“Social progress can be measured by the social position of the female sex” - Karl Marx


The US Game Plan in Syria

The war in Syria, which is now entering its eighth year, has not received much attention in the Indian media, though it is one of the most important geopolitical events of the 21st century. More than half a million people have been killed in the last seven years, and more than ten million made refugees, both inside and outside the country.

The world woke up to this [man-made] humanitarian disaster only when the refugees started washing up on the shores of Greece in 2014, and trekking across the continent in search of refuge. Panic broke out in many countries, some of which erected physical barriers to prevent their entry.

The story began in 2011, when a coalition of the West and the Gulf, led by the US, began operations to effect regime change in Syria, because Syria's President Assad, belonging to the [Shiite] Alawite sect, was close to Iran and Russia.

The US-led "Coalition," which included Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Jordan, in addition to several NATO members, such as Britain and France, launched an insurgency in Syria in the summer of 2011, in the name of "Arab Spring."

Foreign mercenaries from various countries, trained in camps in Turkey by Western instructors, were infiltrated into Syria. Their primary objective was to overthrow the regime of President Assad and replace it with a proxy of the West, which would take instructions from Washington and Tel Aviv.

By the summer of 2014, the Coalition was on the verge of inflicting a military defeat on Assad, whose forces were outgunned by the insurgents, which included such groups as al-Qaida and ISIS; they were receiving large quantities of weapons, paid-for by their Gulf benefactors, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

It was at this point, in September 2014, that Russia entered Syria [legally], at the invitation of President Assad. The Russian air force quickly disrupted supply lines from Turkey to the insurgents fighting Assad and decisively changed the course of the war within a few months.

The liberation of Aleppo in December 2016 marked the military defeat of the Coalition- an inflexion point in global geopolitics since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. America's "unipolar moment" had finally come to an end. Putin's Russia felt confident enough to take on the US and its allies.

But by this time the US had begun another game in Syria: building bases and deploying troops in areas inhabited by the Kurds in the north and north-eastern Syria, which also happened to be the site of Syria's major oil and gas fields.

As a result, the US is currently believed to have set up eight bases in these areas, which are home to some 2000 [uninvited] US troops in the country. Their presence in Syria is illegal under international law.

The government of President Assad now controls all the major cities in western Syria, as also the country's coastline on the Mediterranean Sea. But Syria's largest oil and gas fields in the East, across the Euphrates, are under the control of the US and its proxy militia-the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Till the end of the last year, the US explained its [illegal] presence in Syria as aimed at uprooting the Islamic State (ISIS), which had announced the establishment of a "Caliphate" in Syria in 2014, with its capital in Raqqa. In its official statements, the US declared that it would stay in Syria "as long as takes" to defeat ISIS.

That happened several weeks ago. ISIS has been decisively defeated by Syrian, Russian, and Iranian forces in Syria. The Coalition, along with the SDF, also claims to have played some role in defeating ISIS, which may be partly true; the full story of their activities is more complicated.

So ISIS is gone, but the US troops and bases in Syria remain intact. US officials now say their forces will stay in Syria "as long as it takes" to "stabilise" the country.

It was against this background that the US forces attacked fighters allied with the Assad government on the night of Feb. 7, killing more than 100 Syrian soldiers—a large number by any standards. Casualties on the Coalition side were limited to one SDF fighter, who was injured.

The Americans claimed that they attacked the Syrians in "self-defence," and had "alerted" the Russians in advance that they would do so if attacked. The Syrian soldiers were trying to take over some oil and gas fields held by the Kurdish SDF, backed by the US.

The situation boils down to this: Troops affiliated to the Syrian government, trying to take control of oil and gas fields in their own country from their own [Kurdish] countrymen, were attacked by the troops of a foreign country, whose presence in Syria is illegal under international law. As a result, more than hundred Syrian lives have been lost.

Which brings us to the current game plan of the US in Syria viz. retaining control of the country's major oil and gas fields and denying their revenue to the legitimate govt. of Syria; using US bases to harass Assad's forces, the Russians, and the Iranians; effecting regime-change in Syria; and using the Syrian Kurds as proxies and foot soldiers to undermine the Assad government.

The authors of this scheme include elements of the US "deep state" particularly the CIA, Pentagon, the Jewish lobby and the weapons manufacturers. All of them have their own reasons for doing so. For some it's money; for others, it is geopolitics, control of natural resources, and lust for more territory etc.

