- The United States has been monitoring Russia’s recent movements of military personnel in Syria with unease the last days.
Russia’s ongoing military buildup in Syria poses a serious challenge to American policy in the region. What Russian position will best advance American interests in Syria and, more generally speaking, in the Middle East? That depends in large part on what Russia hopes to achieve. We shall not forget that the Syrian Civil War takes place into the “Russian neighbourhood” and the United States still have oil interests in the region
Translation: Washington is hyping the story in order to further its political position, and to weaken Russia’s, by framing the debate as one of ‘Russian interventionism.’
United States play is trying in vain to create obstacles regarding the presence of Russian military force in Syria. According to Sputnik news, the United States has become notorious for its often aggressive and short-sighted foreign policy in the Middle East and elsewhere, yet Russia and its leader are frequently blamed for troubles caused by Washington.
Pentagon officials said that the Russian weapons and equipment that had arrived suggested that the Kremlin’s plan is to turn the airfield south of Latakia in western Syria into a major hub that could be used to bring in military supplies for the government of President Bashar al-Assad. It might also serve as a staging area for airstrikes in support of Syrian government forces.
The Russian efforts appear to be facilitated by Iran, which also backs the Assad government and gave permission to the Russians to fly over its territory.However, the Russians have not sent attack planes to the airfield, and the Kremlin has not said whether they will. But the Russian military buildup , which has been supporting Mr. Assad throughout the four-and-a-half-year Syrian civil war, adds a new friction point in its relations with the United States.
Russia on Tuesday lashed out at Bulgaria over its refusal to allow Russian cargo planes bound for Syria to fly over its territory, saying the move has cast doubts on the nation's independence. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov alleged that Bulgaria and Greece are facing pressure from Washington. Bulgaria has denied a Russian request to use its airspace for supply flights to Syria due to serious concerns about the cargo on the planes, its foreign ministry's spokeswoman said on Tuesday.
Although Syria is a mess that cannot be sorted out easily (due to the ‘Arab Spring’ and the ensuing civil war), there are practical ways of preventing Islamic extremists from overrunning the country.
Western media sound the alarm over new surveillance photos that allegedly show the expansion of an airfield in Syria for Russian aircraft. Pentagon officials said that the Russian weapons and equipment that had arrived suggested that the Kremlin’s plan is to turn the airfield south of Latakia in western Syria into a major hub that could be used to bring in military supplies for the government of President Bashar al-Assad. It might also serve as a staging area for airstrikes in support of Syrian government forces.
— Foreign Policy (@ForeignPolicy) 15 Septembre 2015
Last Thursday according to Stratfor, a for-profit intelligence company, published satellite photos showing “signs of a growing Russian military presence” in Syria.
The Russian military appears to be attempting to set up a forward operating base in western Syria, the U.S. government says, deepening concerns about Moscow’s intentions in the war-torn nation.
“We have seen indication in recent days that Russia has moved people and things into the area around Latakia, and the airbase there,” Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said Monday.
Reuters reported that Russia calls on US for dialogue on Syria the 16th of September
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has called on the US to start a dialogue on solving the Syrian conflict. Putin says it’s impossible to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group without cooperating with the Syrian government.
Speaking on Tuesday at a meeting of a Moscow-dominated security alliance of ex-Soviet nations in Tajikistan, Putin said that Moscow has provided military assistance to President Bashar al-Assad’s government and will continue to do so.
He shrugged off allegations that Moscow’s support for Assad has sparked a flow of refugees, saying in a televised statement that without Russia’s support for Assad’s regime the number of Syrian refugees heading to Europe would have even bigger.
Russia has sent some of its most modern battle tanks to a new air base in Syria
American military specialists analyzing satellite photographs and other information said Russia had about half a dozen T-90 tanks, 15 howitzers, 35 armored personnel carriers, 200 marines and housing for as many as 1,500 personnel at the airfield near the Assad family’s ancestral home. And more is on the way as Russia appears to be trying to increase its influence in Syria amid the civil strife there, the officials said.
Russia, geopolitically speaking, appears to be cementing its strategic interests in Syria and greatly enhancing its ability to project power in Syria and neighboring states , with a new airfield to complement the naval base it has long had in the coastal city of Tartus , regardless of how events in the country unfold.
