Not much more than what I wrote just three months ago. The anti-Russian propaganda keeps steady, inciting schizophrenic narratives of Russian rogue state threatening to world peace, an aggressor not to be trusted or treated equally on the world stage while tacitly recognizing positive and critical role of Russia in sustaining of the world order. However ineffective sanctions stayed unchanged for propaganda purposes alone and calls for more independent from US, balanced EU-Russia relations, are still left unheeded while arms race on both sides escalated to levels unheard of since 1990. The one thing we have learned that what ever Russian modest aims, they deliver on their promises so far. So let’s examine once again;
Why Russians Came?
So everybody is asking question why after over four years Russia has finally taken huge risk of openly and directly militarily involve herself in the Syrian War instantly increasing the geopolitical stakes tenfold.
But before that we have to realize what the Syrian War was and still is all about.
The CIA inspired and funded operation called “Syrian Arab Spring” was commenced on the back of the legitimate grievances of the Syrian people regarding Bashar Al-Assad “new” neoliberal economic policies and associated rampant corruption and cronyism that slowly was destroying the social contract his father Hafez signed with the Syrians people as a fundamental condition of the stability of this inherently unstable post colonial mix of nations as well ethnic and religious groups that against all odds and the West embarked on politically almost impossible mission of modern nation building following introduction in late 1950-ties of Arabic version of nationalist/socialist movement called Ba’athism (adopted also in Iraq) for many decades with great success and huge social/national sacrifice, advanced education and hard work that built this previously nonexistent nation.
The emissaries of the Washington D.C based, CIA backed political adversaries of Assad rule promptly took on terrorist tactics of murder and intimidation attacking institutions and representatives of the civil society, law and order but most of all they aimed on destroying institution of “social peace” among Syrian people responsible for internal dialog (or what’s left of it) among all different ethnic/religious groups of Syrian citizen after over a decade and deterioration of the Syrian internal political strive and marginalization of diverse political voices by Assad regime tolerated or supported by Bashar Al-Assad himself.
The provocateurs attacked/manipulated Syrian religious organizations previously providing important foundation of the national dialog to provoke fake conflicts that could not easily be resolved on rational basis of political dialog. Assad however, spending big chunk of his life in the West among “political friends” bought almost immediately the western propaganda of the sectarian strive as an underlying cause of the “revolt” (which was a lie) and put on his Alawite hat to defend his power base.
By that fact he practically abdicated his national leadership and gravely injured interests of his nation and as a result, over following years, almost completely lost control over Syria only to, ironically, be “rescued” by the brutal aggression of the foreign American funded proxies aimed to wipe out the Syria as a nation from the political map of the world.
Many Syrians understood that fact before he did and decided to defend their great nation even against Assad’s ineptitude and political failure.
Almost totally ignored, even in the independent media, is the fact of the Bashar al-Assad slow and painful transformation from some egotistic, scared to death oligarch, detached from his nation into self-sacrificing genuine leader, practically recreated, reborn by the will of his people who made choice to persist as a nation. Among all that seemingly irreconcilable historical diversity, past grievances and and apparent social incompatibility the majority of Syrian realized that what they all have in common is much more valuable than their sectarian, economic and political particularisms. They declared themselves as Syrians above all.
At this point, in my opinion Assad stays in power only to preserve integrity of the Syrian nation and more precisely to redeem himself somewhat for all his catastrophic decisions and mistaken attitudes that aggravated the conflict into human disaster. In other words Assad must prevail in this war in order to leave his presidential office and be accountable for his deeds in the court of Syrian people.
May be this is what Putin, who so far stayed away from the conflict except for diplomatic cover, finally understood after years of the war and over two hundred thousands dead and millions of refugees resulting from reckless or genocidal policies of the West.
Even Russia, who in 2012 was quite willing to assist the transition of power in Damascus and did not consider Assad as indispensable, now sees that Syrian people will not let him go until peace, territorial integrity of their nation is fully restored and assured by international treaties. That would be a Syrian leg of the strategic interests of Russians in the Middle East and overall political reason of Russian open involvement in the Syrian war right now.
But there are many more reasons such as de facto attack on the Syrian territorial integrity by Turkey’s undeclared no fly zone in the north of Idlib protecting the areas of Al-Nusra and IS operations which was directly and immediately challenged by the Russian air force just to make a point of legal claim by the Syrian state over those areas.
Another important, but omitted from most of analyses of the conflict, factor was that over those four years Assad regime quietly but radically changed the policies enabling transformation of the Syrian civil War in to the war of external aggression in mind of average Syrian.
Surprisingly, this was accomplished via widespread but unreported, amnesty for rebels and reconciliation programs, local cease-fire agreements with Syrian factions opposed to Assad as well as extensive negotiation and even cooperation in order to assure well-being of the local Syrian citizen within the frontlines by restoring utilities to some rebel areas who agreed to permanent cease-fire and even restoring some basic social services and allowing people unimpeded movement across the division lines to enable economic activities. Even elections were allowed in few areas held by the Syrian (citizen) rebels.
However you cut it, Assad was saved so far not by his dilapidated guns or Hezbollah or Iran or even Russia but by embracing Syrians on both sides as brothers and sisters while offering bounty for Gulf State Islamists who stirred the conflict within sectarian communities in Syria.
Today Sunni majority see no future for Syria under extreme Islamists of the west concocted fascist Islamic State of lies and propaganda and do not see themselves in some delusional dreams of global caliphate from hell. Unfortunately IS ideologues are in complete agreement with delusional Washington neocons seeking the end of history and revisions of the post colonial divisions of the Middle East by turning the area into gory imperial medieval kingdom run by Saudis’ thugs.
