"Biden begins Syria military build up. Region braces for “Assad Must Go” narrative"
The Duran (January 25, 2020)
By Alex Christoforou and Alexander Mercouris

Alex Christoforou: "In Syria, we have been reporting for a while now how Russia has been building up and improving its position in Syria and they're still doing that to this very day. They continue to improve their position -- and securing their position -- in Syria. They are definitely much stronger than they were when Obama -- the failed Obama regime-change -- was launched. But now we have, oddly enough, on January 21st, one day after Biden was inaugurated, we had reports coming out that the US is now starting to build up its presence in Syria, as well. This is very troubling. We've been saying all along that the US -- the Pentagon and the Biden Defense team that Biden has assembled -- will definitely have the Middle East in their sights. That's going to be where they place a focus on, going back to the Obama "Arab Spring" days. And we said that Syria seemed like the logical first target because they probably feel -- no, they definitely feel -- like they have unfinished business, in Syria."

"The fact that we're seeing a troop build-up in Syria is very worrying. I also think it hints at the fact that rumors are probably correct: that the Pentagon pretty much has carte blanche to act as it wishes and that Biden doesn't have much of a control or say as to all the military maneuvers that are taking place. And there are a lot of rumors saying that the Pentagon is just, you know, acting by its own will and then Biden, you know, doesn't even know what the hell is really going on. He's just signing off and rubber-stamping everything. So, what do you make of the very troubling developments that are taking place in Syria?"

[1:50] Alexander Mercouris: "They are extremely troubling developments. And if I can say, I think you're absolutely right [that] the Pentagon has been given carte blanche, and that is an absolute disaster in the making, and we'll just touch on why. By let's briefly say, this is a US troop deployment into northeast Syria. This is not an area of Syria which is very densely populated. But it is Syria's major food-producing region and it's where 95 percent of Syria's oil comes from. The Syrians are being prevented from using their own food and oil resources and Syria as a country is now under relentless sanctions pressure. The intention seems to be that if you can't force military change in Syria, you strangle the country economically and try to achieve it that way. An apalling, apalling idea."

"And here we see the Pentagon sending more troops there where -- just a short time ago -- Donald Trump was trying to pull troops OUT of Syria. The moment he's gone, we see the troops being sent BACK to Syria. We know that the Pentagon and US officials lied to Donald Trump about the number of troops IN Syria. Now that number is increasing. This is an obsession, an obsessional policy that can do no good. And, of course, the United States has now got an official, a Mr McGurk, who is in charge of Syrian policy. He is a passionate regime-changer. He is a passionate supporter of supporting the Kurds. He is somebody who is very critical of Turkey and of the Turkish government. And the Turks have picked up on this and are becoming increasingly unhappy about the US stepping up support for the Kurds. And on top of all of this, the Russians, seeing all these moves, are building up their own forces in Syria in response to the American build-up there."

[4:06] "And, as all this is happening, there are increasing signs that the REAL enemy, the entity that is the real danger to the US -- which, to be very clear, is NOT the Assad government: Daesh, or ISIS, or whatever you want to call it -- is reviving. It launched bomb attacks in Baghdad. It has carried out attacks on Syrian convoys within Syria. It is far from dead. And in fact, is reviving in some senses. So we are going all the way back to the disastrous policies of the Obama period where we see an attempt to achieve regime change, embroiling the United States in antagonistic policies with other powers, the other powers in the region: Iraq, Turkey, Russia, Syria itself, Iran of course. Exposing US military personnel to danger because the entire area is becoming more hostile to them; antagonizing allies like Turkey; and, at the same time -- which is what happened, of course, during the Obama period, leading to a revival of the very Islamic terrorist groups that pose the greatest possible danger to the United States."

[5:32] "It is extraordinary to see how a disastrous policy is being revived and repeated all over again with all the same disastrous results. It's not that these people don't learn. It's that they don't want to learn. And they are so obsessed with the person of Bashar al-Assad and the regime in Damascus that they are blind to the consequences of everything else they do."

[6:05] Alex Chrisoforou: "So, we're nine months away from 'Assad Must Go' rhetoric, and I think we're nine months away from some sort of false-flag, white helmets false flag. So how do you think it's going to play out? What do you think Turkey's going to do? What do you think Iran's going to do. Because on the sideline we have the JCPOA and that's going to most likely get negotiated somehow or put back into the fold, I imagine, by a Biden Administration. But on the flip side, you mentioned Turkey, as well. And Turkey has created this strong bond, you could call it an alliance with Russia on the one side, but on the flip side we can't forget Turkey's role in trying to destroy Syria and Assad, as well. And you have the Kurds, as well, in the mix. So how do you see these countries shaping up as the tensions increase?"

