Thanks to Donald Trump, it’s all over for the ‘rebels’ of Syria because they have been betrayed by the Americans – surely and finally by Trump himself in those secret discussions with Vladimir Putin
Will it be the Last Battle? For three years, Idlib has been the dumping ground for all of Syria’s retreating Islamist militias, the final redoubt of every combatant who has chosen to fight on, rather than surrender to the Syrian army and the Russian air force – and to Hezbollah and, to a far smaller degree, the Iranians.
Brigadier general Suheil al-Hassan, the “Tiger” of Syrian military legend and myth – who can quote the poet Mutanabi by heart but prefers to be compared to Erwin Rommel rather than Bernard Montgomery – will surely take his “Tiger Forces” with him for the final reckoning between the Damascus regime and the Salafist-inspired and western-armed Islamists who dared to try, and very definitely failed, to destroy Bashar al-Assad’s rule.
Thanks to Donald Trump, it’s all over for the “rebels” of Syria because they have been betrayed by the Americans – surely and finally by Trump himself in those secret discussions with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, perhaps the most important of the “unknowns” of that translators-only chat – as they have by the Gulf Arabs.
Three weeks earlier, the Americans had told the rebels of southwestern Syria below the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights that they were on their own, and could expect no more military assistance. Even the White Helmets, the first-responder heroes or propagandists of the rebel war (take your pick, but be sure they will soon be described as “controversial”) have been rescued with their families from the rebel lines by the Israelis and dispatched to safety in Jordan.
The Israelis are a bit miffed that they weren’t thanked by the White Helmets’ civil defence units for their humanitarian assistance – but what do they expect when they spent their time attacking Iranian, Hezbollah and Syrian forces during the war, supplying medical aid to the Nusrah Islamist fighters who came to their lines and never – ever – bombed Isis? Do the White Helmets want to be associated with Israel right now?
But the Israelis got what they really wanted: a Russian promise that the Iranians will stay far away from the Israeli-occupied Syrian Golan plateau. It’s all a bit odd, since there are precious few Iranian troops in Syria – and you can forget the humbug from the Washington “experts” – but it fits in with Benjamin Netanyahu’s morbid and theatrical conviction that Iran is “a noose of terror” round Israel’s neck. In any event, Putin knows a thing or two about the Syrian war: bombs talk, but so does cash.