All of these elements are only partially under Trump's control; most of them have their own agenda and are operating on autopilot.

Autopilot is good as long as the path and destination are clear. But in Syria, both are unclear. Moreover, the other players, viz., the Russians, Iranians, and the Hezbollah, will try to make life hard for the Americans. And President Assad has said that he intends to take back "every inch of Syrian territory."

The question is: what price are the CIA and the Pentagon prepared to pay for their Syrian adventure? How many body bags can they stomach, before they are forced to leave Syria?

Because the Syrians and their allies don't have the body bag problem. They have just lost 100 soldiers but remain undeterred.

(The writer is a former Ambassador of India who has served in several Indian missions around the world, including in the United States, Syria, Libya, and Saudi Arabia.)


  • River in a 'Court of Law' - Legal issues pertaining to its personality
  • Syria: A Testament To International Moral Bankruptcy
  • When the State Sought to Muzzle Privacy, U-Turn Now Only to Accommodate SC Verdict
  • The Bull in A China Shop Wrecks Indian Economy
  • When Buddha Looks The Other Way: The Plight Of The Rohingya
  • A Fatal Blow to The Judiciary
  • The Dramatic Rise in Wealth Inequality
  • Wild And Baseless Speculations of Crisis in the CPI(M)
  • Budget 2018: Fantabulous Schemes With Not A Paisa Earmarked
  • Kasganj: Sankalp Foundation and the Politics of Hate
  • PM Modi Sounds the Election Bugle: Congress and Hindutva the Agenda for 2019 Polls
  • The US Game Plan in Syria
  • Both Nehru and Patel Were the Need of the Hour in 1947-48
  • The Battle of the Two Begums of Bangladesh
  • Why Bangladesh Matters
  • Kejriwal's Apology is Not What the Media Claims
  • Arrest of a '5-minute Dalits' Proves Why SC/ST Act Dilution Will Grossly Impact Real Dalits
  • The Dalits and the Law
  • Winners May Be Losers In Karnataka's Catch 22 Endgame
  • Jinnah and the BJP
  • Jawaharlal Nehru (Nov 14 1889- May 27, 1964): We Still Live In A House That Nehru Built
  • Implications of Trump-Kim Summit: Nuclear Pays!
  • Thomas Reuters Foundation Survey: Measuring Safety, Generating Outrage
  • What Are People Voting for?
  • Foreign Policy: A Double Whammy Awaits India
  • Changing Discourse
  • Assam: The Mythology of "Immigrants"
  • Imran Time is Here
  • 71 Years on, Forsty Relations Countinue
  • To Stop Climate Change, We Need to Open Bordera
  • Make Use of Bid to Postpone Provincial Elections
  • Cringing and Fuddled at 71
  • Ensuring Strident Voice Will Not Become Majority Voice
  • Nehru, Vajpayee and Modi
  • Religious Bias Okayed
  • The Oslo Accords: A Bloody Legacy of Betrayal
  • Crushing the Campus
  • Three Stories And Task of The Office Of Missing Person
  • Drama Over Indo-Pak Meeting
  • An ill Wind
  • Symbolic Actions Alone Are Insufficient For Long Term Change To Occur
  • If Democracy Subverts Itself
  • Returning Land to Civilians is a Promise That Needs Follow Up
  • Democracy In Crisis: What we Know and What we Don't
  • Reparations Office Can Bind The Nations Together
  • Implementation Challenges Facing The Ayushman Bharat Program
  • Subverting the Central Bank
  • Under the Yoke of New-Imperialism: A Fake War of Patriotism and Treason
  • India Joins the Club
  • The Third Phase
  • President is Best Situated to Resolve Political Crisis
  • No Country for Adventure: Challenges Extreme Sports Athletes Face in India
  • Setting A Perilous Political Precedent
  • What Rahul and Modi can do in the Next Four Months
  • Finding a Win-Win Solution to Break the Deadlock
  • Temple in the Age of Colliders
  • Four Parameters of a Political Solution at This Time
  • Resolve National Question With President's Support
  • Decapitating the Leadership