[7:01] Alexander Mercouris: "Well, this is, first of all let's talk about Iran because, of course, on the one hand Biden seems to want to sort of dial down tensions with Iran. But at the same time what he's doing in Syria is going to dial UP tensions with Iran. So his policy in Syria contradicts the policy he is trying to follow with Iran. And the two are going to collide with each other. Because, be absolutely clear about this, the Iranians are not going to change their Syrian policy. For them, support for Syria is more important than the JCPOA. Because Syria gives them strategic depth. It gives them protection against an attack because they can activate, in the event that they are attacked, Syria and the various proxy forces Syria controls or supports in Lebanon in order to counter any attack upon themselves. So, they're not going to back off in Syria. And that's going to make them more skeptical and more manipulative in any approach they take towards the Biden administration any changes to the JCPOA. I don't think that's coming, by the way. I think the Biden administration is going to find that it's deadlocked on that front."

"Turkey has been trying to pursue, or President Erdogan has been trying to pursue, a very confusing policy supporting jihadist groups in Syria, taking action that is in some ways hostile to Russia and at the same time trying to pursue a clost strategic relationship with Russia. He's been taking this very manipulative approach. What is Biden doing, or rather, what is his administration doing? It is pushing Turkey back towards Russia, because it's talking about sanctioning Turkey -- I've done a program about this on my channel -- it is now openly and vigorously backing the Kurds, and for Turkey the Kurds are an existential issue. Ultimately, it is more important to Turkey's unity and territorial integrity that the Kurds are prevented from establishing a statelet in eastern Syria than it is for them to change the government in Damascus."

[9:31] "So you will start to see Turkey drifting further and closer back into Russia's arms, at least during the short term. And what will the Russians do? Well, Biden is talking about opening negotiations with Russians to extend the new START treaty, and he wants more arms control. And at the same time, he wants to confront the Russians in Syria. A very dangerous game, one where all kinds of things could go catastrophically wrong, which could very easily spiral out of control. The Russians are already taking steps to counter it. And, of course, these moves are going to make them less willing to look at the various proposals the US is making for caps on strategic weapons. And I've done a program on my channel which I think will be coming up fairly soon in which I discuss why it is imperative for the US to agree on arms control limits with the Russians. Because at this point the overall global military picture is tilting against the US. It's facing challenges from Russia, from China, from North Korea -- in terms of nuclear weapons -- it needs to slow this process down."

[10:54] "So, this obsession with Assad is ripe with danger. It could see an explosion of Islamist violence again. And it is alienating all the most powerful regional states. And, of course, it is putting US military personnel center-stage where they are most in danger. It is only a question of time, in my opinion, before you start to see an insurgency start to develop amongst the Arab population within this area which could very well start targeting US soldiers, at which point, what does the US do? Does it intensify this? Does it seek to extend its regime-change operations to Turkey as well as Iran? Does it extend even further its regime-change operations to Russia? Does it confront the Russian military in Syria, risking who knows what disaster there? All of this, seems to me, reckless and irresponsible in the extreme. And any sensible policy maker in Washington would say that the risks are wholly out of proportion to any conceivable gains that might be achieved by affecting regime-change in Syria. And to be perfectly frank, I don't even know what those gains are."

[12:33] "Because overthrow Assad, overthrow the government in Syria, you're more likely to create a violent vacuum which could create more conflict altogether and could lead to more Islamist violence still, as we saw in Iraq and as we saw in Libya. A reckless, irresponsible, foolish policy, ideologically driven, which is causing no end of problems and more problems for the United States. Donald Trump tried to reverse it. Sleepy Joe clearly can't."

[13:08] Alex Chrisoforou: "All right, yeah. So this comes to my final questions. How do you think 80 million Americans who voted -- 75 million Americans -- would react if Biden goes full into Syria, number one. Number two is kind of related to that question. Even Obama knew when to put on the brakes on Syria. Even Obama did. We had hints that Hillary Clinton wanted to go full-out war. And the fear is that Biden or Kamala Harris don't even understand where the brakes are on the car. They don't even know where they're located. So that's the fear, that they won't know how to put on the brakes or even understand that you have to put on the brakes. So the thing is very dangerous. And number three: there is a fear in Europe of another out-of-control migrant crisis, which would be the last thing that Europe could handle or absorb."

[14:06] Alexander Mercouris: "Absolutely. All of these things. You're absolutely right on every point. I don't, I mean, Obama had the sense to put on the brakes. I don't know that Biden can find the brakes. And I don't know that Kamala Harris knows that there ARE brakes. You're absolutely right about this. And I'm glad you mentioned the migrant crisis because that is a real danger. I mean, if Syria collapses, we're going to see a refugee explosion the like of which we have never seen. 2015 will seem like a minor affair, a minor episode by comparison. And how will the 74-75 million Americans who voted for Donald Trump will react? They will react very negatively, as will many people within the US armed forces, many of whom voted for Donald Trump. We saw during the military deployments to Washington D.C. during the inauguration how concerned some members of Congress were, some people in Washington were, about the reliability of some of those soldiers who had been deployed. I said I thought those fears were completely and wholly groundless. But that's the concerns they had. I wonder how they will feel about the reliability of their own military when dissatisfaction and resentment within that military increases. To be very clear, the US military is disciplined. I don't expect anything to happen there. But nonetheless, that is the situation that they're inviting."