US, Russia hold secret talks over SE Syria safe zone

…by  Laura Rozen,  Al Monitor

The trauma and PTSD issues will last a generation for Syrians

[ Editor’s  Note: We have been seeing clues of talks going on behind the scenes over the southeast Syria increased fighting between US and British Special Ops troops and the militant proxies they have been using to control as much of the Syrian-Jordanian-Iraqi border as possible.

Control would mean being able to block the Damascus-Baghdad highway from being the critical link for the Syrian coalition for logistical support from both Iran and Iraq.

This would of course include blocking military hardware and troops – in effect, imposing a situation that a war victor would, when the US has not won the war. The US Coalition does not want the Syrian people to have anti-terrorism partners unless it approves, and they are using the Russians to get this deal done, similar to their wanting Assad out, which would assure a weak and more easily destabilized Syria, after any kind of a settlement.

Our sources in Syria tell us that many there are wary of what the Russians might do, as one can assume that Moscow does not want to be involved at the current level of combat for years and years. The US Coalition obviously does not want to submit Assad’s future to the Syrian people, as he would win devastatingly, which would show that the US scam that he ruled only do to military oppression of his own people was just another geopolitical hoax.

Any real democratic solution for the Syrian people is being bulldozed out of the picture by US-Israeli-Saudi machinations

This scam would be on a similar scale to how the P5+1 agreement carved in historical stone that the claims of Iran having a secret nuclear weapons program were a complete hoax, done partially to justify the Iranian sanctions to cripple its economy, and also for the deployment of a US anti-missile screen in Eastern Europe.

Unfortunately, a totally in-the-bag western media has never mentioned this exposure of the Iranian nuclear threat hoax as one of the key accomplishments of the deal. They just act like they forgot about that part.

That shows they fear public focus on the nasty deed, because it could focus closer public attention in the future. The public might look for a replay scam, as I am claiming the Syrian threat is, or the new Iranian threat because it is Syria’s ally.

Iran has done way more to fight terrorism in Syria that the US has – another item about which Western media seems selectively blind. What is at stake is countries like the US and Israel, who have aggressive intentions, to paint their selected targets as aggressors, so their own aggression can be cloaked in the often-used robe of being “defensive measures”.

I had warned early on when the peace talks began that the US Coalition would string the process along, looking for openings to win in the talks what they could not on the battlefield, and that is exactly what is rolling out here Jim W. Dean ]

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The trauma and PTSD complication for the Syrian people will last a generation

The United States is particularly concerned that any deal over the future of Syria preserves the stability of its close allies Israel and Jordan. Israel for its part has said it would not tolerate an Iranian presence on its border with Syria.

“Last week, the Americans and Russia met in Jordan with the Jordanians to discuss these zones in the south,” the former diplomat said. “The meeting in Jordan was one part where the US and Russia, Israel and Jordan can work together to have [a] de-escalation zone in the south of Syria.”

“They met more than once,” the senior diplomat, speaking not for attribution, said, referring to the Americans and Russians. “[It is] difficult to say where they are at … but they seem to have rather serious discussions. And at the same time [they are] trying to increase their bargaining power through moves on the ground [to see] who has the upper hand in the Euphrates valley.”

The source said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is “in charge of dealing with Russia” amid allegations that the Trump presidential campaign conspired with Moscow. The former diplomat said Brett McGurk, the US special presidential envoy to the global coalition against the Islamic State, and US Syria envoy Michael Ratney participated in the Jordan talks. Neither official responded to queries.

The Trump administration priority on Syria “is to stop the killing,” the source said. “That’s why they are willing to watch what Russia is doing[.] They are willing to give Russia a major role to play … to find a solution … in a way that Assad, in the endgame, should be out, and Iran should be out.”

The Americans and Russians have been meeting quietly on Syria without announcing it, a senior international diplomat who works on Syria confirmed to Al-Monitor.

Tillerson has asked “for a short window of opportunity … to change the trajectory of our relationship with Russia,” Corker said last week before Congress recessed until June 5. Corker warned that his patience was wearing thin and promised reporters that Tillerson would be grilled on the issue during his mid-June appearance before the Senate Budget Committee to defend Trump’s FY 2018 budget blueprint.

