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“The Assassination of Qassam Soleimani: Regional Consequences. The U.S. Shoots Itself In the Foot in the Middle East…Again” with Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince. KGNU 1390 AM, 88.5 FM – Hemispheres, Middle East Dialogues. Tuesday, January 28, 2019. Part One

February 11, 2020

 

Syrian Army Soldier Liberating the Damascus-Aleppo International Highway from ISIS-al Nusra-Turkman Liberation Front mercenary elements

KGNU – Hemispheres – Middle East Dialogues – January 28, 2020 – Part One

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In this first part of our our program, we discuss the consequences of the aftermath of the Qassem Soleimani assassination on the events in Syria, where the Syrian government has begun a full scale offensive to liberate areas of Idlib Province, in the country’s northwest corner near the Turkish border. The Syrian government offensive described here two weeks ago (on January 28, 2020) continues to steam roll onwards with larger and large chunks of Idlib Province being liberated. Today (February 11, 2020) it was announced that the Damascus-Aleppo International Highway passing through Homs, Hama and Idlib has been fully liberated. 

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But in the past weeks, in the aftermath of the Soleimani assassination, the Syrian government offensive against ISIS and like elements in Idlib Province has intensified. It appears to be a full scale regional offensive meant to clear out the elements. One reason for this is that Turkey which has supported, funded, armed what is known as the Turkman Liberation Front (or United Turkmen Army) has redeployed large elements of this movement to Libya, weakening the overall strength of this mercenary front to such a degree that the Syrian government felt they could launch an all out offensive which is underway.

– Rob Prince –

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Sooner or later the other terrorist organizations will have no other option other than to go to Turkey or to make a deal (surrender) with the Syrian government. Syrian government helicopters are dropping flyers in terrorist held regions saying they should surrender now, there is no other option; the Syrian army will be coming sooner or later.

So this was the situation. It was an opportune moment. The Turkish government had found a way to remove some of these mercenaries by shipping them to Libya. The Russians continue to support the Syrian government. Given the whole confusion that has been created in the post assassination environment, at the moment the United States is unable to anything to turn the situation around and so the Syrian government played its “winning card” and has quickly liberating these areas.

– Ibrahim Kazerooni –

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Host Jim Nelson: This evening on Hemispheres we continue the Middle East Dialogues. As always joining me in these dialogues are Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince.

As many of our listeners are aware, Ibrahim Kazerooni is a regular contributor to our International Press Round Table. He has a Phd in Religion and Social Change from the Joint Iliff School of Theology and University of Denver Korbel School of International Studies Phd Program. Ibrahim is Imam of the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Michigan. Welcome Ibrahim.

Also joining us is Rob Prince. Rob is a retired Senior Lecturer in International Studies from the University of Denver’s Korbel School of International Studies. He has been published on line at Foreign Policy in Focus, AlgeriaWatch.org, Nawaat.org – a Tunisian human rights publication. Most recently he has become a contributor to Inside Arabia were he has just published a piece on the aftermath of the recent Algerian presidential elections.

Now to introduce the program…

Tonight we’re going to probe the regional consequences of the Trump Administration’s assassination of Qassem Soleimani, Iranian Quds leader. Nothing like this – the blatant murder of a foreign leader in recent American history – where the U.S. President takes full responsibility for the murder. It reminded me of a mob killing but mostly mob bosses don’t publicly tweet that they ordered the killing as in this instance.

True enough the drone-murder program began earlier, under President Bush, expanded under President Obama. When civilians die in such attacks, they are known as extra-judicial killings. Soleimani’s killing is the culmination of this recent murderous history.

Congress has abdicated any oversight of the U.S presidency and the drone assassination program. Trump has created what can be called “the imperial presidency” when it comes to foreign policy in general and these extra-judicial killings.

I actually thought the impeachment trial would be interrupted and new hearings would begin that included new articles of impeachment based on international human rights violations, or war crimes violations or even murder.

The silence and complicity of both Republicans and Democrats should be eye-opening to our listeners who thought there might be daylight – or some differences between the two parties. Those of our listeners who tune into MSNBC with their “hard-hitting, par excellence tv journalists; they were silent about this case as were many of our print (and other tv) journalists were silent about the Soleimani assassination

In this age of divided government, of a “red-blue” nation there is any better example of “red-white-and-blue” bipartisanship than in the support for the assassination of Iranian leaders, Qassem Soleimani.

With that introduction, let’s begin this evening’s program.

Rob, you’re going to take the lead?

Rob Prince: Yes, Jim. First off, we share your outrage at this political assassination of essentially a high level representative of a foreign government.

As some commentators have noted, even during the most tense periods of the Cold War, the United States never assassinated a high level political official. So the Trump Administration has taken political assassination a step further.

Keep in mind that high level political officials of two countries were assassinated. The Iraqi brother assassinated, Al Mahdi al Muhandis, is referred to in the media as “a militia leader” but actually he was a high level official of the Iraqi government.

Tonight we’re going to be talking about the consequences of these assassinations in many ways so I’ll limit my initial remarks now.

Ibrahim, do you want to add anything at this point before we get into the heart of the program?

Ibrahim Kazerooni: Yes, I want to echo the sentiment expressed by both of you. Soleimani was a high level diplomat on a diplomatic mission. In fact Soleimani was invited to Baghdad by the Iraqi prime minister to hear his point of view on how to resolve tensions with the United States.

