under-reported in all circles is a genuine local rebellion against a foreign power as well as ethno-nationalist Kurdish proxies that if provoked into further escalation by the occupying US forces and their Kurdish terrorist proxies, could easily spiral into a situation similar to the Vietcong rebellion that the US faced in South Vietnam.
While US officials continue to either totally ignore or otherwise play down the anger of indigenous residents of north-eastern Syria against the US and SDF occupiers, the fact that both French and Saudi troops have been suggested as substitutes for US occupiers in the region is a sign that the US seeks to keep its own soldiers out of harms way, while allowing pro-US state allies to bear the brunt of an authentic grass roots anti-US/anti-YPG rebellion.
Where Syrian and Turkish interests converge
While it is unlikely at this point in time that Ankara would ever publicly endorse any group that supports the Syrian government, when it comes to ridding the entirety of northern Syria of radical PKK-aligned Kurdish groups, Turkey and the Arab rebels of Raqqa now have a common goal. Turkey’s President Erdogan has pledged to continue the anti-YPG/PKK Operation Olive Branch along the Syria-Turkey border all the way to Iraq. With Ankara and Washington still unable to agree on a strategy to avoid a direct American-Turkish conflict in the YPG occupied (and US occupied) city of Manbij, Turkey has given indications that barring a last minute agreement, the US should simply stand far away from the front lines of Operation Olive Branch when Turkish and allied fighters arrive in Manbij.
Of course to the south and east of Manbij lies Raqqa, where the same YPG forces whose comrades Turkey has already neutralised in Afrin continue to harass the local population. If coordinated properly, the forces of Operation Olive Branch and the Resistance Popular Forces (RPF) could meet half way between Manbij and Raqqa in the city of Ayn Issa and declare a total victory against the YPG and its illegitimate so-called “Rojava” regime. If US troops withdrew even partially from the area and were substituted for French or Saudi soldiers, such a rapprochement between anti-YPG/pro-Ankara FSA forces and pro-Damascus/anti-YPG RPF forces could be expedited all the more readily as both Ankara and Damascus have a vehement opposition to Saudi Arabia while at the same time a confrontation with French forces is viewed by all sides as less geopolitcally dangerous than one with US forces.
While there will be difficulties in getting pro-Damascus and pro-Ankara fighters to agree to such a win-win scenario due to lingering bad blood, Russia could help to quietly facilitate such a pact.
Russia drops a hint
When addressing yesterday’s meeting of the UN Security Council, Russian Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya decried the “de-facto US occupation” of Raqqa while condemning the piles of dead bodies, destroyed infrastructure and lawlessness over which the US continues to preside in and around Raqqa. While Nebenzya did not mention the SDF or YPG by name, the meaning is clear enough: The US and its radical Kurdish partners are doing a woefully inadequate job in their illegal occupation of Raqqa.
While Russia continues to work to avoid a direct confrontation with the US, if the best case scenario of US troops being replaced by French and Saudi troops in Raqqa comes to pass, and while Turkish and pro-Ankara FSA fighters continue to push against the YPG on the road to Manbij, Russia could use its good relationship with Turkey and Syria in order to put the sides together with the aim of persuading them to thrash out an agreement to temporarily split northern Syria between the pro-Damascus RPF and the pro-Ankara FSA.
Later on, once northern Syria stabilises, Russia can work to foster Turkey’s promised withdrawal from Syria while helping to restore legitimate government control over the area in line with the Astana pledge to uphold the territorial unity of the Syrian Arab Republic.
Apart from Turkey, few governments have overtly condemned the terrorism of the YPG, but this elephant in the room is increasingly the biggest stumbling bloc to a legitimate political settlement in Syria, both because of the YPG’s secessionist ambitions and because of its close relationship with a brutal US occupier. If Russia can work to persuade the pro-Damascus and pro-Anakra forces of the region to acknowledge what is already true – namely that they have a common enemy in the YPG, then progress can be made to restore legitimate rule to the region while also making a long term US, French or Saudi occupation untenable.