One of the most obvious results of the current stabilization of operations in Syria is the next and predictable equality of offensive potentials on the ground.
The United States, however, thinks it shall no longer deal with Syria, considering that the ultimate goal of the War on Terror is to avoid jihadist attacks on its territory or on its bases.
As often happens, psychopolitics for internal use that pretends to be global strategy, which is indeed wrong.
Clearly, too little as US political goal. Nevertheless we have now already entered the classic overstretch cycle – “let us go back home soon” -that characterizes the American cyclical history of strategic burn and burst of US geopolitics, which works as the boom and bust cycles of financial economy, but anyway also old and Jeffersonian.
We could define it as “geopolitics of the altered states of consciousness”.
In other papers we have already analysed the issue of the US- Free Syrian Army base in Al Tanf, which is essential to protect Jordan and avoid encirclement on the Euphrates by the Caliphate jihad. Currently, however, this base is an uncertain bivouac of terrorists, although “moderate” and connected to the Free Syrian Army.
The Free Syrian Army was the first US operation in Syria. From the very beginning it was linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, but it was born during the 2011 “Arab Springs”.
If President Trump really decides to withdraw from Syria, the only highly probable future variable will be Turkey’s open invasion of the Northern and Western Kurdish areas.
Hence, as already happened, the Kurdish Rojava will immediately head for Damascus, as it has already done, thus creating a new internal front within Syria, a harbinger of future and severe dangers.
Obviously, the hasty and strategically undefined US withdrawal is also a great and unique missed opportunity for Iran.
Iran, however, has already reached an agreement with Turkey: the stable tripartition of the areas of influence in Syria, already fully foreshadowed by the “de-escalation zones” of 2017.
Russia will certainly claim to be the strategic winner in Syria, which is what it wanted, but excluding particularly the USA and the EU from that area (certainly an easy success to be achieved).
Iran, however, will have reached its goal anyway, i.e. changing and turning to its advantage the configuration of its strategic potentials along the Syrian border with Israel and reaching up to its new Mediterranean with the maximum political-military destabilizing power.
Once won its fight for Syria, Turkey will be in a position to afford a new area of protection and control against the unification of the Kurdish world, but will particularly ensure the smooth and undisturbed passage from Anatolia to Central Asia.
Therefore, we will have in Syria the S-300s and other advanced technologies of the Russian Defence, which will remain there in Bashar al-Assad’s hands. Nevertheless we will also have as many as 11 types of air superiority fighters in various bases (Palmyra, T4, Humaynim and two other dedicated and confidential ones), but also all the highly-advanced set of C3 active war-control networks and of sensors, directly connected to Russia’s Central Command.
Israel finally reaches an agreement with Russia that could even allow a new arrangement of its operations in Southern Syria or even a full agreement with the Russian Federation on the bipartite control of the Bekaa-Golan-Southern Lebanon axis, where both countries have potentially converging interests.
Moreover Iran has reached its true strategic result, the Iraqi-Lebanese “corridor”, which is modest at technological level, apart from some thefts of Russian and Turkish material, but is very effective in enabling Iran to wage its asymmetric war against Israel on a broader front, and above all new compared to the old positions.
Israel’s Kurdish friends could control this network from the North.
The Shiite Republic certainly wants to eliminate the “Zionist entity” – as Israel is called in Iran – or make it irrelevant, but it wants above all to play a primary role on the Mediterranean shores. This will have endless repercussions on the Shiite oil trade and on the different arrangement of defence potentials around the Saudi axis, of which Iran wants to destabilize all its vast Shite areas, one after the other.
It will then be the turn of Bahrain and other Emirates, while the Shiite Egyptian, Moroccan, Tunisian and Algerian communities will move radially.
Considering that, for the time being, light and stable missile bases on the “corridor” are not available – although there are signs of rooting-technologically Iran’s policy line is to make every point of its “corridor” an element of mobile and variable guerrilla warfare against Israel, so as to finally set fire to the whole line and block the North of the Jewish State.
With a certain, connected and subsequent attack from the Gaza Strip and, in all likelihood, even from the areas already arranged on Israel’s Eastern border.
Hence the quick and full deprivation of every strategic asset for the Jewish State.
Nevertheless, so far the military potentials are still asymmetric for Iran.
The missiles it has granted to Hezbollah are manifold and sufficiently advanced, but small and mainly suited to saturate Israel’s defences, so as to later propose to the Islamic world an internal and concentric attack on Israel.
Hence Israel would become a mere small terrestrial power, inevitably devoid of its technological, air, sea and signal intelligence strengths.
