Aleppo: From Syrian War to the Asia-Pacific Region
Russian-led Syrian forces retook the Aleppo on December 13, this year by defeating the rebel groups and other militant outfits.
Retaking Aleppo, which has been split between rebel and government control since 2012, is biggest victory of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the civil war. Aleppo is strategically important and is industrial capital of Syria; therefore, analysts were already opining that the city will decide the Syrian war led by Russia and the US. America and Israel had thought that before Syrian forces-backed by Russia occupy more territories and cities; especially Aleppo, rebel groups and the Islamic State group (Also known as ISIS, ISIL) should be given a free hand to continue fighting and to violate the ceasefire-agreements in relation to Syrian war, particularly Aleppo.
Russian-led coalition of Iran, Iraq, the Syrian army-the National Defense Forces (NDF) and Lebanon-based Hezbollah, which have broken the backbone of the US-CIA-assisted ISIS terrorists, Al-Qaeda’s Al-Nusra Front and the rebels who have been fighting to oust the Syrian President Assad’s government and against the current Iraqi regime as part of America’s double game to obtain Israeli interests.
In case of Iraq on June 26, 2016, Russian-assisted Iraqi forces recaptured the city of Fallujah. They are likely to retake Mosul.
Although by taking advantage of the Russian-Syrian troops engaged in fighting in Aleppo, the ISIL re-occupied Syrian ancient town of Palmyra on December 11, 2016 after it was retaken by Syrian government and Russian forces nine months ago, yet the town will again retaken by the government forces in the near future. Next day, Moscow, deplored the lack of cooperation with the United States in Palmyra after ISIS re-entered the ancient Syrian city.
In this regard, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated that the movement of IS fighters fleeing an Iraqi assault on Mosul to Syria and the offensive on Palmyra might be part of an orchestrated plan to ease pressure on rebel groups in the second city of Aleppo.
Meanwhile Russia and China on December 5, this year vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire in the Syrian city of Aleppo to allow desperately needed aid into the war-ravaged zone. In fact, US-led some western countries wanted a temporary truce to rearm the rebel groups, under the cover of evacuation of the non-combatant civilians by propagating humanitarian crisis in Syria. It was the sixth Russian veto since 2011 on a Syria-themed resolution. China joined for the fifth time. Both Moscow and Beijing have same stand in relation to Syria’s war, rebel groups and terrorist outfits like ISIS.
The World Beast Com had also pointed out that occupation of the Aleppo would decide the future course of Syria’s war.
However, victory of Aleppo has proved the Russian ground and air supremacy over the US-led entities. Undoubtedly, it is due to excellent leadership qualities and skillful diplomacy of the Russian President Vladimir Putin that analysts have started saying that after victory in Aleppo, very soon, Syria will be liberated from the hold of the US-Israeli-led some western powers who have, covertly, been supporting the rebel groups and the ISIS. Defeat of these entities in Aleppo has also exposed helplessness of the US President Barack Obama and its western allies who were fighting to oust the Syrian President Assad’s regime and the failure of the CIA-prepared plan-B of Syria’s partition.
With the defeat in Syria’s civil war, the US-backed pipeline project would also prove fruitless.
In this context, F. William Engdahl writes, “Today the US-backed wars in Ukraine and in Syria are but two fronts in the same strategic war to cripple Russia and China and to rupture any Eurasian counter-pole to a US-controlled New World Order. In each, control of energy pipelines, this time primarily of natural gas pipelines—from Russia to the EU via Ukraine and from Iran and Syria to the EU via Syria—is the strategic goal. The true aim of the US and Israel backed ISIS is to give the pretext for bombing Assad’s vital grain silos and oil refineries to cripple the economy in preparation for a “Ghaddafi-”style elimination of Russia and China and Iran-ally Bashar al-Assad. In a narrow sense, as Washington neo-conservatives see it, who controls Syria could control the Middle East. And from Syria, gateway to Asia, he will hold the key to Russia House, as well as that of China via the Silk Road. Religious wars have historically been the most savage of all wars and this one is no exception, especially when trillions of dollars in oil and gas revenues are at stake. Why is the secret Kerry-Abdullah deal on Syria reached on September 11 stupid? Because the brilliant tacticians in Washington and Riyadh and Doha and to an extent in Ankara are unable to look at the interconnectedness of all the dis-order and destruction they foment, to look beyond their visions of control of the oil and gas flows as the basis of their illegitimate power. They are planting the seeds of their own destruction in the end.”
