17:30 GMT15 May 2021
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    A US scholar has come up with a "Plan C" in Syria aimed at establishing a new interim government in Idlib, geopolitical analyst Tony Cartalucci notes, adding that the plan may allow Washington to take a step closer to breaking Syria apart.

    The US is harboring a "Plan C" in Syria, Bangkok-based geopolitical analyst Tony Cartalucci notes in his article, citing the recent op-ed written by Steven Heydemann, Associate Professor of Political Science at Columbia University for The New York Times.

    In his op-ed Heydemann argues that Washington does not need a no-fly zone "to pressure Russia" and Damascus in Syria.

    The US' activities in Syria have been limited by Iran and Russia supporting Bashar al-Assad, who still remains the legitimate leader of Syria in the eyes of the international community, the academic notes.

    According to Heydemann, what the US leadership needs to do is to undermine the Assad government's legitimacy and "recognize a different government as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people."

    "The best candidate for recognition is the little-known Syrian Interim Government, or S.I.G." based inside Syria in Idlib and "engaged in routine functions of local government" there.

    Recognizing the SIG as the "legitimate interim government of Syria" would untie the US-led coalition's hands and give the coalition "a credible partner for local governance" in the areas it seizes in coming months, including Raqqa, he insists.

    However, the plan proposed by Heydemann is not new.

    Much in the same vein Kenneth M. Pollack, former CIA intelligence analyst and expert on Middle East politics and military affairs, called for the creation of "a new Syrian army" that would gain ground in Syria and then declare itself "to represent a new provisional government" in the country.

    "The United States and its allies could then extend diplomatic recognition to the movement, allowing the US Department of Defense to take over the tasks of training and advising the new force — which would now be the official military arm of Syria's legitimate new rulers," he elaborated in his article for Foreign Affairs magazine back in September 2014.

    A similar idea surfaced in a 2012 declassified Defense Intelligence Agency report, which noted that "there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in eastern Syria and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition ("the West, Gulf countries and Turkey") want in order to isolate the Syrian regime."

    Interestingly enough, a plan akin to the aforementioned was discussed in further detail by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her team, as leaked emails published by WikiLeaks show.

    In August 2012, Tom Malinowski, then Washington Director for Human Rights Watch, sent an email to the Obama administration officials, marked by Clinton and her team as a "worth a read."

    In his letter Malinowski called for the implementation of a no-fly zone in Syria that would allow the Free Syrian Army (FSA) "to establish governance over territory" it seized from the government forces.

    Malinowski admitted that jihadists had been fighting alongside the FSA. "The FSA is using them 'because they are crazy fighters'," he noted.

    He argued that the US should help the FSA to establish a "safe zone" in the north and provide the opposition forces with the international support.

    "Planes in the sky, as we saw in Libya, would send a dramatically stronger signal (in addition to tangible force), while allowing the Syrian rebels to retain ownership of their struggle on the ground," he continued.

    "This should be accompanied by working with rebel authorities in the protected area on institution-building, justice, and humanitarian assistance. Whoever will deliver this combination will have influence over Syria for years to come," he stressed.

    In short, the US scholars and analysts proposed to carve out a substantial part of the Syrian territory and unilaterally declare an interim/provisional government there to justify the US' military interference in Syria, which, as US Secretary of State Kerry admitted, is currently non-legitimate.

    What is more important, a new US-backed government would solidify Washington's presence and influence over Syria "for years to come."

    Commenting on the matter Cartalucci points out that the US officials turn a blind eye to the fact that al-Qaeda militants continue to play an important role in the "rebel" movement.

    While Heydemann is calling for declaring Idlib's SIG as a Syrian interim government, he overlooks the fact that Idlib fell to the al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front back in September 2015.

    "Al-Qaeda's Syria branch-known as the Nusra Front and a key rival of Islamic State-and other Islamic insurgents now control nearly all of Idlib province," the Wall Street Journal reported last year.

    Likewise, as Professor Stephen F. Cohen remarked in one of his interviews on The John Batchelor Shows, Western media outlets and pundits have suddenly forgotten that eastern Aleppo is being occupied by al-Nusra Front terrorists.

    "To foil America's 'Plan C' in Syria — which in reality is simply a revised version of its original plan all along — media platforms operating beyond the influence of Western special interests much educate the public regarding the true nature of Idlib, who really runs it, and what the implications are of arbitrarily designating it and the terrorists that are occupying it the 'legitimate government of Syria'," Cartalucci emphasizes in his article for New Eastern Outlook.

    According to the analyst, the primary mission that the US has in Syria is removing Bashar al-Assad from power at any cost. Apparently therefore Washington overlooks al-Qaeda's misdeeds on the ground.


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    interim government, Plan B, no-fly zone, safe zones, buffer zone, The Syrian war, Daesh, Syrian Arab Army, Al-Nusra Front, al-Qaeda, Bashar al-Assad, Hillary Clinton, Syria, US, Russia, Middle East
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