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Russia won without firing a single shot

Analysis from Russian news agency has quite a different perspective on US and the Syrian strike than the Western Mainstream wish to portray

Seraphim Hanisch

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Syria is still largely at the center of the geopolitical news focus. As in all military conflicts, the powers involved are each involved in their own version of “we won.” In an analysis piece written by Victor Marakhovsky of RIA Novosti, the stance is that Russia won this event without so much as firing a shot. He then goes on to detail why he says what he says.

The newspiece is a translation and reinterpretation of the original piece which can be found here. We have tried to preserve the meaning of the original piece while framing it well in the English language. The Duran wishes to express its grateful acknowlegement to Victor Marakhovsky and RIA Novosti for its original report.

by Victor Marakhovsky, political scientist, about the US strategy in Syria

The formal results of a decisive attack by Western countries on Syria were summed up. Russia made a motion, proposing that the UN Security Council condemn the attack. Three permanent members of the Security Council  who all participated in the attack were against this motion, so the resolution was not adopted.

In terms of raw facts concerning the attack, the figures are generally established:

  • 103 rockets were launched. This is confirmed to be true.
  • US President D. Trump promised that the missiles would be “new and clever”, but most of the incoming missiles turned out to be the rather elderly “Tomahawks”. While on approach to all three strategically important facilities, they were shot down by the rather elderly Syrian air defense systems that had been developed in the Soviet Union specifically for the purpose of fighting the Tomahawks.
  • The British released eight Scalp (Storm Shadow) rockets, but, as proudly noted in the BBC, “each was five meters in length.” In addition they are newer, developed only twenty years ago.
  • The history with the French remains unclear: according to the leadership of France, they also released eight Storm Shadow missiles from their fighter planes and three from their ships.
  • However, the Russian military cynically point out that there were no French “Rafale” aircraft spotted in the skies. So it is possible that these allies of the United States received credit for participation only to maintain the spirit of unity of these three countries.

As to the damage, most of the missiles that actually reached their targets successfully fell on unused buildings in the provinces of Damascus and Homs. Otherwise, despite the surprise of the attack and the fact (heavily stressed by US officials) that “Russia was not even warned:”

  • not a single civilian perished.
  • not a single soldier of the Syrian Arab Army was killed.
  • not a single aircraft or helicopter was destroyed.
  • there was not a single accidental flight into the zone of responsibility of Russian air defense systems.
  • not a single used airfield used by the Syrian armed forces.
  • seventy-one out of one hundred and three missiles are lost.

The actual effect of the action was actually less than that of the attack on the Shayrat airbase a year ago, when 59 Tomahawks managed to at least a) spoil several aircraft, b) damage the taxiways, taking the airfield out of action for several hours and c) kill several Syrians .

This is where the list of raw facts comes to an end, because a group of experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons arrived in Syria only a few hours after the raid. The OPCW’s task is to establish whether anything happened at all in the incident that the United States responded to with such ferocity. The OPCW is also to establish what exactly happened in the city of Douma.

Therefore, the main battle unfolded after the strike – and, as expected in our strange era, it happened in the media space. Batalya began to question the question of how to understand what had happened.

US President Donald Trump, British Prime Minister Theresa May and French president Emmanuel Macron insist that the missile strike was a muscular and justified retaliatory blow. They also insist that their goals were achieved and that the ability of the “monster” Assad to succeed in producing chemical weapons to poison his people has been dramatically reduced. And they say that if he tries again – then the same crushing penalty will happen again, despite all the objections of Russia, because the time for negotiations has passed.

However, the press of Western countries is not so certain about the veracity of these claims, nor is it certain about the justification for the attack. As an example, the Huffington Post,bitterly states:

  • Trump’s declared goals were to stop the “murderous behavior of Assad and show his own strength to Assad’s patrons – Russia and Iran, but neither of these goals were achieved.
  • All the more or less significant military and administrative goals were at the time of the attack under the Russian “umbrella”, which Trump was afraid to touch.
  • As a result, Assad “will not stop the offensive,” and Russia “is not challenged.”