It is of particular attention that according to the retired NATO Secretary General Wesley Clark, a memo from the Office of the US Secretary of Defense just a few weeks after 9/11 revealed plans to attack and destroy the governments in 7 countries in five years, starting with Iraq and moving on to Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran. In an interview, Clark said that this strategy is fundamentally about control of the region’s vast oil and gas resources.
During the last two decades, political analysts have been opining that the US which is acting upon a secret strategy, wants to make India the superpower of Asia in order to counterbalance China, while this game was, openly, disclosed by the then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who was on three-day trip to India in 2011.
In this respect, on July 20, 2011, the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged India to be more assertive in Asia, saying that the country should play more of a leadership role. She explained, “India has the potential to positively shape the future of the Asia-Pacific.” Clinton further stated, “India should play a role as a US ally in regional forums such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).” On the other hand, while concealing American double game, She remarked, “New Delhi could also help promote trade links in violence-wracked South Asia, which would bring prosperity and peace to India, Pakistan and Afghanistan…Pakistan must do more to tackle terror groups operating from its territory being used for attacks that destabilize Afghanistan or India.”
During his trip to Australia, on November 17, 2011, President Barrack Obama, while sending an unmistakable message to Beijing said, “The United States is a Pacific power, and we are here to stay.” The then US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta also made statements in this connection during his Asia visit. He revealed during his visit to Singapore that the US will shift a majority of its warships to the Asia-Pacific region by 2020 as part of a new US military strategy in Asia. Panetta’s Asia visit came at a time of renewed tension between China and Philippines, the latter being a major US ally.
With regards to strengthening its position in the Pacific, America has also cultivated security relations with New Zealand. It is also working with several Gulf countries to solidify its entrenchment in the region. American strategic thinkers take China’s military modernization as a great threat to its military bases in the continent.
As a matter of fact, US backs Indian hegemony in Asia to counterbalance China. During American President Obama’s visit to India, on January 25, 2010, the US and India announced a breakthrough on a pact which would allow American companies to supply New Delhi with civilian nuclear technology. On November 2, 2010, US agreed to sell India the most expensive—the new F-35 fighter jets including US F-16 and F-18 fighters, C-17 and C-130 aircraft, radar systems, Harpoon weapons etc. Besides acquisition of arms and weapons from other western countries—especially Israel, America is a potential military supplier to India.
During President Obama’s second visit to India, on January 25, 2016, the US ensured India to permit American companies to supply India with civilian nuclear technology, as agreed upon in 2008. US President Obama also announced $4 billion of new initiatives aimed at boosting trade and investment ties as well as jobs in India.
Nevertheless, setting aside the Indian irresponsible record of non-proliferation, and safety of nuclear arms, Washington also pressurized the International Atomic Agency (IAEA) to sign an accord of specific safeguards with India. America had already contacted the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to grant a waiver to New Delhi for starting civil nuclear trade on larger scale.
As part of the double game, based in Afghanistan, operatives of American CIA, Indian RAW and Israeli Mossad which have well-established their secret network there, and are well-penetrated in the terrorist outfits like ISIS, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and their affiliated Taliban groups are using their terrorists to destabilize Tibetan regions of China, Iranian Sistan-Baluchistan and Pakistan’s Balochistan by arranging the subversive activities. In this context, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is their special target. Recent acts of terrorism in Pakistan’s Balochistan are part of the same scheme.
