Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Russia on the Domination Power Trip

"Armed opposition groups continue to fire mortars and other projectiles into civilian neighbourhoods of western Aleppo."
"But indiscriminate airstrikes across the eastern part of the city by government forces and their allies are responsible for the overwhelming majority of civilian casualties."
UNHRC Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein
Kremlin had called the truce a "manifestation of goodwill" [Khalil Ashawi/Reuters]

This marks a refreshing break by the UN Human Rights Council from its relentless attacks on Israel, as a violator of human rights. But since Saudi Arabia, that outstanding exemplar of human rights defence has now been re-elected to another two years with the Council it will soon enough find ample reason to focus on its debased view of Israel as the source of all evil in the world that the world body condemns unequivocally.

For the time being, however, the Alawite Baathist Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad and its sturdy defender, Russia's Vladimir Putin, are being singled out for condemnation for their unrelenting efforts to bring additional agony to the 250,000 Sunni Syrian civilians and rebels remaining in the rebel-held portion of Aleppo. While the world looks on with dismay and disgust at the venomously creative atrocities that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria film for their own entertainment and the edification of those who wonder just how degraded human beings can sink to in bloodshed, Syria's military has demonstrated it is more than capable of surpassing ISIL in mounting death counts.

And the Russian military is quite unperturbed at their own role in aiding the Syrian regime to fulfill their obligation to destroy their Sunni Syrian population who have taken up the role of' terrorism' in opposition to the outstandingly excellent governance of the regime. It is difficult for an observer to conclude which is the more dreadful of the two, Damascus or Moscow, in committing themselves to destroying human life for the sin of opposition.

Russia, of course, has a longer reach, and the Kremlin is out to prove to the international community that their absence as a world power was merely a temporary diversion. The Russia that manipulated the USSR is back, with a few changes. Stalin was a brutal murderer but according to Vladimir Putin he had some excellent points to make, primarily that Russia is the pivot around which its neighbours must revolve. It's just that the near-abroad to Greater Russia requires reminders from time to time. Georgia was the first reminder, then came Ukraine. The Baltics? Who knows.

But Moscow's reach goes well beyond its near-abroad, and it shows, as it dispatches an undiplomatic delegation in the form of a naval war convoy to help resolve the stalemate in Aleppo, where the Syrian rebels stubbornly refuse to disperse. And nor are the Sunni Syrians in Aleppo helpful by refusing to stream out en masse when unilateral ceasefires are called, though invited to. Not only, however, is the UN unable to evacuate the wounded and the starving, with the siege temporarily lifted, but neither do the hale exit, since all exit roads are still being shelled.

The 'humanitarian' pause so generously announced by Russia simply signified the ingratitude of Sunni Syrians, signalling to the international community that they are starving but making no move to avail themselves of rescue. The rebel forces will be crushed, make no mistake. Syrian ground forces backed by tanks, artillery and air power are on the move again, pounding the half-dead daylights out of Syrians unfortunate enough to be the wrong sect while on the other half of Aleppo unconcerned Shiites wonder what all the fuss is about as they go about their normal, daily lives.

Either the rebels sacrifice themselves for the sake of the remaining quarter-million Sunnis in Aleppo or what scant portion of the city that is left relatively intact will be utterly pulverized. Health clinics, humanitarian aid shelters and schools are in particular danger of targeted messages that all is not well. Even while this serious business of slaughtering civilians is under way, Moscow has other matters as well on its busy mind; directing the Russian air force and navy around the globe, including the task force headed to the Mediterranean.

Russian warplanes visit NATO airspace in Europe just to make certain no one is falling asleep on the job. And nor is North American air space left unvisited. And then there are the missile tests with hardware that a nuclear warhead can be launched with, targeting distant places. The world is getting a message it cannot ignore. The world power that is Russia has returned to its rightful place in the international order, and there it intends to remain, for who and what is prepared to oppose it?

All of the challenges that Russia under its exceedingly popular strong man, the pride of the Russian people, has extended to friends and foes alike have gone unanswered. There have been rumblings of concern, true, but it seems that no provocation however serious and worrisome, has the capacity to instill enough concern as a matter grave enough to respond to, for Western powers to extend a forceful invitation to Mr. Putin to cease and desist.

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