In an editorial comment by Reuters “Commentary: In Syria strike, the real danger is Russia“, it is reported that:

  • Assad “already almost won in the six-year war” and does not intend to stop;
  • Moscow, warning in advance that “in the event of creating a threat to life, Russian servicemen will be bewildered not only by missiles, but also by their carriers,” turned the action of unlimited justice into something purposeless. The author notes that this is because neither Russia nor the US is interested in a real battle with one another in Syria. Moreover: they are not even interested in showing each other the capabilities of each side’s newest missiles and anti-missile systems. After all, why feed such information to the enemy? In this very cautious manner the same heavily armed soldiers of the 20th century’s Cold War fought – over the deserts and mountains of an ancient country.
  • There is no success demonstrated in this tactic. To make matters worse: it has now been made clear that the United States can bring a lot of mighty naval hardware – even an aircraft carrier with all their terrible weaponry to bear on Syria… and then expend a lot of old missiles. But the final analysis shows that this attack was not so much a demonstration of force as it was a demonstration of the impossibility of showing strength.

And Russia, as usual, has just shown its mastery on how to achieve the maximum goals by limited forces.

That is, Russia, even without having fired a single volley from its S-400 and SA-22 Greyhounds, effectively established a framework in which the West did not dare to test.

Note that this is not all reported by some “Russian state propaganda trying to preserve the face of the Kremlin.” All these claims were posed by the British and American mainstream media news outlets.

However, other, also elements of the mainstream media in the same countries also commonly regale triumph and express the version of the story put forth by the Trump – May – Macron triad. “A bloody tyrant received a lesson, if necessary, we can repeat”, and so on.

… All this confirms the sad perspective we (RIA Novosti, in the Russian language) expressed on the eve of the attack:

“In fact, the only explanation for what is happening is some damnable universal hype, from which the elite of the West can not escape. Furthermore. It seems that no real results of the alleged punishment are needed by anyone. It seems that the Western leaders themselves would be satisfied with the perspective of a crushing blow in a virtual shootout, because this gives them the opportunity to convince their audience that the enemy has suffered heavy losses.”

As a result, we see a schizophrenic picture. Based on the viral videos, which have no independent verification, real airplanes  took to the air and real rockets were fired. Various estimates place the cost of the attack at between US $70 and $150 million dollars.

However, this supposed mega-strike in the real world did not hurt anyone. Moreover, in fact, it appears to have been necessary only to ensure that in a virtual world (where media and government hype, tweets and media exchange their interpretations), someone convinced their audience that there was a good reason for taking this action.

It is gratifying that the leadership of the United States and its subordinate powers are still separating their inner media views from the harsh reality. And the “celebration of Russia’s disobedience to the world order” is held in specially designated places for this purpose.

The final fact, though is this:

The next generation of Western leaders can no longer distinguish between where PR ends and a real war begins. And this makes our real world is all the less safe and increasingly alarming.

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Very interesting analysis.
Macron seems to realise that everyone now knows France was an “also ran”: his insistence that he has succeeded in persuading Trump to remain “on the ground” suggests that he has nothing else to show for his “participation.”
Had France not gone to the dogs, the people would be protesting this humiliating adventure.

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Foreign Banks Are Embracing Russia’s Alternative To SWIFT, Moscow Says

Given its status as a major energy exporter, Russia has leverage that could help attract partners to its new SWIFT alternative.

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Via Zerohedge


On Friday, one day after Russia and China pledged to reduce their reliance on the dollar by increasing the amount of bilateral trade conducted in rubles and yuan (a goal toward which much progress has already been made over the past three years), Russia’s Central Bank provided the latest update on Moscow’s alternative to US-dominated international payments network SWIFT.

Moscow started working on the project back in 2014, when international sanctions over Russia’s annexation of Crimea inspired fears that the country’s largest banks would soon be cut off from SWIFT which, though it’s based in Belgium and claims to be politically neutral, is effectively controlled by the US Treasury.

