Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The G8 final communique communique - yet another diplomatic victory for Putin

Full text here.

This is the section on Syria: (my comments in blue - The Saker)
We are determined to work together to stop the bloodshed and loss of life in Syria and to support the Syrian people to establish peace and stability through political means (in other words, regime change, in particular by means of armed insurrection is not acceptable). We are gravely concerned at the appalling human tragedy that the UN estimates has cost the lives of over 93,000 people and led to 4.2 million internally displaced persons and 1.6 million refugees. We acknowledge the vital humanitarian role played by neighbouring countries hosting Syrian refugees, above all Lebanon and Jordan, in dealing with the significant economic and security pressures they are facing as a result of the conflict and refugee influx. Given the extraordinary humanitarian need as reflected in the latest UN appeal for $5.2 billion in 2013, we are resolved to make exceptional contributions commensurate with the scale of the problem. At this meeting G8 Leaders confirmed additional contributions of almost $1.5 billion to meet humanitarian needs in Syria and its neighbours. We recognise that further contributions will be needed given the scale of the challenge. We urge other countries and organisations to make similar commitments. We call for aid agencies to be given immediate access to provide humanitarian assistance to all civilians in need, in accordance with humanitarian principles and international law, particularly in the worst affected areas such as Qusayr. We remain committed to achieving a political solution to the crisis based on a vision for a united, inclusive and democratic Syria (that is clearly a condemnation of the sectarian Takfiri ideology of the insurgency) We strongly endorse the decision to hold as soon as possible the Geneva Conference on Syria to implement fully the Geneva Communiqué of 30 June 2012, which sets out a number of key steps beginning with agreement on a transitional governing body with full executive powers, formed by mutual consent (here again, not a word about Assad having to leave). As the Geneva Communiqué says, the public services must be preserved or restored. This includes the military forces and security services. However all governmental institutions and state offices must perform according to professional and human rights standards, operating under a top leadership that inspires public confidence,under the control of the transitional governing body. Both sides at the Conference must engage seriously and constructively. They should be fully representative of the Syrian people and committed to the implementation of the Geneva Communiqué and to the achievement of stability and reconciliation. We will engage actively with the parties in order to achieve successful outcomes. We are deeply concerned by the growing threat from terrorism and extremism in Syria,and also by the increasingly sectarian nature of the conflict. Syria must belong to all Syrians, including its minorities and all religious groups. We call on the Syrian authorities and opposition at the Geneva Conference jointly to commit to destroying and expelling from Syria all organisations and individuals affiliated to Al Qaeda, and any other non-state actors linked to terrorism (amazing sentence!  The insurgency and the government of Syria are called upon to JOINTLY *destroy* the very forces which the USA wants to arm?  That the government would be more than happy to destroy or expel al-Nusra is clear, but the FSA?  Is the G8 really calling for a civil war inside the insurgency!?).  We will support UN planning for Syria’s transition,recovery, and reconstruction needs, in particular by maintaining continuity of state institutions during transition and helping to ensure that the security forces are effective, accountable and able to deal with the threat of terrorism and extremism.  We condemn any use of chemical weapons in Syria and call on all parties to the conflict (yeah, considering that the first party who had requested such an investigation was the Syrian government, and that the only evidence available of anybody having chemical weapons are the al-Nusra linked folks arrested in Turkey, I say that this sentence puts to rest the recent US nonsense about having proof that the government made limited use of chemical weapons) to allow access to the UN investigating team mandated by the UN Secretary-General,and drawing on the expertise of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and World Health Organisation (WHO), in order to conduct an objective investigation (as opposed to the recent US accusations it appears) into reports of use of chemical weapons. The UN team should make their report and deliver it to the UN Security Council for their assessment. We are determined that those who may be found responsible for the use of chemical weapons will be held accountable. We emphasise the need for the secure and safe storage of all chemical weapons in Syria, pending their destruction under international verification. We also condemn in the strongest possible terms all human rights violations and abuses in Syria, committed by anyone, including indiscriminate attacks on civilians. We call on all sides to respect international humanitarian and human rights laws, noting the particular responsibility of the Syrian authorities in this regard.
Even though the Canadian Prime Minister claimed the exactly opposite, I would say that Putin brilliantly succeeded in making the entire "G7" back down and bow to Russian pressure.  What this G8 communique shows is a complete collapse of Western diplomacy in the Syrian war, no doubt triggered by the realization that the recent Iranian move of Pasdaran forces into Syria meant that the game was essentially over.

