Has the “Small Group” Become the “Mini Small Group”?
On Tuesday, January 24, the Special Envoys to Syria for each of the US, UK, France, and Germany, met in Geneva, Switzerland, following which they released a joint brief statement, commensurate with their “mini” meeting.
The semi-announced purpose of this meeting, which was attended by two members of the “Negotiations Commission” at the request of the United States, was to work against the Syrian-Turkish settlement. This meeting is not the only activity that the Americans have recently undertaken in pursuit of the same goal, but rather it is one in a series of activities and procedures.
The meeting in this quadripartite format is an unprecedented one, as it is customary for the US to gather behind it the so-called Western small group, which includes, in addition to those present at this meeting, each of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan. However, this time only these four attended.
Someone might say that conclusions should not be drawn on the absence of these countries from the meeting, as perhaps the US, to begin with, wanted to minimize this particular meeting for some unknown reason.
What is known about this type of meeting is that the most important thing it provides is its political media image. Agreeing on actual practical steps does not need such meetings, and essentially is not done in such meetings. The real actions are led by other agencies and other individuals within the power structures in these countries, particularly the intelligence services. Therefore, the presence or absence of countries from these meetings is an important issue and cannot be dealt with as a coincidence or as a matter of little importance.
On the other hand, anyone who follows the hysterical activity led by the US directly and through extremists from the Syrian sides, to work against the Syrian-Turkish settlement, leaves no room for doubt that Washington would not have spared such an opportunity to mobilize – if it could – all the countries of the Western small group.
Accordingly, it is important to consider the reasons for the absence of the four countries from the meeting, that is, Turkey and the three Arab countries. Turkey’s absence from the meeting is something new (as is the case with the absence of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan, but Turkey has always been a more essential component of the Western small group than the three Arab countries). We say that the absence of Turkey is something new that occurs for the first time, although it is not the first time that there is a clear disagreement between the approaches of Washington and Turkey regarding Syria.
It is fully understood that the essence of this meeting is aimed at working against Turkey and against its recent policies regarding Syria, especially the settlement issue. However, that alone would not have prevented Turkey from attending. As we indicated above, Turkey used to attend in the past despite the existence of differences with Washington. Turkey’s absence this time means that the differences have reached a threshold that no longer allows Turkey to be part of the Western small group. Perhaps it is too early to draw such a conclusion, and perhaps another meeting of the small group will be held at a later time, which Turkey will attend. However, the possibility of Turkey’s absence from any subsequent meeting of the Western small group has become a real possibility.
What may carry additional signs is the absence of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan, which indicates that the size of the fissure between the Arab countries, especially Saudi Arabia, and the Americans, in most dossiers, and within the Syrian dossier in particular, is increasing.
The decline of the small group and its transformation into a “mini small group” is the first drop towards its complete evaporation. It is also a reflection of the qualitative decline in the weight of the Americans, with regard to Syria at least. At the same time, the decline in the American weight is an omen of the approaching end of the catastrophe through the full implementation of UNSC Resolution 2254, the implementation of which the Americans are obstructing, just as they and their Western small group obstructed the implementation of the Minsk agreements. It is therefore an omen of the imminent radical and comprehensive change of the system, in Syria and in the region, which the Americans hope to keep economically, and then politically, subservient.