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‘Safe Zone’ In Syria: A Ploy to Ignite a New Battle Front

Marwa Osman
21st Century Wire
 

Golan
(Image – Nimrod Castle on the Golan Heights, by Chadica)

It hardly comes as a surprise anymore that the US and its allies in the Middle East are seeking to partition Syria in whichever means possible. However, the anti-American alliance of Syria, Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah dubbed the “Axis of Resistance” stands to oppose that division.

‘With Syria in pieces, it’s time to recognize Israel’s Annexation of the Golan’ read a headline at the Jerusalem Post on April 20 citing Israeli Deputy Minister for diplomacy Michael Oren who claimed that it is time for the world to recognize the Golan Heights as part of the Israeli entity. Even the Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reaffirmed his country’s claim over the Golan Heights during summit talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin last month on March 10, 2017. Netanyahu blatantly claimed that the occupied “Golan is part of Israel and we will stay there for the world to acknowledge it as so”.

The US allies on both the southern and northern part of Syria have been busy lately, especially after the liberation of Aleppo from Nusra terrorists, preparing for a pre-planned balkanization of the Syrian sovereign state. Last month I wrote about it for RT concerning the northern part of Syria where the US have been facilitating and empowering the bigoted ideologies and groups for the soul purpose of partitioning the country.

Since the beginning of this year reports have been emerging about the possibility of applying a similar strategy on the southern borderline shared between Syria and Jordan. The Arabic Al-Hayat newspaper reported on February 9th 2017 that Jordan wants to follow Turkey’s example and conduct its own military operation in south Syria to allegedly rout the ISIS-affiliated Jaysh Khalid bin Walid. The paper also claimed that Jordan seeks to coordinate the campaign in the Yarmouk river basin with Russia, which Amman has developed stronger bilateral ties on regional issues in the past year. Al-Hayat’s report came only a week after Jordan reportedly conducted an airstrike against Jaysh Khalid bin Walid, which was formed in June 2016 following a reorganization of jihadist groups in the area, including the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade. The Southern Front coalition of FSA factions has not engaged in major offensives since the summer of 2015, when it failed it to seize the Daraa provincial capital. Since then, a multitude of reports indicate that the Western-supervised Military Operation Council (MOC) overseeing the Southern Front from Amman has been pushing the FSA to concentrate their operations against the ISIS-affiliated jihadists in Daraa knowingly that it is the Jabhat Fatah al Sham terrorist group, formerly known as al-Nusra Front that is controlling the southern city of Daraa.

ISRAEL’S OWN PROXY FORCES INSIDE SYRIA

Add to the above reports of Israeli and Jordanian eagerness to annex parts of Syria, there are also the facts about Israel’s treatment of wounded Syrian terrorists which has received minimal media attention. On April 9 2017, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reconfirmed Israel’s commitment to treating “war-wounded” fighters from Syria “as part of a humanitarian effort.” While Israel has claimed that it treats any fighter or civilian who makes it to the demarcation line between Israel and Syria through the contested Golan Heights area, evidence continues to demonstrate that those Israel treats are almost exclusively terrorist-linked opposition fighters, a fact which makes Israel’s claims of humanitarianism difficult to justify. Even Israeli media itself admits that its own country “was indeed knowingly treating members of al-Nusra” in hospitals close to the Syrian border, with an average medical bill of $15,000 for each fighter. This further proves that Israel is quite “involved” in the war on Syria.

Furthermore, weapons are also part of the deal between Israel and its proxy Nusra terrorists operating in Syria. The Jerusalem Post reported in 2016 that the Syrian Arab Army forces confiscated a vehicle that was coming from the Daraa eastern suburbs, on its way to terrorists. A source at Sweida Governorate told SANA that the vehicle was heading to the terrorist organizations operating in the eastern countryside of the neighboring Daraa province. The arms and ammunition which were confiscated were reported to include 7 Israeli-made anti-tank rocket launchers, 62 shells, 128 RPG shells of different kinds, 43 120 mm mortar rounds, 42 82 mm mortar rounds and 100 23 mm machinegun bullets.

More than six years into the Syrian conflict, the Golan Heights have become the center of gravity for an indirect war between Syria and Israel. This was not an inevitable turn of events, as the area had been home to one of the quietest borders in the Middle East for decades. Although the Israeli entity seized the plateau in 1967 and unilaterally annexed it in 1981, the Golan had not witnessed clashes like South Lebanon or the Sinai Peninsula. This dramatically changed with the worsening of the war in Syria as Israel continues to provide arms and treatment to the Nusra terrorists in southern Syria.

JORDAN AIMS FOR A SAFE ZONE

These developments called for a new form of response to the crisis, and portrayed features of a new strategy that was launched by encouraging the establishment of a US-proposed “safety zone” in Southern Syria.

Russia so far has not reject the proposal but it did have its skepticism concerning the viability of the option. The option is seen by Amman as one that would develop the verbal agreement between Moscow and Amman on peace in Southern Syria, which started with the first phase of the direct Russian military intervention paving the road to establish this zone, after ISIS has captured al-Raqban Refugees Camp putting Jordan in dire risk. Add to that the risk Jordan already took by arming and training FSA fighters on its border line. There are 120 factions under the FSA in the south of Syria, and they receive funding from the US-funded MOC. Those factions include the Syrian Revolutionaries Front, Ahrar Nawa Division, Liwa Tawhid al-Janoub, Harakat Fajr al-Sham, 46th Division, Alwiya al-Furqan, the military council in Quneitra and the Army of Free Tribes.

These facts makes one wonder whether the “Safe Zone” that Jordan and US wants and which backed by Israel is for actually facing the risk of ISIS or for utilizing these 120 factions as invading forces for a probable ground incursion on southern Syria beginning summer 2017?

RUSSIA AND IRAN SKEPTIC OF THE SAFE ZONE

Russia and Iran have shared similar skepticism towards the safe zone idea. Moscow seemingly will seek to maintain flexibility in deciding what happens in Syria while Tehran will try to strengthen the control of its main allies the SAA and Hezbollah on the remaining parts of the country.

The unstated goal of Jordan’s increased collaboration with Russia has reportedly been to secure guarantees from Moscow that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRG) and Hezbollah will not deploy south of Damascus. This raises more questions as to who actually is paranoid from such a deployment by the axis of resistance occurring on the southern Syrian border. Will such a deployment really undermine the stability in the kingdom of Jordan or is it only Israel who is willing to put all options on the table to counter weapons transfers to Hezbollah and limit Iranian activities in the Golan?

The more difficult task would be reaching understandings about exactly who is responsible for security on the ground in Southern Syria in the event of a “safe zone”. This would be followed by the ultimate question of will the US and Israel provide guarantees that a balkanization is not to take place after the implementation of a “safe one”?

Add to that the dire humanitarian situation where currently, around 400,000 people reside in that area, and tens of thousands of others might flee to the area once a ‘safe zone’ is established. The entire initiative seems unviable and unstable.

Think of it this way, if the FSA forces, supported by the US, Jordan and Israel, are deemed diplomatically unacceptable or incapable of securing the zone, therefore foreign forces would be required for manpower possibly hailing from Arab armies. Yet it is unclear whether the regional governments especially that in the Gulf would step forward and offer such forces declaring a new destructive phase of the global war against Syria given the swamp they have created for themselves in Yemen.

Marwa Osman is a journalist, political commentator, writer, and a former TV political show host who works with several news media outlets.

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