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Putin works for peace in Syria, while Obama pushes to violently break apart the country into a thousand parts

Moscow’s geo-strategic objective in Syria is the exact opposite of Washington’s goals. Russia wants a unified, peaceful solution to Syria, while the USA wants to chaotically break apart the country into little pieces.

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Post originally appeared on Counterpunch.

Moscow’s geostrategic objectives in Syria are the polar opposite of Washington’s. Grasping this simple fact is the easiest way to get a fix on what’s really going on in the war-torn country.

What Washington wants is explained in great detail in a piece by Michael E. O’Hanlon at the Brookings Institute titled “Deconstructing Syria: A new strategy for America’s most hopeless war”. Here’s an excerpt:

“…the only realistic path forward may be a plan that in effect deconstructs Syria….the international community should work to create pockets with more viable security and governance within Syria over time…

Creation of these sanctuaries would produce autonomous zones that would never again have to face the prospect of rule by either Assad or ISIL….

The interim goal might be a confederal Syria, with several highly autonomous zones… The confederation would likely require support from an international peacekeeping force….to make these zones defensible and governable….The autonomous zones would be liberated with the clear understanding that there was no going back to rule by Assad or a successor.”

(“Deconstructing Syria: A new strategy for America’s most hopeless war“, Michael E. O’Hanlon, Brookings Institute)

Forget about ISIS and Syrian President Bashar al Assad for a minute and, instead, focus on the terms  “autonomous zones”,  “creation of…sanctuaries”,  “safe zones” and “a confederal Syria.”

All of these strongly suggest that the primary aim of US policy is to break Syria up into smaller units that pose no threat to US-Israeli regional hegemony. This is the US gameplan in a nutshell.

In contrast, Russia does not want a divided Syria. Aside from the fact that Moscow and Damascus are long-term allies (and Russia has a critical naval facility in Tartus, Syria), a balkanized Syria poses serious threats for Russia, the most significant of which is the probable emergence of a jihadi base of operations that will be used to deploy terrorists across Central Asia thus undermining Moscow’s grand plan to integrate the continents into a giant free trade zone from Lisbon to Vladivostok.  Russian President Vladimir Putin takes the threat of terrorism very seriously, which is why he has been working around-the-clock to engage leaders from Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Iran, the Kurds and Syrian opposition groups in negotiations to put an end to the fighting and reestablish security in Syria.  It’s worth noting that there’s been an effective blackout of these crucial negotiations in the western media, mainly because they make Putin look like a peacemaker who is respected among other world leaders and who is making every effort to stop the spread of terrorism. Obviously, that doesn’t jibe with the media’s portrayal of Putin as the new Hitler, so they’ve simply omitted the meetings from their coverage.

The differences between the US and Russia are irreconcilable. Washington wants and end to the nation-state system and create a new world order, while Putin wants to maintain the current system in order to preserve national sovereignty, self determination, and multi-polarity.  This is the basis of the clash between Russia and the US. Putin rejects unipolar global rule and is working as fast as he can to build a coalition capable of resisting persistent US intervention, manipulation and aggression.  This is no small task, and it involves a great deal of discretion. Putin does not have the wherewithal to confront the US Goliath at every turn, so he must pick his fights carefully and operate largely in the shadows, which is what he is doing.

In the last few months, Putin has convened meetings with all the main players in the Syria drama, and has made remarkable headway in resolving the crisis. The main sticking point now, is whether Assad will remain as president or be removed as Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the US demand. Putin is resisting this outcome for many reasons. First, he doesn’t be seen as betraying an ally which would seriously hurt his reputation as a reliable partner. Second, he can’t allow himself to comply with a “regime change” doctrine that eschews international law and that could eventually be used against him in a future coup.  Allowing foreign leaders to pick and choose who is a “legitimate” leader and who isn’t is a prescription for disaster, as is evident in Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan and now Yemen. Finally, Putin cannot simply hand Washington an easy victory on a matter of this magnitude although, in the end, Assad will probably be gone.

So, what’s been going on behind the scenes?

Back in June, Putin met with  the Saudi Crown Prince and Defence Minister Mohammad bin Salman in St Petersburg an started working on an “international legal framework for creating a coalition to fight terrorism in the region.”  Soon after, he met with the heads of opposition groups and high-ranking officials from Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran.  The goal was to implement the so-called Geneva communiqué that was ratified in June 30, 2012. In brief, Geneva provides for:

Establishment of a transitional governing body with full executive powers that could include members of the government and opposition, and should be formed on the basis of mutual consent.

