Middle East Breakthrough… No Wonder Washington’s
August 19, 2013 "Information
Russia’s air raids in Syria, launched from Iranian
territory this week, were received by Washington
with a mixture of consternation and disappointment.
Understandably, too. It marks a breakthrough in
Russia’s standing in the Middle East.
working closely in a quartet that includes Iran,
Iraq and Syria. We can add Lebanon because of the
cooperation on the ground in Syria with Hezbollah,
which is one of the governing coalition partners in
East countries, thought of as Washington’s partners,
are showing a newfound appreciation of Russia and
the leadership provided by President Vladimir Putin.
The notably conciliatory relations between Turkey
and Russia – in the wake of a failed coup that
Ankara implicates a cleric who lives in the US in –
speaks of a tectonic shift in regional geopolitics.
deep differences over Syria, Russia has managed to
retain cordial relations with other states normally
considered American proteges and enemies of Moscow’s
ally in Syria. Putin has over the past year warmly
received Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,
while also respectfully hosting Saudi leaders in
Moscow. Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov was
welcomed in the Persian Gulf’s Qatari capital,
Doha, for high-level talks on Middle East conflict
this all-round respect for Russia with America’s
increasingly dismal reputation. Decades of US-led
destructive wars, failed nation-building schemes and
regime-change machinations have diminished
Washington’s standing in the region, even among its
supposed partners. Privately and publicly, the
Israelis, Turks and Saudis seem to harbor contempt
towards their American patron in spite of official
designation as allies.
Russian long-range Tu-22M3 bombers took off from
western Iran this week to conduct missions in Syria
it signaled that Moscow is the emerging dominant
player in the region after decades of presumed
fact that the Islamic Republic of Iran for the first
time since the 1979 revolution made the
unprecedented provision to its constitution to
allow a foreign power to use its territory for
military purpose is testimony to Russia’s sway in
the sensitive region.
official enemies of Iran – Israel and Saudi Arabia –
cannot but acknowledge the significance. Iran, which
has defied decades of Western-imposed sanctions out
of principle for its sovereign rights, is willing to
trust Russia’s military with territorial access.
be seen as a measure of Russia’s integrity in
conducting international relations. Unlike
Washington which is mired in double dealing and
treachery as even its supposed closest allies all
too well know. In short, Washington has a trust
Russia – whatever some states may feel about its
allies in Syria and Iran – can nevertheless be seen
for genuinely sticking by its commitments.
Vladimir Putin ordered Russian military intervention
in Syria at the end of last September, the
government of President Bashar Assad was on the
ropes. Rebels and foreign-backed militants were
threatening to topple Assad in accordance with the
objective of regime change supported by Washington
and its NATO allies, Britain and France, and
partners across the region – Turkey, Saudi Arabia,
Qatar and Israel.
bold intervention in defense of Russia’s longtime
ally in Damascus completely reversed the tide of
war. In less than a year, the Syrian state has
recovered much of its territory, and it is the
foreign-backed militants who are now facing defeat.
about-turn by Turkey – once a gung-ho backer of the
militants in Syria – to call for closer cooperation
with Russia and Iran in settling the Syrian conflict
is tacit admission that the covert war for regime
change is all but over. And it is Russia’s power
that achieved the outcome.
A New York
report earlier this month was candid in its
assessment of Russia’s strategic success in Syria.
the wider geopolitical ramifications, the newspaper
editorializes: “For the first time since
Afghanistan in the 1980s, the Russian military for
the past year has been in direct combat with rebel
forces trained and supplied by the CIA. The
American-supplied Afghan fighters prevailed during
that Cold War conflict. But this time the outcome –
thus far – has been different.”
Times added: “Russia’s battlefield successes in
Syria have given Moscow, isolated by the West after
its annexation [sic] of Crimea and other incursions
into Ukraine, new leverage in decisions about the
future of the Middle East.”
This is why
Washington’s reaction to Russia’s breakthrough
military cooperation with Iran in the Syrian war was
described the more effective deployment of
Russian air power in Syria as “unfortunate”.
And it decried the closer liaison between Russia,
Iran, Iraq and Syria as “doubling down” to
prop up the Assad “regime”.
notified the US of its overflights from Iran through
Iraq to Syria in accordance with their “deconfliction
procedure”. But it was evident that Russia was
not seeking consultation from Washington. Moscow had
determined the plan and was going ahead with it
regardless of Washington’s misgivings.
disquiet over the Russian-Iranian move was
revealing. At first, Washington tried to quibble
about legalities, claiming that the Russian military
flights contravened a UN Security Council resolution
barring “supply, sale or transfer of combat
aircraft to Iran”.
Russia’s Sergey Lavrov pointed out the arrangement
involved none of these.
military aircraft are used by air forces after
Iran’s authorization for taking part in the
anti-terrorist operation in Syria after a legitimate
request from its government,” he said on
Washington objected with the threadbare trope that
the Russian air raids on Deir ez-Zor, Aleppo and
Idlib were striking “moderate rebels”.
State Department spokesman Mark Toner
assured reporters that the Russian targets were
not extremists belonging to Islamic State or Jabhat
Fateh al-Sham (rebranded from Al-Nusra), but rather
were “predominantly moderate” rebels
supported by the United States.
though in his press conference response to the
Russian operations, US military spokesman for Syria
and Iraq, Colonel Chris Carver
said that he did not know where the proscribed
terror groups were located in the targeted areas.
So how come
the State Department knows it was “moderates”
that the Russians were hitting but the Pentagon
can’t say where the “terrorists” are?
Russia is winning the war in Syria on behalf of the
sovereign authorities with the majority support of
the Syrian people, Washington is seen doubling down
on double talk and double think in its collusion
with terrorist proxies.
is losing all credibility in the strategically
pivotal region because it has for too long pivoted
between criminal schemes and duplicity. Even
traditional partners and clients can see this
unedifying spectacle of sordid US conduct. Feckless,
unreliable American power is something to disdain,
if not dread.
stood firm with its allies, and, as Syria attests,
has carried out the mission it said it would,
without mendacity or intrigue. That integrity is
surely worthy of respect among allies, non-aligned
states and foes alike.
long Russia witnessed the Americans carve up and
mutilate the Middle East with wars and subversions,
from Afghanistan to Iraq, Libya and Syria. Syria has
marked a historic turning point in Washington’s
depredations in the Middle East.
has emerged as a serious countervailing force to be
reckoned with. Fortunately.