The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Oceania Saker.
Source: Moon of Alabama
The Syrian Arab Army and the YPG troops of the Syrian Kurds are making good progress in the Azaz pocket. The pocket formed after the Syrian army cut through the “rebel” corridor between Aleppo city and the Turkish border. The aim now is to push all foreign proxy forces who are still in that pocket (green) back north into Turkey and to get full control of the border.
The Syrian-Russian command decided to let the YPG (yellow) have the fun of cleaning the pocket only to taunt the Turkish President Erdogan. Erdogan has a serious domestic policy problems when the Kurdish forces gain control in parts of Syria that the wannabe Sultan Erdogan regarded as sacred neo-Ottoman ground. His court jester, the Prime Minister Davutoglu, announced that his country would not allow the town of Azaz to fall to Kurdish fighters. He will have to eat a flock of craws over that.
The Turks are firing artillery from Turkish ground in the north onto Kurdish position in the pocket. Turkish special forces are likely near the front line to control that fire. But artillery alone can not make the difference. The Kurds have air support from the Russian airforce which Turkey no longer dares to attack. The Russians will not attack the Turkish artillery as such an attack could widen the war. The Kurdish troops will have to suffer through that barrage as they push out the Turkish and CIA paid proxies. Some reinforcement for the CIA proxies arrived from Idleb. These passed from Idleb into Turkey and from Turkey into the pocket. The destruction of these forces in the Azaz pocket will make the further fights of the Syrian army in Idleb and elsewhere a lot easier.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Oceania Saker.
There is an unfortunate tendency for our society to want everything now, immediately and on demand!
This results in ignoring chronological events, not understanding the complex nature of life and as such rendering one’s point of view fundamentally incomplete.
Please have a listen to the permanent representative of the Syrian Arab Republic to the United Nations, Mr. Bashar Jaafari. This was recorded in 2014. The ground realities today in 2016 relate directly to the facts and events discussed below. You will need to ‘invest’ some of your time to actually understand what is happening today.
In considering the terrifying but also sadly predictable news of a Russian fighter jet being downed by two Turkish fighters, let’s start with one almost certain assumption — an assumption that no doubt is also being made by the Russian government: Turkey’s action, using US-supplied F-16 planes, was taken with the full knowledge and advance support of the US. In fact, given Turkey’s vassal status as a member of US-dominated NATO, it could well be that Ankara was put up to this act of brinksmanship by the US.
What makes the downing of the Russian jet, and the reported death of at least one of its two pilots (the other was reportedly captured alive by pro-turkish Turkmen fighters on the Syrian side of the Syria-Turkish border, and will presumably be returned to Russia) so dangerous is that as a member of NATO, supposedly a “mutual assistance” treaty that binds all members to come to the defense of one that is attacked, if Russia were to retaliate by downing a Turkish military plane, NATO countries including the US would be obligated to come to Turkey’s defense.
Russia knows this, and that is why so far the Russian response to the downing has been muted. Had it been a Jordanian, Saudi or Kuwaiti jet that downed the Russian SU-24, Russia’s response would have been instantaneous. The guilty party would have had some of its planes shot down, or perhaps even bombed on the ground. But President Putin so far has limited himself to demanding a meeting, to warning that Russian-Turkish economic relations would be threatened, etc.
This restraint is good, but clearly, Vladimir Putin will not stop there. Even putting aside domestic considerations (imaging the public clamor for a military response here in the US if some small country shot down a US plane!), he will have to respond or his whole project — so far stunningly successful — of restoring Russia to its pre-USSR-collapse position as a global power, would be a failure.
Putin’s options are actually quite broad, though some carry considerably more risk for everyone, not just for Russia and Turkey. He could have his own air
force in Syria, where Russia is legally acting at the request of the Syrian government to defend it against rebel forces of ISIS and Al Nusra, some of which are backed by both Turkey and the US, calmly wait for a Turkish military jet to cross into Syrian airspace. At that point it could be downed by Russian planes or missiles. No doubt Turkey will be extraordinarily careful going forward to have its pilots keep well away from Syrian air space too avoid that, but it could happen. My guess is that Russian fighter pilots and anti-aircraft batteries in Syria already have their marching orders to take that action, which probably would not activate NATO confrontation with Russia and lead to World War III, as long as there was reasonable evidence that Turkey’s plane was in Syrian airspace.
