Russia Warns US In Unprecedented "Secret" Face-To-Face Meeting Over Syria, But What's The Endgame?

The moment the first Russian jet landed in Syria at the invitation of the Assad government in 2015, Putin placed himself in the driver's seat concerning the international proxy war in the Levant. From a strategic standpoint the armed opposition stood no chance of ever tipping the scales against Damascus from that moment onward. And though US relations with Russia became more belligerent and tense partly as a result of that intervention, it meant that Russia would set the terms of how the war would ultimately wind down.

Russia's diplomatic and strategic victory in the Middle East was made clear this week as news broke of "secret" and unprecedented US-Russia face to face talks on Syria. The Russians reportedly issued a stern warning to the US military, saying that it will respond in force should the Syrian Army or Russian assets come under fire by US proxies. 

The AP reports that senior military officials from both countries met in an undisclosed location "somewhere in the Middle East" in order to discuss spheres of operation in Syria and how to avoid the potential for a direct clash of forces. Tensions have escalated in the past two weeks as the Syrian Army in tandem with Russian special forces are now set to fully liberate Deir Ezzor city, while at the same time the US-backed SDF (the Arab-Kurdish coalition, "Syrian Democratic Forces") - advised by American special forces - is advancing on the other side of the Euphrates. As we've explained before, the US is not fundamentally motivated in its "race for Deir Ezzor province" by defeat of ISIS terrorism, but in truth by control of the eastern province's oil fields. Whatever oil fields the SDF can gain control of in the wake of Islamic State's retreat will then used as powerful bargaining leverage in negotiating a post-ISIS Syria. The Kurdish and Arab coalition just this week captured Tabiyeh and al-Isba oil and gas fields northeast of Deir Ezzor city.

The race is underway for Syria's most oil rich province. Syrian War Report (9/22/17) courtesy of  SouthFront.

At various times the Syrian-Russian side has come under mortar fire from SDF positions, even as Russia and the US are theoretically said to coordinate through a special military hotline. The SDF for its part claims it too has come under attack from the Syrian Army. The most significant event occurred just over a year ago when the US coalition launched a massive air attack on Syrian government troops in Deir Ezzor near the city's military airport at the very moment they were fighting ISIS. The US characterized it as a case of mistaken identity while Syria accused the US coalition of directly aiding ISIS by the attack. The end result was about 100 Syrian soldiers dead and over a hundred more wounded while ISIS terrorists were able to advance and entrench their positions. 

Though US officials disclosed few elements of this week's unusual meeting, the US side did confirm Russia's threat of returning fire should Syrian soldiers come under attack. US coalition spokesman Colonel Ryan Dillon confirmed that, “They had a face-to-face discussion, laid down maps and graphics.” But the Russians publicly delivered further details outlining its message to the US military. Russian Major-General Igor Konashenkov said in a statement,“A representative of the U.S. military command in Al Udeid (the U.S. operations center in Qatar) was told in no uncertain terms that any attempts to open fire from areas where SDF fighters are located would be quickly shut down.” He added that, “Fire points in those areas will be immediately suppressed with all military means.” Russia has further openly accused the US of violating previously agreed to 'de-escalation' zones in Idlib (as part of Astana talks) using al-Qaeda proxies to engaged the Syrian Army in Idlib.

The US coalition hinted in its statements that future military-to-military talks could continue regarding coordination in Syria. Though Russian warnings sound alarmist, and though the situation is increasingly very dangerous for the prospect of escalation, the US side appears to be in a vulnerable enough position to listen. The fact that the meeting occurred in the first place and was publicly acknowledged by the Pentagon is hugely significant as a US ban on such direct military talks was put in place after the collapse in relations between the two nations following the outbreak of the Ukraine proxy war in 2014.

In reality some degree of US-Russian back channel communication and intelligence sharing probably existed long before the SDF made gains in Syria's east - this according to Seymour Hersh's 2016 investigation entitled, "Military to Military". Though (ironically) the CIA's push for regime change against Damascus was still operational and presumably in full gear at that time, the Pentagon's actions in Syria were always perhaps more humble regarding pursuit of regime change.

But what are current Pentagon plans for its SDF proxy?

It's no secret that the core component force of the SDF - the Kurdish YPG - has at times loosely cooperated with the Syrian government when the situation pragmatically served both sides. At the same time Damascus has over the past few years recognized the Kurds as a militarily effective buffer against both ISIS and other powerful jihadist groups like al-Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham. While many Russian and pro-Damascus analysts have accused the SDF of being a mere pawn of US imperialism meant to permanently Balkanize the region, this is only partially true - the truth is likely more nuanced.