As already seen, however, Iran does not even trust Russia, which has no interest in permanently protecting its “corridor” northwards.
Certainly Russia does not even trust its “proxy agents” left in Syria that it wants to control permanently so as to avoid precisely what Iran wants: the clash between Russia and Israel.
A struggle that would extend ad infinitum the destructive effect of its own guerrilla warfare and of its small missiles, which today, however, are certainly much more advanced than the “toys” it supplied to Hezbollah until a few years ago.
However, the Iranian variable to command and control the phases following the outbreak of a war north of Israel is currently technological and resolves the dispute between Iran and Russia at its root.
It is a missile, namely Hoveizeh, which has been tested for the first time this February.
It is not by chance that is named after a city in South-Western Iran that bravely resisted Iraq in the Shiite “war of necessity” when the USA armed Saddam Hussein and later left him to his own destiny.
And the symbolism of the “war of necessity” comes to the fore today, on the forty-year anniversary of the Shiite revolution.
Symbols always have essential strategic power.
Hoveizeh is a surface-to-surface missile with an average range of 1,350 kilometres, always flying at a low altitude. It needs a very short time for its preparedness and armament.
As has long been the case in Iranian arsenals, it has a fully autonomous and “national” technology.
Hence it is hard to be tracked.
The Hoveyzeh missile, however, is Iran’s direct response to the success of the recent Israeli-US Arrow (orHetz) 3missile.
Said Israeli-US missile had been tested on January 22 last.
It is an exoatmospheric anti-ballistic missile for intercepting enemy missiles which, however, can also be an attack weapon.
The Arrow 3 structure also consists of a hypersonic missile interceptor missile, also equipped with an ELM-2080 Green Pine produced by Elta, which is an AESA early warning radar, finally connected to a C3 centre and to the network of Israeli air industries known as Hazelnut.
Nevertheless it is a system that has already been declared operational in 2000.
Only the third part of the Arrow 3 system, however, has been declared fully operative in 2017.
Arrow 3 can also be used as an anti-satellite weapon, but the Israeli Forces still do not fully like it since they have always preferred the strategy of preventive attacks and deterrence. Another very problematic aspect is the high cost of this system.
Is it better to have many and possibly inexpensive missiles, with scarce but efficient technology, or very few and expensive ones, probably even insufficient and inadequate to oppose a salvo intended to saturate the Dome?
Iran has already made its choice.
It would be interesting, however, to see Israel’s final choice in the field of the so-called “mass” missile weapons, which could also be suitable for strategies where the central point still consists in the advanced weapon, that determines in a moment the attacker’ superiority.
Also the attacker, however, must be saturated quickly.
Coincidentally, however, Arrow 3 was tested just two days after Hoveizeh, at the base of Palmachim, Israel, but there will soon be further tests on the island of Kodjak, Alaska.
Arrow 3 was tested after an Iranian missile, launched from the Syrian skies on January 28 last, had been intercepted by the Israeli structure.
However, over the last few days, a significant number of Iranian carriers has been launched onto Israel: a Fajr 5 (with a 35-kilometre range) on December 29 last, and a Fatteh 100 (with a 300-kilometre range) onto the Golan on January 21 last, which was also intercepted.
Many other smaller ones were fired.
Hence, while Israel and the United States are developing hypersonic missiles capable of striking outside the atmosphere, Iran is following exactly the opposite policy, i.e. manufacturing fully traditional missiles, albeit capable of long flying at a low altitude, since so far no one can define valid interception techniques before the missile has actually been launched.
Israel has also recently used missiles (such as the Delilah, with a 250-kilometre range) that have not been intercepted by Russia or Syria. The United States still has the old Tomahawk missiles in the Middle East and Russia uses its most recent Kalibr, but they are all controllable only after being launched, if all goes well.
A solution to the problem is the missiles fired by ships which, however, can be useful only if they operate in an area already full of sensors and radars.
Even in this case, these operations are traceable only for large sea and land areas and for the main launches only. This tactic is essentially useless to counteract surface missiles at a low altitude.
Hence Israel currently operates with a high-tech strategy, which strikes selectively and in the best of times, with a view to weakening the Iranian enemy and making its mass attack with small surface warheads useless.
But will it be enough? I do not believe so.
It should, however, be possible for Israel to respond quickly with equal and opposite saturation so as to avoid the temporary blindness of sensors and the excess cost of very “American-style” technologies, which are extremely top range but often of little effect.
Before leaving Syria, however, also the United States carried out attacks there. Just on February 3 last, an attack was launched between Abu Kamal and Deir Ezzour, with probable collateral damage to the Syrian artillery.
