Executive Intelligence Review


Negotiations Underway To Resolve Syria Crisis

June 3, 2018, 2018 (EIRNS)—Numerous reports indicate there is a high level of activity to begin to resolve the Syria crisis with negotiations underway among Russian, American, Israeli, Iranian, Turkish and Jordanian officials. Since all the negotiations are fluid and secret and much of the press reports are leaks intended to influence the negotiations on behalf of the leakers, it is impossible to draw specific conclusions; what is clear is that there is a very active effort, led by Russian President Vladimir Putin, to resolve the matter and restore full sovereignty to Syria.

In the last few days there are reported to have been discussions among the players about a withdrawal of Iranian forces from southern Syria and a withdrawal of U.S. forces from al-Tanf. According to the London-based Saudi newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat and picked up by the Israeli paper Ha’aretz, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State David Satterfield proposed to Russian, Turkish, and Jordanian officials that all Syrian and non-Syrian militias pull back from the Jordanian border. Syrian opposition forces would move to Idlib in northern Syria and hand over their heavy weapons to the Russians. Then Syrian government forces would return to the Jordanian border, Russian police points would be set up, and an American-Russian mechanism would be put in place to control the implementation.

Apparently the dispute is over timing, with the U.S. saying they want verification of the withdrawal of Iranian forces before dismantling the U.S. base at al-Tanf, with the Syrians demanding that the base be dismantled first. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem told a Damascus press conference yesterday that the U.S. must dismantle the base before negotiations begin. However, Asharq Al-Awsat reports that the Facebook page of the Russian air base at Hmeimim said that the agreement stipulates the withdrawal of Iranian forces from the south, and that this is expected to begin within a few days.

This report coincides with increased direct discussions between the Israelis and the Russians. Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman met in Moscow on May 31 with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to discuss security arrangements on the Golan Heights and southern Syria. This comes after several direct discussions between Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Putin, beginning with Netanyahu’s visit to Russia for Victory Day celebrations in early May.

Contrary to other officials in his administration, President Trump has repeatedly stated that he wants to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria. It is also widely reported that the Trump Administration is expected to announce a comprehensive peace plan for Southwest Asia in mid-June.