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.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Putin's Omelette

"The Russians are rushing to create a fait accompli on the ground before Trump gets to the White House."
Bassma Kodmani, leader, High Negotiations Council, Syria

"For twenty years, people basically ignored Russia on the Middle East."
"The Russian role in the region now will certainly increase."
Robert Ford, (former) U.S. ambassador to Syria
Russia's President Vladimir Putin at the Moscow Kremlin ahead of his annual address to the Russian Federal Assembly on December 1, 2016 in Moscow, Russia. (Metzel Mikhail/TASS/Zuma Press/TNS) 

"Moscow believes it now has the opportunity and time to make critical gains in Syria. Russian airstrikes in Idlib and Homs provinces as well as the Syrian army offensive in Aleppo seem to be building in this line of reasoning. At the same time, this shouldn’t contradict other Russian moves  — with an overall decrease in anti-American rhetoric, more attacks on the Islamic State and Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, and prospects for the deterrent built by the Russians in Syria to be a potential bargaining chip with the new [U.S.] administration."
"At the same time, the military offensives are set to bring more rebel groups to direct talks with the Russian military. According to the Bulletin of the Russian Centre for Reconciliation of Opposing Sides in the Syrian Arab Republic on Nov. 19, within the previous 24 hours 'truce agreements were signed with representatives of three inhabited areas of Hama province and two in Latakia province.' Thus, the total number of inhabited areas whose leaders had signed the so-called reconciliation agreements now amounts to 956, while the number of cease-fire application forms signed with leaders of armed groups has reached 69. Finally, another track Moscow is pursuing is consultations with Iran and Turkey on strategic aspects of Syrian statehood, such as the country’s integrity. Both Tehran and Ankara favor the idea of a united Syria — though each for their own interests and with specific visions for it. Nevertheless, it is important for Russia to find itself on the same page with the regional stakeholders on the critical issues before the situation in Syria is transformed into a postwar diplomatic mode."
Maxim A. Suchkov, editor, Al-Monitor’s Russia-Mideast
A member of the Syrian civil defence volunteers, known as the White Helmets, stands on the rubble of destroyed buildings during a rescue operation following an airstrike on the rebel-held neighbourhood of Bustan al-Basha
A member of the Syrian civil defence volunteers, known as the White Helmets, stands on the rubble of destroyed buildings during a rescue operation following an airstrike on the rebel-held neighbourhood of Bustan al-Basha
The American president-elect has elected to get into bed, as it were, in a fairly crowded bedroom where Iran, Russia and Turkey have already claimed for themselves the choicest resting places, but are prepared to shift over and welcome Donald Trump to make it a quartet. Not that the U.S. would be interested in sending its warplanes over Aleppo to help Russia and the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad pound the living hell out of the several hundred-thousand Syrian Sunnis remaining there.

Mr. Trump has identified the Syrian regime as small potatoes to the U.S., far more concerned about Islamic State, and where the U.S. has set its sights. Russia and Syria too have claimed that destroying the ISIL presence in Syria is top of mind for them, even though the subjects of their aerial bombardments have largely been the "terrorists" representing Syrian Sunni rebels' intention to see that Sunnis are treated equally to the status that Syria's Shiite Alawites have enjoyed under the al-Assad dynasty of Murder Incorporated.
US President Barack Obama talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting, Lima, Peru, Nov. 20, 2016. (photo by REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

It seems, on the surface, that the incoming president is concerned with reversing all the executive orders of the currently-sitting president, to leave Barack Obama with no legacy untouched by what Mr. Trump believes to be a far more discerning, deft hand determined to return America to its place in the world order. And to do that, it seems, he is willing to share status as a super-power with Russia, to see Washington and Moscow once again trading not barbs but cool diplomacy.

But it cannot be denied that Donald Trump's remarkable ascension is giving Vladimir Putin a real leg up on his determination to rebuild Russia's influence and power in the Middle East, re-establishing Russia in the region as a power to be reckoned with. One that has no compunction whatever in bombing heavily civilian areas in Aleppo, for example, well beyond the crushed civic state that already exists, to completely demoralize the "terrorist" Sunni Syrians rebelling against their tyrant, in the greater interests of restoring calm and civility to a crushed population.
Convincing opposition leaders and militia chiefs that surrender will gain them a place at the bargaining table, instead of accomplishing their fervent desires to demolish the Assad regime. In the interests of preserving as many civilian lives as they can from the threat of extinction, there are times when even the most tenaciously determined must admit that surrendering their purpose to a half-measure will accomplish some portion of success. So reaching some measure of self-determination holds out hope for Syria's Sunnis.
"Trump's election opens a new page that can put an end to this bloody war", stated Randa Kassis, a Syrian political opposition leader, preparing for a position within a power-sharing arrangement held out by Vladimir Putin as a potential solution to the intransigent blood-letting. It seems fairly far-fetched that Bashar al-Assad would assent to this Russian initiative. She has already met with Donald Trump Jr. and is now set to fly to Moscow for discussions with its Mideast envoy.
Even as the United Nations wrings its hands helplessly in dismay at the continued bombardment of eastern Aleppo, the desperation of the people besieged within that portion of the rebel-held city with starvation looming large, along with a lack of medical services with the destruction of all its hospitals, courtesy of the accuracy of Syrian and Russian bombing missions, Russia and China vetoed a UN Security Council resolution proposing a 7-day truce to enable humanitarian access.
Like day and night, the Umayyad Mosque of Aleppo, built between the 8th and 13th centuries, is one of many historic sites left in charred ruins after heavy fighting  Photo: Carlo Ohanian/Olympia
The rebels' cause may be hopefully, naively just, and the regime represent a callously indifferent tyranny but it has its friends at court in Tehran in the Islamic Republic of Iran and in Moscow, helping both to fulfill their own regional aspirations. That Vladimir Putin has not hesitated to make common cause with Iran is a more than adequate glimpse into the black heart of another dictator whom the West politely names an autocratic ruler. To complete the symbiotic trifecta, there is Ankara cultivating Moscow and Tehran.

Vladimir Putin takes his natural place as the towering figure leading the Syrian regime out of the rancid witches' brew it has made of its country. Discarding the simmering black pot of sectarian blight, the Russian strongman is busy preparing his own version of a banquet, an omelette that will feed the concatenation of interests, while breaking a substantial number of eggs to hasten the process; Syria is just the first course.

Children play with water from a burst waterpipe at a site hit yesterday by an airstrike in Aleppo’s rebel-controlled al-Mashad neighbourhood
Children play with water from a burst waterpipe at a site hit by an airstrike in Aleppo’s rebel-controlled al-Mashad neighbourhood   

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