We need to explain to those who truly want to understand that famous "big map" that Syria's Aleppo and Iraq's Mosul are the "mirrors" of the deal between all the actors in the region – particularly Russia and the U.S.
When you face the Mosul and Aleppo mirrors toward each other, you will get an infinite repetitive image of the Middle East. The strategic and geographical focal center of the mirror is Raqqa.
This is the most terrifying part of the war in the region.
It seems that the U.S.-and France-backed Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing People's Protection Units' (YPG) operation targeting Daesh at the center of the point where the Middle East is infinitely cloned is going to have unpredictable outcomes. Especially if there is talk going around that the U.S. was poorly prepared for the military operation after the claim that "Raqqa's fall is going to be the fatal blow to Daesh" was accepted!
"Talk," figure of speech... Since nothing is published in this column without source or documents: "[The U.S.] Attempting to wrest control of a major city [Raqqa], in a hostile foreign land enmeshed in a years-long civil war, has - literally - no chance of producing positive outcomes for our country. It could, however, result in deadly consequences.” ("After Mosul: Why Should America Push On to Raqqa?" 01/11, Daniel L. Davis (Davis is a top-ranking commissioned officer and national security analyst who spent 21 years in the U.S. military), National Interest.)
It is known that Barack Obama has no care for these and similar warnings as he is on his way out.
Raqqa is nothing beyond political window-dressing for the White House. Obama had promised to defeat Daesh and started a PR war whose effect would wash away with the first rain. There is no problem for Washington as the region/we will be the ones paying the cost of the failure. This is the small picture - there is a big picture, too.
Strategic and autonomous:Turkey
Don't think that just because it is “big” that it is grandiose. Washington (backed by Moscow and Tehran) hopes to delay Damascus from taking Aleppo. This is so that the next U.S. government – according to them it was going to be Hillary Clinton – could review Syria again.
The control of Raqqa is going to give the U.S. the opportunity to have direct impact over Aleppo. We need to take into consideration the quite long meetings of Turkish and U.S. chiefs of General Staff and Russia's statement, “Turkey is the only independent country on the entire East-West border [from Iran to Finland],” which happened within the same timeline.
Ankara knows all the troubles are due to its “love of independence.” It is aware that the word itself is enough to break the West's last remaining tooth. Hence, it thinks that the “strategic autonomous” noun phrase may calm down the sides even if it does not relieve them.
While Obama and his terrorist organization are fighting Daesh in Raqqa together with the other terrorist organization, there is significance in Turkey turning toward a city like al-Bab.
Is there an agreement – the U.S.'s unwilling and Russia's willing – for a Turkish move in al-Bab? On the contrary, did Turkey take an “all kinds of measures” decision in Raqqa against the U.S. and the People's Protection Units (YPG)?
If the West eventually manages to establish a Raqqa base that can support the opposition forces in Aleppo, the Moscow-Damascus alliance is going to turn into a mess.
As for Moscow, it recently stated that “The U.S. does not have enough power to take Raqqa,” as if to mock Obama's claim that “Russia is going to get stuck in the quagmire in Syria.”
Hence, eyes are turned toward “President-elect” Donald Trump. Because it is likely that this simple definition and Trump's policies may overlap.
As for Iran, Ankara knows what Tehran's problem is. Turkey controlling al-Bab and the U.S. controlling Raqqa are critical for supporting Hezbollah; it is cutting off its access route to Lebanon through Iraq-Syria.
Finally, Raqqa may also give way to other cities – that are not too far from it (129 kilometers) – which the U.S. and Israel tried to place under the control of anti-Iran Salafi groups in the past.
If Egypt returns to Syria
The second glass sword is being drawn through Egypt.
Until recently, Riyadh and Cairo's friendship had reached the extent of island exchange. (“Kızıldeniz'deki iki ada Mısır'dan S. Arabistan'a geçti” (Two islands in the Red Sea transferred from Egypt to Saudi Arabia), 10/04, AA.) Just as those trusts have returned to Egypt today, the Egyptian Oil Ministry announced that Saudi's Aramco halted sending oil to Egypt “without specifying any time or reason.” (“Egypt: Saudi Arabia halts fuel shipments indefinitely,” 08/11, Al Jazeera.) This means cutting off a flow of 700,000 tons of oil per month.
What's strange is that some U.S. experts are blowing up a myth about an attempt in Egypt aimed at the ruling power.
Another and second point of separation between Gulf countries and Egypt is through Syria. As a matter of fact, it seems that the likelihood of reaching an agreement is also over due to junta leader Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi's internal nightmares.
It has gone as far as el-Sissi's Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri saying, “Israel's operation against the Palestinians cannot be regarded as terrorism.”
In terms of strategic region balances…
One, Syrian intelligence service head, Gen. Ali Mamluk's visit to Cairo two-and-a-half weeks ago. Two, Egyptian and Russian foreign ministers' meeting last Monday. Three, the Syria-themed contacts of Egypt with the Russian diplomats at the U.N. Security Council. Four, Russia organizing military drills in Egypt.
Naturally, Egypt's return to Syria is being followed very closely, very very closely in Ankara.