The Syrian crisis after Al Qusair

08-06-2013 07:10 PM

By Amer Al Sabaileh

There are several expected consequences of the battle in Al Qusair, especially the reaction of the anti- Syria group that hopes to improve its negotiations position before the coming of Geneva II.

The increasing talk about deployment of Patriot missile batteries in Jordan might be also part of this tactic. However, the talk about Patriot batteries in Jordan is not new, in fact it may already be a reality.

Moreover, the imminent joint military exercise “Eager Lion” will once again be a subject of discussions and analyses as some observers are already linking the exercise to a possible intervention in Syria, although the possibility of such intervention was much stronger last year, with no outcome yet as the Americans continue their war by proxy.

Following from this is the interesting statement of US Central Command spokesperson Lt. Col. T.G. Taylor, who said, "In order to enhance the defensive posture and capacity of Jordan, some of these assets may remain beyond the exercise at the request of the government of Jordan” including of course, the F-16 fighter jets.

Yet, this play by the Americans is best viewed as a political tactic, rather than a military one. The US would prefer that recent developments in Syria do not lead to Geneva II as the conditions for settlement in Syria are not ready and the overall strategy is to leverage a settlement in Syria that includes Hezbollah to lead into a regional settlement.

This strategy is designed to target the separation of Iran and Syria. With this strategy in mind, the deployment of the Patriot missile batteries may have several targets. If these advanced weapons remain in Jordan after the departure of American troops involved in the joint military exercise, they could be used to put extra pressure on Iran as soon as the Syrian settlement process begins.

The battle at Al Qusair could also change the geographical direction of the conflict inside Syria. By default, the battle will continue in the countryside of Aleppo, but strategically speaking, the fighting will focus on creating a separation line between Iraq-Iran and Syria, pushing the battle toward Al Qamishli and its surrounding area. Here Jordan might be subject to huge political pressures, making it a target for both pro and anti Syria groups.

This phase of the conflict could accurately be described as the struggle for a place at the negotiations table, maintaining the crisis and postponing the arrival at Geneva II.

President Putin’s trip to the EU is intended to remove some of the remaining obstacles of a political solution, however, the recent developments will some serious challenges for neighboring countries as the Syrian crisis battles through its toughest phase yet.

Dr. Amer Al Sabaileh

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