10 October 2016

More Evidence of Our Clusterf%$# in Syria

The US remains focused largely on its credibility in the Syrian conflict.

There are no meaningful goals, it promulgates fictions and allies itself with a state sponsor of terrorism (the House of Saud) as well as al Qaeda affiliate al Nusra (now Fateh al-Sham) in an increasingly incoherent quest by parts of the US state security apparatus (Dod &CIA) to overthrow the Assad regime while other elements are making half hearted efforts at damage mitigation.

It has created a situation where Bashir al Assad is the best alternative available for the US, the EU, and anyone not interested in the thousand year old great game between Shia and Sunni Muslims, which is a pretty good indication of just how thoroughly this pooch has been screwed.

And now we have some more repercussions of our failure to have any policy beyond mindless dick swinging, as Russia and Turkey have signed a gas pipeline deal, a part of a significant rapprochement between the two regimes:
The Russian and Turkish leaders have agreed to intensify military and intelligence contacts after a meeting in Istanbul.

President Vladimir Putin also said he and Recep Tayyip Erdogan had agreed on the need for aid to get to the northern Syrian city of Aleppo.

The two countries have signed a deal to construct two pipelines to send Russian gas under the Black Sea to Turkey.

Ties were strained after Turkey downed a Russian military jet last year.

But speaking at a joint news conference with Mr Putin, Mr Erdogan said he was confident that the normalisation of relations would take place rapidly.

Unlike Russia, Turkey is a member of Nato, but both countries currently have uneasy relations with the West and are also facing economic challenges.


This is a developing alliance defined as much by what Turkey and Russia oppose as by what unites them.

Both feel isolated. Both have taken a decidedly authoritarian turn in their politics. Both have significant tensions with Washington. And both have strategic stakes in Syria with Moscow and Ankara well aware of the need to deal with the other if these interests are to be protected.

It's something of a rapid reversal though. Less than a year ago Turkey shot down a Russian warplane and relations went into the freezer. But self-interest, notably Turkey's "post-coup attempt" resentment at Washington and the shifting balance of military advantage in Syria, gives this unlikely pairing a certain logic.


One pipeline will be for Turkish domestic consumption, the other will supply southeastern Europe, bypassing Ukraine.
(emphasis mine)

This is a lose-lose for the United States.

In addition to Syria going pear shaped, it means that the situation in the Ukraine has moved against the US agenda.

Russia, at far smaller cost, has been far more successful in both Syria and the Ukraine, and they have done so because they have realistically defined their essential interests, and only taken those actions that directly benefit those interests.

By contrast, US efforts have been a toxic mix of hubris and incompetence.


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