Washington is Jumping with Joy, then Madness ... Always on the Margins of Astana!
“This attack should serve as the final nail in the Astana Format’s coffin. It is a format broken beyond all repair and we cannot return to it. We cannot entrust it with the vital work of establishing a new ceasefire.”
The previous statement was made by Kelly Craft, the US permanent representative to the UN, during an emergency session of the UN Security Council on February 28 to discuss the escalation taking place in Idlib.
This statement takes us back to a similar statement made by James Jeffrey in December 2018, in which he said that “the Astana track had failed”; a few days later, he withdrew his words, justifying that he had “been misunderstood”. Seemingly, this “misunderstanding” will be repeated soon.
In addition to Craft’s statement, and along the same lines, the British representative in the Council said: “the Astana format is not capable of achieving a lasting ceasefire. The fatal flaw in the Astana format is Russia’s uncritical support for the Syrian regime and its continued disregard for previously agreed ceasefires and agreements, as well as its disregard for international humanitarian law and the fate of Syria’s people.”
The representative of France, in turn, did not hesitate to support his two traditional colonial allies, saying: “The Astana framework has failed, and it cannot help us or be an alternative to the Geneva platform.”
These statements were not the only ones through which the West expressed its unrivaled enthusiasm for pushing to bury the Astana format, and in essence, turning back the time on the Syrian situation towards explosion and ruin. More importantly than the western point of view, are the illusions of pushing Turkey back into the NATO corner.
In this context, we can examine the outbidding process in “selling words” – and only in words – to Turkey during the past month, where Washington went in a blink of an eye from one position to the opposite. Washington started with a position of threatening Turkey with sanctions, and even imposing partial sanctions, and throwing around threats with regard to the S400, F35, the Turkish Stream gas pipelines, and other dossiers, including the insistence on continuing to prevent Turkey from obtaining the Patriot missile system; and went to the position of being an enthusiastic supporter of Turkey as a “NATO member” and “an ally that cannot be abandoned”.
Although the western rhetoric auction began about a month ago, that is, with the acceleration of the process of ending al-Nusra that Jeffrey had been openly eager about, to an implicit announcement of the intention to remove it from the lists of terrorist organizations. Despite that, the last few days (which followed the killing of Turkish soldiers in Idlib, whose coordinates were not previously communicated according to the established channels of communication per the Sochi agreement) witnessed an important turn in the quality and intensity of the Western delirium against Astana.
Prior to this operation, and even after the first hours thereof, it would have been possible to comprehend the feverish US behavior aimed at creating sedition between Russia and Turkey, as a behavior based on certain determinants, the most fundamental of which is to follow the policy of the actual stick and the imaginary carrot with Turkey with regards to its relationship with Russia. The more Turkey draws closer to Russia the more actual US sanctions and restrictions increase; and any time Turkey shows signs of a dispute with Russia, the US encourages that with a stream of words without providing anything serious, except for some pressure on the Europeans to loosen their purses and pay Turkey little money tied to the Syrian refugees in Turkey dossier.
We can describe the stage before the killing of the Turkish soldiers, and even the hours after it, in that Washington and the UK in particular were looking with admiration at the outcome of long efforts and accumulated work that spanned several months until the moment of complete explosion, which not only claimed Astana, but also enabled pushing Syria and the entire region into a new chapter of self-fueling destruction. This would allow the US to complete its necessary retreat from the region, but with comfort about the legacy of destruction and chaos that it left behind, and which would achieve the same task that the US is doing with direct presence in the region: sustaining sabotage and erosion within the framework of continuous pressure on the ascending adversaries and delaying their ascension as much as possible.
However, something happened! Something related to the killing of the Turkish soldiers, which made the occurrence that would have been a suitable massive detonator, turn into something with a totally opposite effect; it became a tool for narrowing the Western-US margins within which they can exploit the intra differences of the Astana trio.
Away from the “conspiratorial” analyses, we can infer what the US is trying to do, in particular, with regards to the stormy change in the quality and manner of their statements, which took place over the last few days.
The fact that the West is hostile to the Astana formula does not require a lot of evidence; nonetheless, the West has been keen in its statements over a period of three years to claim its desire to build a bridge between its group (the Small Group) and the Astana group.
With the exception of Jeffrey’s abovementioned statement, which he made in late 2018, it is difficult to find Western statements that directly attack Astana and say it has failed. It is easy to find many official Western criticisms of Astana, but all of them came within a general context that said on its face: We certainly do not support Astana and do not deal with it as an ally, but we are closer to dealing with it as part of the problem rather than the solution; however, it can offer something positive because Turkey – our ally – is part of it.
In other words, what the West is saying is that influencing the Syrian situation goes through two main international groups: The West group (i.e. the Small Group), and another group within which the West tries to influence through Turkey. This is a well-known rule in political work, that you do not fully exclude any entity or alliance when you have an opportunity to divide it from within, because declaring complete hostility to any entity will contribute to further unifying its ranks within the framework of self-defense.
Based on the above specifically, interpretation of the Western delirium today, the delirium that is now declaring complete hostility to the Astana track, in parallel with the full support by empty verbal missiles aimed at Turkey, means exactly that the attempt to cause a full explosion has failed, and that what is happening is an attempt to raise the temperature of the situation to the maximum extent possible perchance the high temperature plays the role that the detonator was supposed to play.
What will actually happen is that the current Turkish aggression will be curbed – through Astana in particular – and all the tension will completely reverse what Washington wants: it will accelerate the completion of ending al-Nusra and the likes thereof, and accelerate the implementation of the Sochi agreement, which will pave the way for the irreversible implementation of UNSC Resolution 2254.
On the Margins of US Escalation against Astana
It is no longer a secret that hardliners from the Syrian sides are synchronizing their statements and actions in real time with the timing of Washington; when Washington says it wants to cooperate with the Astana formula, we see them cooperating, and when Washington says that Astana failed and must end, they immediately rush to publish obituaries.
This includes the media, “analysts” and “politicians” within an orchestra that plays in complete harmony a melody the main characteristic of which is that it is a complete cacophony of reality.
Among these renegades, a series or tweets appeared belonging to Mr. Nasr Al-Hariri, the head of the Syrian Negotiations Commission whose term including the illegal extension is finished, who still identifies himself as the head of the SNC; his tweets are nothing more than a paraphrasing of the words of Kelly Craft, the US permanent representative to the UN. Indeed, these tweets came very shortly after Craft’s speech.
The fate of hardliners from all sides, who are holding on to Washington, will not be different from the fate of anyone who linked themselves to Washington over the last century.