22 October 2015

What We are Seeing Here is an Actual Plan on Syria

And it ain't us, it's Putin that has the plan, as evidenced by Bashar Assad's surprise trip to Moscow to meet with Putin:
Syria's President Bashar al-Assad has visited Moscow on his first overseas trip since the civil war broke out in his country in 2011.

During the surprise visit, he had talks with President Vladimir Putin.

Russia launched air strikes in Syria last month against the so-called Islamic State (IS) and other militant groups battling Mr Assad's forces.

Mr Assad said Russia's involvement had stopped "terrorism" becoming "more widespread and harmful" in Syria.

For his part, Mr Putin said Moscow's hope, in providing a "positive dynamic in the fighting", was that a "long term resolution can be achieved on the basis of a political process with the participation of all political forces, ethnic and religious groups".

The visit happened on Tuesday evening, but was not announced until Wednesday - after Mr Assad had returned to Damascus.


President Assad's surprise visit to Moscow represents a sign of growing confidence by the embattled Syrian president. He feels it safe to leave Damascus for the first time since the civil war in Syria erupted.

It is also a visible symbol of Russia's confidence in the current Syrian regime. Having Mr Assad turn up in Moscow shows that there is little doubt that for now at least, President Putin is intent on shoring up Mr Assad's position.

But the trip may also mark a new stage in Russia's efforts to roll out a diplomatic plan alongside its military intervention in Syria; an illustration that Russia deals with Mr Assad, and that for now at least Mr Assad has to be part of any interim solution.
Russia is looking for an end to the civil war that serves their broader foreign policy goals.

It is clear that the Russians are not wedded to Assad's continued leadership of Syria, but neither is his removal an important goal.

Their goal is a stable state, or at least a stable rump state, that allows them to maintain their base in Tartus and influence in the region while short circuiting Jihadis who will go to kill school kids in Grozny or Moscow.

Or, as Putin pithily put it, "We are not that preoccupied with the fate of Assad’s regime."

Their tactics seem to be basically sound.

In comparison, the US is just looking to "lead" with no idea as to a final goal beyond removing Assad, preferably in a manner that demonstrates American hegemony, even if it means that we ware supporting al Qaeda factions.

BTW, the US strategy seems to be working swimmingly, with Iraq appearing to take steps to move into a closer alliance with Russia:
Iraqi Prime Minister Haydar al-Abadi is alleged to be under “enormous pressure” from Shiite militiamen and hardliners to seek Russian airstrikes on Daesh (ISIS, ISIL) targets. On Oct. 1, he had announced that such Russian intervention in his country would be welcome.

On Wednesday, the largest bloc in parliament, the Shiite Da’wa Party from which al-Abadi springs, sent a letter to the Prime Minister asking for Russian intervention.

He has established a joint intelligence center in Baghdad where reports are shared among Iraq, Iran, Russia and Syria.

But this week the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, visited Iraq and said he got assurances from PM al-Abadi that Russia would not fly missions against Daesh on Iraqi soil.

He said that there had been “angst” in the Pentagon when al-Abadi mentioned this possibility.


In any case, the Iraqi press and parliament think that Gen. Dunford is being far too categorical in the way he describes Baghdad’s pledge. The Shiite militias, such as the Badr Corps and Asa’ib Ahl al-Haqq, intend to go on lobbying for Russian intervention. And, Parliament will take up the matter later this month.

From the point of view of the Shiite militias and politicians, the US air strikes have been way too leisurely. For the most part they seem to aim at containment of Daesh rather than rollback. The Shiite militias have been watching the extensive air strikes by Russia on rebel targets, with increasing envy. They want that kind of action.


My guess is that the Obama administration hasn’t wanted to roll back Daesh quite yet, precisely because it would be the Badr Corps and similar hard line pro-Iran Shiite militias that would conduct the attack on Mosul. And that configuration would enrage the Sunni Iraqis further. The US is reaching out to Sunni tribal chieftains and wants to delay the taking of Mosul until there are enough such Sunnis and they can be positioned as the leading edge of the attack.


The US desire to keep Russia out is likely in part a declaration of an old 19th-century style “Sphere of Influence.” Spheres of influence are exclusive. ………
Our foreign policy is morally and intellectually bankrupt, and seems to have as its only goal the maintenance of American dominance.

It really does look like the end game of an empire, doesn't it.


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