By Abdel Bari Atwan
With new political, military, and economic tensions escalating between the United States and its NATO allies on the one hand, and China, Russia, North Korea and Iran on the other – including the Taiwan front in East Asia, and Ukraine in central Europe – we are now witnessing accelerated plans to activate new crises in West Asia, from Syria to Iraq to the war on Yemen.
Let us leave the situation in Iraq and Yemen aside, temporarily, and focus on Syria. The country has experienced an atmosphere of relative calm, or rather a ‘stalemate,’ in the past few years, after the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) regained more than 70 percent of its territory.
This period of calm has also seen the decline of the so-called Syrian opposition, both politically and militarily, in the city of Idlib and its vicinity, as well as in other areas in northeastern Syria, currently under the umbrella of US forces.
There are, however, several international and regional indications that the dormant Syrian ‘opposition’ is on its way to being reactivated again.
It is likely this reactivation may appear in a more ferocious form than the militancy that was unleashed at the beginning of the Syrian crisis in March 2011. Numerous indications of this have already emerged:
First, Russian foreign intelligence on Tuesday unveiled US plans to support armed groups in Syria, and ‘Islamic’ extremists in particular, to intensify their attacks against Syrian, Russian and Iranian forces in Tawaz, while igniting and encouraging ‘peaceful’ protests deep within Syria.
Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) reported that US government agencies are “planning to task extremist ‘sleeper cells’ in Damascus…and Latakia province [by] staging pinpoint attacks against Syrian law enforcers, and Russian and Iranian military personnel.”
Russia’s Deputy Envoy at the UN Gennady Kuzmin told the UN Security Council on Wednesday that “The problem of terrorist threats in northeastern Syria is pressing. The US troops that are illegally deployed there cannot bring order. Or they don’t want to.”
In what appears as a reference to the mass ISIS jailbreak in Hasakah from a US-controlled area in late-January, Kuzmin added that “the atmosphere of a power void and impunity around the US forces’ deployment areas serves as a nourishing ground for terrorists of all stripes.”
The second indicator points to the statement issued by the Russian Intelligence Service, which says that the US administration is seeking to maintain its military presence in northeastern Syria, prevent the stability of Syria, rehabilitate the leadership of the Syrian opposition, and unite its ranks, Kurdish or Arab.
The US plan will be carried out through the exploitation of the current decline in economic conditions, basic services, and a significant weakening in the price of local currency, due to the suffocating US blockade.
According to the statement, the US will launch a “vast media campaign” on Arabic-speaking social media to incite Syrians to again take to the streets and squares, in the capital Damascus, and the cities of Aleppo, Homs and Latakia to push the regime to use the ‘violent’ iron fist in the face of ‘peaceful’ protests.
In other words, a re-play of the Deraa scenario in early 2011.