Sunday, September 22, 2013


It is pretty hard to avoid the conclusion that, for better or worse, the United States (read President Obama) has been slam dunked by the Russian Federation (read President Putin) over Syria.     Obama was days/hours away from ordering a pre-emptive strike only to have Putin finesse him with the proposal to have the Assad regime destroy its stockpile of chemical weapons.    It will be fascinating to see how that unfolds.

But it is interesting to step back and reflected on the dynamics of how this played out.    On one hand we have the United States with tacit support from many others (mainly western countries) align with the 'moderate' so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA), itself a disparate grouping of mainly Sunni Arabs (Assad's supporters are mainly Alawis), committed to toppling the Baath Party regime, supported by Russia which is committed to protecting its extensive economic and military interests in that country at risk from any change of government.  

But it's not quite as simple as that because another opposition player is Jabhat al-Nusra (The Support Front for the People of  Greater Syria).   The leader of the Front, Abu Mohammad al-Golani, has affirmed its allegiance to Al Queda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.    In June this year the Front was designated a terrorist organisation by the United Nations.

One can understand where Russia is coming from with their fear of Islamic radicals in any new Syrian Government.   They have enough experience of radical Islam at home.    The United States should be equally fearful.

It is my judgement that both sides in this civil war are capable of committing atrocities.   That's what happens in civil wars.    You overlay that with the volatile nature of Middle Eastern politics, you factor in a war weary 'West' and you come to the conclusion that the risks associated with outright intervention (the law of unintended consequences) far outweighs any likely gain.     I firmly believe the West would be well advised to stand back and let matters take their course.    

I will be interested in the debate this posting throws up.


Anonymous said...

agree with your comments

adamsmith1922 said...

Fully agree your comment

JC said...

Two years ago there was a time when the West could have involved itself with the Syrian rebels.. before they became infested with al Qaida and other radical Islamists.

But thats simply selecting one bad option over others with equally uncertain outcomes.

But Syria is likely the least of our problems.. the fall of the dictators in Egypt and Libya has exposed vast areas of Africa to Muslim unrest and Iran remains the central issue for all.

Frankly if we are to do anything and take the horrid risks of action I'd rather pulverise parts of Iran.


gravedodger said...

No arguments from me Vet, Abbott summed it up when KRudd made a feint to pretend preoccupation as his delusion evaporated, "the alternative to the baddies in charge is just more, if different, baddies.
Summed it up for the sane people watching.

O'Bamas mistake was his stupid "red line in the sand " statement.
Putin has played "big ears" like the puppet he is.

Judge Holden said...

The threat of force by the US coerced action out of the Russians. An excellent outcome so far. You lot would all be saying that if a Republican had done it, but you're letting your ODS cloud what little reason you have.

The Veteran said...

Gueez Holden ... you don't have the whit nor ability to respond intelligently to any post.

You live in a world where the opinions of those on the 'Right' side of politics are to be condemned, not for what they say but for who they are.

But I have to bow to your insightful analysis that this was a foreign policy triumph for the Obama Administration.

As they say in the Tui advert ....

Paulus said...

Could be others are having a large part to play in Syria.
It is considered in Al Jekeera correspondence that Hezbollah may well have fired the Sarin gas at the behest of Russia.
They in turn are under instructions from Saudi Arabia who are holding all the financial cards in the Middle East, particularly the Prince Of Darkness as he known, in the Middle East - one Prince Bandar bin Sultan - who is amongst other things Director General of the Saudi Intelligence Agency.
He appears to be also funding Chechnya, who are being held back from taking on Putin, until the time is right - Sochi Winter Games for example.

Psycho Milt said...

This was a no-win for the US from the start. In theory they could have supported a genuine uprising of the non-Allawite Syrians against Assad if they'd done it in the first few months, but in practice it was impossible because it would have bought a fight with Putin. Instead they settled for declaring they'd keep out unless Assad used chemical weapons, presumably on the assumption that he wouldn't dare use them. Now he has used them and Obama's in a cleft stick. I expect this opportunity to back out of committing a war crime while keeping some vestige of honour intact is actually very welcome at the White House.

Abbott summed it up when KRudd made a feint to pretend preoccupation as his delusion evaporated, "the alternative to the baddies in charge is just more, if different, baddies.

What Abbott summed up was the extent of his competence to deal with international issues - ie, as long as someone can frame it for him in terms of goodies and baddies he can pretend to have some grasp of the situation. He and W would get on like a house on fire, I'm sure.

Psycho Milt said...

They in turn are under instructions from Saudi Arabia...

Is that Hisb'allah or Russia taking instructions from Saudi Arabia? Either is equally ludicrous.

Judge Holden said...

Thanks for that fascinating insight into the febrile yet tiny mind of the rabid right-winger, Paulus. Equal parts funny and disturbing.

I heard it was the Republicans who ordered the Israelis to do it in order to put the Obama administration in a tight spot. They in turn took their orders from the Koch brothers via Putin. It all makes perfect sense.

The Veteran said...

PM ... Obama got carried away with his own rhetoric and his 'line in the sand' comment. It boxed him in leaving very little wriggle room until Putin came galloping to the rescue.

In that respect I agree with your comment about "keeping some vestige of honour intact" ... that can however also translate to slam dunk by Putin.

The Veteran said...

Holden 2.04 ... you can be quite entertaining at times also.

Noel said...

All I hear from Joe Kiwi is "wait for the UN report".
Certainly there is a lack of trust in western intelligence after previous unfounded WMD claims demanding intervention.

French hearsay and unreliable American sources don't offer much that's substantive.