Thank You, James Jeffrey!
“We [the United States] recognize that there are terrorists in Idlib. There’s also a very large group, the al-Nusra or Hayat Tahrir al-Sham group, HTS, that is an al-Qaida offshoot. It is considered a terrorist organization, but it is primarily focused on fighting the Assad regime. It itself claims – we haven’t accepted that claim yet, but they do claim to be patriotic opposition fighters, not terrorists. We have not seen them generate, for example, international threats for some time.”
The above statement was made by James Jeffrey, the US special envoy for Syria, last Thursday, January 30, during a video conference.
Although it is not new to say that the US has been and still is a supporter and even a creator of terrorist groups, starting with al-Qaeda to ISIS, nevertheless, it is worth noting that the confessions made by US officials about the responsibility and links of the US to terrorist groups have always come from former officials and diplomats. That was the case, for example, in the confessions of Hillary Clinton regarding al-Qaeda and the Taliban. This time, however, a current US official makes the unique statement: “we haven’t accepted that claim yet,” meaning that there is a possibility that it will be accepted at a later stage. He even reinforces this inclination when he says: “they do claim to be patriotic opposition fighters… We have not seen them generate… international threats for some time”
Jeffrey's statement brings back to memory a statement by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on December 27, 2017, a little over two years ago, at which time Lavrov said: “The main task of fighting terrorism is now to defeat al-Nusra Front.”
Lavrov's statement could be better understood today, particularly in light of Jeffrey's statement. In principle, following the elimination of ISIS, Washington retained certain means of influencing the development of the situation in Syria, the two main ones of which are: al-Nusra and working on isolating the northeast from the rest of Syria.
Since the loss of either of those will lead to weakening the effect of the other, and subsequently loss thereof, it is no longer possible to abandon either, especially following the quick loss of the ISIS tool after Russia’s direct involvement.
Washington is well aware that the limitations of the Russian-Turkish agreement and understanding include the elimination of al-Nusra sooner rather than later, and such a thing would widely open the way – not just the M5 and M4 highways, but rather the path of political solution and stability, as well as the path to accelerate expulsion of the US from Syria. Therefore, the focus on the task of protecting al-Nusra has become urgent, compared to which the public scandals that include defending al-Nusra itself become easier, even if in a devious manner, like in Jeffrey’s last statement.
The good thing about this is not only that the US – in the context of its retreat, losses, and retraction – throws on the table all its cards (including moving the US embassy and recognizing the Zionist entity as Jewish, recognizing the annexation of the occupied Syrian Golan, the so-called “Deal of the Century”, and last but not least a semi-public defense of al-Nusra ), but perhaps more importantly, the consequences of such behavior.
For decades, Washington sought to play a dual role – referee and judge – in the crises of the region; that is, it was biased all along toward the Zionist entity and against the interests of the peoples of the region, including siding with corrupt and subservient regimes against their peoples. All the while, the US forcibly maintained, in the international sense, the role of the mediator and the only one in all the region’s crises. Today, though, the US is losing this role permanently, and declaring absolute hostility to all the peoples of the region.
A declaration of this kind also has its merits: besides being an obligatory recognition that aims to focus on and protect the means of sabotage in the region, in conditions of a comprehensive retreat with which the decreasing US forces cannot be dispelled and dispersed; it is a declaration that allows the peoples themselves to take rapid steps towards actual alignment of political and popular forces against or with US and Zionist interests in the region. It would also narrow to minimum levels the areas and margins of manipulation and lying using slogans – which has been practiced by many regimes in the region – by subjecting them to major tests, whether with regard to the Palestinian cause or internal issues that need rapid turnaround towards political solutions and radical changes in the subservient economic structures that generate crises and chaos. Therefore, in this context, we should thank James Jeffrey for his beneficial insolence!