“Unless Secretary Tillerson can come in early in this next work session” and report “these things are occurring that are changing the trajectory” of US-Russia relations, Corker said, then he planned to move forward quickly with a Russia sanctions bill. “I can just tell you: I see no difference whatsoever,” Corker added. “[The Russians] continue to work against our interests.”

A Jordanian official confirmed there are several ongoing meetings taking place pertaining to Syria, in Jordan, Geneva, Astana and elsewhere.

“As Jordanians, we have meetings and communications with all concerned parties who have influence on the ground, be it the Russians, the Americans and others,” the Jordanian official, speaking not for attribution, told Al-Monitor. “Our objective is to communicate our view and vision on the situation in service of our national strategic interest of securing our borders.”

Congress, however, has been blunter. Speaking at a May 25 meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., revealed that Tillerson had asked Congress to delay action on new Russia sanctions while he worked to secure an agreement on Syria.

“The border with Jordan [part of which is a de-escalation area] and up to the Euphrates must, in my view, be subject to Russian-US understandings, and therefore implicit understandings between [the government of Syria], Jordan and Israel,” he added.

The State Department would not confirm the Jordan meeting but said it is working exhaustively to try to reduce the violence in Syria.

“The United States remains committed to supporting a diplomatic resolution to the Syrian conflict, one which can bring about a more representative and peaceful Syria, free of terrorism,” a State Department official, speaking not for attribution, told Al-Monitor. “We have long said there is no military solution to the crisis in Syria and have worked tirelessly to achieve a de-escalation of violence and a defeat of [the Islamic State], al-Qaeda and other terrorists.”

Recent US-Russian discussions “focus on the south” of Syria, Czech Ambassador to the United States Hynek Kmonicek told Al-Monitor. “It’s at least something that we can read from evolution on the ground. If this approach works, it could be strategically interesting. It could be a test if Russia is willing and can deliver.”

“It will not be easy,” Kmonicek, whose government represents the United States in Syria, said. “The American side wants to create islands of stability. De-escalation zones. The Russians are thinking, very funny, islands of stability — for jihadis. …. So, they must persuade each other.”

“My feeling: The Russians need a political settlement, to get out,” the Czech diplomat continued. “They are eager to have something.”

The Trump administration has been evasive about its contacts with Russia, possibly out of sensitivity to the scrutiny the White House is under after the US intelligence community determined that Moscow interfered in the 2016 US presidential elections to boost Trump. The alleged interference is now the subject of several investigations by Congress, the FBI and Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

“They have to keep it behind the scenes,” said Michael Kofman, a Russia expert with the Kennan Institute. Now is not the “right time” to “let on that they are actually making progress with Russia on arrangements for Syria,” he said. “[There is] the perception that the current administration is highly constrained in what it can do with Russia right now.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in an interview with a French newspaper this week, alluded to US-Russian consultations focused in particular on Syria’s southern borders with Israel and Jordan.

“Incidentally, we have been seeing some shifts lately; and there are actual results,” Putin told France’s Le Figaro newspaper May 30. “I spoke to President Trump on the telephone, and he supported the idea, in general, of creating de-escalation zones.”

In addition to regular colonel-to-colonel US-Russian de-confliction talks, “there have been three-star conversations at the … joint staff level,” Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, the commander of US air forces at Central Command, told journalists at the Pentagon on May 24. “My … two-star deputy exchanged some conversations with the Russians as we were working through the myriad of issues that have occurred.”

“We are now considering how the interests of all the countries to the south of Syria can be best served, with consideration for the concerns of all the countries that face issues in this region,” Putin said. “I am referring to Jordan, Israel and Syria itself. Of course, Russia is ready to heed what the United States and our European partners have to say. However, what we need is for the dialogue to be specific and concise, instead of empty talk about mutual claims and threats. There is a need for a real effort.”

While the State Department has been mum about recent US-Russian discussions on Syria de-escalation zones, the Pentagon has readily acknowledged stepped-up military-to-military contacts in order to avoid inadvertent confrontation with the Russians in Syria, particularly as the US-led coalition prepares to retake Raqqa from the Islamic State.

