Putin is taking center Stage in the Middle East but what is his real agenda?

Moscow’s military campaign in Syria is relying on supply lines that require air corridors through both Iranian and Iraqi air space. The only alternatives are naval supply lines running from Crimea, requiring a passage of up to 10 days round-trip. How long that can be sustained is unclear.

Early on the morning of Sept. 30, a Russian three-star general approached the American embassy in Baghdad, walked past a wall of well-armed Marines, to deliver face-to-face a diplomatic demarche to the United States. His statement was blunt: The Russia military would begin air strikes in neighboring Syria within the hour — and the American military should clear the area immediately.

It was a bout of brinksmanship between two nuclear-armed giants that the world has not seen in decades, and it has revived Cold War levels of suspicion, antagonism and gamesmanship.

With the launch of airstrikes in Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin instigated a proxy war with the U.S., putting those nation’s powerful militaries in support of opposing sides of the multi-polar conflict. And it’s a huge gamble for Moscow and quite difficult and logistically complex. The Russians don’t have much in the way of long-range power projection capability.

That and other questions about Russian military capabilities and objectives are taking center stage as Putin shows a relentless willingness to use military force in a heavy-handed foreign policy aimed at restoring his nation’s stature as a world power. In that quest, he has raised the specter of resurgent Russian military might — from Ukraine to the Baltics, from Syria to the broader Middle East.

VLADIMIR Putin is preparing to send 150,000 troops to Syria in a bid to wipe out the evil Islamic State once and for all.

The Russian leader is reportedly mounting an enormous military mission to take control of the terror group’s stronghold of Raqqa.

The city is the self-declared capital of ISIS in Syria and is patrolled by as many as 5,000 jihadi members.

Putin is set to mobilize 150,000 reservists who he conscripted into the military earlier this week.

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It is very clear that Russia wants to sweep up the west of the country, taking Raqqa and all the oil and gas resources around Palmyra. Putin knows that this is fast becoming a race to Raqqa – to secure the oil fields they need to cleanse the region of insurgents, and the IS capital is vital to do that while Obama stance and strategy is to .

It comes a day after Russian jets obliterated nine ISIS outposts in just 24 hours using bunker-busting bombs.

Russian jets pounded terrorist targets and blew up a command center, potentially killing dozens of fighters.

Confirming the successful raids, Andrei Kartapolov from the Russian army vowed to ramp up the pressure, saying: “We will not only continue strikes… We will also increase their intensity.”

And Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said: “Over the past 24 hours, Sukhoi Su-34 and Su-24M fighter jets have performed 20 sorties and hit nine Islamic State installations.

A bunker-busting BETAB-500 air bomb dropped from a Sukhoi Su-34 bomber near Raqqa has eliminated the command post of one of the terror groups, together with an underground storage facility for explosives and munitions.

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These and other highly exact means of attack in recent days have been used to target objects of Islamic State terrorists. It is reported that these command posts, stores of weapons and oil products, workshops where weapons of suicide bombers are made.

Meanwhile a terrorism expert revealed that ISIS have vastly exaggerated their military strength and called on Western leaders to launch a coordinated fightback which would obliterate the hate group.

Has ISIS become its own worst enemy with its campaign of terror against the West, which has prompted an international backlash?

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Other reports from those strategists say it won’t take very long at all to drive them, if not out of all of Iraq or Syria, then certainly the majority of their territories.

“They will hide in towns, but I would say do not to follow them as they would use innocent civilians as human shields.”

David Cameron initially gave the Russian air strikes a cautious welcome and said the UK would need to look very carefully at Putin’s operations. David Cameron said Russia was targeting anti-Assad rebels over Daesh militants.

David Cameron Has said Russian President Vladimir Putin is making a terrible mistake by sending jets to prop up Syrian tyrant Bashar al-Assad.

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The Prime Minister said most of the Russian airstrikes in Syria appeared to have been in areas not controlled by Islamic State but by other opponents of the regime.

