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The coming phase will be distinguished by its ambiguity and lack of clear vision. Therefore, it would wiser to wait until the dust settles, or until we can see what that dust conceals. What is certain is that many surprises are lying in wait–pan-Arab

The troika meeting was held in the southern Turkish city of Antalya on March 7

The troika meeting was held in the southern Turkish city of Antalya on March 7

Editorial of raialyoum.com

The chiefs of staff of the Russian, U.S., and Turkish armies met in the resort of Antalya yesterday to draft joint plans for the recapture of Raqqa, the capital of ISIS. The meeting was held amidst indications that the Trump administration plans to send large numbers of U.S. forces to take part in this operation.

The most complicated problem in this regard has to do with the role played with the largely Kurdish SDF in ‘liberating’ Raqqa. The Turkish side insists on rejecting this role parallel to its readiness to deploy Turkish forces to take up this task. But Russia, Iran, and the Syrian government oppose that.

A Lebanese source close to Tehran has told raialyoum that Iran and Syria insist on not granting Turkey and its forces any role in Syria, and that the Russians understand this position. This is why they have prevented the Turkish forces from capturing Manbij, and have reached an agreement with the Kurdish forces to withdraw from it and hand it over to the Syrian Arab Army, mainly to undermine the Turkish pretexts.

The deployment of additional U.S. forces to Syria reflects President Trump’s new strategy whose main features he spoke of during his election campaign. The strategy gives absolute priority to eradicating ISIS from Syria and Iraq, based on the assumption that it is the greater threat. But the urgent question continues to concern U.S. and Russian plans for the phase after ISIS forces have been removed from Raqqa and Mosul.

Past experiences with the U.S. in Libya and Iraq confirm the absence of any such plans. This has exacerbated the situation in both countries and has led to the spread of anarchy and instability as a result. It is not unlikely that the same scenario will be repeated in the post-Raqqa and post-Mosul phase.

There are two possibilities in this regard: First, Raqqa and Mosul will return to the Syrian and Iraqi states and their sovereignty respectively; alternatively, the two cities – and specifically Raqqa – may be handed over to the armed opposition factions. This may be rejected by Russia, the Syrian army’s ally.

The presence of U.S. forces on Syrian territories in the manner that we have witnessed at the gates of Manbij, but without any coordination with the government in Damascus, may be major risk that will provoke many parties, especially if the same scene repeats itself in the city in the coming days and weeks.

“The coming phase will be distinguished by its ambiguity and lack of clear vision. Therefore, it would wiser to wait until the dust settles, or until we can see what that dust conceals. What is certain is that many surprises are lying in wait.

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