Participation of all groups and segments of society in Syria in a meaningful national dialogue process

Review of the constitutional order and the legal system

Free and fair multi-party elections for the new institutions and offices that have been established.

As you can see, Geneva does not resolve the central issue, which is: “Does Assad stay or go?”  That question is not answered definitively.  It  all depends of composition of the “transitional governing body” and the outcome of future elections.

Clearly, this is the result that Putin wanted. Here’s how Lavrov summed it up two days ago:

“I have already said, Russia and Saudi Arabia support all principles of the June 30, 2012 Geneva communique, in particular, the need to preserve government institutions, including the Syrian army. I believe its participation in the effective struggle against terrorists is truly essential.

I have already said that though we hold identical positions on the settlement of the crisis, we also have our differences, and one of them concerns the destiny of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. We believe that all issues of settlement, including the parameters of the transitional period and political reforms, should be resolved by Syrians themselves. The Geneva communique reads that these issues should be resolved by consensus between the Government and the entire spectrum of opposition forces.”

You can see by this statement what Putin really wants. He wants to “preserve government institutions, including the Syrian army” to avoid another Iraq-type nightmare scenario. (Note: Remember what happened to Iraq after Bremer disbanded the army.) What he doesn’t want, is to create a power-vacuum that leads to another failed, balkanized hellhole that serves as a breeding ground for terrorists that will eventually come knocking on Moscow’s door. He doesn’t want that at all. That only serves Washington’s objectives, not Russia’s.

Also, the whole idea of a “transitional governing body” and “free and fair multi-party elections” gives Putin a way to back away from Assad without looking like he’s throwing him under the bus.

Some will probably criticize this and say that Putin is “selling out a friend and ally”, but that’s not entirely true. He’s trying to balance two opposing things at the same time. He’s trying to maintain his commitment to an ally while accommodating Saudi Arabia so they agree to help him to end the hostilities. So, yes, there is a bit of triangulation involved, but what choice does he have?  In practical terms, he can either strike a deal fast or allow the window of opportunity to slam shut.

Why?

Because Washington doesn’t want a deal. Washington wants war. Washington cannot achieve its goal of breaking up Syria and redrawing the map of the Middle East if peacemaker Putin prevails. Let’s put it this way: If Putin gets Saudi Arabia on board, then a good portion of the funding for jihadi groups will dry up,  the Syrian Army, assisted by Iraqi and Kurdish forces, will have greater success on the battlefield, and ISIS will be annihilated.

How does that serve Washington’s interests?

It doesn’t. And even if Assad is removed, the process (Geneva) is such that the next president is not going to be a hand-picked US stooge, but someone who is supported by the majority of the Syrian people. Needless to say, Washington doesn’t like that idea.

The only glitch to the plan is that Putin must move very fast. The US has already gotten the green-light from Ankara to launch its drone attacks and bombing raids from Incirlik air base in Turkey, which means the conflict is going to intensify in the weeks and months to come. Also, Turkey’s hardline President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan appears to be using the US aerial attacks as cover for stealing Syrian sovereign territory in the North and declaring it a “safe zone”.  Get a load of this clip from an August 11 article in the International Business Times:

“A group of ethnic Turkmen fighters arrived in Azaz, Syria, on Monday afternoon to launch the first phase of a joint U.S.-Turkish initiative to establish an Islamic State group-free “safe zone” in the country, two soldiers fighting in northern Syria told International Business Times via Skype. Tanks carrying the fighters entered through the Bab al-Salama border, crossing from southeastern Turkey into the town of Azaz, Syria, setting off a wave of attacks by the Islamic State militant group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, in the town of Marea, which forced the al-Qaeda extremist group Jabhat al-Nusra to retreat.

“At first everyone thought the tanks were filled with Turkish soldiers, but it was the Turkmen,” one of the rebel fighters said.

