Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Russian experts predict an extension of US war on Syria to the entire Middle-East

I have been researching the topic of Islam in Russia for a few weeks already and, as a part of this research, I spent a lot of time listening to various Russian Muslims and their views on the various conflicts in the Muslim world today.  It is still too early for me to begin writing on the fascinating but very complex and multi-faceted topic of Russia and Islam (which will probably require a series of articles), but I want to share with you what appears to be a consensus opinion of many Russian Middle-East experts (Muslim and Orthodox Christians) about the war on Syria and its likely development.

The following is a summarized paraphrase of the conclusions these Russian experts have come to. 

The Syrian government and the US backed insurgency have reached somewhat of a stalemate: the insurgents cannot take key cities such as Damascus and Aleppo, while the government is unable to control most of the country.  As soon as some region, city or neighborhood is cleared of insurgents and the Syrian army withdraws, the insurgents soon come back.  Still, most of the population still supports the Syrian government, in particular in urban areas, including well to do Sunnis who see the insurgents as illiterate bloodthirsty religious zealots who threaten their way of life.  In spire of this popular support, the Syrian government is unable to execute a mobilization of its large reserve forces because of the chaos in most cities.  The government is now fighting with soldiers who have basically been kept in the military after the expiration of their regular military service.  The failure of the insurgency to take over Aleppo and Damascus shows that the conflict has reached a stalemate.

The US, which is acutely aware of this stalemate, has come up with a plan to break it.  The US plan - which is basically a variation on the US policy in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo - is based on the following steps:

  • Consolidate the insurgency into one federation of forces controlled by the US CIA.
  • Recognize the insurgency as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people.
  • Transfer massive amounts of weapons to the "internationally recognized Syrian government".
  • Create "safe heavens" inside Syria, protected by NATO airpower
  • Send in ground forces of the Arab League to run these safe heavens.
  • Use these safe heavens as a staging base for a final attack on, and seizure of, Aleppo and Damascus.
A key requirement of this plan is an absolute rejection of any type of negotiations with the Syrian government.  Just as Iran must stop all enrichment before any negotiations begin, Assad must go before any negotiations will take place (the same trick was played on Gaddafi in Libya).  If you wonder what might be left to "negotiate" in these conditions, you are not alone.

Another feature common to both the war in Bosnia and the war in Syria is that just as the US policy in the Balkans greatly encouraged the Albanians to struggle for a "greater Albania" (including Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia and parts of Greece) the current US policy in Syria and Iraq is creating all the conditions for the Kurds in Syria, Iraq and, possibly, Turkey or Iran to join forces and establish some kind of sovereign entity.  This is a major threat to Turkey which might wake up one day with an "Kurdish Kosovo" on its southeastern border.

There is, of course, one crucial difference between Bosnia and Syria: during the war in Bosnia, the US skillfully played Milosevic against the Bosnian-Serbs by promising him that he would be allowed to stay in power if he betrayed the Bosnian-Serbs.  In Syria, Assad does not have to look over his shoulder for a betrayal from Iran.

The US policies have dramatically exacerbated the tensions between the Shia and the Sunni.  This is well illustrated by Hamas' betrayal of Syria, Iran and Hezbollah and its new found alliance with the Muslim brotherhood.  One likely consequence of this (US run) "Salafist coalition" is that as soon as it is done doing its business in Syria, it will turn its gaze at the Shia regime in Baghdad and re-start a full scale sectarian civil war in Iraq.  Such a civil war in Iraq will inevitably involve Iran, at which point the US and Israel will be in an ideal situation to attempt to overthrow the Iranian regime.

According to Russian experts, the current US plan has the potential to ignite Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Pakistan resulting in massive refugee movements towards Western Europe and Russia.  For Russia this risk is compounded by the possibility of all sorts of Jihadis attempting to enter the Caucasus region and then penetrating into Russia to fight the "Kuffars".

While this has not been reported in the West, the Russian media has reported that one of the leading Sunni spiritual leaders on the planet, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, has called Russia the number one enemy of the  Muslims (his declaration was triggered by the Russian veto of US anti-Syrian Resolutions at the UNSC).  Many Russian experts spoke of a "Sunni declaration of war on Russia".
Russian experts are very pessimistic on the Russian options to prevent such a scenario.  They believe that the US has been extremely successful in pushing Russia out of the Middle-East and they recognize that Russia does not have many means to influence the situation.  The only real option for Russia at this point is to put its southern borders on a very tight lock-down and the further strengthen the already formidable capabilities of the 58th Army and of the Southern Strategic Command of the Russian Armed Forces.  Preventing the aftershocks of the US-initiated "blast" of the Middle-East from reaching Russia appears to be the only good option left for the Kremlin at this point in time.

While I personally cannot disagree with any of the above, I think that it is important for Russia to formulate some kind of proactive policy, preferably in coordination with China, if not the BRICS countries, to prevent a destabilization of Iran. In fact, many Russian experts have declared that Iran is Russia's last natural defense and that "after Iran, we are next".  If that is the case, and if the entire region is threatened, then a broad anti-Salafist front must be created by all those who are directly threatened by the current situation: first and foremost, the Shia, of course, but also the traditional Sunnis, and the Sufi and those Christians who, regardless of denomination, are not US-puppets and/or Zionists.

Such an anti-Salafist front is, I believe, being created right now inside Russia, but that is a topic which I will leave for future articles.

The Saker