But should no such opportunity present itself, Russia has plenty of other opportunities to counter Turkey. Remember, Russia is also defending Syria’s coastline, and could sink or capture a Turkish ship that entered Syrian waters (or Russian waters in the Black Sea, which borders both countries).
Russia — knowing that this is really not about Turkey, but about push-back by the US against growing Russian power and influence, both globally and in the Middle East region — could also choose to respond in a venue where it has more of an advantage, for example in Ukraine, where it could amp up its support for the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Lugansk, perhaps by downing a Ukrainian military plane, or more broadly, providing air cover to protect those regions. Russia could also, less directly, provide aid to Kurdish rebels in both Syria and in Turkey itself who are fighting against Turkish forces.
I’m sure there are plenty of other options available to Russia also to turn the screws against both Turkey and NATO, without openly pushing buttons that could lead to a direct confrontation with the US and its NATO fiction. Working in Russia’s favor is that the US aside, the European nations of NATO have no desire to be at war with Russia. There are clearly hotheads in the US Congress, the Pentagon, and perhaps even within the neo-con-infested Obama administration, who are pushing for just such a mad showdown. But in Europe, where the actual fighting would mostly occur, and where memories are still strong of the destructive power of war, there is no taste for such insanity. It could, in fact, have been a big error in the long run for the US to push Turkey into such a deadly provocation, if it leads to more anti-American sentiment among the citizens of such key NATO countries as France, Germany, Italy and Britain.
It should be added that Russia and China have become much closer in recent years, economically, politically and militarily. This means there is also the possibility that the two countries could, in concert, step up pressure on the US in the western Pacific, for example by forcing down one of the provocative US flights near China’s new island projects in the South China Sea. That would force an already stretched US military to shift more forces to Asia from Europe and the Middle East.
It is all terribly dangerous and it is hard to predict where things will lead. One thing seems certain, though. This outrageous shootdown of a Russian plane that was in no way posing a threat to Turkey or Turkish forces, will not end here, because Russia and President Putin cannot allow Turkey and NATO to so blatantly act against Russia and its pilots and go unpunished, particularly as it is Russia that is acting legally in Syria, while the US, Turkey and other nations backing rebel forces there are in all acting blatant violation of international law.
Unless saner heads start prevailing in Washington, this could all quickly spiral into the kind of situation in 1914, where a lot of ill-conceived treaties led to a minor incident in the Balkans turning inexorably into World War I.
Source: Voltaire Network
The days of the « Arab Spring » are almost over. As of now, the White House and the Kremlin are redesigning the contours of the « Greater Middle East ». However, their agreement, which was concluded before the Russian military intervention in Syria, could still be modified by the changes in the balance of power. There is no proof that Moscow will accept the stabilisation of Syria or ignore the partition of Turkey and Saudi Arabia which are soon to begin. In any event, the coming upheaval will modify the status quo which has been in place for the last five years. Most of the powers implicated are therefore scrambling to change sides before the other players.
Whatever its home country, the Press is currently too occupied with analysing the position of its own State in the Near East conflict to take any note of the ongoing global negotiations between the White House and the Kremlin . As a result, it is misinterpreting certain secondary events. In order to clarify the current diplomatic agitation, we have to revisit the USA-Russian agreement of last September.
The public part of this agreement was formulated by Russia in a document distributed on the 29th September at the UN Security Council . It indicates that in order to re-establish peace and stability in North Africa and the Near East, it is essential – and sufficient –
(1) to apply the resolutions of the Security Council – which notably implies the retreat of Israël to its 1967 borders – and
(2) to combat terrorist ideology – in other words, to fight the Muslim Brotherhood, created by the United Kingdom and supported by Turkey, and the Wahhabism propagated by Saudi Arabia.