In case of Balochistan, these militant outfits and separatist groups like the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and their affiliated groups, including Jundollah (God’s soldiers) and Lashkar-i-Janghvi which have been creating unrest in the Balochistan get logistic support from RAW and Mossad with the tactical assistance of America. In the recent years, these terrorist outfits massacred many persons through suicide attacks, bomb blasts, targeted killings and sectarian violence. These externally-supported insurgent groups had kidnapped and killed many Chinese and Iranian nationals in Pakistan, including Iranian diplomats. They have claimed responsibility for a number of terror assaults, including those on Shias in Balochsitan and Iranian Sistan-Baluchistan.
Notably, located on the southwestern coast of Pakistan, Balochistan’s Gwadar deep seaport which is the main part of the CPEC is close to the Strait of Hormuz from where more than 17 million barrels of oil passes every day. Its location among South Asia, the oil-rich Middle East, and oil and gas-resourced Central Asia has further increased its strategic significance. Besides, Balochistan’s abundant mineral resources irritate the eyes of the US, India and Israel which intend to weaken Pakistan for their collective aims.
In this respect, in his book, titled “The Pivot: Future of American Statecraft in Asia,” published in June 7, 2016, America’s former assistant secretary of state Kurt M. Campbell has confirmed a new major shift in American foreign policy and its interests in Asia, while the US-led entities have already been playing out American foreign policy drama far from the upheaval in the Middle East and South Asia and the hovering drone attacks under the cover of the so-called the war on terror.
After destabilizing the region of the Middle East, the US is making giant strides in Asia-Pacific region in term of political, economic and military engagement. The main aim of Pivot to Asia-Pacific region is to counter a rising China, as the Campbell has analyzed.
The book holds significance for China, Russia and Pakistan, because it is, in fact, premised on the idea to contain Chinese hegemony in the region. The book offers a deep insight into US Asia Pivot policy. But, by closely analyzing the US policy, the author has recommended for America to implement Asia Pivot in the Pacific region.
Plan for the Pivot is composed of ten core elements including: clarifying the Pivot and mobilizing the public by Presidential speeches and statements as well as an annual strategy documents, articulating a whole-of-government approach to Asia.
While, bolstering and integrating alliances to the American Asia allies, including Japan, South Korea, Australia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Singapore (a quasi ally)—setting the contours of China’s rise by embedding China policy fully within a larger Asia policy framework, building partnership with Taiwan and New Zealand as well as new partners including India, Vietnam, Indonesia—Malaysia and the Pacific island states, embracing economic statecraft through the expansion of free trade agreements and economic interaction, including through the passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), engaging regional institutions, diversifying military forces, promoting democratic values, strengthening people to people ties involving European partners, the heart of author’s argument is a 10-point American strategy for Asia, in which he sets out in considerable details—his recommendations for intensified political, economic and military engagement with the various nations of the continent. But, he ignored the fact that the real game changer in the region will be CPEC which will result in dependence America and its allies on Pak-China Gwadar port for sea routes to Asia-Pacific region. Given his diplomatic experience, the author is well-informed and deeply thoughtful. He is considered as pioneer of “Asia Pivot Policy”. Campbell’s main emphasis has been on greater boots and greater engagement in the Asia Pacific region without realizing the US role in Middle East and Afghanistan.
In fact, US in the garb of controversial nuclear deal is enticing New Delhi to assume anti-China role and would have footprints in India to eavesdrop Chinese activities. China is apprehensive about the emerging threat, as the intent of President Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is quite clear, while mentioning about free sea lanes and air passages in the South China Sea.
The warming up of Indo-US relations, especially in the nuclear domain poses a direct threat to Chinese national interests, and both China and Russia feel uneasy over Indian overtures towards US and Israel.
