11:39 GMT26 October 2020
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    While the US-led coalition is trying to outmaneuver Russia and Damascus by hook or by crook in Syria and the looming threat of Turkish-Syrian confrontation which has emerged over Afrin and Manbij, Russia has sent a strong signal to Washington and its allies, geopolitical analyst Phil Butler told Sputnik.

    Western "neocolonial" nations do not think that they have lost in Syria and are not going to give up, Phil Butler, a geopolitical analyst, told Sputnik, adding that the alleged deployment of Russia's new Su-57 stealth fighters in the region sends a message to the US-led coalition.

    "It is a message," Butler highlighted. "Russia has to operate from a position of confidence and strength. [President Vladimir] Putin is an old hand at this. There is no 'bluff' in the man. The US has a numerical and in many ways technological advantage, but the American people do not want World War III. The Su-57 says 'we will do what is necessary'."

    Last week Syrian observer Wael Al Hussaini shared photos of Russia's Su-57 fighter jets allegedly arriving at Syria's Hmeymim Airbase on his Twitter page.

    ​The Su-57 stealth multi-role aircraft is equipped with a sophisticated avionics system and advanced active airborne phased array radars, which help the fighter effectively destroy air, ground and naval targets. The Russian Defense Ministry has yet to confirm the reports.

    Although the US hand in Syria is as weak as one can imagine, Washington is still trying to get the upper hand, the geopolitical analyst noted.

    "If it were a game of chess or strategies, what would the US and the rest do next? Give up and let go? Absolutely not. Like I said, nothing has changed, ISIL [Daesh] is dead, that is all," Butler said.

    Likewise, the US' European and Middle Eastern allies are seeking to strengthen their negotiation positions through threats and the use of force.

    "The Brits, Americans and Europeans want to be 'in' the deal," the geopolitical analyst remarked.

    On February 27, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson stated that the UK would support airstrikes against Damascus, citing an alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in East Ghouta.

    The statement followed the notorious White Helmets' claims that the SAA deployed chlorine gas against the town of Al-Shifoniya in East Ghouta, which allegedly resulted in the death of a child and suffocation among civilians.

    The infamous NGO has on multiple occasions been spotted carrying out staged operations in Syria. According to investigative journalist Vanessa Beeley, who has been keeping an eye on the organization for the past few years, the White Helmets is nothing but a NATO propaganda tool to justify the West's further intervention in Syria.

    Earlier, on February 25, the Russian Defense Ministry reported that militants were preparing a provocation with the use of poisonous agents "in order to accuse the government forces of using chemical weapons against civilians in Eastern Ghouta."

    Syria has repeatedly denied accusations of the use of chemical arms. Damascus refers to the fact that the country's chemical stockpiles were completely destroyed in August 2014, under the supervision of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

    Damaged buildings are seen in the besieged town of Douma, Eastern Ghouta, Damascus, Syria February 25, 2018
    © REUTERS / Bassam Khabieh
    Damaged buildings are seen in the besieged town of Douma, Eastern Ghouta, Damascus, Syria February 25, 2018

    Conflict Between Ankara and Damascus is a 'Virtual Certainty'

    Meanwhile, Ankara and Damascus may find themselves involved in direct clashes over Afrin and Manbij amid the UN-imposed 30-day ceasefire in Syria.

    Syrian pro-government units have already entered Afrin. On the other hand, the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Defense Forces (SDF) may soon pass control over Manbij to the SAA, a Kurdish security source told Sputnik.

    The problem is that Kurdish-held Afrin and Manbij remain in the crosshairs of Turkey's Olive Branch operation, which was launched on January 20 to prevent the US-backed Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) from beefing up their presence in northern Syria.

    Since Ankara views the YPG as an affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) — designated as a terrorist organization in Turkey — it is unwilling to stop the operation regardless of the UN-backed ceasefire.

    "As for Turkey and the Kurd situation, we are essentially witnessing the same struggle in the region that existed during World War I," Butler said. "The names and some of the players have changed, but "influence" and the age old differences are at play. Yes, conflict in between Ankara and Damascus are not just likely, I would say this is a virtual certainty."

    When asked whether Russia can prevent the Turkish-Syrian standoff, the geopolitical analyst emphasized that "the problem in mediating in between Ankara and Damascus is the pressure being exerted from new colonial powers."

    "This situation is not unlike it was during the time of T. E. Lawrence [a British military officer who took part in the Great Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire during the First World War]," the analyst pointed out. "The legend was on a mission to leverage the Arab world against the Ottomans, Germany, and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The situation is a bit different and more complex with Israel in the middle."

    According to Butler, Russia's role here "is difficult and complex, and at the same time very important."

    He stressed that President Putin "holds large sway over Ankara and Damascus, much more so than Washington at the moment."

    "The problem for Moscow is the same as it was for every other outside power trying to influence this region. The 'differences' are not being mediated. Russia can only solve this mess by getting these people to 'deal' in between themselves," the geopolitical analyst emphasized.

    The views and opinions expressed by Phil Butler, Ekaterina Blinova are those of the contributors and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    Phil Butler is a geopolitical analyst and author of "Putin's Praetorians: Confessions of the Top Kremlin Trolls."

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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    Syrian Kurds, confrontation, ceasefire, Su-57, Sukhoi PAK FA T-50, Operation Olive Branch, The Syrian war, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Turkish Armed Forces, Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), United Nations, Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), Russian Aerospace Forces, Bashar al-Assad, Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey, Syria, US, Russia, Middle East
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