Thursday, October 29, 2015

United States is Part of Problem in Syria, Not Solution

Nikolai BOBKIN | 29.10.2015 | 00:00

State Department spokesman Mark Toner is finding it increasingly difficult to comment on US policy toward Syria. After four and a half years of bloodshed, Washington is still deluding itself about Bashar al-Assad’s imminent overthrow. The State Department has begun singing a new tune about the settlement of the conflict, claiming to be in the «process to start the process», as the Americans themselves mockingly refer to this initiative. Toner says that Assad cannot remain in power, but that he does not have to quit his post immediately. The Americans now need the Syrian leader to play a role in the «transition process» that will result in his own ouster.
Washington does not explain what, exactly, the White House is preparing to transition to in Syria, and it cannot say anything about the proposed time frame for this so-called transition process. Toner added that the US is searching for «a political resolution to the conflict», but there is serious doubt that this is truly the case. The fact is that the United States is now part of the problem in Syria, not the solution.
Let’s start with the fact that in this briefing, Toner was commenting on the Oct. 23 meeting on Syria that was held at the Americans’ initiative in Vienna. Those four-party talks were attended by the foreign ministers of the Russian Federation, the US, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. The Russian Foreign Ministry agreed to the chosen format for the consultations. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is not afraid to sit face-to-face at the same negotiating table with his opponents. After all, it is no secret that Russia proposed a broader format for the negotiations – bringing in Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Qatar, and Staffan de Mistura, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria.
It was particularly surprising that Tehran’s representatives were absent from the Vienna meeting. Toner had to specifically explain the State Department’s reluctance to see Iran play a major role in any political settlement in Syria. The State Dept. spokesman told journalists, «We could eventually see and think that Iran does have to be a part of any political resolution [about Syria]. I don’t think we’re there yet». The Americans believe that «Iran at some point needs to be part of the process». When this might happen and in what connection has not yet been explained. Such rambling statements from American diplomats might at first be mistaken for mere confusion. But in fact this is a firm, inalterable stance, taken by Washington with the intention of forcing Russia’s allies – or even mere supporters of Russia’s actions to end the war in Syria – out of the negotiations. However, this is an area where Washington is clearly losing to Moscow.
Even the West is starting to call Russia’s policy on the Syrian crisis «irreproachable», from the standpoint of international law. The Kremlin has confidently defended the fundamental principles of its political stance. Unlike Washington, Moscow has not been reduced to blackmailing countries that hold a different position on Syria. Specifically, Russia has not allowed itself to issue ultimatums to the leaders of these states, as American generals do when dealing with the Iraqi government.
While visiting Baghdad last week, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, the commandant of the Marine Corps, demanded to end Iraq’s rapprochement with Russia. The White House is irritated that Iraq’s leaders have decided to work with Moscow and Tehran in order to further their common struggle against terrorism, and that annoyance began to increase in late September, when Russia, Iran, Iraq, and Syria created an information center in Baghdad to help coordinate their efforts to crush the Islamic State (IS). If the Pentagon was truly interested in battling IS, then it would be logical to expect them to join the work of that center, which collects and analyzes information on the state of affairs in the Middle East for the purpose of countering terrorism. 
Why is Washington so upset that it is now twisting the arm of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, demanding that he refuse to cooperate with Moscow?
President Vladimir Putin offered an explanation. «It’s always hard to play a double game – to declare a fight against terrorists but at the same time try to use some of them to move the pieces on the Middle Eastern chessboard in your own favor», stated Putin at a meeting of the Valdai Club, an international discussion group. He added, «It’s not possible to win the fight against terror if you are using some of those terrorists as a battering ram to take down inconvenient regimes». 
The State Department will not comment on the generals’ actions or their demands that Iraq not cooperate with Russia. John Allen, who is preparing to step down as the American Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, has also tried to persuade Prime Minister Abadi to refuse to work with Russia to fight terrorists. At that time a State Dept. spokesman responded to a request to explain Allen’s actions by stating, «I’m not going to talk about diplomatic conversations». 
Of course those American generals could not take on a diplomatic role without the approval of the occupant of the White House, just as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff could not simply move on his own to assume the authority to openly infringe on Iraq’s sovereignty.  Members of several parties within the ruling coalition urged the government of Prime Minister Abadi to seek help from Russia, as did the commanders of the Shiite militia, which plays a key role in the war against IS and also controls large parts of Iraq. A significant segment of Iraq’s political and military elite no longer views the US as a strategic partner. Their future lies in Baghdad’s improved relations with Moscow and the further expansion of Iraq’s cooperation with its neighbor Iran. Official policies in Iran, as in Syria, are moving away from the American approach.
American diplomats could not manage to trade a thumbs-up on Iran’s nuclear dossier in exchange for the loyalty of Tehran in international affairs. Secretary of State Kerry hoped to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for the success of those talks, but it turned out that in the eyes of Iranians, the US signature on the agreement changes nothing about America’s steadfast pursuit of hegemony in the Middle East. After the Valdai Club meeting, President Vladimir Putin had a chat with the speaker of Iran’s Islamic Consultative Assembly, Ali Larijani. The chairman of the Iranian parliament is one of the most influential politicians in Iran, enjoying the trust of the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and wielding enormous influence over Iran’s foreign policy. That man described Russia’s role in the Middle East as «very responsible and effective». Larijani emphasized that they «support the idea of Russia playing a more active role in the region and doing more to enhance stability and security».
Russian-Iranian cooperation in Syria, which enjoys the support of the Iraqi leadership, is emerging as an important factor in the attempts to stabilize the situation throughout the Middle East. Egypt is also openly expressing a wish to join the anti-terror coalition. And Jordan has begun to reorient its diplomatic efforts toward this goal. The survival of many Arab states is now more dependent on Russia than the US, which remains immersed in the illusions of its own exceptionalism.