It had originally been planned that Russia should call for the adoption of a resolution to this end during the Security Council meeting of the 30th September. However, the United States opposed this initiative less than one hour beforehand . Sergey Lavrov therefore presided over the talks without mentioning his project. This major event can only be interpreted as a tactical disagreement which must not block a strategic agreement.
On the 20th October, at the Kremlin, President Vladimir Putin received his Syrian counterpart, Bachar el-Assad, in the presence of his Ministers for Defence and Foreign Affairs, the General Secretary of the Russian Council for National Security and the head of the secret services. The meeting concerned the application of the Russia-US plan, including the agreement of the Geneva Communiqué of 30th June 2012 . President el-Assad pointed out that he was following the instructions of this Communiqué, and in particular, that he had integrated into his government the opposition parties who had requested participation, as required by the description in the Communiqué of a Transitional Governing Body.
Source: Russia Today
Irrespective of spin – “productive” according to the White House, “tense”according to a source close to the Kremlin – facts on the ground accumulated almost immediately.
Putin did press Obama for the US to join Russia in a real grand coalition bent on smashing ISIS/ISIL/Daesh. The Obama administration, once again, relented. I detailed here what happened next: an earth-shattering game-changer in the ‘New Great Game’ in Eurasia, straight out of the Caspian Sea, that caught the acronym fest of US intelligence – not to mention the Pentagon – completely off-guard.
So this was Putin’s first message to Washington, and the Pentagon/NATO combo in particular; your fancy ideas of stationing tactical nuclear weapons or expanding missile defense to Eastern Europe, or even Asia-Pacific, are just a mirage. Our cruise missiles are capable of wreaking real effective havoc; and soon, as this piece argues, there will be more hypersonic, high-precision long-range missiles added to the mix.
Old habits don’t die hard – they remain in a coma forever. The Pentagon’s response to the facts launched from the Caspian Sea was to conduct an airdrop of light weapons to “a select group of vetted leaders and their units,” as in those famously non-existent Syrian “moderate rebels.” The weapons will inevitably be captured by assorted Salafi-jihadi goon outfits in no time.
Source: Information Clearing House
September 26, 2015 “Information Clearing House” – These autumn days are the most important in the Middle East calendar. The Muslims celebrate Eid al Adha, the Feast of the Sacrifice; the Jews fast at Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement; and the Eastern Orthodox Christians rejoice at Nativity of Our Lady Mary. It appears, surprisingly, the best place to be at this time is Moscow, where Putin received in quick succession the Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the Turkish ruler Recep Erdogan.
They did not come for the lovely Indian summer that blessed Moscow this week, not for the yellow and red leaves covering the maple and birch trees, though this sumptuous new Xanadu is quite fetching this time of the year; its streets refashioned at enormous expense, parks tended by best gardeners; bicycle paths and sidewalks repaved and even its feared traffic jams abated somewhat.
Ostensibly, Abbas and Erdogan came to unveil, together with Putin, the grand new Cathedral Mosque of Moscow, a vast and opulent structure where ten thousand worshippers can pray at once. This city has more Muslims than many a Muslim city has; about two millions of its 14 million dwellers are nominal Muslims.
They unveiled the mosque all right, and used this occasion for a good lengthy talk with Putin. So did Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli PM, who gave a miss to the mosque. And he came with his top brass: the head of staff and the head of military intelligence, after a long-time no-see.
This sudden interest to Moscow is a sign that the Russian entry into the Syrian fray has been playing to a full house. When, some three weeks ago I reported on this decision of Kremlin, my report was met with great doubt, to say the least. Could it be that Russia, after being licked in the Ukraine, will venture that far from home? They were supposed to sulk in the Kremlin under the heavy load of sanctions, not roam around. Now the facts on the ground had justified my previous report. Russian soldiers and marines, Russian weapons, jets and boats are seen on the shore; they are building a new base and fighting the enemy, giving a new lease of life to the embattled Syrian state.