Trump-Putin call focuses on Syria, security zones

Trump-Putin call focuses on Syria, security zones, DEBKAfile, May 2, 2017

Clearly, Putin was making the point that, just as the US deals with the Syrian issue in alignment with Saudi Arabia, Israel and Jordan, Russia coordinates its actions with Iran and Turkey. Since both presidents are similarly weighed down by their allies, the road to a consensus between Washington and Moscow is destined to be long with many convolutions. Therefore, the tension on the Israeli and Jordanian borders of southern Syria will continue to escalate before it abates.

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One of the most consequential exchanges on the disposition of Syria’s border lands with Israel and Jordan – and the future of the Syrian conflict at large – took place between Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin in a phone call on Tuesday, May 2. The call took place when German Chancellor Angela Merkel was visiting Putin at his Black Sea residence in Sochi.

DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources reveal that the two presidents focused strongly on an effort to agree on how de-escalate the Syrian conflict now in its sixth year and bring it to an end. The Russian leader proposed drawing armistice lines between the warring sides under the guarantee of a special Russian military mechanism. The Americans have not released any ideas, but they are believed to be contemplating establishing safety zones barred to the Syrian air force. One of those zones would be marked out in the south on Syria’s borders with Israel and Jordan.

The Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, the Iranian military-political command and Hizballah are resisting US feelers for the introduction of these safe zones, regarding the plan as a ploy hatched by the Saudis, Israelis and Jordanians to take control of South Syria by engaging local Syrian rebel groups as their vehicle. Damascus, Tehran and Beirut believe that if they allow the scheme to go forward without resistance, it will be the start of similar off-limits enclaves in other parts of Syria, and the country will quickly fall apart into self-ruling segments.

That is why late last month, Syrian army units, the Shiite militias under Iranian Revolutionary Guards officers’ command and Hizballah combined their resources to push against the local Syrian rebels of the South in the regions of the borders with Israel and Jordan.

It is doubtful whether Trump and Putin were able to work out something tangible in their first phone conversation since the US fired Tomahawk cruise missiles against the Syrian Shayrat air base on April 7. The Russian president used the shock of that event to cultivate closer ties with the Syrian ruler and strengthen his missile defenses, in case of an American repeat attack or Israeli air strikes on military targets in Syria.

At the same time, Putin becamed more careful about infringing on parts of Syria deemed to be under American influence, especially the Kurdish enclaves.

The US president was also careful not to direct personal attacks on Putin or criticize Russia’s military involvement in Syria, merely expressing the hope that at some point the two powers could reach an understanding to end the vicious conflict.

When reporters in Sochi asked the Russian president if he thought he could sell his plan to Assad, he replied: “A ceasefire is the first priority and cooperation with Washington is critical.”

At the same time, Russia operates in tandem with Turkey and Iran and was trying to “create the conditions for political cooperation on all sides,” he said.

Clearly, Putin was making the point that, just as the US deals with the Syrian issue in alignment with Saudi Arabia, Israel and Jordan, Russia coordinates its actions with Iran and Turkey. Since both presidents are similarly weighed down by their allies, the road to a consensus between Washington and Moscow is destined to be long with many convolutions. Therefore, the tension on the Israeli and Jordanian borders of southern Syria will continue to escalate before it abates.

Explore posts in the same categories: American allies in Middle East, Assad, Putin and Trump, Russian allies in Middle East, Syria safe zones, Syria war

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One Comment on “Trump-Putin call focuses on Syria, security zones”


  1. Is there any doubt now that Putin is Iran’s sack race partner at the Sunday Syrian church picnic, kiddies? Funny how a great and honorable guy like Vlad can call the Mullahs his bosom buddies. How sweet. I’ll have to remember them on Valentine’s day with a nice card.

    But let’s move forward into the land of peace and harmony. Seems old Pooty Poot thinks we should draw armistice lines between the opposing teams. How about we color them red just for grins.

    To most students of deception and high jinx, dividing Syrian using whatever lines you devise is much like slicing up a pie before it’s fully cooked. You get a gooey mess, a sloppy presentation, and a concoction that’s not very pleasing to the palate. But then again, many of you think the pie is already overcooked. To you, I say a resounding ‘probably’.

    Besides, Putin assures us an orderly slicing of the pie will be personally guaranteed by the Russian military mechanism. Wow, I feel better already (not really). But it sounds good to anyone taking the time to quickly skim the article before leaving on the their next trip to the grocery. I mean, who here has a problem with mechanisms, especially those of the military variety.

    Of course, there’s the concerned guys in Iran. You know who. The ones who see security zones as an existential threat to the good-natured dealings of the Mullahs. They say they fear Syria may fall apart under such a plan. We all know how hard they worked to preserve the peace and prosperity of a united Syria. Just ask the Syrian people.

    Yep, the Syrian people or what’s let of them. Has anyone bothered to ask them what they want? I think not. It’s far too dangerous to say. Besides, many have already left for Europistan and other points west. And let’s not forget the half million or so who have left the planet (give or take a few hundred thousand). I’m sure they have an opinion too.


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