Today, the Russian alternative, known as the System for Transfer of Financial Messages, has attracted a modest amount of support within the Russian business community, with 416 Russian companies having joined as of September, including the Russian Federal Treasury and large state corporations likeGazprom Neft and Rosneft.

And now, eight months after a senior Russian official advised that “our banks are ready to turn off SWIFT,” it appears the system has reached another milestone in its development: It’s ready to take on international partners in the quest to de-dollarize and end the US’s leverage over the international financial system. A Russian official advised that non-residents will begin joining the system “this year,” according to RT.

“Non-residents will start connecting to us this year. People are already turning to us,”said First Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Russia Olga Skorobogatova. Earlier, the official said that by using the alternative payment system foreign firms would be able to do business with sanctioned Russian companies.

Turkey, China, India and others are among the countries that might be interested in a SWIFT alternative, as Russian President Vladimir Putin pointed out in a speech earlier this month, the US’s willingness to blithely sanction countries from Iran to Venezuela and beyond will eventually rebound on the US economy by undermining the dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency.

To be sure, the Russians aren’t the only ones building a SWIFT alternative to help avoid US sanctions. Russia and China, along with the European Union are launching an interbank payments network known as the Special Purpose Vehicle to help companies pursue “legitimate business with Iran” in defiance of US sanctions.

Given its status as a major energy exporter, Russia has leverage that could help attract partners to its new SWIFT alternative. For one, much of Europe is dependent on Russian natural gas and oil.

And as Russian trade with other US rivals increases, Moscow’s payments network will look increasingly attractive,particularly if buyers of Russian crude have no other alternatives to pay for their goods.

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US leaving INF will put nuclear non-proliferation at risk & may lead to ‘complete chaos’

The US is pulling out of a nuclear missile pact with Russia. The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty requires both countries to eliminate their short and medium-range atomic missiles.

The Duran

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Via RT


If the US ditches the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), it could collapse the entire nuclear non-proliferation system, and bring nuclear war even closer, Russian officials warn.

By ending the INF, Washington risks creating a domino effect which could endanger other landmark deals like the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) and collapse the existing non-proliferation mechanism as we know it, senior lawmaker Konstantin Kosachev said on Sunday.

The current iteration of the START treaty, which limits the deployment of all types of nuclear weapons, is due to expire in 2021. Kosachev, who chairs the Parliament’s Upper House Foreign Affairs Committee, warned that such an outcome pits mankind against “complete chaos in terms of nuclear weapons.”

“Now the US Western allies face a choice: either embarking on the same path, possibly leading to new war, or siding with common sense, at least for the sake of their self-preservation instinct.”

His remarks came after US President Donald Trump announced his intentions to “terminate” the INF, citing alleged violations of the deal by Russia.

Moscow has repeatedly denied undermining the treaty, pointing out that Trump has failed to produce any evidence of violations. Moreover, Russian officials insist that the deployment of US-made Mk 41 ground-based universal launching systems in Europe actually violates the agreement since the launchers are capable of firing mid-range cruise missiles.

Leonid Slutsky, who leads the Foreign Affairs Committee in parliament’s lower chamber, argued that Trump’s words are akin to placing “a huge mine under the whole disarmament process on the planet.”

The INF Treaty was signed in 1987 by then-President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. The deal effectively bans the parties from having and developing short- and mid-range missiles of all types. According to the provisions, the US was obliged to destroy Pershing I and II launcher systems and BGM-109G Gryphon ground-launched cruise missiles. Moscow, meanwhile, pledged to remove the SS-20 and several other types of missiles from its nuclear arsenal.

Pershing missiles stationed in the US Army arsenal. © Hulton Archive / Getty Images ©

By scrapping the historic accord, Washington is trying to fulfill its “dream of a unipolar world,” a source within the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

“This decision fits into the US policy of ditching the international agreements which impose equal obligations on it and its partners, and render the ‘exceptionalism’ concept vulnerable.”

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov denounced Trump’s threats as “blackmail” and said that Washington wants to dismantle the INF because it views the deal as a “problem” on its course for “total domination” in the military sphere.