  • Four Takeaways From the 2018 Election
  • Science of Words
  • The Ace up Modi's Sleeve
  • The Government Must Not Deny The TNA
  • The Prolonged Wait For Justice And For Political Leadership
  • Endgame in Afghanistan
  • Pluralist Ethos is More Relevant to National Identity
  • A Concerned Citizen's Points For Inclusion in The Manifesto of Political Parties
  • In My Own Voice: Circle of Unreason
  • RBI To The Rescue of Modi Government - It's Election Time!
  • Say No to War
  • A terrifying Fallout
  • The Type of Leadership The Country Needs
  • Death Wish as Nationalism
  • Politics on Kashmir Need Not be About Optics Alone
  • Why an Urban Job Guarantee Scheme is Not a Bad Idea
  • National Security: The New in 'New Normal'
  • Re-Promulgating an Ordinance is a Fraud on the Constitution
  • Elections 2019: India at a Crossroads
  • Peace and Inclusive Development
  • NYAY Providing Basic Income Fulfills the Vision of Mahatma Gandhi and Changed Election Narrative Based on Basic Issues
  • Advani Should Blame Himself For Promoting Modi
  • Kashmir: Tracing the Degeneration of Mainstream Politics
  • Elections and the Issue of Civil Liberties
  • Jumlanomics:Chronicles of a Post-Truth Bharat
  • BJP: Hiding Failures, Targeting Nehru
  • A Mayawati Moment
  • Godse is a Synonym of Hindu Nationalism, Agenda of the RSS Combine!
  • Development Beyond Numbers
  • A Rational Approach to Countering Extremist Violence is Needed
  • In My Own Voice: Is This the Sprit of Democracy?
  • Prevention is The Best Migration Cure
  • The Rise of Hate
  • The Right Mantras for India's Change
  • Coming Home - Where Family Overpowers All
  • Easter Sunday Bombing Used to Create a Major Rift in Sri Lankan Society
  • Hacking Humanity
  • Environmental Rule of Law in India
  • Peace is a Word That West Has Taken From Afghans
  • Trump's War Games
  • Modi & States
  • Who is an 'Outsider' in West Bengal?
  • China on Maps
  • 19th Amendment Will Correct Itself at End of President's Current Term
  • Authoritarianism and the Crisis of Public Ethics in India
  • Presidential Candidate The People Want
  • Has India's Kashmir Cape Given Pakistan Reason for War?
  • Icons and Ideology of Religious Nationalism
  • Why NRC in Assam May Create Another Kashmir
  • Campaign to Abolish the Executive Presidency in Sri Lanka is a Red Herring
  • As US Tries to Isolate Iran, China Steps In
  • Of Hindi and Hierarchy
  • Why Sri Lankan Elections May Bring Far Reaching Change
  • What US Policy Tells Us About India's Growing 'Friendship' With It
  • Gandhian Philosophy is a Critique of Modernity and Power
  • Inner Party Democracy is Just as Important as Funding
  • India's Foreign Policy Has Dug Itself a Deep Hole
  • 'Broken Promises' and Politics of Hate': Is Political Autonomy The Way Forward For J&K?
  • The Ninth Betrayal: America Has Let Down Khurd, Yet Again
  • Who Benefits From The WhatsApp Hacking Case?: Pertinent Question Left Unanswered
  • State Elections Results Expose "Limits" of BJP's Nationalist Agenda
  • "Religious Belief" vs. "Rule of Law": Did SC's Ayodhya Verdict Legalise Building of a Theocratic State?
  • What Does Trump's "New Refugee Ban" Mean for America's Immigrants?
  • India Must Change Course as Rajapaksas Return on Sinhala Buddhist Wave
  • The Supreme Court's First Judgment Without an Author
  • Geopolitics in South Asia Renders Millions Stateless
  • "Shakespeare's Vision of the Improbale" Unfolds: Is Modi Today's Macbeth?
  • Sri Lanka Under Rajapaksa: Finding Areas of Mutual Agreement
  • "The Game of Religion is Played by Men": Women Speak From the Margins of Ayodhya Dispute
  • Telangana Ecounter- Failure of Local Police Poses Grave Danger to Democracy
  • The Changing Nature of War and Diplomacy
  • Sri Lanka: Government's Cooperation A "Temporary Phenomenon"?
