For Resistance axis, US war on ISIS presents an opportunity
The vision which guides the Resistance axis regarding the new US war could be summarized thusly: “We will deal with the new invasion piece by piece, making use of the objective intersection of interests in the elimination of ISIS.” However, this begs the question: what comes after ISIS?
As the US launched its air strikes against takfiri positions in Syrian territories on Tuesday, Damascus seemed to take a distinct position from its allies. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad clearly supported “all international efforts to fight terrorism.” Moscow, on the other hand, warned that “a unilateral formal notification of airstrikes” is not consistent with international law. However, the more hardline position came from Tehran, which considered that “the raids are without any legal basis, since they are launched in the absence of a UN mandate.”
“America is the mother of terrorism,” Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah declared on Tuesday. It is “not qualified ethically or morally to present itself as a leader of a coalition to fight terrorism,” he added.
“These are all different variations of the same position,” an informed source told Al-Akhbar. “Syria’s words are a clear indication that there are no real fears, until now, that the war on terrorism will be sidetracked into a war against the regime.”
Despite Washington’s denials, “coordination” between the US and Syria did take place, albeit at a minimal level. Damascus was informed of the timing of the operation prior to the first US raid. This is the first sign. The second sign of cooperation was the visit by Iraqi national security adviser Faleh al-Fayyad – who works on the line between Washington and Damascus – to the Syrian capital, where he met Assad.
A third sign, pointing to coordination on another level, could be that areas targeted by the first wave of raids are traditionally under Russian radar supervision. News about attacks on an ISIS position near Ain Arab (Kubani) close to the Turkish border on Wednesday could be the fourth sign. It also meant that Turkey will be far from achieving its ambitions to create a buffer zone controlled by the opposition along its borders with Syria.
The statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry was clear in this respect. It warned of “attempts to achieve private geopolitical objectives through the violation of the sovereignty of nations.” Ankara’s only choice is to become modest. Although Turkey is the primary beneficiary and the actual sponsor of ISIS, ultimately, it cannot stray too far from the US flock and risk its strategic alliance with the West.
Two additional signs come from Turkey in this respect: the barring of 1,000 fighters from entering Syria and the declaration by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of his country’s possible participation in the military campaign, even if only through logistics.
But why the distinction in the positions within the “Resistance axis”?
Sources indicated that everyone in this alliance feels threatened and are not pleased about the US return to the region under the guise of fighting terrorism. The axis believes that the threat posed by ISIS cannot be compared to the risks of direct US presence in the region or even at the borders of any of its countries.
The main concern is the next step, what comes after ISIS. Waiting for the answer, the Resistance axis will attempt to transform the threat into an opportunity, taking advantage of the objective intersection of interests with Washington in eliminating ISIS. This is exactly what it did after the war on Taliban and on Saddam Hussein in the previous decade. The axis will deal with the US attack in each sector.
The Resistance axis will lose nothing by eliminating ISIS. It can reap benefits from the fact that the war enjoys a wide Arab Sunni cover, which could defuse the Sunni-Shia sectarian strife threatening to engulf the region. Even more beneficial is that the war on ISIS coincides with overt signs of Iranian-Saudi flirtation. This is in addition to unforeseeable factors, which could appear with the progress in military operations.
Although it is too early to discern the outcomes of the situation, it seems to be happening at a preset rhythm. Washington keeps repeating it will not be sending troops for a ground operation. Early Wednesday morning, Reuters quoted a senior Iranian official saying that the US had informed his country in advance of the intentions to attack ISIS in Syria. “Assad and his government will not be targeted by any military operations,” he said.
Reuters also quoted a senior US State Department official confirming that the “intentions” were communicated with the Iranians. In principle, this meant that the same thing happened between Washington and Moscow. To begin with, Iran and Russia did not reject a war on terrorism as long as it was compatible with international law and coupled with the approval of the Syrian government, which does not seem to be too worried. Washington, on the other hand, had utilized “international legitimacy” to an extent when it informed Damascus of the strike deadline through Syria UN representative Bashar al-Jaafari.
As for Hezbollah, Nasrallah clearly stated that their history with the US does not allow them to be in the same alliance. Lebanon cannot be part of an alliance with consequences and commitments that it cannot handle. This is a position based on principles. However, eliminating or weakening ISIS will not hurt the party, whose best fighters are engaged in battle against them. Hezbollah will not hesitate to exploit the outcomes of the US military operation on the field and in politics. This is what is meant by “turning a risk into an opportunity.”
Source: Al Akhbar