The issue of nuclear arms treaties is too vital for national and global security to rush into hastily-made “emotional” decisions, the official explained. Russia is expecting to hear more on the US’ plans from Trump’s top security adviser, John Bolton, who is set to hold talks in Moscow tomorrow.

President Trump has been open about unilaterally pulling the US out of various international agreements if he deems them to be damaging to national interests. Earlier this year, Washington withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the Iranian nuclear program. All other signatories to the landmark agreement, including Russia, China, and the EU, decided to stick to the deal, while blasting Trump for leaving.

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Converting Khashoggi into Cash

After two weeks of denying any connection to Khashoggi’s disappearance, Riyadh has admitted that he was killed by Saudi operatives but it wasn’t really on purpose.

Jim Jatras

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Authored by James George Jatras via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


The hazard of writing about the Saudis’ absurd gyrations as they seek to avoid blame for the murder of the late, not notably great journalist and Muslim Brotherhood activist Jamal Khashoggi is that by the time a sentence is finished, the landscape may have changed again.

As though right on cue, the narrative has just taken another sharp turn.

After two weeks of denying any connection to Khashoggi’s disappearance, Riyadh has ‘fessed up (sorta) and admitted that he was killed by Saudi operatives but it wasn’t really on purpose:

Y’see, it was kinda’f an ‘accident.’

Oops…

Y’see the guys were arguing, and … uh … a fistfight broke out.

Yeah, that’s it … a ‘fistfight.’

And before you know it poor Jamal had gone all to pieces.

Y’see?

Must’ve been a helluva fistfight.

The figurative digital ink wasn’t even dry on that whopper before American politicos in both parties were calling it out:

  • “To say that I am skeptical of the new Saudi narrative about Mr. Khashoggi is an understatement,” tweeted Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. “First we were told Mr. Khashoggi supposedly left the consulate and there was blanket denial of any Saudi involvement. Now, a fight breaks out and he’s killed in the consulate, all without knowledge of Crown Prince. It’s hard to find this latest ‘explanation‘ as credible.”
  • California Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement that the new Saudi explanation is “not credible.” “If Khashoggi was fighting inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, he was fighting for his life with people sent to capture or kill him,” Schiff said. “The kingdom and all involved in this brutal murder must be held accountable, and if the Trump administration will not take the lead, Congress must.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan must think he’s already died and gone to his eternal recreation in the amorous embraces of the dark-eyed houris. The acid test for the viability of Riyadh’s newest transparent lie is whether the Turks actually have, as they claim, live recordings of Khashoggi’s interrogation, torture, murder, and dismemberment (not necessarily in that order) – and if they do, when Erdogan decides it’s the right time to release them.

Erdogan has got the Saudis over a barrel and he’ll squeeze everything he can out of them.

From the beginning, the Khashoggi story wasn’t really about the fate of one man. The Saudis have been getting away with bloody murder, literally, for years. They’re daily slaughtering the civilian population of Yemen with American and British help, with barely a ho-hum from the sensitive consciences always ready to invoke the so-called “responsibility to protect” Muslims in Bosnia, Kosovo, Libya, Syria, Xinjiang, Rakhine, and so forth.

Where’s the responsibility not to help a crazed bunch of Wahhabist head-choppers kill people?

But now, just one guy meets a grisly end and suddenly it’s the most important homicide since the Lindbergh baby.

What gives?

Is it because Khashoggi was part of the MSM aristocracy, on account of his relationship with the Washington Post?

Was it because of his other, darker, connections? As related by Moon of Alabama: “Khashoggi was a rather shady guy. A ‘journalist’ who was also an operator for Saudi and U.S. intelligence services. He was an early recruit of the Muslim Brotherhood.” This relationship, writes MoA, touches on the interests of pretty much everyone in the region:

“The Ottoman empire ruled over much of the Arab world. The neo-Ottoman wannabe-Sultan Recep Tayyip Erdogan would like to regain that historic position for Turkey. His main competition in this are the al-Sauds. They have much more money and are strategically aligned with Israel and the United States, while Turkey under Erdogan is more or less isolated. The religious-political element of the competition is represented on one side by the Muslim Brotherhood, ‘democratic’ Islamists to which Erdogan belongs, and the Wahhabi absolutists on the other side.”