Rob Prince: Here we are…again. Another month with startling developments in the Middle East. We’re not going to be talking about the Netanyahu-Trump visit – everything seems to move so quickly in the region. and with actions of our government that have only made the situation that much worse, that much tense,

For a moment it looked like a regional war was about to break out.

What we want to concentrate upon is the aftermath of the assassinations of Soleimani and Muhandi, looking at it in perspective.

Before we probe the Soleimani assassination in depth, we want to point out something else that is happening in the Middle East that has more or less escaped the notice of the media here although it is an event of some importance.

Keep in mind – sometimes it’s hard to see it from here – that the Soleimani assassination has had repercussions right across the entire Middle East region, including, by the way, which we want to mention briefly, some dramatic shifts in the power balance, including in Syria.

For sometime now on this program we have been talking about the concentration of mercenary elements holding up in the northwest corner of Syria in Idlib Province – Idlib is a city and it’s also a province. We’ve predicted that somewhere down the line it was only a matter of time before the Syrian government would initiate an offensive – take military action against those elements although we were under the impression that such an offensive would be conducted little by little, piece by piece, but now it’s happening full force.

But in the past weeks, in the aftermath of the Soleimani assassination, the Syrian government offensive against ISIS and like elements in Idlib Province has intensified. It appears to be a full scale regional offensive meant to clear out the elements. One reason for this is that Turkey which has supported, funded, armed what is known as the Turkman Liberation Front (or United Turkmen Army) has redeployed large elements of this movement to Libya, weakening the overall strength of this mercenary front to such a degree that the Syrian government felt they could launch an all out offensive which is underway.

Ibrahim, do you want to elaborate just for a moment on that offensive to liberate Idlib Province? Why is it that the Syrian government has decided to move militarily there?

Ibrahim Kazerooni: Yes, the Syrian government, supported by the Russian government made a deal (with Turkey) in which Idlib Province gradually but ultimately would come back to the control of the Syrian central government.

I’m certain both Jim and Rob you remember this – that the main dilemma for the Turkish government of Tayyip Erdogan was what to do with the terrorists which had been transferred to Idlib Province and have literally saturated the province for many years.

The Turkish government did not want these terrorists to return to Turkey and once a solution was found where they could now be shipped to Libya, it became clear that Idlib would be liberated as soon as possible. The Turkish government made a deal with the officially Libyan government – not (Kalifa) Haftar, the other guy and began shipping them – (the terrorists) both Syrian, Turkish and members of other mercenary organizations – to Libya (and other countries).

As a result, the Syrian government found this to be an opportunity to press their advantages home and opened a huge (military) front over forty-to-fifty miles long. This didn’t just put pressure on the terrorists. This afternoon they (the Syrian army) managed to liberate Ma’arat al Nu’man – the second largest city in Idlib Province that the terrorists had taken over in 2012 and controlled since then. The Syrian government recaptured it.

Sooner or later the other terrorist organizations will have no other option other than to go to Turkey or to make a deal (surrender) with the Syrian government. Syrian government helicopters are dropping flyers in terrorist held regions saying they should surrender now, there is no other option; the Syrian army will be coming sooner or later.

So this was the situation. It was an opportune moment. The Turkish government had found a way to remove some of these mercenaries by shipping them to Libya. The Russians continue to support the Syrian government. Given the whole confusion that has been created in the post assassination environment, at the moment the United States is unable to anything to turn the situation around and so the Syrian government played its “winning card” and has quickly liberating these areas.

Rob Prince: I want to add a few points.

First as we have mentioned on a number of occasions, we’re talking about a lot of people. The number of terrorists in Syria is unknown, but figures of fifty thousand, seventy five thousand – even more – have been mentioned by different media sources.

So that’s the first point:

Secondly there were a number of these terrorist groups that are directly connected to Turkey. They had names like the “Turkman Liberation Front” “United Turkman Army” – titles like that. These are the forces that Turkey is withdrawing and sending to Libya.

We’ve talked about this – and this gets very little publicity – the problem for not only Turkey but also for the Saudis, the Qataris – all of those countries that have – with U.S. encouragement and funding – trained and armed these terrorists is – what to do with them now! Where to send them?
They are not just winding up in Libya but all over the world. We find them moving to Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa, you name it. So this is the big Turkish dilemma.

But as a result, the terrorist front in Syria itself is seriously weakened as some of these Turkish elements moved out. That gives the Syrian government the opportunity to take the offensive militarily.

So we just wanted to listeners that this is going on, in the same way that we saw all the shenanigans that were going on in Syria’s northeast – the deals made with the Kurds and unmade, and one of the results there was that also in the northeast, the Syrian army was able to make big gains, to maximize and improve its positions in that part of the country.

With that in mind, we want to turn now to the consequences of the Soleimani assassination.

End Part One.

 

3 Comments leave one →
  1. F. S. Cheever permalink
    February 12, 2020 1:11 pm

    What about civilian refugees caused by the fighting?

    • February 12, 2020 1:28 pm

      Of course it’s tragic _ how else to get rid of jihadists than to flush them out?
      Concern for civilians seems more than a bit cynical from the media

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  1. “The Assassination of Qassam Soleimani: Regional Consequences. The U.S. Shoots Itself In the Foot in the Middle East…Again” with Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince. KGNU 1390 AM, 88.5 FM – Hemispheres, Middle East Dialogues. Tuesday, January 28, 201

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