The soldiers, interviewed Tuesday by IBTimes, were trained in Turkey and are in one of the biggest moderate-opposition rebel coalitions in the country. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they are in combat. Shifting alliances among rebel groups in the country have left them fearing retribution if they identified themselves on the record. One of the soldiers, a commander, recently attended talks with the Turkish government in the capital city of Ankara regarding the Turkish-U.S. plan to create a safe zone in the northern part of the country.” (“Turkey, US, Syrian ISIS-Free Safe Zone: Turkmen Brigades Move Into Syria, Al-Nusra Moves Out, Soldiers Say“, IBT)

So, Turkish tanks loaded with troops that have been armed and trained by Turkey, cross the border into Syria where they are expected to clear and capture territory up to and perhaps including Aleppo?

That sounds a lot like an invasion to me; how about you?

Bottom line: If Putin wants to prevent Washington from splitting up Syria and transforming it into a terrorist breeding ground, he’s going to have to move fast; get the Saudis on board, put an end to the bloodshed, and implement Geneva.

It’s not going to be easy, but he seems to be on the right track.

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at [email protected].

References:

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/08/14/is-putin-planning-to-sell-out-assad/

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Trump’s wish to take the US out of NATO leaves NeoCons seething

The US President has seen the truth of the irrelevance of NATO, but there is enormous resistance to change.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Tucker Carlson, Fox News and Russian and American news outlets alike have picked up the story that US President Donald Trump has on numerous occasions, opined that the United States would do well to depart from the North Atlantic Military Organization, or NATO.

This wish caused enormous fury and backlash from those opposed, which, oddly enough include both Democrats and Republicans. Their anger and alarm over this idea is such that the media networks through much of the US are alive with the idea of impeaching the President or bringing 25th Amendment proceedings against him for insanity!

Take a look:

Tucker Carlson, as usual, nailed it.

NATO was formed to make Western Europe secure in the face of a perceived Soviet threat. In 1991, the USSR collapsed and the threat of Ivan the Communist bad guy collapsed with it.

But 28 years later, NATO is still here. And, why?

Well, many “experts” continue to point at Russia as a threat, though after that statement no one seems honestly able to elucidate precisely how Russia would, in fact, threaten any nation, take over it, or conquer the world. Indeed, if anyone seems to understand the perversity of being in charge of the whole world, it seems to be Russia, as expressed by politician and LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky (see how this is so here).

Zhironovsky observed that China is the other nation that is running at full force, but viewing the problems the US is having with being the leader of the world, China stops short of trying to attain this position itself. The question becomes “What does a nation that rules the world actually do then?”

President Trump appears to be seeing the same question, or some similar variant based on the same theme. NATO serves no constructive purpose anymore. Despite the conflicts in Ukraine and Saudi Arabia and Yemen, Israel and Syria, there simply are no great threats in the world as it stands today. While there are certainly still wars, none of these wars represents an existential threat to the United States.

Why wouldn’t a US leader want out? In fact, there is further no existential threat to Europe from any present war, nor is there a threat from Russia itself. In fact, Russia has been entering into business relations with many European countries who wish to buy cheap and easily available Russian natural gas. Turkey purchased an S-400 antimissile system in addition to its US made Patriot battery.

There would seem to be very little in the way of concrete and reliable reasoning for the alliance to continue.

But the American Deep State and liberal establishment have come together to resist the US President in a truly furious manner, and it is revelatory of the hypocrisy of anti-Trump politics that American liberals, typically the “sing Kum-ba-yah peacenik” crowd, displays paroxysms of outrage and horror that NATO might be disbanded.

As the result of that, the American media is determined to choke off any possibility of one thinking, “well, what if we were to disband NATO?”

Why is this?

Simple. A lot of people make their living by preparing for the Russian “threat”, and it would mean the end of their work, the end of their money, and a great disruption in life. It does not matter that while this is true, these same people could conceivably apply their considerable skill sets to deal with real problems that face a world that no longer has a dipolar alignment, or to help prevent a real problem from arising from real situations, such as the recent and current Islamization of many European cities.

One of the great afflictions of American politics and policy has been that so much of it appears to be focused on “short term” or “no term” matters. We see this with the problems related to border security, the coming advent of AI-based automated processes that may furlough low-skilled workers in tremendous amounts in a short period of time. Rather than solve real problems, the elected representatives and media seem more content to oppose Donald Trump when he, as a businessman ought to do, makes a federal case out of what he sees on the horizon.

