As early as 2012, in a Brookings paper titled, "Assessing Options for Regime Change," its policymakers would state (emphasis added):
An alternative is for diplomatic efforts to focus first on how to end the violence and how to gain humanitarian access, as is being done under Annan’s leadership. This may lead to the creation of safe-havens and humanitarian corridors, which would have to be backed by limited military power. This would, of course, fall short of U.S. goals for Syria and could preserve Asad in power. From that starting point, however, it is possible that a broad coalition with the appropriate international mandate could add further coercive action to its efforts.Brookings had hoped that the corridors and safe havens would provide a foothold from which additional covert and overt Western military power could be wielded to ultimately overthrow the government in Damascus and render Syria a perpetually divided and destroyed nation, incapable of impeding Western regional ambitions well into the foreseeable future.
From 2012 onward, the notion of safe havens would emanate out from corporate-financier funded think tanks, across the Western media, and attempt to work its way into US foreign policy both in the halls of Congress and the White House, as well as on the ground in Syria itself.
Clearly, however, despite great efforts over the last 5 years to establish such safe havens, none have admittedly materialized. This comes from the Brooking Institutions' own latest appraisal of its failed policy - or one should more accurately say - foiled policy.
Revisiting No-Fly Zones
Upon Brookings' "Order From Chaos" blog, is a paper titled, "What to do when containing the Syrian crisis has failed." The paper mentions revisiting both no-fly zones, as well as "safe havens." Regarding no-fly zones, it states (emphasis added):
We must also be clever about employing various options for no-fly zones: We cannot shoot down an airplane without knowing if it’s Russian or Syrian, but we can identify those aircraft after the fact and destroy Syrian planes on the ground if they were found to have barrel-bombed a neighborhood, for example. These kinds of operations are complicated, no doubt, and especially with Russian aircraft in the area—but I think we have made a mistake in tying ourselves in knots over the issue, since there are options we can pursue.It should be noted, that while Brookings appears not to be (openly) interested in shooting down Russian planes, others among America's political and policy establishment have. This includes US Senator John McCain who openly called to arm terrorists with anti-aircraft missiles to down Russian warplanes.
I might do what we did in Afghanistan many years ago, to give those guys the ability to shoot down those planes. That equipment is available.When asked to clarify his statement as to who would be shooting down the planes, McCain would answer:
The Free Syrian Army, just like the Afghans shot down the Russian...Terrorists, including the self-proclaimed "Islamic State," have in fact used US manufactured anti-tank missiles to down Russian helicopters. The Japan Times would report in an article titled, "U.S. missile brought down Russian helicopter in Syria: report," that:
Two Russian airmen killed in Syria on Friday were shot down with American weaponry, the Interfax news agency said Sunday, quoting a Russian military source.Either by extraordinary coincidence, or by a more than expected act of treachery, no-fly zones are being incrementally established in certain parts of Syria - at least in regards to rotary aircraft - and all due to US weapons ending up "accidentally" in the hands of designated terrorist groups. Senator McCain's dream of "guys" - from the Islamic State - shooting down Russian aircraft just like they - Al Qaeda - did in Afghanistan has become a partial reality. Brookings apparently wants to expand on that reality.
It said insurgents from the Islamic State group hit the airmen’s Mi-25 assault helicopter with a U.S.-made TOW heavy anti-tank missile, a weapon that uses guidance from a ground station.
The Safe Haven Plan, V.2
In regards to carving out safe havens, Brookings would claim in its recent paper that (emphasis added):
...we should push the debate about what creating safe havens really means. I don’t think we should start declaring safe havens, but rather try to help them emerge. The Kurds are making gains in Syria’s northeast, for instance, as are some forces on the southern front—so, if the United States, in cooperation with its allies, accelerates and intensifies its involvement on the ground in those areas, safe havens can essentially emerge. An important advantage of this approach is that it doesn’t require putting American credibility on the line, but does help local allies build up and reinforces successes on the ground.
Of course, this was what analysts and governments opposed to Western intervention in Syria have warned about for years - with the West's own policymakers finally revealing the full truth behind the presence of US troops in Syria. It was warned for years that terrorist groups like Al Qaeda and the self-proclaimed "Islamic State" served merely a pretext for direct US intervention - US intervention that would only feign its fight against "terrorism," and instead carve up Syrian territory ahead of efforts to topple the government and destroy the nation as was done in Libya.
Brookings and other centers churning out US policy may have succeeded in their plans, had it not been for Russia's decision to directly aid the embattled government of Syria. The presence of Russian aircraft in the skies over Syria, the presence of Russian troops on the ground, and the expansion of Russian activities across the country mean little room is left for the US to carve out its "safe havens."
As tragic as Russia's losses have been in the face of US-armed terrorists utilizing anti-tank missiles to down helicopters, the vector sum of Russia's operations in Syria still spell defeat for US aspirations of regime change as well as the goal of creating a failed state such regime change implies.
Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine“New Eastern Outlook”.