For the Syrians who continue to suffer in the few remaining pockets of terrorist occupation of their country, the conflict is still very real. But for diplomats, politicians, and geopolitical “experts” who claim that the conflict still holds surprises, one must realise that such voices are speaking from a point of frustration rather than reality. The Syrian conflict, was form the beginning, the mother of all western wars for “Israel”. More even than Iraq or Libya, Tel Aviv has for decades sought to bring down multiple Arab nationalist Syrian governments in order to expand its territory into its neighbour to the north east. This regime change war for “Israel” failed and now all that remains is a war within a war in the north of the country where Turkey and its allies are playing a high stakes game of chicken against the USA’s PKK aligned terrorist proxies.
The Mattis ‘great power’ strategy trumps the “Israeli firsters”
The fact that the conflict in Syria has long passed a meaningful point of no return for its authors, means that one of the few intelligent men in the Donald Trump cabinet, James “Mad Dog” Mattis has no real interest in Syria but is instead focused on two far more important theatres of war for the United States.
Unlike Nikki Haley or John Bolton who operate with a clear “Israel first” policy, Mattis is more of a traditional neo-imperialist who thinks globally rather than regionally. Furthermore, Mattis thinks in terms of great power rivalry, something that is generally anathema to the “Israel firsters”, people who have an unhealthy obsession with dominating the Arab world while neglecting other vital strategic regions.
Because of this, Mattis realises the futility of the Syrian conflict from a strategic perspective as the strategically important lands of Syria are now firmly in the hands of the legitimate government and their allies. He also alluded to something even more important, when he said that the US would consider withdrawing troops from South Korea as part of a de-nuclearisation process on the peninsula. If Syria is a waste of time for the US in terms of its grand strategy, Korea has become an expensive burden that is also becoming an unrealistic place from which to provoke China. The Korean peninsula is literally China’s back-door and as a result, even the slightest future provocation against China from the peninsula would result in a crushing response.
All eyes on Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan
Therefore, Mattis has opted for a more traditional containment strategy aimed at China which seeks to use Afghanistan as a means of sowing instability in Pakistan – China’s link from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean via the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, while also using Afghanistan as a place from which to potentially provoke conflict in Russia’s soft Central Asian underbelly, particularly in Tajikistan. Afghanistan is an ideal location to both contain and provoke China and Russia, all from the same location. The fact that the ongoing US war in Afghanistan is keeping countries like Russia, China, Iran and Pakistan away from Afghanistan’s natural resources is just an economic bonus for a war intentionally designed to have no tangible end point.
Trading rich and powerful Korea for politically vulnerable ASEAN states
In South East Asia, the US continues to provoke China by violating Beijing’s sovereign claims in the South China Sea. Even as Donald Trump publicly thanked China for its role in the Korean peace process, just hours ago, the US flew large bombers over parts of the South China Sea claimed by Beijing, in a clear provocative move. When this is combined with a close US alliance with a Sinophobic government in India, one realises that the US is attempted to use the post-colonial map of Asia to do what the British Empire did in 19th century Asia. Washington is trying to box China in by cutting it off from the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean beyond by sowing discord in South East Asia, thus giving China no safe route to and through the already de-facto US dominated Strait of Malacca, while using Afghanistan and India to attempt and box China off from the Indian Ocean via land roots from north west China.
This is why all eyes should be on both Pakistan and Russia as it is the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor which serves as China’s most effective root bridging the Pacific to the Indian, while Russia’s Arctic trade corridor holds the potential of giving China its best access point to northern Europe and the Atlantic.
These are the real reasons why the US could gradually let go of an increasingly economically independent South Korea in order to try and provoke China in the South China Sea through the exploitation of ASEAN states that are on the whole, poorer than South Korea and more defenceless than North Korea. Likewise, in spite of what the President of France might say, the US is already pivoting its military assets from Syria to Afghanistan, in a move that has all the hallmarks of Mattis, a man far more concerned with “boxing in” Russia and China than in fighting a war in Syria which at this point is only for the vanity of “Israel”.
Attempts to divide Turkey, Russia and Iran
The only area in Syria where the US retains a meaningful presence – areas along the Turkish border, is in fact a further symptom of the Mattis strategy of containment. Mattis knows all too well the history of the great western powers provoking war after war between Ottoman Turkey and Tsarist Russia. While from a European perspective, the first world war as a ‘cousin against cousin’ blood bath, from a Eurasian perspective, various western powers ganged up on both Russia and Turkey simultaneously. In this sense, when Europe failed at provoking Turkey into a war with Russia, the European powers simply fought both, all the while, fighting among themselves in a much slower moving war in western Europe. After the First World War, the Soviet government’s first treaties of friendship were with Turkey, Afghanistan and Iran. The significance of this uniquely wise geopolitical move on Lenin’s part remains as significant nearly 100 years later.
This is why from northern Syria to the Caucasus and Central Asia, the western strategy is to try and divide the Turkic world from the Russo-Slavic world and from the Iranian/Persian world in order to revive the divide and rule strategy that was so effective prior to the 20th century.
The key for China is to secure new and meaningful alliances in ASEAN so as to downgrade the potential for the US to exploit tensions over South China Sea territorial rights. Here, The Philippines under President Duterte has shown a great deal of tact in providing a model that can help ASEAN states with South China Sea claims to enrich themselves, while avoiding being dragged into a wider Sino-US conflict. Likewise, China must intensify its all-weather relationship with Pakistan and help coordinate security strategies for central Asia so as to avoid US provocations in Central Asia’s soft Takij underbelly.
Finally, in western Eurasia, Russia must understand the necessity of keeping the wider Turkic world and also the Persian world on its side as unity among these historic blocs of nations and peoples will be the only thing that countries like Russia, Turkey and Iran can do to avoid the spread of wider US proxy conflicts throughout western Eurasia.
This is going to be the reality of the next fifty years of global great power brinkmanship. For those who felt that the wars in the Arab world were bad, that was nothing compared to what could possibly come, if the wider Asian alliances are not fully prepared for the coming hybrid onslaughts.