  • The Role of Corruption in This Season of Revolts
  • New Citizenship Law to a "Brazenly Divisive Agenda"
  • Youth Agitation Against CAA Brings a Historic Generational Shift
  • "Digital Authoritarianism": With Internet Shutdowns Normalised, the Digital Space is Democracy's New Battleground
  • Sri Lanka: The Challenge of Development Amidst Devolution of Power
  • The Political Divides that Split India
  • 'Never Again': Echoes of Nazi Crimes Remain Alive 75 Years After Auschwitz
  • "Legacy of Mutual Suspicion" Plagues Opponents of the Modi Regime
  • "Toxic" India Sliding into an Environmental Abyss
  • Manufacturing Hate: From Anurag Thakur's 'Shoot the Traitors' to Pistol-Bearing Youth's 'Yeh lo Azaadi!'
  • Kejriwal Isn't Communal, But His Desire Not to be Seen Anti-Hindu May Prove Self-Defeating
  • Religion States Won't Oppose US-Taliban Deal
  • Lessons From Pathogens: Coronavirus, A wake Up Call?
  • The Geopolitics of the Covid 19 Pandemic
  • Cold War Begins As Nations Fued Over Coronavirus
  • India Fights Coronavirus...With Scriptures, Morals and Police
  • The Burden of COVID 19
  • Do Israeli Settelemnts in Occupies West Bank Constitute a War Crime ?
  • The Global Debate on COVID-19 Lockdown: Listen to Divergent Scientific Voices or Risk Manipulation by Big Businesses?
  • Sri Lanka's Easter Bombings And The Demand For Justice
  • How India Can Solve the "Catch-22 Situation" of Allowing Migrant Workers to Return Home
  • The Time for Universal Basic Income Has Arrived
  • COVID-19 Crisis Exposes Fatal Weaknesses of 'Strong' Leaders
  • The Pandemic Has Taught Us the Importance of Maintaining an Ecological Balance, Will we Remember IT?
  • The Muslim Elite Has Let Down the Muslim Poor
  • "There is Nothing Nationalist or Non-Nationalist in Reporting"
  • Why WHO Took 3 Months to Declare a Global Pandemic
  • A Political Lockdown That Silences Voices
  • The 'Relief Package' of Online Education May End up "Institutionalising Drop Outs"
  • Can Democracy Survive the Coronavirus?
  • As China Ups the Ante, This is What India Must do...
  • Tackling Racism With Compassionate Reporting-CNN Leads The Way
  • Sri Lanka: Pluralism In Governance Required In The Absence of Parliament
  • Idia's Tactical Non-Solutions To China's Incursions in Ladakh
  • "At The Brink of A New Cold War": Sino-US Ties at a Crossroads
  • In Light of Rising Conservatism, Can The Personal be Political Again?
  • India-China: The Complete Breakdown of Trust, How and Why
  • Rethinking Development After Covid-19
  • The Pandemic Must Transform Our Agriculture
  • Treacherous Road to Make Manu History
  • The 'American Way of War' Is Built On A Foundation of Racism
  • Covid -19 And The Crisis of Education-An Insight
  • Governments That Preach Non-Violence Must Lead By Example
  • New Status of Hagia Sophia Signals The Death Of Secularism
  • Covid 19 and Furthering of Sectarian Agenda in Education
  • Biden's "Conventional" Approach vs Trump's "Whimsical" Handling of Foreign Policy
  • Why Arguments Against Reservation are Flawed
  • Curfew Welcomes One Year of Abrogations in Kashmir
  • Ayodha: What is BJP's Motive For Holding Ram Temple Ceremony Amid Pandemic?
  • New Education Policies of India And Pakistan Will Further Divide, Within and Without
  • Does India's Handling of China Make Sense?
  • Return of the Rajapaksas in Sri Lanka
  • An Independent Supreme Court Is a Must for Democracy
  • Does Rule of Law Trump Tide of Public Opinion?
  • UAE-Israel Deal Accelerating Fragmentation of West Asian Politics
  • Congress And Its "Unprecedented Political Challenge""
  • Does The 20th Amendment Threaten Pluralism in Sri Lanka?
  • Digital Hate, Now A Profitable Commodity
  • Rising Cases, Unemployment: Is India Ignoring Fears Stoked by the Pandemic?
  • Surging Pandemic, Slumping Economy - And the Crisis of Democracy