Plot to turn Aleppo into Benghazi II

File photo shows Syrian armed opposition in the city of Aleppo in northern Syria.

By Mohyeddin Sajedi

In Syria’s northern city of Umm al Amud, large pictures of the imprisoned founder and leader of the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), Abdullah Ocalan, are hung alongside flags of the armed separatist rebels.

Life goes on and the governmental offices are open.

The city is exemplary of the Kurdish region in the north of Syria which stretches from the Iraqi border in the east to the Mediterranean Sea in the West.

Roughly one year ago, the official Syrian Army voluntarily abandoned this region. The Kobane, Al-Qamishli, Afrin, and Al-Malikiyah (Dayrik) regions have fallen into the hands of Kurdish Syrians, who are affiliated with the Syrian Democratic Union Party and support Ocalan.

One of the most important tasks of this group is to obstruct the progress of armed opposition groups called the “Free Syrian Army” or the armed gangs opposed to President Bashar al-Assad. Multiple efforts by these groups to infiltrate the Kurdish regions have met with resistance from the Syrian Democratic Union Party. 
Of course, this group is not alone in Syria’s Kurdish scene. Many small parties have formed the “Syrian Kurdish National Council” which is on the same page as the so-called “Free Syrian Army” and Iraqi Kurdistan President Massoud Barzani and Turkey. The “Free Syrian Army” has also succeeded to lure some Arab nomads, who inhabit a joint region between Iraq and Syria.

Barzani has made numerous efforts to unite Syria’s Kurdish Democratic Party and the Kurdish National Council together or bring them into a coalition.

Three weeks ago, Barzani brought together Syria’s Kurdish parties in the northern Iraqi city of Erbil. A seven-article agreement was approved in this meeting, which will divide Syria’s Kurdish regions among the Democratic Union Party and other parties of Syrian Kurdish National Council. A halt to the propaganda campaigns against each other and the establishment of security and coordination committees were among the other decisions of this meeting.

One of Barzani’s objectives from uniting the Syrian Kurds is to link Iraq’s Kurdistan to the Mediterranean Sea through northern Syria and to break its current isolation and to reach open waters and be able to export oil and import goods without being solely dependent on Turkey.

These efforts have been futile so far, because of the expansive PKK influence in northern Syria. Syria’s Democratic Kurdish Party cannot join a coalition which includes pro-Turkey groups.

Syrian Kurds are afraid that they will be surrounded by Turkish forces from the north and Arab nomads from the east and West.

As the Syrian Democratic Kurdish Party increases its influence in the north of this country along the border with Turkey, the Turkish government officially speaks of a military campaign in this region, pointing to its policy during the rule of the executed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, where it would cross into the north of this country in pursuit of Kurdish militants.

The Turkish government intends to exploit the lack of Syrian Army rule over the Kurdish regions in order to establish a “free zone” with the capital of Aleppo. There is the possibility that Ankara might drive thousands of Syrian refugees to this region and increase its non-Kurdish population.

Aleppo is one of the richest and most populated cities of Syria. After the failure of the armed groups to conquer Damascus and their retreat against the Syrian Army’s assault, the main objective is controlling the city of Aleppo which enjoys a distinguished status. As well as enjoying population and wealth, it is close to Turkey.

The scenario is very clear. If Aleppo falls into the hands of the opposition and the Syrian Army fails to recapture it, it will turn into Benghazi II. The transitional government will be deployed there and will demand help from NATO and Western governments. Aleppo will become a key point and a move will be made on Damascus once again.

For this scenario to become operational Aleppo must fall and more importantly, the opposition should form a transitional government, which will doubtless be influenced by the Western governments, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey. This is where the problem begins, because not only have the members of the Syrian opposition not achieved unity, they have in fact diverged. The National Council, based in Paris, does not represent all of the opposition.

The other obstacle to the implementation of this scenario for the Syrian opposition is that the Syrian Army has maintained its integrity, as opposed to the Army of the slain Libyan dictator RULER Muammar Gaddafi. Despite the defection of some soldiers and officers and the killing of the defense minister and army commanders in the recent explosion in Damascus, the drop in forces is not worrying for the Syrian government. An image of a few people in a tank should not be construed as a defeat for Syria’s armed forces.

If the Syrian Army succeeds in driving out its opposition from the historical city of Aleppo and advance toward the Turkey border, a great many plots will be foiled. All of the efforts in the bases that the US and its allies have created along the border of Syria and Iraq or inside Turkey are intended to persuade the opposition to remain in Aleppo and even if necessary establish a no-fly zone across northern Syria.

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