No doubt, the US is laying plenty of concrete in the form of forward operating bases across Kurdish held areas of northern and eastern Syria (currently about a dozen or more). And no doubt the US is enabling the illegal seizure of oil fields formerly held by the Islamic State, but Kurdish and US interests are not necessarily one and the same. The Kurds know that the best they can hope for in a post-war Syria is a federated system which allows Kurdish areas a high degree of autonomy. They also know, as decades of experience has taught them, that they will eventually be dumped by the US should the political cost of support grow too high or become untenable. For now the Kurds are gobbling up as many oil fields as possible before they are inevitably forced to cut deals with Damascus.

Though the US endgame is the ultimate million dollar question in all of this, it appears at least for now that this endgame has something to do with the Pentagon forcing itself into a place of affecting the Syrian war's outcome and final apportionment of power: the best case scenario being permanent US bases under a Syrian Kurdish federated zone with favored access to Syrian oil doled out by Kurdish partners. While this is the 'realist' scenario, there's of course always the question that an independent Iraqi Kurdistan could one day be realized out of the merging of Kurdish northern Iraq and Syria. But this would be nothing less than a geopolitical miracle. For now, early voting has begun in the Kurdish diaspora ahead of the planned for September 25th referendum on Kurdish independence, with the very first votes reportedly being cast in China.


Manthong roadhazard Fri, 09/22/2017 - 18:10 Permalink

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  We do NOT need to control their F’n oil fields. We need some ‘60s-like messaging to Trump, the Congress and the deep state. Kids… Your future (of even IF you have a future) is on the line here. Living in your folks basement and playing video games is NO future at all and that basement makes a lousy fallout shelter.

In reply to by roadhazard

Jim in MN ufos8mycow Fri, 09/22/2017 - 19:27 Permalink

I just submitted a guest post to ZH under the title:What If World Peace Arrived....And No One Noticed?I sent it to the tipline this time (hope someone looks in there from time to time).I have done yet more research and yep, we are in an unprecedented period of global peace RIGHT NOW.This is breaking news, you heard it here first.CongoMaliPhilippinesColombiaSyria (soon)Iraq (soon)Yemen (MAYBE SOON especially if the Saudis feel some shame being the last mass civilian killers on Earth)Afghanistan (no mass civilian casualties, some combat and car bombings but not a lot)IrelandLebanonUkraineThe biggest wars we have left are 'drug wars' in Mexico and some other places.

In reply to by ufos8mycow

jeff montanye sincerely_yours Fri, 09/22/2017 - 21:33 Permalink

well a few dare mention it here but the legacy media including fox are generally silent and self serving (as zionists).   what i hope is that president trump plays it as the anti obama (and, do a degree, the anti bush): talks tough as fuck, swaggers, kicks shit over, threatens to blow out north korea like a candle, poof.  but slowly, carefully, with shrewd negotiation, gets the u.s. military out of the middle east, europe, the korean peninsula, japan, the philippines, and everywhere else it is not to our long term strategic geopolitical advantage to be.israel be damned.

In reply to by sincerely_yours

JSBach1 Dancing Disraeli Fri, 09/22/2017 - 23:32 Permalink

Why did the US, in a mad dash towards the oil fields northeast of Deir ez-Zor, suddenly reallocate its proxy resouces away from Raqqah? Every attempt was used at its disposal to blunt the advances of the SAA and Russian contingent from further headway east across the Euphrates by increasing the flow of water from nearby Tabqa dam to hinder the river crossing all the way to firing mortar shells at this contingent by SDF allied factions. The obvious goal being to protect these oil field north and east of the Euphrates, but to what end? Is it, as the following article suggests, to give leverage to a newly formed proto-Kurd regional power, or is it a last-ditch attempt by the US to hold a seemingly winning-hand at the poker contest in the aftermath that follows, Kurds, or any other proxy, be damded in the end, as is the history, which has clearly been cast by the US "interests" and made bare for those who dare see and piece it together all the more apparent?…

In reply to by Dancing Disraeli

jeff montanye Jim in MN Fri, 09/22/2017 - 21:39 Permalink

i think you are right, to a degree.  imo president trump is playing a sophisticated long game disguised as a buffoon's bumbling, while the media in all its tentacles mocks him mercilessly.  he's ok with that, perhaps, as it energizes and marginally expands his support and assists in his disguise.or i may be wrong.  time will tell.  but more has changed for the deep state in eight months of trump than in the prior fifty plus years.