The Border Wall, for example, is a highly logical part of a properly handled set of immigration policies. But the very direct behavior of President Trump helped amplify the resentment the Democrats still hold against him for defeating Hillary Clinton in 2016, and so, the Democrats have effectively said “nuts!” to the needs of the nation and they take out their resentment on the nation by refusing to negotiate with the President about how to close the border.

NATO is another example. The alliance served its purpose. It is time for the alliance to end, or to be radically restructured in terms of new goals based in real, and not just flimsy rhetorical, needs.

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A dispassionate case for the American border wall

All the arguing on both sides is a rhetorical war that prevents action from happening. Here are simple reasons the border wall should go up.

Seraphim Hanisch

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One of the hottest news stories in the American press has been that over the border wall, proposed by President Trump during his campaign, and now resting at the center of a debate that has about one-quarter of the US governmental services in a state of shutdown. We have observed fiery, passionate, and even disgusting levels of rancor and bitterness in the political rhetoric concerning the wall. This debate goes on in the news media, and many of the Americans who watch and listen to this take on the fire of these arguments to even more passionate levels.

However, the passion has largely obscured the actual issue of border security, perhaps by design. As long as people keep fighting over it, it still is not getting done. And while thankfully the American government is designed to work very slowly in determining important matters, here, that trait is being exploited, mostly by Democrats, but also by Republicans and even possibly, President Trump himself.

The motives each side has vary.

President Trump wants Congress to pass wall funding because then it is a legislative act that the Legislative and Executive branches of government agree on. It is unlikely that the Supreme Court will be called upon to test such a resolution for its legality. This is one very significant reason why the President is trying every way possible to get this through Congress.

If he goes the route of declaring a “National Emergency” then, according to a number of sources, the first thing that is likely to happen after the build order is a lawsuit that stops the process in its tracks – probably a land-use lawsuit regarding eminent domain and damage to the properties of private citizens, who for various reasons do not want a barrier built through their lands. This is a problem that the American government has sadly created for itself with a very poor reputation of proper reparations for the invocation of Eminent Domain land claims.

This is the simplest way to explain the raison d’être behind the President’s hesitation to invoke executive emergency powers.

For the Democrats, the motive is interesting. The rhetoric from conservatives, including the President, is that the Dems do not want the wall simply because the “imposter” President wants one. 

For anyone who thinks that this is an utterly insane, and indeed, childish, argument, well, you would be exactly right. It is.

It also appears to be true. Evidence for this is shown by the fact that almost every critic quoted by the mainstream press is a Democrat. How is it possible that Democrats have a unique hold on facts that other people just don’t? Even when a Republican expresses a concern about the wall, there is still actual logistical information backing the claim:

Republican and Democratic lawmakers raised immediate concerns over shifting funds that have already been approved by Congress for projects in states across the nation.

Rep. Mike Simpson of Idaho, a top Republican on the Appropriations Committee, said he has been hearing from lawmakers in recent days concerned that Army Corps projects in their states could be canceled or postponed.

(This is a concrete situation that is based on normal concerns about money and not about ideological political views.)

“If they drag the money out of here,” Simpson said in an interview late Thursday, “a lot of members will have problem with it.”

(But now in come the Democrats, and observe as logic leaves and is replaced by fiery language.)

Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., the incoming chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said in an interview that rebuilding the disaster areas is “a way higher priority benefiting the American people than a wasteful wall.”

He said the Army Corps works on dams, levees and other projects across the nation and has an enormous backlog of unfunded needs. “It would be an incredible disservice to the American people and the economy” to divert the money to the border wall, he said.

And Rep. Nydia Velazquez, D-N.Y., said in a statement that it would be “beyond appalling for the president to take money from places like Puerto Rico that have suffered enormous catastrophes, costing thousands of American citizens’ lives, in order to pay for Donald Trump’s foolish, offensive and hateful wall.

“Siphoning funding from real disasters to pay for a crisis manufactured by the president is wholly unacceptable and the American people won’t fall for it,” she said.

The Republican here spoke without passion, simply saying there is concern about shifting funds for the wall. But the Democrats used incendiary language like “wasteful” and “foolish, offensive and hateful” as adjectives to describe the border wall. Very passionate expressions, which are being repeated ad nauseam by the mainstream press and all of the Democrat party.

The bias most notably and publicly showed in the accusatory language of the Democrat kingpins themselves, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi.

