Trump’s 19th December 2018 announcement that he was pulling American troops out of Syria caused a seismic shift in the war. Not to mention an uproar in US politics, with many “Big Names” campaigning against the pull-out. In Syria, the changes were:
1 Turkish invasion of Northern Syria is seen as almost inevitable. Turkish forces had been massing for some time, preparing to attack Kurdish areas. The US presence deterred them, as it is not seemly for the soldiers of one NATO country, Turkey, to be seen killing the soldiers of another.
2 The increased threat of Turkish invasion galvanised the US-backed Kurds. They began more serious attacks on the ISIS pocket that used to include Hajin. We likened tiny Hajin to Steeple Bumpstead in an earlier article here. It was clearly not in the Kurdish interest to have an ISIS pocket in their rear whilst fighting the Turks. Their assault on the Hajin pocket, however, deserves a Gold Award for procrastination and lack of enthusiasm. The pocket was only about twenty miles long and barely two miles wide, bordered on its Western side by the Euphrates River. Common sense, if anything military can ever be described as sensible, suggests an attack on the twenty mile Eastern boundary of the pocket. This would severely stretch the ISIS forces, and only a short two mile advance would eliminate the pocket. Instead, the Kurds have advanced from the North, allowing ISIS to concentrate their soldiers on a narrow font, and making a twenty mile advance necessary. Given that in modern Combined Arms warfare, popularly known as Blitzkreig, forces can advance over twenty miles in a single day, the tactics may seem irrelevant. But the combat lasted more than three months. The explanation for this bizarre military dawdle must be that people could still say “ISIS is not defeated. American troops must stay!”
3 The Turkish threat rejuvenated political negotiations between the Kurds and the Syrian Government, who both dread Turkish invasion. These talks are still stumbling over the Kurdish desire for a Federal solution, to which the government is opposed. Syrian Army troops have, however, moved into Kurdish held areas by agreement, in order to defend against the expected Turkish attack.
4 Big Change: – Huge increase in Israeli Attacks. Currently, the Syrian Government is no longer threatened by ISIS; it is in talks with the Kurds; and the Americans appear to be leaving. This means that the defeat of Assad’s Government has been avoided, and Syria is in a stronger position than it has been for years. Hence Israel has massively ramped-up its aerial war against Syria. The two-minute video here shows Syrian air-defence missiles shooting down Israeli missiles aimed at the capital, Damascus. Israeli-produced videos have shown attacks that were more successful from their point of view, notably one at Christmas when crowds were out celebrating in the City Centre. (Yes, “Muslim” Syria celebrates Christmas!) The Israelis claim they are targeting Iranian troops, who, like the Americans, claim they are there fighting ISIS. Since there is really nothing left of ISIS to fight against, these claims must be dismissed. But the Iranians are, unlike the Americans, at least there by invitation. Their numbers are impossible to asses accurately, but probably quite small.
What are the conclusions of this news? Firstly, it confirms that the target of the war has always been the Assad Government. ISIS and other Jihadists have just been a useful tool in the attack. Now that they are either defeated, or contained as Jihadists now are in Idlib, other strategies are in use. Secondly, the mass-media reporting is proved to be extremely biased. Imagine the aerial war above Damascus going on instead with Syrian incoming missiles over Tel Aviv. How many times would you have seen that video clip on TV news? How big would the media and political outcry have been?
And the relevance to Christianity? Anyone infused with the teachings and actions of Jesus can only be appalled at the ongoing, unnecessary violence, and the constant twisting and suppression of the truth. Yet the churches, with over thirty thousand full-time paid Ministers/Vicars/Priests/etc, manage to remain as silent as the grave.
And an after-thought from the Daily Mail. Today it reported a major reshuffle of British military aircraft in the region, with some Tornado jets due for retirement returning. UK Special Forces in Syria are also expected to leave. A senior defence source said “This in no way weakens our resolve to carry out missions against this deplorable regime”, by which he means the Syrian Government. When we think we have peace, it’s good to be told occasionally who we are actually at war with.