On February 2 last, three Iranian missiles were ready to be put into action at the US base of Ain Al Assad in Anbar, but they were not activated only thanks to the Iraqi intelligence services.
This means that Iran wants the United States not only out of Syria, but also out of Iraq.
Without this preventive “cleansing” of the territory, which primarily regards the stabilization of Iranian missile forces, all the variables of command, direction and response against Iranian missiles – anyway large and numerous – are too dangerous for the Shiite Republic itself.
Probably, however, the missile bases that the USA hit on February 3 last were those of the Pasdaran’s Al Qods Force.
In that region there are also the bases of an Iraqi Shiite militia under the Al Quds’ command, namely the Kataib Hezbollah that serves as a line of communication between the Iranian forces in Iraq and those in the Lebanon.
An essential axis of the “corridor”.
From this viewpoint, President Erdogan’s new anti-Semitic policy is certainly functional to the new Syrian stability. In fact, Erdogan has recently had Dawud Baghestani – the Secretary of the Israeli-Kurdish Friendship Association, who is also the editor of the official Kurdish-Israeli magazine – arrested.
Therefore President Trump has completely abandoned both Israel and the Kurds in Syria. Hence it is obvious that now Turkey wants to control the whole Kurdish area, thus putting in serious difficulty even Israel, which is now the only organizational, financial and military point of reference for Rojava.
The United States will certainly leave both Al Tanf- although we do not know yet how – but also the area of Al Bukhamal, on the Iraqi borders, the last stretch of Western protection between the Iranian area and the Syrian world.
This is precisely the point that is still missing to close the well-known “corridor”.
President Erdogan’s political aim is to demonstrate that there is still a link between US and Israeli intelligence services and the Kurds, which would be the greatest possible justification for a final takeover of Rojava.
Hence it is a matter of concealing – with an alleged operation of the Turkish intelligence services – Turkey’s willingness to take and control the whole of Northern Syria where there is a Kurdish majority.
Here the war of words between Israel and Turkey is always very clear in its strategic aims.
In fact, two years ago Prime Minister Netanyahu stated that Israel considered the PKK a “terrorist group”, unlike what Turkey had always said about Hamas.
Again on that occasion, however, the Israeli Prime Minister stated that one thing was to combat terrorism, even the Kurdish one, while another thing was to accept the free claim of the Kurdish people to have their right to freedom and autonomy, which Israel supported.
In other words, if the United States leaves and Turkey continues to avoid any opening to the autonomy of the Kurdish territories in Syria, without anyway putting them in communication with the Turkish-Anatolian territories, Rojavawill become the preferential target of Israel’s attention and designs.
Israel will take advantage of its old excellent relations with the Kurds to use them both against the Iranian-Lebanese “corridor” and to avoid Iranian, Syrian or other pressure on the Northern borders between Israel and Syria.
As well as to deal – possibly from an indirect position of strength – even with Russia which, however, has no interest in using the Kurdish area against Iran or Turkey.
Obviously Putin has already announced he will never accept a Turkish invasion of Syria for the Kurdish territories, nor the Turkish control of the YGP-controlled Kurdish areas.
Hence a new structure and organisation of central Syria: Israel plays the Kurdish card, knowing that Turkey cannot take it due to its relations with Russia, which would block any Turkish interest in Syria.
Therefore any agreement between Russia and Israel envisages a possible control zone of the “corridor”, well before the 80 kilometres set by Israel, as well as a new positioning of Syria within the Russian sphere of influence.
This means that Russia could also tolerate the line between Iran and the Lebanon, but it would certainly put the former in a position to accept pressing remote or direct systematic checks on the corridor.
As well as additional security on the Lebanese coasts by Hezbollah that now operates near the Russian military ports of Latakia and Tartus.
This could also reduce the mass of missiles deployed by Iran and Hezbollah in the Bekaa-Golan region, although always remaining well beyond the threshold of lethality and, above all, of saturation of the attack areas in Israel’s metropolitan territory, which is the true target of Iran and its regional allies.
Therefore Turkey shall place itself at the edges of the Kurdish region, albeit with all the possible operations of intelligence and strategic harassment.
Israel could control the “corridor” also from the North, even in partial autonomy from Russia.
Russia shall keep control of central Syria (the Sunni area, in particular), but in a stable and non-adverse relationship with the Kurds.
Moreover Iran shall fight with some not fully opposed factions of the Kurdish world on the Iraqi borders. However, under these conditions, Bashar al-Assad’ Syria will hence have the possibility to filter all the funds for reconstruction, but with the Russian-Chinese permission.
