Despite the positive approach by Iran Foreign Minister Jawad Zarif proposing a humanitarian exchange of prisoners between Washington and Tehran (in an attempt to break the stalemate and ease the current tension), Iranian Speaker Ali Larijani and ‘Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps – Quds Brigade’ (IRGC) commander Qassem Soleimani both rejected any rapprochement. It is the radical general mood in Iran and its tendency towards firmness rather than flexibility that is prevailing, as a response to the severe US sanctions on Tehran. In fact, Iran is showing signs of strength, less concerned about the US “strangulation policy”, confident it can face the US establishment decision to impose “zero oil exports” and confident also that it will survive, as it has the last four decades whilst under sanctions imposed by all US Presidents since 1979.
The policy of the US establishment under President Donald Trump is to impose its hegemony and flex its muscles, adopting political and financial sanctions on countries rather than sending troops to submit opponents through a military act of war. All countries opposing the US hegemony are under the US’s spotter microscope and have been listed on the sanction’s agenda. These are Russia, China, North Korea, Cuba Nicaragua, Yemen, Lebanon, Iran, Syria- and many other countries.
These US sanctions aim to burden above all the population, destroy the local economy and, in consequence, trigger a domestic uprising to reach the ultimate goal: changing the regime. The US is not aiming to intervene militarily unless the situation is ripe enough at the minimum possible cost of military effort and expense. George Bush’s previous policy of direct military interventionist era now seems out of fashion. Iran is aware of this and, in consequence, is comfortable about its domestic control of the situation. Tehran seems prepared for an economic siege for as long as President Trump is in power (until 2020) and, according to Iranian official sources, until the end of his next term if re-elected.
The White House believes Middle Eastern countries can top-up the difference needed to compensate the ‘lost’ two million Iranian barrels of oil exported on a daily basis. In a few words, the US objectives are two: preventing Iran’s oil exports and compensating for the overall loss of quantity,
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Russians and Syrians are willing to take over protection of Kurds from Turkey from the retreating Americans but not on the same terms
Secret negotiations are ongoing in Moscow and Damascus between representatives of the Syrian Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Russian officials concerning the fate of Kurdish militants in Syria. The Kurdish delegation is hoping that Russia – and not the US – will adopt the role of guarantor of their safety and is trying to gain a few more concessions to reduce their losses when the Syrian government forces regains complete control of al-Hasaka province in Northeast Syria.
This will happen only when the US establishment finally decides to pull out its last soldier and ends its occupation of al-Hasaka. PKK representatives have offered a “road map” meant to include promises of protection, the sharing of wealth and the security of borders with Turkey. The US is trying to offload responsibility for the Kurds’s safety onto Turkey, while Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has rebuffed US requests to offer this kind of protection to his PKK enemies in Syria. Erdogan is evidently putting his strategic-commercial alliance with Russia ahead of his turbulent NATO alliance with the USA.
The Kurdish militant group known variously as YPG, the People’s Protection Units, and the PKK (Syrian branch) is convinced the time has come to climb off the US’s shoulders onto Russian ones since Washington has decided to drop them off the Turkish cliff. Nevertheless, Syrian officials are also determined to give no concessions to the Kurds notwithstanding the Russian mediation with Damascus.
The militants Kurds of Syria have only now begun to realise how vulnerable their position is: they are weaker than ever due to the US decision to withdraw and the naïve requests – formulated by both US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton – for Ankara to offer protection to its sworn enemies. It looks like officials in Washington have no plans for the Kurds. Indeed, while the US is expressing concern about the Kurds it would like somebody else to look after them. The US shows little appreciation for the sacrifices made by YPG militants – who have acted as human shields for the American forces during their time in al-Hasaka province in northeast Syria – and the thousands of casualties they have suffered.
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