There is one thing certain about U.S. Pentagon strategy: it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks. And using an old trick from Operation Desert Storm, establishing a humanitarian, NATO-protected no-fly salient in northern Iraq’s Kurdish area, appears to be the same strategy envisioned for northern Syria. There is much in common between the U.S.-led NATO planning for a northern Syria occupation zone and the no-fly zone established in 1992 for Iraq.
Both NATO operations were and are intended to drive Arab Ba’ath Socialist regimes from power. In Iraq, the target was the Ba’ath Party headed by Saddam Hussein; in Syria, the target is, again, an Arab Ba’ath Party and the regime headed by Bashar Al Assad. In Iraq, a no-fly zone was established from the 36th parallel north to the Turkish border. If one were top draw that same boundary westward, it closely compares to the NATO-protected humanitarian zone being proposed for Syria. The NATO-protected northern Syria salient would encompass the cities of Aleppo and Idlib and the provinces of Idlib, Halab, Ar Raqqah, and Al Hasakah (the latter two where many Syrian Kurds live).
In northern Iraq, NATO protected a majority Kurdish population, allowing it to build up defensive and offensive paramilitary forces for the ultimate military operation that led, a little over a decade later, to the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. There is also a significant Kurdish minority in northeastern Syria that will be an important NATO asset for the ultimate offensive operations that will bring NATO and Syrian rebels to the walls of Damascus. Read More