This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Overlooking Transgressions

"The Russians have indeed stepped up their involvement in Syria to aid the Syrian regime. And since the regime depends heavily on Hezbollah, and since Israel and Hezbollah are in a permanent state of war, initiated by Hezbollah, Russian presence presents a problem."
"[Israel] might have to fight Hezbollah terrorism [from the air, over Syria], or forcefully prevent the delivery of major modern weapons systems from Iran through Syrian into Lebanon. Israel has already, on a number of occasions, attacked such convoys without admitting it."
"Having the Russian military in the way makes this more difficult. Israel cannot afford to disregard Russian interests. It will thus have to consider whether and when each proposed IDF action comes close to the red lines Israel assesses Russia would tolerate it crossing."
"Will this prevent Israel from operating in Syria and Lebanon? Certainly not. Will it create constraints? Yes. But these constraints will be limited to what Israel assumes are the kind of extreme cases that would cause the Russians to take action against it."
Dr. Dan Schueftan, director, National Security Studies Center, University of Haifa

"Moscow, which, unlike Washington, doesn't have to deal with resistance from public opinion and Congress, is to undertake the destruction of ISIL. If the plan succeeds even partially, the Russian authorities will get all they could ever dream of -- the normalization of relations with the West, the prospect of negotiations on the status of Crimea, and, at the same time, a demonstration of Russian power throughout the world: unlike the indecisive Western democracies, we are able to attack terrorists even in the Middle East." 
Kirill Martynov, Novaya Gazeta
Naval personnel stand in front of the Russian aircraft carrier Kuznetsov in the Syrian city of Tartous on the Mediterranean sea January 8, 2012, in this handout photograph released by Syria's national news agency SANA.

Vladimir Putin is keen on achieving a number of goals; consolidating the hegemonic hold on its former Soviet satellites for Greater Russia, ensuring that the Russian maritime fleet has the deep-sea harbours it needs in Sevastapol with the annexation of Crimea, and secondly with Syria's Port of Latakia, validating its presence as a super power restored, through the boldness and success of the Russian military intervening where it is required, to destroy militant Islamism, an achievement that the United States has been unable to conclude.

The reports that have been surfacing that Russia is becoming integrally involved in the Syrian war has as its evidence a video from Syrian government forces of a Russian BTR-82A armoured personnel carrier firing shells during a battle close to the port city of Latakia where Russian commands can be heard, signalling the obvious; Russian military direct involvement.  The claims expressed on an Israeli website that a Russian "expeditionary force" has arrived in Syria in preparation for the Russian air force to begin bombing Islamic State targets.

A Bosphorus blog devoted to ship-spotting posted photographs of Russian landing ship the Nikolai Filchenkov with its cargo of tarp-wrapped military machinery. And the pro-Assad Syrian newspaper Al-Watan writing of Russia discussing the construction of a military base in Syria. Traces of Russian military personnel present in Syria on social networks with servicemen's wives concerned with their husband's Syrian postings all point to the obvious; that Vladimir Putin is involved in one of his cat-and-mouse initiatives.

Carried away with the vision of himself as heroic adventurer equal to the task of dispatching evil not of his own brand, he envisions fighting an above-ground war with below-ground jihadists. Commentators now speak of a Russian intervention in Syria's civil war; a Russian gamble that an offer to the United States that succeeded once before might this time, with even higher stakes succeed again. The theory holds that if the U.S. can be persuaded to attack ISIL alongside Russia and keep the Syrian regime intact with the promise of Russian aid in ousting ISIL in exchange for a lifting of sanctions because of Ukraine, a deal can be made.

One in which the Kremlin comes out far ahead. On the basis of persuading the Obama administration that its backing of the Syrian Sunni rebels has been in error, and a pivot is in order to abandon their case and cast the U.S. lot in with the lesser of the two evils; Bashar al-Assad in exchange for ISIL's demise. In fact, Russia has previously been invited to side with the US.-led coalition air strikes against ISIL: "There's a 37-some-odd-country coalition that's taking the fight to ISIL. We would welcome Russia to be more involved in that effort", stated State Department spokesman Mark Toner.

There has, evidently, been a sudden quiet on the eastern Ukraine front Last week Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko remarked that the Minsk ceasefire agreement was finally being observed. Servicemen appearing in Syria have been transferred from their former Crimean bases. As though President Putin has decided he can ease off on one to apply pressure on the other. As though he has assessed the situation and considers the jihadists of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant to be no more difficult to confront than the vacillating, demoralized Ukrainian military.

"I have no doubt that military intervention in Syria would be an adventure that would put Russia in mortal danger", blogged Yevgeni Kiselyoev, a former TV anchor in Moscow now living in Kiev. Concerns raised elsewhere are based on Hezbollah gloating that with Russia's physical intervention it has an ally should Israel be inclined to intervene for any reason such as suspecting the Lebanese terrorist group of using the Syria conflict as a base for attacking Israel: According to the Beirut-based, pro-Hezbollah daily, Al-Akhbar, Tel Aviv "will face the predicament of a resistance region in southern Syria that has Russian cover."

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