“So we have had the ability to increase the dialogue at the appropriate level,” Harrigan said. “My expectation is that will be helpful as we move forward … as the airspace continues to become more congested and with the … regime continuing to move farther to the east. I think it’ll be important that we decrease ambiguity. And that decrease in ambiguity allows us to understand where [the Russians are] going, where possible areas of conflict could occur.”

But the US-Russia military-to-military de-confliction talks do not involve discussion of Syria de-escalation zones, Harrigan added.

“At our level, when we’ve talked to the Russians, we do not talk about those de-escalation zones,” Harrigan said. “We just talk de-confliction in our operations.”

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15 Responses to "US, Russia hold secret talks over SE Syria safe zone"

  1. joetv  June 5, 2017 at 8:38 am

    Harrigan “…heed what…. we say”, “..we don’t talk about those descaltion zones…” . A rather arrogant dude. So the desecalation zones, in his mind, don’t exist, and Russia is fighting off it’s back foot. Is Harrigan delusional? When is enough enough? America will not stop, Uncle Sam is on a roll, a world tour, and ready to fight on multible fronts. Don’t believe me! Just ask Duterte, or Xi, and that guy in N. Korea.
    Cold Wind’s comment is spot on. Russia must stand firm, as Russia is the real target. Next! Russia, has this decision to make. He knows the USA is a war machine. So, quit or go for the KO, and risk going out on his shield. What would a moral man do? The way the West operates can end now, or we can all wait and suffer until it runs out of gas, ‘er steam. This is the fight worth fighting. IMO. What is morally right is worth dieing for. Putin calls the foe Satanists. One can not make a deal with the devil.

  2. wjabbe  June 4, 2017 at 10:17 pm

    I would say Putin needs a permanent relationship with Sryia and he has said as much by actions spending many millions of dollars doing so. Assad has fully supported and embraced this aid in running thugs out of the country. Again what country has permission to be in Syria? Not the U.S., Not Jordan, Not Israel, Not turkey, ….only Russia. Why not have a national referendum in Syria on the question of annexation by Russia? Russia and Iran need Syria so together they can provide a strong front to the crooks of the West. Putin is not going to be fooled by these international war criminals trespassing in Syria like common horse thieves of the wild west

  3. Jaffer Jamil  June 4, 2017 at 6:18 pm

    More like they keep going back to negotiating table to work on portions of pie on oil & gas distribution.

  4. Laura Green  June 4, 2017 at 2:52 pm

    Never forget high morals of Russia and it’s people. Russia will never betray her friend- country Syria. As V. Putin has said : ” No. partition of the country ” . ” Our sources in Syria”…., they do not have to know everything . There is no reason not to trust Russia.

  5. roger  June 4, 2017 at 2:40 pm

    Assad may be willing to go as he already said, but Israel in exchange, has to return the Golan Heights.

  6. Cold Wind  June 4, 2017 at 1:53 pm

    Perhaps ironically, there is no possible solution, but a military one, to the US/Israel created Syrian regime change crisis. If Russia persist in nursing the illusion the US can be a partner in any Syrian settlement after Daesh, then all is lost and Assad will not long survive. Syria will soon cease to exist. World wide, the principle of sovereignty, nationalism and self government will hang by a thread as a result and if Russia doesn’t get a spine to stand up to the criminal US globalist cabal in Syria. US forces need to be pushed out of Syria. Period. Obviously, we can’t trust Putin to put moral considerations above transient political advantage–of which to the Russians the US will offer plenty. But if Putin does not stand on moral principle here in Syria, Russia\s days are numbered too.

  7. JohninMK  June 4, 2017 at 1:40 pm

    So US diplomats want to sneak a quick deal thro’ with the Russians to the US’s advantage to be followed by Congress upping the sanctions on Russia.

    Somehow I can’t see the Russians, led by Lavrov, falling for that one.

  8. disrael12a  June 4, 2017 at 1:16 pm

    It is silly to think that russians are smart enough to engage in a good (counter-intel) negotiation. Big Z had screwed them for three decades. And just take a measurement of the IQs of mika and morning joe. Look at how russians performed in ukraine and korean peninsular. US has been winning right up to the gate. If you couldn’t defend yourself, how could you with others. Putin is in the same class as ###. You guys have been fooled to the teeth. The PTB decides the reality matrix.

