Published On: Tue, Jan 16th, 2018

East Syria: a future failed state – and the consequent war?

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The US has announced that there is going to be a “Border Security Force” that will operate in the territory carved out of Syria by its proxy on the ground – that fig-leaf for its own illegal occupation – the Syrian Democratic Forces. The BBC has more details – most of them originally from the Colonel Thomas F Veale, a coalition spokesman, as told to The Defense Post (“Defense news from around the globe!”)

The BSF will be tasked with securing the long sections of Syria’s northern border with Turkey and eastern border with Iraq that are under SDF control, as well as parts of the Euphrates river valley, which effectively serves as the dividing line between the SDF and Syrian pro-government forces.

“A strong border security force will prohibit Daesh’s freedom of movement and deny the transportation of illicit materials,” the coalition said, using a different term for IS. “This will enable the Syrian people to establish effective local, representative governance and reclaim their land.”

What this all looks like is the first step to turning the land captured by the SDF into a governed entity with the appearance of being intended as an alternative power base to Damascus: in other words, the partition of the nation into East and West Syria. No doubt East Syria, which will be beyond secularism (the author detects Luciferianism – more commonly known as Marxism‡) will be dangled in front of the Western Syrians as a tantalising paradigm of Western-style freedom (which, as many a Westerner knows, is only an illusion) to create dissatisfaction with rule from Damascus. At least, one can imagine that this is the marketing that has been dished out in order to have certain, otherwise reluctant, constituent ethnic groups do the bidding of their Washington planners and overlords. Alternatively – or even additionally – (but perhaps more likely) Rojava, as this place is being called, will be used to launch further covert American destabilising operations into the West.

However, things are not as straight forward as all that, and some observers think that in Rojava, the United States has only salvaged a pig’s ear out of its failure in Syria (see Moon of Alabama, for an example of the expression of this idea). For this author, at FBEL, the apparent success of the US-backed coalition out of its tiny north-east corner of Syria has always been beyond comprehension – something unbelievable – and so he’s not even sure that the real facts are available in order to make any reasonable analysis of the prospects of US success or failure.

Before (2014)


After (2018)

Consider the numbers proposed for the new Border force – but even before that, consider that the Turkish Government has called it a “terror army” and the Syrian Government has called it a “militia”, so don’t imagine that what is being discussed is customs and excise. It is a regular army for Rojava. We are told that this army is going to be comprised of 30,000 personnel, with 15,000 coming from existing SDF units. Half of these will come from the Arab contingent, and half will come from the Kurdish part. The remaining 15,000 will be recruited freshly into the role. There is an obvious question to ask. Where are the new recruits coming from?

As recently as 2015, the Kurds still had a “child-soldier problem”, where, despite pledges to stop the practise, it conscripted under-18 year-old boys and girls (abducting them out of school, if a report by the Human Rights Watch is to be credited). The author has seen (and misplaced) a report about the Arab contingent using children to perform guard duties, and so manpower already seems a bit thin on the ground (the reader will see many a story about ISIS using under-age soldiery. The fact of the matter is that the Arab contingent of the SDF has a tendency of being the Islamic State in a previous incarnation). In fact, much has been made of the Kurds’ women divisions – which are a publicity stunt, frankly, and further represent manpower shortage. If these fought on the front line, then it’s further evidence of the Kurdish war against ISIS being naught but theatre.

And as for that; by now, FBEL readers will know about the deal brokered by the US between the SDF and ISIS over Raqqa. Indeed, in the most recent article hereabouts on the subject of the Syrian war, it was concluded that the US was “organising the battlefield so that ISIS is managed precisely to be a token against the SDF, and an obstacle against the SAA”.

Consider also the dramatic progress of the SDF since the days that its back was firmly against the wall in Kobani. The turnaround was remarked upon in the abovementioned article:

The lifting of the siege of Kobani… was actually achieved by Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters that joined the fight against ISIS in Syria after the Turks let them cross their territory. Now, we are told that the SDF leadership is largely Kurdish: “mostly composed of, and militarily led by, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), a mostly Kurdish militia” – although Wikipedia then goes on to state that as much as 60% of the personnel are Arabs. If you follow the Wiki link for the YPG, you discover that this is the group who fought at Kobani, and it is supposed to be comprised of fighters from within Syrian borders. And yet we can’t help but notice that the “YPG” magically start to go on an offensive after Kobani, and after previously only being able to guard Syrian-Kurdish areas. Can we assume that this fighting force’s ranks were engorged by Iraqis so that it was then capable of mounting offensive operations? Therefore what right would this group have in carving out a piece of Syria as part of a Kurdish state?

The question that terminates the quotation is all-important, especially given the extent of the carve up (see images above also):

The SDF’s liberation of Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor [which was the Syrian Government’s doing – behold the attempt to give the SDF honours that it hasn’t won] along the Euphrates would extend territory controlled by the autonomous federation of north Syria to almost a third of the country, compared with the 16% that was governed by the federation of Rojava.


But to answer that question, another needs solving: who are the SDF? Some are Iranian, according to this report:

At another position near Ein Eissa, a swaggering Kurdish commander listed his militia’s victories against the Islamic State before acknowledging that he — like many of his fighters — was not Syrian. He was from Iran, and unabashed about being another foreign fighter in Syria’s civil war.