Nevertheless, once again the real political issue is to manage the Lebanese chaos, which is largely agreed among the real leaders of the region.
For obvious reasons, these leaders do no longer include Bashar al-Assad. However, Saudi Arabia counts very much, with its current policies for enslaving the old political-business classes of the coastal area.
And if Saudi Arabia decides to play a role, it mainly plays its own and, only residually and on the sidelines, it plays the Turkish role.
As is well-known, after nine months, Saad Hariri – the former expensive “guest” of the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh – had to leave in Saudi Arabia much of the funds he held abroad, but not directly in the Lebanon.
The construction company Saudi Oger had a 3.5 billion debt with the Saudi banks – a debt promptly repaid mainly thanks to Mohammed Bin Salman’s prompt favours.
Now freed from his severe outstanding accounts and matters in the Saudi Kingdom, Saad Hariri is still and again President of the Lebanese Council.
However, at a price which is certainly not good even for Mohammed bin Salman.
The price of forming a government basically in Hezbollah’s hands.
The Shiite militia was given three Ministries, including Health, a Ministry that is worth one fourth of government spending.
Hariri’s government should above all manage to release a share of foreign funding to the Lebanon of at least 84 billion, equivalent to 150% of the local GDP, with a view to solving many problems, including unemployment which is around 36%.
All money fuelling Hezbollah, which uses a lot of public money for organizing its militias and managing its charitable activities and institutions, which are also guerrilla warfare, coverage and training structures, where necessary.
Probably only Hezbollah will solve the electricity crisis, which is structural in the Lebanon, thus creating a further basis of support and militancy to cover military operations or even to develop an attack strategy from Southern Lebanon.
The creation of the government was compulsory: the World Bank had threatened to immediately transfer to Jordan the 4 billion US dollars of funding previously envisaged for the Lebanon, if the country had not decided to form a government soon.
Corruption is always very widespread in the Lebanon, which is one of the twenty most corrupt countries in the world.
Hence the State does not exist there.
Now, however, at the core of the Lebanese power system there is the Head of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, whose primary ally is Michel Aoun, a Maronite Christian closely linked to Iran and Syria. There is also Foreign Minister Gebrane Bassile, son-in-law of President Aoun, but also very close- personally – to Hezbollah.
As is now well-known, Israel’s policy line has always been to preliminary destroy the Hezbollah tunnels in its territory and elsewhere.
On November 3 last, Prime Minister Netanyahu made it clear that those operations would continue and should also be provided some coverage from the United States and even from the irrelevant EU.
At this juncture, however, there is a clear link between the US withdrawal from Syria and the persistent Israeli operations in the Lebanon.
In particular, this clearly means that the United States will no longer be in a position to put pressure on Aoun and the new Lebanese government, with a view to marginalizing Hezbollah.
Hence Israel has currently no support from the United States for its actions against the Hezbollah tunnels, which are still located in some Caliphate’s pockets on the border between Syria and the Lebanon.
The US leaders have already said to the Lebanon that the Hezbollah leaders shall not use government funds to wage war against Israel.
Good intentions, especially in foreign policy, are welcome because they make us smile and relax.
Exactly the opposite happened in the division of Lebanese Ministries.
The Treasury Minister is Hassan Khalil, a man of the old Shite movement “Amal”. Elias Bou Saab, a businessman very close to Aoun, was appointed Defence Minister. The Health Ministry, a traditional focus of Hezbollah, was assigned to Jamil Jabak, a Shiite doctor who is very well known in the local scientific community but is, above all, a man very close to Iran.
Westerners – who are real geniuses – support Hariri, but not much of his government.
The squared circle of geopolitics.
The Interior Ministry was assigned to Raja al-Hassan, an important woman linked to Hariri’s party, but in excellent relations also with Iran and, indirectly, with Hezbollah.
Thus, in the Lebanon, there will be an officially “pro-Western” government, albeit with a wide para-Iranian majority, which will lead the country to support any Hezbollah actions in Israel.
Advisory Board Co-chair Honoris Causa Professor Giancarlo Elia Valori is an eminent Italian economist and businessman. He holds prestigious academic distinctions and national orders. Mr. Valori has lectured on international affairs and economics at the world’s leading universities such as Peking University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Yeshiva University in New York. He currently chairs “International World Group”, he is also the honorary president of Huawei Italy, economic adviser to the Chinese giant HNA Group. In 1992 he was appointed Officier de la Légion d’Honneur de la République Francaise, with this motivation: “A man who can see across borders to understand the world” and in 2002 he received the title “Honorable” of the Académie des Sciences de l’Institut de France. “