He told the BBC the Russians were “backing the butcher Assad, which is a terrible mistake for them and for the world. It is going to make the region more unstable. It will lead to further radicalization and increase terrorism.asaadputin

“I would say to them: ‘Change direction, join us in attacking Isil, but recognize that if we want to have a secure region, we need an alternative leader to Assad’.”

But yesterday he warned the intervention is making the situation worse and helping to support the “butcher” president Bashar Assad.

Separately Mr. Cameron pledged to “beef up” the SAS and double the number of British drones to combat ISIS militants in an interview ahead of today’s Conservative conference.

The Prime Minister said investment in Special Forces and surveillance was essential to meeting the terrorist threat facing the UK.

He revealed that the UK will buy a fleet of 20 new Protector Drones capable of targeting IS extremists in Iraq and Syria.

The Russians called it Center 2015: a series of military exercises they carried out in mid-September involving some 95,000 troops. In contrast to common practice, Moscow outlined publicly with great specificity what type of exercises its troops conducted. Its Hind attack helicopters, for example, practiced rocket and bombing runs against ground targets and provided air cover at very low altitude to ground forces. They fired unguided rockets against military columns below. They practiced flying with one engine off—simulating engine failure—at just 650 feet above the ground.

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Whether Russia’s incursion into the increasingly deadly Syrian civil war was foreseeable or not—and if it was, whether it was deterrable—is now moot. Russian President Vladimir Putin has in an instant changed markedly the course of a conflict that has claimed at least 250,000 lives and displaced millions—numbers that may yet grow much higher. Moscow and Iran, Damascus’s heretofore primary benefactor, are now making it clear that they are all-in when it comes to defending the current regime. On September 21, Iran began dispatching hundreds of elite Quds Force soldiers—the expeditionary arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard—as well as its leader, Qassem Suleimani, to lead ground assaults backed by Russian airpower against the forces opposing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. They have since been joined, according to intelligence reports, by deployments of Iranian and Iraqi Shiite militias.

They are there for a very specific reason, which is not simply to combat ISIS. By October 5, in fact, the Pentagon had become convinced that the majority of Russian air strikes thus far had targeted not ISIS units, but U.S. trained rebel groups in various parts of the country. The Russian troops are there to combat anyone and everyone who might fight against Assad, who the U.S. and its coalition partners still insist has to go. Indeed, on September 29, at the United Nations, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir could not have been clearer: “Assad has no future in Syria. Any attempt to whitewash him or make him acceptable is a nonstarter,” he told reporters.

The Russian intervention, as President Barack Obama, al-Jubeir and everyone else involved understands, comes at a critical moment. Despite the relative passivity and ineptness of the United States in funding and training anti-Assad rebels, the dictator’s position was slowly eroding as he attempted to fight off multiple rebel groups of varying sectarian and ethnic stripes (everything from hard-core ISIS fighters to more “moderate” Sunnis to Syrian Kurds). For Putin, a man who says repeatedly—because he believes it—that the greatest “geopolitical catastrophe” of the 20th century was the demise of the Soviet Union.

But from Moscow’s perspective, there likely was more to it than that—much more. The move provides a foothold in a part of the world that the Soviet Union was kicked out of four decades ago. At a moment when the United States appears to be washing its hands of the increasingly bloody and chaotic region, it gives Russia an expanding military presence in the Mediterranean on the doorstep of a NATO ally (its newly established airfield at Latakia in eastern Syria sits just 75 miles from the border with Turkey), and the gambit may yet serve as leverage with the West as Putin seeks to get out from under economic sanctions imposed as a result of Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in Ukraine.

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Is Putin’s actions game-changing? Obama seemed less impressed—or less willing to congratulate the Kremlin on its cunning, at least in public. All this was done out of a position not of strength but of “weakness,” he said at a White House news conference in early October. “This is not a smart strategic move on Russia’s part.”