With the noose tightening around Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MbS), the risible fistfight cock-and-bull story is likely to be the best they can come up with. US President Donald Trump’s having offered his “rogue killers” opening suggests he’s willing to play along. Nobody will really be fooled, but MbS will hope he can persuade important people to pretend they are fooled.

That will mean spreading around a lot of cash. The new alchemy of converting Khashoggi dead into financial gain for the living is just one part of an obvious scheme to pull off what Libya’s Muammar Kaddafi managed after the 1988 Lockerbie bombing: offer up some underlings as the fall guys and let the top man evade responsibility. (KARMA ALERT: That didn’t do Kaddafi any good in the long run.)

In the Saudi case the Lockerbie dodge will be harder, as there are already pictures of men at the Istanbul Consulate General identified as close associates of MbS. But they’ll give it the old madrasa try anyway since it’s all they’ve got.Firings and arrests have started and one suspect has already died in a suspicious automobile “accident.” Heads will roll!

Saving MbS’s skin and his succession to the throne of his doddering father may depend on how many of the usual recipients of Saudi – let’s be honest – bribery and influence peddling will find sufficient pecuniary reason to go along. Saudi Arabia’s unofficial motto with respect to the US establishment might as well be: “The green poultice heals all wounds.”

Anyway, that’s been their experience up to now, but it also in part reflects the same arrogance that made MbS think he could continue to get away with anything. (It’s not shooting someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue, but it’s close.) Whether spreading cash around will continue to have the same salubrious effect it always has had in the past remains to be seen.

To be sure, Trump may succeed in shaking the Saudi date palm for additional billions for arms sales. That won’t necessarily turn around an image problem that may not have a remedy. But still, count on more cash going to high-price lobbying and image-control shops eager to make obscene money working for their obscene client. Some big American names are dropping are dropping Riyadh in a sudden fit of fastidiousness, but you can bet others will be eager to step into their Guccis, both in the US and in the United Kingdom. (It should never be forgotten how closely linked the US and UK establishments are in the Middle East, and to the Saudis in particular.)

It still might not work though. No matter how much expensive PR lipstick the spinmeisters put on this pig, that won’t make it kissable. It’s still a pig.

Others benefitting from hanging Khashoggi’s death around MbS’s neck are:

  • Qatar (after last year’s invasion scare, there’s no doubt a bit of Schadenfreude and (figurative) champagne corks popping in Doha over MbS’s discomfiture. As one source close to the ruling al-Thani family relates, “The Qataris are stunned speechless at Saudi incompetence!” You just can’t get good help these days).

Among the losers one must count Israel and especially Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu. MbS, with his contrived image as the reformer, was the Sunni “beard” he needed to get the US to assemble an “Arab NATO” (as though one NATO weren’t bad enough!) and eliminate Iran for him. It remains to be seen how far that agenda has been set back.

Whether or not MbS survives or is removed – perhaps with extreme prejudice – there’s no doubt Saudi Arabia is the big loser. Question are being asked that should have been asked years ago. As Srdja Trifkovic comments in Chronicles magazine:

“The crown prince’s recklessness in ordering the murder of Khashoggi has demonstrated that he is just a standard despot, a Mafia don with oil presiding over an extended cleptocracy of inbred parasites. The KSA will not be reformed because it is structurally not capable of reform. The regime in Riyadh which stops being a playground of great wealth, protected by a large investment in theocratic excess, would not be ‘Saudi’ any longer. Saudia delenda est.”

The first Saudi state, the Emirate of Diriyah, went belly up in 1818, with the death of head of the house of al-Saud, Abdullah bin Saud – actually, literally with his head hung on a gate in Constantinople by Erdogan’s Ottoman predecessor, Sultan Mahmud II.

The second Saudi state, Emirate of Nejd, likewise folded in 1891.

It’s long past time this third and current abomination joined its antecedents on the ash heap of history.

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