    • Amelius  June 5, 2017 at 12:46 pm

      The us hasn’t been winning $h!t, Israeli. Putin flushes smarter things than Donald Trump down his toilet. You better hope things get settled peacefully over there, because your khazarian apartheid state will not survive a war.

  9. US-First  June 4, 2017 at 9:12 am

    The Brits, US, Israel and Jordan are over a barrell. May will have no say after June 8 when NATO will also receive a major blow-back from the British electorate through Corbyn’s enlightened program. Time is on Russia’s side and patience has proven your strongest virtue. President Trump is in withdrawal mood and the so-called Sunni alliance is under noticeable strain. So, President Putin – do not succumb to any Jordanian jargon, tripe from Tel Aviv, baloney from Britain or waffle from Washington. The cards are falling in your favor in this game of Hold’em where the West and its proxies can only bluff against your four kings before the final river card falls – the ‘river’ being the Euphrates. Play for time, play for military sanctions to counter their ‘ineffective’ economic sanctions against you and Iran. Push them to the pin of their collective collar, and squeeze!

    • zman  June 4, 2017 at 11:00 am

      Yes. From the selected quotes, it’s apparent that the west is clearly wondering what the Russians are up to. Then there is the Czech official who represents the US in Syria, who gives a pretty good assessment of the tenor of the talks. These people seem to have no clue…is it that they aren’t able to personally corrupt Putin into betrayal? It’s not like the Russians haven’t stated their goals over and over. Washington simply refuses to understand any stance that is not in line with their corrupt agenda. Putins assessment of their so-called safe-zones is right on the money. I pity the Jordanians in all this. They don’t have much choice of their options. You are absolutely right, Tillerson & co are bluffing using basically neutered (so far) assets. Then there is Corker. He’s part of the sabotage Trump effort(or the DNC Russia did it BS,lol) who is foaming at the mouth to add more sanctions on Russia. To what end, shoot ourselves or economic partners in the foot again? It is strange though, is it not, that ‘both sides of the aisle’ have a get Russia bent, albeit from somewhat different angles. They’re betting on one or the other line to continue to confuse reality and maintain the Russia/Putin..Bad BS. But buffalo Putin?…hah.

  10. paul becke  June 4, 2017 at 8:22 am

    ‘….. as one can assume that Moscow does not want to be involved at the current level of combat for years and years.

    But is that a realistic assumption, Jim ? On the face of it, perhaps, but given the widely-reported imminence of an economic collapse in the West, notably and seminally, of the US, does it not look likely that the improbability of Russia’s having to face such a scenario would seem more realistic?

    • Jim W. Dean, Managing Editor  June 4, 2017 at 10:39 am

      It is certainly an up in the air situation. If a collapse is knocking at the door, triggering a war has always been the modern fix…emergency powers, etc, the Deep State loves those situations. Asset prices crash, where industry can be bought up for 10 cents on the dollar, and the “crisis” can be fixed and they are sitting on 1000% appreciation.

    • zman  June 4, 2017 at 11:21 am

      As for continuing its level of combat for years is concerned, no they do not want that. Who would? But then again there is the life blood of the Russian economy…oil/gas. A pipeline directly threatens that and worse. Should these pipelines be used as an economic weapon, what would be the effect of long term oil dumping? Although Russia is expanding it’s economy and manufacturing base, instigated by failed sanctions, it’s nowhere near a point of sustainability in the face of an economic crash in the west, which would have world wide repercussions…there will be a reliance on energy for some time. Even though Russia would most likely be in a far better economic condition than most, partially due to it’s expansion of production, Putin may not have any choice. Unfortunately, those in the west will spend the last taxpayers last cent on this. They have their orders. Cutting social programs is the first step to funneling more money into the Pentagram…the most overfed beast there is.

    • Laura Green  June 6, 2017 at 2:26 pm

      Paul , Mr. Dean’s sources are not reliable ,even more – very kosher.
      Read this .
      Russian FM Blasts Claims over De-Escalation Zones’ Role for Syria’s Breakup — http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960316001261

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