We should ask why Russia is providing air…

We should ask why Russia is providing air support to the YPG in northern Aleppo. Whatever one’s thoughts as to the existence of an alliance between Assad & the PYD it would be very hard to imagine the PYD voluntarily handing territories it controls back to Assad or to any other Syrian authority.

So why should Putin be helping the PYD carve out its own territory? Why is he not helping the Assad regime, which he is supposed to be defending, extend its control to the border in Aleppo?

I think we have to look at this within the context of Putin’s efforts to weaken NATO. A Kurdish Rojava will find itself in a highly vulnerable position stretched out between a hostile Turkey and a Damascus government seeking to reassert its control over the entire country. It is therefore a perfect entity to be used by Putin for his own purposes in return for Russia’s protection.

Putin’s desire to harm NATO could be excellently served through Russian backing for a massively escalated PKK campaign in Turkey. Operating from Russian protected bases in Syria and with Russian weapons and money the PKK would, at the very least, be able to create bloody chaos in SE Turkey and what would very likely be a crippling and politically destabilizing conflict for Turkey. New floods of refugees fleeing the war zone would create further problems for Turkey and the EU.

Turkey would, of course, want to launch cross border operations against the PKK, and as that would entail conflict, and maybe full scale war with Russia, Turkey would seek NATO support which, on the evidence of the last few years, would most likely be denied. It is hard to see where such a refusal would lead, but it is almost certain that the consequences would be very much to Russia’s advantage.

So for a minimal cost Putin would be able to deal a severe blow to NATO and Turkey, and perhaps via a new refugee flood, to the EU. And that, in my opinion, is why Putin is helping the PYD in northern Aleppo.

#aleppo, #putin, #pyd, #russia, #turkey, #ypg

Some Observations on Putin’s Involvement in Syria Assad…

Some Observations on Putin’s Involvement in Syria

Assad and his Russian and Iranian backers are the cause of the disaster in Syria, and only with the removal of Assad, his clan and his clique will Syria be able to begin on the long and difficult path to peace.

In 2011 Assad chose brutal repression over reform. He shot demonstrators and arrested and tortured peaceful activists. Less known is that he released hundreds of Islamist extremists in late 2011 as documented towards the centre of this long article on ISIS by Martin Chivers in the Guardian


This is a classic Russian strategy of discrediting the opposition by driving it to extremism.

In 2011 Russia was in a position to apply immense pressure on Assad to reform, but it did not. Instead it backed his turn to repression. So from the very beginning Russia has been part of the problem not the solution.

Since 2011 there has been much talk of peace, but every Russian proposal has included the condition that weapons supplies to the rebels should be blocked without any similar constraint being applied to supplies to the regime, which already had massive armed forces with around 5000 tanks and 600 warplanes. So the Russian proposals have not been ‘peace proposals’ but schemes to help Assad crush the opposition.

Could Russia now be part of the solution? It is supporting a regime whose monstrous crimes make it hated by the majority of the Syrian population. The only way Assad could regain control of Syria would be through a combination of brutal repression and sectarian cleansing. The latter has, of course, been partially implemented through the regime’s bombing and shelling of civilian areas which has had the effect of driving out many of the inhabitants.

It is unlikely that Putin envisages a complete reconquest of Syria. What he is probably looking for is a puppet state comprising much of western Syria and cleansed of many of the opposition’s supporters. A peace deal in the form of a partition and truce could achieve this aim. The regime’s remaining territories form a coherent and probably viable block, much of it untouched by the ravages of war. The rebel held areas though large, are scattered across the country and divided by regime or ISIS held territory. They have also been subject to shelling and bombing to a vastly greater degree than regime areas. Without an implausibly high level of foreign support it is very unlikely that these areas would be economically viable. A truce would also expose the rebel areas to conflict between pro and anti-truce factions, a problem which would not face Assad as, within the areas he controls, there is no independent force or faction that can effectively oppose his actions.

So a truce would, in effect, be another means by which Putin could aid Assad extend his control over more of the country, and for this reason would be very likely to be rejected by the rebels.

The reality of Syria, and this has been true from around the beginning of 2012, is that there is no hope of peace so long as Assad and his clan remain in power. The various “peace” plans have been shams which have served to prolong and intensify the war and increase the suffering of the Syrian people.

Putin has stepped in at a point when Assad was clearly loosing ground, when Iran and Hezbollah have demonstrably failed to put a stop to rebel advances. Putin now has Assad in his hands as his only viable protector and he will undoubtedly demand a degree of control that will make Assad’s part of Syria into a Russian protectorate in which Assad serves as figurehead and local governor.

This will not bring Syria any closer to peace, it will only prolong the war for many years. As mentioned Assad lacks the demographic basis to reconquer the whole country, but the rebel areas are not viable without further gains on their part. What Putin will most likely attempt, as Assad has done, will be to weaken the rebels and try to create an end game of Assad vs ISIS in which the world will be united on Assad’s side. If he succeeds one thing will be certain, the number of refugees fleeing Assad and ISIS will increase massively from the present 4 million. But as that would threaten to destabilize the EU Putin would probably consider that to be quite a satisfactory outcome.

So expect Putin to make some well-publicized attacks against ISIS, but to quietly devote the bulk of his efforts to supporting Assad against the rebels and improving Assad’s capacity to implement sectarian cleansing through the bombing of civilian areas. Eventually expect him to press for some sort of “peace” plan.

#putin, #russia

#Syria #Iraq @maryumalam US non intervention can have…

#Syria #Iraq

Thoughtful and incisive article – well worth reading

#inaction, #islamists, #obama, #usa

#Syria #IS #ISIS Long article by Charles Lister…

#Syria #IS #ISIS

Long article by Charles Lister on ISIS in Syria



#Syria #JAN #FSA Long and important article by…

#Syria #JAN #FSA

Long and important article by Charles Lister on Jabhat al-Nusra’s response to the challenge of ISIS and US support for moderate rebels.