Another reason for Russian involvement is the fate of Kurds who were betrayed and attacked by Turkey military that stayed at least formally on “sidelines” for all those years focusing on clandestine support for IS and other Islamist groups, but this year provided open and active cover for IS that was loosing battles with PKK. The Russians know that the Kurds’ nation division into four state entities is the key of holding the postcolonial map of the Middle East intact. And that Kurds’ reunification would be threatening the territorial integrity of Turkey herself a member of NATO and hence would endanger global geopolitical stability.
Russia’s role here is to return both sides to the political solution of containment and autonomy instead of violent confrontation no side can win. Assad wisely, already granted them far-reaching autonomy within Syrian state but was slow with materiel support to help them to defend themselves against Syrian rebels in first years of conflict.
Another reason could be a surprising alliance among Iran, Iraq, Syria, Russia and China and other post soviet states to eradicate Islamic extremism of IS only possible after the US ignored calls of Iraq Shia dominated pro-Iran government for help with new weapons/aircraft to fight the IS on their territory, even when Baghdad was threatened, forcing Iraqis to purchase tens of new MiG 29 delivered by Russia within months from the order. That alliance was manifested by recent hypersonic cruise missile bombing of the Islamic IS/ Al-Qaeda forces in Syria that required crossing airspace of Iran and Iraq unimpeded on the way from Caspian Sea.
What is very interesting in the context of recent nuclear agreement that Iran decided to decisively engage in defending their ally, Assad regime by deployment of ground troops of the Revolutionary Guard and massive open military support for Hezbollah. Now Iraqi government is in the process of designating separated air base for Russians combating IS in Iraq.
In the same time previous incoherent utterances of the Netanyahu and other right-wing theocratic lunatics running Israeli government seem to pragmatically come to reverse (after recent visit in Moscow) recognizing global geopolitical reconfiguration which has its manifestation in the current military and political developments and exposing inept American policies set on spreading dangerous for Israel chaos in the region.
Undoubtedly, Russian intervention was possible only because the US imperial power or rather an image of the imperial power is weakening as perceived in the Middle East and elsewhere. More and more people recognize that US military power is just an illusion and after years of massive theft of trillions of dollars designated to military by Walls Street conmen contractors the US paper tiger is capable of empty threats and shooting anybody defenseless who cannot shoot back while folding immediately when confronted with those capable of defending themselves.
Just few days of Russian air force operations proved the superiority of their equipment, training, logistics and organization making Russian seemingly untouchable by the US over Syria. The western Europe was left in shock and awe that someone could effectively challenge their American God militarily and politically as just recently expressed by J.C. Juncker, president of the European Commission who declared that Europe should not blindly follow Washington policies as they are not always in best interest of the Europeans.
But in my opinion most the direct reason of seeming urgency of Russia’s involvement at this point were recent developments in Lebanon (described below) and direct threat to the Assad regime critical financing sources due to the instability of the Lebanese government /banking system under the western instigated “garbage” revolution. Even more profound financial crisis in Syria would have weakened Syrian economy, likely to the level of the collapse at the time when the Assad regime is making significant progress in regaining control over the country.
However, I have to admit that none of my reasons or Russian or Syrian propaganda talking points about national interest, global threat of Islamists or humanitarian and refugee crises fully explains why Russia has taken such a historically bold and aggressive (or defensive?) step with so far unforeseen geopolitical consequences.
I am not naïve and do not believe that Russia is the only a force for good, as much as the US never was. It was all about direct interest of the ruling elites. Their actions always exemplified by brutal geopolitical calculations and drive for strategic gain in the world of continuing confrontation of the spheres of influence.
So what is it that Russia may truly gain out of this? What is Russia counting on? Breakup of NATO, a tool of western aggression? Bringing Europe into Russia’s sphere of alliances by marginalizing the US on world stage? Is the price of blood sweat and tears that will have to be paid worth it for Russian people? I know not. It does not make sense to me so far in context of looking at the big picture of recent geopolitics where Russia exhibited extreme, sometimes annoying, stoicism and conservatism seemingly focusing of the long term strategic objectives promoting status quo instead of extreme “revolutionary” turmoil pushed by the US neocons in their misguided quest for global vision of US imperial dominance, for pipe dreams of next American century.
But I know one thing. What we are witnessing are first slight, tectonic movements in the geopolitical crust that will inevitably result in openly multipolar political and economic world order in not so distant future.
SYRIAN WAR UPDATE:
Front slows down or stagnates in some areas, fog, sand storms limits air support, SAA re-supplying from Russia, mobilization. ISIL tries again to counterattack in order to gain symbolic victory after utter defeats in last three months that, combined with greatly reduced funding started to erode recruitment drive.
SAA liberates some areas around Deir-Ezzor discovers mass graves of civilians executed by ISIL: http://sputniknews.com/middleeast/20160117/1033263384/syrian-army-liberates-deir-ezzor.html
South Front Update:
Syrian and Russian Air Force began join operations:
Madaya Humanitarian Convoy:
(Warning: 18+) Dead terrorists in East Allepo.
(Warning: 18+) SAA sniper kill a terrorist:
Two months and French did this:
IS prepares to leave Al-Bab effectively cutting off direct road connection with Turkish border. In fact the road was rendered mostly useless by Russian air strikes.
Fighting for Al-Bab, SAA special forces took over the town.
Russian Humanitarian air-drops in Syria also on some territories or enclaves controlled by ISIL.
Another case of US dept of State ignorance about ethnic situation in Syria, namely a fact that Kurds cannot and will not be used to “liberate” Arab or other ethnic dominated areas only multicultural SAA can do it such as it is case of recent clashed between Kurds and Assyrian in the Syrian North East. A YPG march on Raqqa is just a wet dream of Washington neocons. US have no effective mercenaries army on the ground except for ISIL.