The FBEL reader should already know about forced conscription of Arabs into SDF ranks. Evidence abounds that the real inhabitants of the bulk of “Rojava” don’t feel like proving its diversity credentials:

A senior United States military official said the United States had encouraged the Kurdish militia to create an umbrella group that would make more sense to an international audience, and Kurdish leaders decided to call it the Syrian Democratic Forces.

But the name of a subgroup of Arab brigades called the Syrian Arab Coalition was “an American invention,” [at the start of the war, it was clear that large numbers of Arab ISIS/Free Syrian Army commanders were from Iraq – see here]. the senior official acknowledged. It had about 5,000 fighters, and roughly 20 percent of them said they would defend their land but would not go on the offensive against the Islamic State.

The dominant Kurdish force, the Y.P.G., meanwhile, is believed to have about 40,000 fighters — including thousands from neighboring countries and many linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party.


These numbers bring us back to the riddle of who is going to populate the Rojavan/Syrian Border Security Force. The quote above is from 2015. The SDF is said these days to number 50,000 troops. Why the need for 15,000 raw recruits? The author just doesn’t believe that the SDF has the manpower that is claimed for it – and it didn’t need that man power given that its spectacular progress after Kobani, all the way down to al-Omar gas fields (through ISIS-held territory which hosted US Special Ops bases), has been carefully stage-managed by the United States. This is exactly why the previous FBEL article was entitled: After the ISIS psyop, the Syrian-Kurdish “homeland”. Rojava isn’t what the United States says it is.

And whatever the pig’s-ear makers of the 2,000-strong United States Military presence in Syria are telling the Arabs under their command about a federalised country isn’t stopping the Kurds getting big ideas. The following illustrates the point:

At a recent funeral for SDF fighters, most of them Arab and Turkmen, another SDF leader was shocked to hear loudspeakers blaring Kurdish nationalist songs. To his relief, another commander ordered the music shut down.

“Five minutes later, someone played it again. We finally ordered the speakers unplugged,” he says, chuckling before adding soberly: “It worries me. If today, we cannot create true friendships while we’re strong, we cannot do it tomorrow when we are weak.”

These are the words of Mr Mohammed, an Arab tribal leader in the SDF. The quote is from a Financial Times piece† which, when one reads it to discover how much the Kurdish nationalist fervour is itching to get out to the point that it has to be repressed so as to not frighten the Arabs (the largest amongst other supporting ethnic groups), reminds of Dr Strangelove and his involuntary Nazi saluting. Notice Mr Mohammed’s concern about the future, because the same article goes on to vocalise what the Arabs suspect they have let themselves in for, and what will come of those suspicions:

“What worries people is this starting to feel like [a Kurdish] occupation,” says one Arab humanitarian worker from Tabqa. “If we can’t improve the situation, it could eventually lead to war.”

The SDF is hoping to use its territorial gains to negotiate its vision of a decentralised state with President Bashar al-Assad, with whom the Kurds have maintained a shaky truce. But that risks crumbling as their shared fight against Isis draws to an end. They also face the risk of ethnic conflict if they fail to gain local support for their rule.

Here is the promised pig’s ear of the United States’ making. The Syrian Government has declared that “any Syrian citizen who takes part in the US-backed militia [the Border Force]… a traitor to the Syrian state and people” and has vowed to “end the presence of the US, its agents and tools in Syria”. This could dissuade Arabs on top of their ideas of Kurdish dominance, and Kurds on top of any previous loyalties to the central government in Damascus.

But what if those extra 15,000 “Border Force agents” are all foreigners, for it seems to the author that the US is sitting on top of a Pakistan/India situation where the only thing stopping the impending trouble was the British rule. The US would have to increase its colonial administration. Maybe the recruits are going to come from amongst the 200,000 Jewish Kurds that some in Turkey think are going to be sent from Israel to colonise Rojava?

The upshot is that it is not a dead certainty that the US occupation of Syria on the East of the Euphrates is going to fail because of internal rivalries if the Kurds are given the idea that they are the first class citizens of the new country (which is an idea that seems to be broiling beneath the surface, as discussed above). With the control of the corporate-media that the US Government has, the Kurdish rule of its Arabic provinces could be as brutal as the day is long, and no one in the West would give two hoots about it.

Syria might have vowed to push out the US, but it surely couldn’t do it on its own in the open. An alliance with Turkey might help – and the Turkish Government is hopping mad about the latest Rojavan developments (evidence that things have just got harder, not easier) – but it’s difficult to foresee how events would proceed. The upcoming attack on Afrin could provide the ignition for whatever is to come, and no one should be certain that the United States, which hasn’t won a war for decades, would win a new one on Turkey’s own borders. Having said that, the failure of the East Syria project might have to come through strangulation, with Iraq, Syria and Turkey closing down its borders with the US colony – but then, this is on the assumption that the USA wants Rojava to function like a normal country, and not as a failed state with a ruling class prospering on the sort of criminal activity that always bypasses official border-closures. This sort of thing would be ideal for causing mischief in neighbouring countries, and after all, that’s all the US Government really wants from it.

War it is, then?


† The reader might have to copy the text of the quote and search for a link, because for some reason, clicking to the page directly brings one to a demand for a subscription to view.

‡ This is lazy writing, actually, and anyone wandering to these pages stock-stiff with notions of the left and right will be misled. There isn’t an MP in the Commons who isn’t a Marxist. It’s a meaningless term. If Luciferian was as common, then it would render the false spectrum meaningless too.

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