Russische Einsätze in Syrien – kleiner Kommentar zur großen Lüge

Nein, Russland weitet seine angeblichen Aggressionen gegen Europa mit seinem militärischen Eingreifen in Syrien jetzt nicht aus – ungeachtet der Interpretation, die von deutschen Medien verbreitet wird.

Tatsache ist, dass Russland seit dem 30. September Angriffe gegen Milizen in Syrien fliegt – mit dem erklärten Ziel dem in Syrien sich zunehmend ausbreitenden „Islamischen Staat“ wirksam entgegen zu treten.
Von westlicher Seite wird behauptet, nicht der Kampf gegen den „IS“ (besser wohl Anti Islamischer Staat) sei Ziel der russischen Intervention. Ziel Russlands sei vielmehr, seine nach der „Annexion“ der Krim und dem ukrainischen Krieg gewonnene neue Stärke nun über Europa hinaus auszudehnen.
Tatsache ist aber auch, dass auf der UN-Vollversammlung nur eine Woche zuvor, am vom 17. September, die Lösung der syrischen Frage als Wichtigstes auf der Tagesordnung stand. Gefunden werden sollte ein Weg, den Wurzeln des eskalierenden syrischen Kriegs jetzt endlich in gemeinsamem Handeln der Großmächte so entgegenzuwirken, das eine Befriedung des Lands möglich wird.
Der russische Präsident Wladimir Putin ebenso wie der US Präsident Barack Obama trugen ihre Vorschläge vor: Putin erklärte, es gehe darum in koordinierter offener Aktion unter dem Mandat der UN der Ausbreitung des „IS“ in Syrien gemeinsam entgegen zu treten. Zunächst sei eine Stabilisierung der Verhältnisse, das heißt der jetzt umkämpften Regierung Baschar al Assads anzustreben, auch wenn diese zweifellos nicht demokratisch sei (so etwas hat Putin nicht behauptet, wäre auch unnsinnig, da Assad mit großer Mehrheit gewählt wurde Bloggerin) – um so den Weg für langfristige Reformen im Lande freizumachen.
Obama beharrte darauf, eine Lösung des syrischen Problems sei nur möglich, wenn zuerst das Assad-Regime beseitigt werde. Nur so könne der Weg für eine Demokratisierung des Landes frei gemacht werden. Wenn nötig seien die USA auch bereit militärisch einzugreifen. Mit anderen Worten, für Obama hat der Regimewechsel nach wie vor Priorität vor einem Wiederaufbau.
Eine Einigung zwischen den Positionen Russland und der USA wurde nicht erreicht – trotz erkennbarer Dringlichkeit: wachsendes Chaos im Lande, Ausbreitung des „IS“, die anschwellende Flüchtlingswelle, die nach Norden strebt. Das Streben nach Norden geht übrigens auch in Richtung Russland. Russland ist durch seinen muslimischen Süden und die geografische Nähe zu den syrischen Ereignissen weitaus und langfristig mehr betroffen als Westeuropa, von den USA ganz zu schweigen. Nur nimmt die westliche Politik davon keine Kenntnis.
Die USA lehnten ein gemeinsames Vorgehen unter dem Mandat der UNO ab.
Das aktive Eingreifen Russlands geschieht vor diesem Hintergrund. von  Kai Uwe Ehlers

