Sputnik News reported Friday that French-Israeli analyst Mylene Doublet O’Kane believes that the June 23th halt in aid to Syrian rebels in the south of that country by the Americans is a signal to Moscow ahead of the the planned July 16th meeting between President Trump and his Russian counterpart President Vladimir Putin.
Reuters first broke this report on the 24th of June, while much of the planning stages of a forthcoming Russian-American summit were not prominently reported yet. That report detailed the following:
The United States has told Syrian rebel factions they should not expect military support to help resist a Russian-backed government offensive to regain opposition-held parts of Syria bordering Jordan and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
A copy of a message sent by Washington to heads of Free Syrian Army (FSA) groups, which was seen by Reuters, said the U.S. government wanted to make clear that “you should not base your decisions on the assumption or expectation of a military intervention by us”.
The United States had earlier warned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his Russian allies that violations of a “de-escalation” zone agreed by the United States and Russia last year would have “serious repercussions” and pledged “firm and appropriate measures.”
The toughly worded statements had raised the hopes of the Western-backed opposition of a possible American military intervention in the event that the Syrian army’s bombing campaign broadens to an all-out offensive across the southwest.
The U.S. message also told the rebels it was left to them alone to decide how to face the Syrian army’s military campaign based on what they saw was best for themselves and their people.
“We in the United States government understand the difficult conditions you are facing and still advise the Russians and the Syrian regime not to undertake a military measure that violates the zone,” the message also said.
The United States has supported the moderate mainstream FSA faction with millions of dollars worth of arms and paid monthly salaries to thousands of rebels in the course of the seven-year war under a military aid program run by the Central Intelligence Agency.
But analysts believe the aid has dropped after U.S. President Donald Trump decided last year to shut down the program.
That was June 24th. However, on the 29th, this story was given a new analysis by Doublet O’Kane:
The analyst [Mylene Doublet O’Kane] presumed that Washington might have “ceded” control of the southwestern part of Syria’s territory to Moscow and Damascus, while seeking Russia’s assistance in containing Iran’s “expansion” in the region.
Both Tel Aviv and Washington continue to urge Tehran to pull out of Syria, threatening to take measures against what they see as an Iranian military buildup in the region. For their part, Damascus and Tehran insist that the Iranian presence is limited to military advisers on the ground.
Referring to the Syrian Army’s southern offensive, O’Kane emphasized Russia’s crucial role in the ongoing developments on the ground.
“Having been somehow pushed into a campaign to recapture southern Syria which has mobilized and dispatched quite considerable forces in order to strike against the US-backed and armed opposition around Daraa, it appears that Bashar al-Assad is taking a significant risk, since without the Russian support received in recent days, the southern offensive would have turned into a total disaster,” she opined…
O’Kane believes that the issue of the Iranian presence in the region could become one of the key issues during the upcoming negotiations between US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin on July 16 in Helsinki. Ahead of the long-anticipated summit the Syrian Army should tread carefully while proceeding with its southern military operation, the geopolitical analyst noted, warning that now the regional balance is especially fragile.
While these thoughts are speculative, they do seem to make sense as the two great powers prepare for a meeting that is by all accounts, expected to be extremely important.
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