There is no formal alliance between Russia and Iran.  But for all practical purposes what we are seeing here is a perfectly coordinated "one, two" move in which changes on the ground are supported by skillful diplomatic maneuvers to jointly achieve the desired outcome.  And to think that Russia and Iran could achieve this wonderful move while both being in a position of great weakness (at least when compared to the "G7" potential power!) is quite amazing.

Still, again and again I will repeat that none of this would have been possible without the absolutely remarkable courage and skills of the Syrian military whose recent series of victories created the conditions for Russia and Iran to take action outside the war zone proper.

No wonder Obama had a tired and sour facial expression yesterday.  He knew that he had presided over yet another strategic defeat for the USA (he was the prime architect of the now long forgotten "surge" in Afghanistan which also ended up backfiring).

I would like to come back to this amazing section of the G8 final communique were the G8 countries are actually asking the insurgency and the government to "jointly commit to destroy and expel all organizations and individuals linked to al-Qaeda" and ask a possibly very naive question here:

Is there any possibility, any possibility at all, that some of the more sane elements of the insurgency might actually agree to do just that, and to destroy and expel all the al-Nusra Takfiri times in coordination with the government forces?  Could the designation of a common enemy of the entire Syrian nation not also favor the opening of a real, substantive, and direct dialog between the insurgency and a regime which must know that reforms are absolutely needed to achieve any lasting peace?  Is there any hope at all that both sides would accept and admit that mistakes have been made on all sides and that each sides has to set aside its ideology and replace it with some basic but much needed patriotism?

After all, it is the presence of the Takfiri crazies, and the West's stubborn insistence on denying the importance of this presence in the insurgency, which unified the pro-regime forces and which ended up badly hurting the insurgency on a political level.

I bet you that there is going to be a lot of finger pointing not only between Western powers but even more so inside the insurgency itself which must now come to terms with the reality that is massively miscalculated its moves.  And, God willing, there should be hell to pay for those Arab regimes who supported these Takfiris, and I am not only referring to the KSA and Qatar here, but also to all those in the Arab League and Organization of Islamic Cooperation who showed a comprehensive absence of honor or judgement, for that matter.

And, lastly, there is the painful subject of the abject disgrace of the Palestinian elites who, yet again, committed a strategic miscalculation of immense proportion in betraying their Syrian brothers.  It is one thing to support that idiot Saddam against the Kuwaitis.  It is quite another to backstab a government and nation which have always supported the Palestinian cause!  In their blind opportunism, the Palestinians have fallen so low as to dare to slander even Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, without doubt the greatest Arab leader of modern times.  The disgrace which such narrow-minded opportunism brings upon the entire Palestinian people will take a long, long time to be washed away.

If some good can come from such a calamity as this war, it is that it showed the true face of many actors.  This war has shown that there is no such thing as an "Arab nation" as Arabs happily betray each other, nor this there such thing as a Muslim umma, as most Sunni reflexively turn against the Shia minority as soon as the sectarian partisanship is exited.  This war has shown that the real friends of the Syrian people are first and foremost the Persian Shia and that modern alliances are not based on ethnicity, religion or ideology, but on common values: on one hand, the Anglos joined the Takfiris and the Zionists, while on the other the Syrians were supported by the Persians, Hezbollah, the Russians and the Chinese.  Amazing, no?

In the past few days, the very nature and quality of the war on Syria has fundamentally shifted and this shift will have far reaching consequences not only in the Middle-East but worldwide.  Nevertheless, this war is far from over, if only because there is a lot of political and military "momentum" or "inertia" left out there.  Still, barring some very unexpected disaster, it has now become possible to start seeing the contours of an end to this tragedy.  Hopefully, the Western powers and the insurgency will come to accept the fact that they have lost this war and that they need to settle for some mutually acceptable and reasonable compromise at the Geneva II conference.  Any other moves would only be uselessly delaying the inevitable.

The Saker