Number of anti-terrorist strikes hit record high in Syria: Russia

News | 29.10.2015 | 10:15
PressTV - Russia says its fighter jets have hit 118 targets belonging to terrorists across Syria over the past 24 hours, recording the highest daily tally since the Kremlin began its anti-terror air campaign in the Arab state.
In a statement published on Wednesday, the Russian Defense Ministry said that the strikes were conducted during 71 sorties over a number of Syrian provinces.
“The number of sorties has gone up,” the statement said, adding, “This is due to an increase in intelligence data.”
It further said the targets, which came under Russia strikes, had been “confirmed via various channels.”
The strikes destroyed a command post belonging to al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front militants near the town of Talbiseh in Syria’s central province of Homs.
A base in Syria’s northwestern province of Aleppo province, which was used to control a terrorist weapon supply route, was also demolished in the raids.
Russian planes further hit a “camouflaged supply base” in an area between Syria’s western provinces of Hama and Idlib as well as a command and communications post of the so-called Jaish al-Islam terrorist group in the Damascus province.
The military jets “completely destroyed” a command post in the Western Latakia province, according to the statement.
Russia launched its first airstrikes against Takfiri terrorists in Syria on September 30 at the request of the Damascus government. Moscow says its air raids are meant to weaken Daesh and other terrorist groups that are wreaking havoc in Syria.
Russia’s anti-terror air raids have faced criticism from Washington, which along with its Western and regional allies, has long been supporting the Takfiri groups operating to topple the Syrian government since 2011.
Since last September, the US and some of its allies have been carrying out airstrikes against what is said to be Daesh positions in Syria, but the air raids, which come without a UN mandate or coordination with Damascus, have so far failed to dislodge the notorious terror group in the Arab country.

"Western-led World Order Crumbling" US Political Scholar Jeffrey Gedmin

A Survey of Western Print Media:

Russia’s Actions in Syria Change West’s Mindset (II)