In reply to by Jim in MN

Jim in MN jeff montanye Fri, 09/22/2017 - 22:14 Permalink

I believe it is an ACCIDENTAL populist peace dividend.  To a large degree.It is a phenomenon worth observation and analysis.I will continue to research and analyze, but it appears that war casualties since WW2 average something like a million a year.The current 'peace outbreak' has cut that by roughly least. Yet no one notices or can deal with it when it's pointed out.US proxies, instructed to wait for Her Fury for more aggressive orders.  Orders that never came.Regional powers finally finding their places and controlling their spheres of influence.  We may detest their values, but peace is precious too.Maybe the US should concentrate on becoming a good example at home.As I have said hundreds of times here:USA OUT OF EURASIAI am not afraid to say it again.

In reply to by jeff montanye

malek Jim in MN Sat, 09/23/2017 - 12:59 Permalink

Simply taking the contrarian viewpoint even if it is completely STUPID doesn't make you a critical thinker.

To me you sound like a copy of the retards declaring stock markets to show unprecedented low risk due to low recent volatility.
Such a thinking completely ignores the telltale signs of pressure steadily building up under the surface, with no low-damage exit route in place.

In reply to by Jim in MN

stayhumble Jim in MN Fri, 09/22/2017 - 22:37 Permalink

The SAA have been lighting up Idlib for the past three days, just before Turkey moves their troops into northern Idlib on agreements made in the Astana talks. You are telling me there is not mass casualty going on right now as we speak? Specially in a backwards proxy war such as Syria where the information we get is shady as it is. I really want you to be right, but it doesn't take more than thirty minutes a day to see how much death is happening is Syria daily. 

In reply to by Jim in MN

Rubicon727 07564111 Fri, 09/22/2017 - 19:55 Permalink

"I guess your 'we' is Israel as well as the USA ? I hope it does, because that shit state is who is pushing the agenda."Of course the neo-cons (Jews/US military) want to obliterate Syria. When that's done, then the rabid Israeli govt./Washington, D.C. Zionist/US military will take on Iran. Checkmate. Unfortunately for those fanatics, Russia has come out with a stark, and stern NO. It so happens that the BRIC's One Belt One Initiative has set in motion trade/commerce throughout all of Asia, and parts of the Middle East, INCLUDING Iran, Syria, and possibly Turkey. Pray to God that coalition of forces will demolish the fanatic Israeli/Zionist/US military establishments. Those fanatics are a CURSE for all of the US, Russia, Syria, Iran, and China.

In reply to by 07564111

Expendable Container Rubicon727 Sat, 09/23/2017 - 11:12 Permalink

And a curse upon all Whites in South Africa, but coming to the US. 'To know what the future will be in the US (and Europe!) just look to South Africa' is the new meme and worth paying attention to. Here marxist 'Saint' Nelson Mandela and Lithuanian communist Jew JOE SLOVO pledge to 'KILL THE WHITES'. There is a war against the White race everywhere and its not being fought with guns or cannons:

In reply to by Rubicon727

jeff montanye aurum4040 Fri, 09/22/2017 - 21:52 Permalink

so who does control the oil?  israel?  china?  iraq?  saudi arabia?the u.s.?  prior to trump, for more than a half century, the u.s. couldn't control an "ally" with 3% of its population and one fifth of one percent of its area.and is that what you call it?  "positioning"?  two million dead, six aggressive, nuremberg prohibited wars started and lost, trillions of dollars pissed away for way less than nothing?somehow that doesn't do it justice.

In reply to by aurum4040

Joiningupthedots roadhazard Fri, 09/22/2017 - 19:07 Permalink

You people crack me up sometimesFor Russia to state they will attack ANYONE in Syria who attacks them would indicate there are more A2D2 GTG missiles than there are Amercan planes. You can forget Jordan, Israel and UK Cyprus they will all get smashed as soon as Russia detects serious movement.You dont have air supremay, air supriority or anything else in the air.Without that your troops on the ground are dog food.  

In reply to by roadhazard

Matteo S. Joe Trader Sat, 09/23/2017 - 06:17 Permalink

6th generation is vaporware. Don't confound Hollywood movies with reality.

The US is unable to build efficient 5th generation aircraft. The F22 is both but a hangar queen. And the F35 is unable to fight but can only drop bombs on 3rd world countries who don't have decent radars and air defenses.

The only thing at which the US would be efficient at would be launching thousands of cruise missiles. Although a lot of those missiles are crap, this would be enough to saturate the most advanced anti-air defense. But it is reciprocal for other advanced countries that can also saturate US anti-air defenses.

In reply to by Joe Trader