Reactions from Obama’s Opposition
Senator John McCain, complained Monday that the Obama administration should have done more to discourage the Russian flights.Although Mr. McCain did not specify what action he thought the United States should take from now on.
“Capitalizing on American inaction, Russia is now engaged in a dangerous military buildup in Syria, which has been supported by supply flights, through Iranian and Iraqi airspace, despite expressions of ‘concern’ from Secretary Kerry and other administration officials,” he said in a statement.
U.S. urges ‘engagement’ by Russia against Islamic State
On Tuesday the 15th of September, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said President Barack Obama had not spoken to Russian President Vladimir Putin about the issue but would attempt to do so when the president “determines that it would advance our interests.”
The two countries have been in frequent communication. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke to Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov by phone on Tuesday, the State Department said, in their third conversation since Sept. 5. Russia’s Foreign Ministry said Lavrov had stressed the need to create a united front to battle terrorist groups in Syria.
Russia’s new role In Syria and Beyond
To the Russians, the Syrian civil war was clear: it was yet another American plot to overthrow a Russian-allied regime and replace it with an American one. Putin had use for Assad: as he prepared to play a much bigger geopolitical game, Russia needed a reliable base in the Mediterranean and an Arab voice that could stand up to the Gulf Co-Operation Council and Egypt, both solid American allies.
U.S. position is that the recent Russia’s increasing military presence in Syria, it appears to be aimed at strengthening the government of President Bashar al-Assad, a long-time Russian ally, rather than seeking a transition to a new political leadership.
This is critical for Putin’s worldwide strategy. Russia must be seen as reliable as the USSR was if it’s to maintain its shrunken network of allies, let alone if it’s to expand its influence. Saving the Assad regime will remind Russia’s allies in Central Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America that Moscow will do more than veto resolutions in the UN.(Geopolitics Made Super)
Analysts with knowledge of the situation seem convinced that Russian participation is geared towards helping the Syrian government in the fight against terror groups such as ISIS/ISIL and Al Qaeda’s al-Nusra Front, and that the increased presence is clear evidence of Moscow’s commitment to anti-terrorism. This presents a complex quandary for Washington which pays lip service to counter-terrorism while simultaneously describing as “unconscionable” any effective counter-terrorism aid in the war.
Meanwhile, the US-led airstrikes in Syria don’t have the necessary results until today.
Last week, The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL- ISIS) fighters have captured the last major oilfield under Syrian government control during deadly clashes over a vast central desert zone, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said,
The Jazal field was shut down and clashes were ongoing east of Homs, with casualties reported on both sides, without giving dates or more details.
Russia’s involvement in both Syria and Ukraine has made the U.S. rework its defense budget for the next fiscal year, according to Bloomberg. The budgets of all four military branches will be affected, the Pentagon’s comptroller said.
Moreover, the U.S. budget proposals are currently under review and are scheduled to be released in February. The budget request for 2017 is expected to be about $13 billion more than in 2016 for a total of $547.3 billion.
Russia fully understands this strategic imperative for Washington, just as it knows that terrorism is the principal weapon being employed in the ongoing war. As such, Moscow has moved to bolster the Syrian government in order to provide it with the necessary aid to continue to destroy terrorist groups. Furthermore, any additional Russian support in terms of advisers, increased shipments of materiel, and/or limited numbers of combat troops, provide Damascus with the physical resources necessary to wage the war.
At the largest level however, Moscow is moving to call Washington’s bluff regarding the fight against the Islamic State, and terrorism generally. Putin knows that the US does not want to destroy ISIS/ISIL, but rather to manage its development in an attempt to steer it toward US strategic objectives.
This strategy was outlined in the declassified 2012 US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) document obtained by Judicial Watch, which revealed that the US has knowingly promoted the spread of the Islamic State since at least 2012 in order to use it as a weapon against the Assad government. The document noted that, “…there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist Principality in eastern Syria…and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran).”(Counterpunch)
— RT (@RT_com) 16 Septembre 2015
Today Turkish FM Feridun Sinirlioğlu is set to visit Russia to discuss Syria as Moscow deepens its involvement in the Syrian conflict. — TurkeyWatch (@abyasun) 16 Septembre 2015
— FRANCE 24 English (@France24_en) 16 Septembre 2015
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