Pyotr ISKENDEROV | 29.10.2015 | 08:00

How do informed Americans react to what has taken place in Syria in recent weeks? They are at a loss as a result of Obama’s Middle East policy failure and call for putting an end to confusion. One must learn to live in the multipolar, more complex world. This is a new imperative the Western mindset finds so hard to put up with. «The United States considers how to respond to Russia – and the fraying global order», emphasizes well-known US political scholar Jeffrey Gedmin is an analytical article published by influential The American Interest
According to him, the time is ripe to put an end to confusion engendered by US foreign policy, «it’s also urgent we regroup from the shambles that is the Obama Administration’s foreign policy», he writes. The Western-led world order is crumbling today. Our failures in Iraq and Afghanistan, deep cuts to our defense budgets, a resurgent Russia, a rising China, the emergence of ISIS, and the staying power of a theocratic Iran, bent - with or without nuclear weapons - on regional hegemony all suggest a future where peace will be constantly threatened and our interests undermined at every turn», Gedmin points out. The Washington Times comes out in support of this conclusion.
«Confusion reigns inside the Obama administration regarding Russia’s military campaign to bolster President Bashar Assad’s endangered Syrian regime», writes John Bolton, a leading US neocon and former US ambassador to the United Nations. «Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intervention clearly caught President Obama flat-footed, and so far there is no sign Mr. Obama knows how to respond. His public defensiveness reinforces the impression of a man whose worldview is collapsing around him», Bolton notes. 
The Obama’s failure in the Middle East has led to embarrassment. The calls for ending the «confusion» have become prevalent recently to mirror the reaction of informed Americans to the recent events in Syria. There is a feeling that «the Russia’s return», the emergence of the Islamic State and the rise of China prove the fact that the unipolar global pattern is going through full and complete collapse. One must adapt to the multipolar world fraught with even more challenges. The West finds it hard to adapt to the new reality. 
No matter that, the realization of this fact is growing within the circles independent from Washington D.C. officialdom. Jean-Claude Juncker, President of European Commission, says that Europe must improve its relationship with Russia, and should not let this be something decided by Washington.
«We must make efforts towards a practical relationship with Russia. It is not sexy but that must be the case, we can't go on like this,» he said at an event in the southern German town of Passau. «Russia must be treated decently,» he said. «We can't let our relationship with Russia be dictated by Washington».
US political analyst and journalist Eric Best told Czech news outlet that according to US media, the United States is keeping low profile in Syria. 
It is ceding its positions. The situation has changed. All of a sudden Russia has become the main actor there. It has intervened in Syria to prove that there is alternative to the unipolar world and those who are willing to do so can grasp the opportunity offered by Russia. Eric Best believes that it could influence the swing states that have not taken sides as yet. 
The US officials still stick to the old ways of doing things. Marine General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, visited Iraq to meet with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and Defense Minister Khaled al-Obeidi, Talking to them, he stressed that «it would make it very difficult for us to be able to provide the kind of support you need if the Russians were here conducting operations as well».
So what? Has this stern warning produced any result? On October 23, Turkish news agency Anadolu reported that the Iraqi government authorized Russia to target Daesh convoys coming from Syria. What General Dunford said in his conversation with Iraqi officials show that the General sticks to the logic of Cold War being revived by the United States? Today the world faces a new enemy – international armies of terrorists – to make this logic useless. That’s the rub. In the contemporary world this vision has become an anachronism. The days when the world was divided into spheres of interest between the West and the East are long gone. New vision of things is needed to face the geopolitical situation in the 21st century. 
There is a chance that Turkey will be the first member of the Atlantic community to realize that that new approaches are needed to manage regional problems. This country is deeply entangled into the Syrian conflict to face unpredictable consequences. USAK, a Turkish media outlet, reports that Turkish politicians need to reduce tensions in the relations between Russia and Turkey arisen after the Russia’s military intervention into Syria. 
USAK believes that the point of view that NATO membership makes the position of Turkey stronger when it comes to crisis management holds no water. Quite to the contrary. The examples of Georgia, Crimea, Ukraine and the regional conflicts taking place in the vicinity of Turkey demonstrate that this approach has failed to live up to expectations. A very significant recognition! 
In particular, USAK takes a dim view of attempts undertaken by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Turkish government to make the incidents with Russian aircraft violating the Turkish air space part of Russia-NATO agenda. The outlet warns that it will fail to bring about expected results. The Russia-NATO dialogue is suspended with the contacts frozen. The tensions between Moscow and Ankara affecting the situation in the southern parts of Turkey would give rise to new challenges to the country’ national security, USAL notes. A very reasonable and timely thought for consideration!

Syria's Assad accuses West of supporting terrorism

News | 29.10.2015 | 00:02
Xinhua - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Wednesday accused many Western countries of supporting terrorism in Syria, according to the state news agency SANA, while major world and regional countries are expected to meet on the Syrian crisis later this week.
"Many regional and Western countries, including France, are still supporting terrorism and provide political cover for the terrorist organizations in Syria and the region," al-Assad said during his meeting with a visiting delegation of French lawmakers.
The president underscored the important role the parliamentarians can play to "correct" the French government's policies to work on supporting security and stability in the region.
Al-Assad also stressed the importance of exerting collaborated efforts to counter terrorism, especially the Western countries whose current policies have done nothing to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people.
Regarding the humanitarian situation in Syria, the embattled leader blamed the terrorist groups and Western sanctions for the devastation of the humanitarian situation in Syria, saying the siege imposed on Syria has negatively reverberated on the livelihood of the Syrians on many levels, including the health sector.
The French lawmakers said they will exhaust all efforts to make a change in the policies of their country to help lift the suffering of the Syrian people.
Wednesday's visit was not the first by French lawmakers. Last July, a group of French lawmakers visited Damascus and met with Assad, during which the president underscored the important role of the lawmakers of Europe in making changes in the foreign policies of the West.
Top diplomats from the United States, Russia, Iraq, Turkey, Iran, Egypt and Saudi Arabia are expected to meet on the future of Syria in Vienna on Friday.