It is noteworthy that during the the sixth Heart of Asia Conference which was held in the Indian city of Amritsar on December 3 and 4, this year, addressing the conference, Russian envoy Zamir Kabulov rejected the Indian and Afghan allegations against Pakistan. He stated that Afghanistan is the pivot of the conference and the agenda of the conference should not be hijacked. He added that being friends and supporters, we should avoid the blame game and work together. He also said that Pakistan’s Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Azizj Aziz’s speech at the conference was friendly and constructive.
Downplaying Russia’s military exercise with Pakistan held two months ago, Zamir Kabulov, who oversees Russia’s engagement in Afghanistan also referred to India’s increasing cooperation with the US by saying, “India has close cooperation with the US, does Moscow complain?”
Nonetheless, almost all the terrorists or terrorist groups and insurgency in Pakistan, especially Balochistan have their connections in Afghanistan. The porous border between Pakistan and Afghanistan is frequently used by human and drug traffickers, criminals and terrorists. Their easy access through unguarded porous border provides opportunity to miscreants to cause havoc inside Pakistan and Afghanistan. For effective counter terrorism measures, strong border-control management is vital at Pak-Afghan border. But, Afghan rulers are using delaying tactics in this respect by rejecting Islamabad’s positive proposals.
There is no doubt that escalation of tension at Pak- Afghan border is deliberately engineered by the elements opposed to peace talks and improvement of bilateral relations between Islamabad and Kabul.
Moreover, Afghan peace and reconciliation process is a reality despite of its slow pace and continual interruptions. The positive trajectory of constructive relations between Islamabad and Kabul raised alarm-bells amongst the US-led adversaries who are attempting to affect the progressive Pak-Afghan relations through smear and sinister scheming.
It is noteworthy that the armed forces of Pakistan have broken the backbone of the foreign-backed terrorists by the successful military operation Zarb-e-Azb, which has also been extended to other parts of the country, including Balochistan. And Pakistan’s intelligence agency, ISI has broken the network of these terrorist groups by capturing several militants, while thwarting a number of terror attempts.
Since the government of the Balochistan province announced general pardon and protection to the Baloch militants as part of reconciliation process, many insurgents and their leaders have surrendered their arms and decided to work for the development of Pakistan and the province, peace has been restored in Balochistan.
But, recent blasts in Balochistan show that the US-led India and Israel have again started acts of sabotage in the province to weaken Pakistan and to sabotage the CPEC.
Reliable sources of Pakistan and media of the country revealed in the end of November, this year that Islamabad has approved Russia’s request to use Gwadar Port, which means Moscow could also join the CPEC project.
In response to the Pak-China project of CPEC, Washington broadly supported New Delhi and Kabul in signing a deal with Iran for a transport corridor, opening up a new route to Afghanistan via the Iranian port of Chabahar. In this context, during his visit to Tehran, on May 23, 2016, the Indian Prime Minister Modi signed 12 agreements with Tehran, including a deal to develop Iran’s Chabahar port. India will spend $500 million on the project, with a plan to invest an additional $ 16 billion in the Chabahar free trade zone. Chabahar—located about 1,800 kilometres south of Tehran—is more than just a port with an adjoining free trade zone. But, CPEC is much bigger and viable project than Chahbahar.
Meanwhile, the US pro-Israeli and pro-Indian President-elect Donald Trump has stated that he would abandon the Iran nuclear deal. Therefore, it is expected that Tehran which is very close friend of Russia will also use the Gwadar Port or join the CPEC project.
Russians and Iranians know that Gwadar seaport would connect the landlocked Central Asian states with rest of the world. Being the commercial hub, the port is likely to increase volume of trade, bringing multiple economic and financial benefits to Pakistan, Iran, Russia and China. It will enable high-volume cargo vessels to move in the major oceans.
While, the new Cold War has started between the US and Russia in wake of Syrian war which Moscow is winning, and America and its allies are also likely to be defeated in the Asia-Pacific region where Russia-China alliance with Pakistan would also castigate the US-led Indo-Israeli secret strategy.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations