Monday, September 14, 2015

Making Strides, Taking Sides

The Kremlin is determined to challenge the international primacy of the United States as the world's sole remaining super power. And the Obama administration has obligingly shifted to make room for Russia to snuggle up to the opportunity to demonstrate that with Vladimir Putin in charge, the Russian Federation is well on its way to resuming the status it lost with the dissolution of the USSR.
Russia wants its deep-water ports, so Sevastopol has reverted to Russian devoted care.

Smoke rises from what activists said was a military position of forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad after clashes with Army of Islam fighters, on the eastern mountains of Qalamoun.
STRINGER / REUTERS    Smoke rises from what activists said was a military position of forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad after clashes with Army of Islam fighters, on the eastern mountains of Qalamoun.

The Tartus port represented another irresistible goal, and so it hardly matters that the Alawite Baathist regime of Bashar al-Assad has been busy competing with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant for the title of most brutal mass-murdering terrorist organization in the modern world. President al-Assad's father Hafez had a friendly arrangement with Moscow as a political offshoot of Communism and the tradition continues to play out.

Now that Moscow has half-achieved its goal in Ukraine after its practise-run in Georgia, events led it to turn its sights on Syria; further intervention in Ukraine has been placed on the waiting list, giving the Balkans a bit of breathing room, and NATO another perplexing direction to turn their attention to. Bashar Assad warned the world that Syria's collapse would have wide repercussions. He spoke of Syrian Sunnis as terrorists, but it was his response to their clamouring for equal treatment as citizens of the country that opened the way for international Sunni jihadists to flock to Syria.

The West felt that it was time for the Middle East to look after itself without Western intervention which Muslims deplored as a massive plot to delegitimize the autonomy of Arab Muslim nations. Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya were prime examples of the efficacy of Western interference in the politics of South Asia and the Middle East. Remove a butchering dictator, and the resulting vacuum becomes an invitation to his replacement by mass-slaughtering jihadist totalitarians.

The atrocities committed by each side, the minority-Shiite Assad regime as opposed to the Sunni jihadis are sickening, but Russian interests have iron-stoked wills. The weak-willed Obama administration, on the other hand, committed to 'diplomacy' over war-mongering even where wars should be seen as rare-but-obligatory actions, sits on the sidelines, uttering muted warnings to Russia in hopes of deterring their plans.

Little good that does; the Syrian regime continues to barrel-bomb its civilians leaving hundreds of thousands dead and injured and millions homeless, fleeing for haven to the West, flooding Europe with a  culture, religion, and politics inimical to its continued future as a European-heritaged continent. That Cheshire-cat grin on Mr. Putin's face as he denies any intention to support Assad does nothing to allay concerns over a buildup of Russian military activity in Syria.

Portraying it as an effort to rid the geography of Islamic State, the Russian foreign minister actually called upon the international community to make common cause with the government of Syria to fight ISIL, as military and social collegials. Europe, being stifled by the never-ending flood of hundreds of thousands Syrian refugees must surely see the evil levity in the suggestion. A military base appears to be under expansion development outside the coastal town close to Latakia city.

Russian ship in Tartus

The Basel al-Assad International airport has one terminal but it will obviously soon be expanded to receive larger planes "It could mean there will be more supplies or that they want to turn it into an international airport", said Rami Abdurrahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. In which case, with the assurance of Russian planes soon in flight on regular bombing forays over Syria to destroy ISIL, collisions with U.S.-led planes engaged in the same enterprise will have to be avoided.

And plans for a no-fly zone on the border between Syria and Turkey will also have to be abandoned; no longer does that area under these circumstances present as a 'safe zone' for Syrians fleeing the violence targeting them by the regime and by Islamic State. Russia's will must be done.

Russian planes in Latakia
. Alexey Kudenko/RIA Novosti

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