There is little true “debate” about the border wall. Most discussion on the news media or social media is verbal rock-throwing rather than respectful, honest and fair discussion. As noted before, this may be part of the design to prevent action on the wall.

However there are dispassionate and reasonable arguments that support the construction of this project. Here are some of those reasons:

  •  A 30-35 foot tall wall running the entire length of the border is probably the cheapest and most cost effective single deterrent to illegal border crossings. Whoever wants to cross the border has to make some provision for dealing with the wall. If that provision is rather difficult, it will dissuade most people from trying it.
  • A wall reduces the need for manpower along the border. While it is absurd to assume that the wall alone would keep every illegal immigrant out, it also facilitates efficient deployment of manpower and other means for active border control.
  • Even if the wall is not continuous along the entire length of the border (which is likely to wind up as the case), where it isn’t is easier to monitor. This is another aspect of the manpower issue. There are likely to be gaps and open spaces for a variety of reasons. But right now, there are about over 1,200 miles of the 1,954 mile long border that have no barrier present. That is a lot of space to monitor actively.

These three reasons are really so close as to be almost the same exact reason. But the arguments for and against the border wall are being conducted in an apparent context that in order to secure a border, this is all anyone needs to do. This is an absurd idea and is being used to try to deflect action.

  • The best border security systems in the world are systems of walls, fences and monitoring facilities. Even the Great Wall of China did not stop all invaders. It deterred a lot of probable attempts though. The wall was also manned so that active attempts to get through it could be stopped in active manners.
  • The North – South Korean DMZ and the Berlin Wall are also particularly effective as parts of an overall border crossing deterrent system. The fences, trenches and watchtowers along the length of these two borders create an extremely effective measure to deter illegal crossings. For example, the Berlin Wall stood from 1961 to 1989, a total of 28 years. During that period, only five thousand people crossed that border. The US Border Patrol conducted over 300,000 apprehensions of illegal immigrants crossing the border in 2018 alone.

The imagery of walls like North Korea’s and East Berlin’s are part of the reason why the border wall comes across as an unsavory idea. There is probably no American that does not know this image, and no one in the country like the idea of such a barrier being associated with the United States.

However, that is simply not the issue. The US is not a police state trying to keep people inside. It is dealing with a decades-long stretch of bad policy regarding immigration which will not be stopped except by radical means.

Many families made a very long journey this year in the migrant caravans to try to game the American system. It is understandable that many of these people are trying to get away from bad conditions in the countries they left. But taking advantage of the United States is wrong, and the wrong is shared equally by the actions of the illegals and by the weak posture of the United States herself.

The simplest fact is that only strength assures freedom. A strong border reinforces safe immigration. A strong and effective immigration policy relies on having a tightly controlled border AND an asylum and entry facilitation process that is thorough, lawful and dispassionate. The USA has had this in place in other points of entry, such as Ellis Island. Leaving the Mexican frontier open now is just stupid policy. An integrated, careful process to process would be immigrants as quickly and carefully as possible needs to become part of the new American way of doing things. There is no swifter way to guarantee overall immigration policy change than the construction of the physical barrier along the US-Mexican border.

It does not matter how anyone feels or thinks. Walls work when used rightly. President Trump’s plan satisfies all the required needs for a good US immigration policy as regards the Mexican border.

 

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US Women’s March implodes upon itself [Video]

This year’s Women’s March collapses due to not being politically woke enough, in a truly astounding fashion.

Seraphim Hanisch

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If this doesn’t make your head spin, perhaps you are either dead, or sufficiently “woke.” The Humboldt County Annual Women’s March, set for January 19th of this year got canceled because it was “too white.”

Yes. Too white. This is a county in Northern California, 270 miles north of San Francisco. According to the Wikipedia entry, on this locale, the 2016 census gave this demographic result.

In other words, the county’s own demographics are very white.

So, does this make sense? No? Well, maybe the interview will clear it up.

Still no?

It seems that Jesse Watters was just as stunned as anyone else. The expression on his face is priceless. Should I laugh now, or later? How does this woman actually believe her own rhetoric?

But the woman, Kelsey Reedy, seems to have the logic worked out in her mind.

Maybe that is because she is a woman. A liberal woman. Fantasy turned inside out. But wait! She also even included expletive language on a televised interview, which is indecent in of itself.

It would appear that being “woke” can truly turn in on itself.

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