Throughout much of the Middle East, that declaration was met with howls of derision (for reasons that we will get to); at home, it was dismissed by many as petulant spin from a president who had been badly wrong-footed in this war. But whether Obama had been wrong-footed or not, the logic behind what he said is not obviously wrong. That Syria’s a snake pit couldn’t be more obvious. And it’s true, as sources in Moscow and the Middle East acknowledge, that if Russia decides more troops are needed to bolster its position, it may be drawn into a quagmire it can ill afford.

Despite a still-grim economy in Russia, Putin remains popular in his country. Most of what he does to show that Moscow is a serious player on the world stage only buttresses that good opinion. But the public appetite for a war against anti-Assad rebels in Syria appears limited, to say the least.

In Sunni Arab capitals around the Middle East, one word is being uttered with increasing frequency: “Afghanistan.” Not the ongoing post-9/11 U.S. war there, but the one before it: when the mighty Soviet army was driven out by jihadi rebels (who were funded by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab states) and armed by the United States. As a student of what is known in Russia as the “catastrophe,” Putin knows that the humiliating Soviet withdrawal came in 1989, after a decade of war.

By 1992, his beloved Soviet Union ceased to exist. He also knows that the same countries that aided the Afghan rebels in the 1980s are now funding anti-Assad rebel groups.

So should the United States just say, “After you, Vladimir Vladimirovich? Be our guest! Syria’s all yours,” as GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump, among others, has advocated? If at least part of Putin’s plan is to combat ISIS—which, after all, the U.S. seeks to “degrade and destroy”—shouldn’t we welcome Moscow’s intervention, as Secretary of State John Kerry indicated Washington might?

The reasons why that’s probably a terrible idea are numerous. The deployment of the Russian military and increased Iranian ground forces means Assad can stay in power for as long as his two patrons desire. At the same time, there is also little evidence that the axis supporting Assad has the wherewithal to crush the Sunni-backed rebel groups.

It’s hard, therefore, to draw anything but the grimmest of conclusions. Syria—already a “geopolitical Chernobyl,” as former CIA chief David Petraeus recently put it—is about to get worse. Is it possible that the advent of Russian reinforcements is likely only to cement a brutal stalemate that has driven millions of people from their homes, radicalized the region, cause a humanitarian apocalypse, and turn Syria into a magnet for global jihadists?

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The Russian move into Syria will only deepen concern among Washington’s traditional allies in the Middle East about U.S. goals in the region. Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf monarchies have all watched, with varying degrees of alarm over the last five years, as the Obama administration zealously pursued a nuclear deal with Iran, an archenemy to all of those countries. Obama did so over their strenuous objections. Many suspect—indeed, some are convinced—that his overarching goal in the region was to legitimize Iran, integrate it into the international system so as to, as his stance was back in 2014 to create an “equilibrium” between “Sunni, or predominantly Sunni, Gulf states and Iran in which there’s competition, perhaps suspicion, but not an active or proxy warfare.”

If Obama’s goal was to get Iran to that place, starting with a nuclear deal, how likely was it that he was going to attack Syria in the wake of its chemical attacks, even having drawn a “red line” in 2012? Similarly, Tehran didn’t want a more aggressively funded and trained Western-backed rebel force in Syria, and Obama hasn’t done much to provide one. Had there been some firm action, we would not be in the place we are in.

This relative inaction has bred toxic suspicions throughout Washington’s traditional allies in the region—suspicions that are rarely voiced publicly but have hardened over the past 18 months. Simply put, they believe the Obama administration has not just pulled away from the Middle East but rather switched horses—backing Iran in search of that equilibrium the president spoke of last year. The White House has consistently and furiously denied this.

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Now, with Putin in Syria and Obama just 15 months from his White House retirement, the likelihood that the U.S. will do anything of consequence to change the status quo on the ground is slim. It seems extremely unlikely that Obama will risk a direct conflict with Putin. Any hope of a no-fly zone in Syria, or even an intensification of U.S. airstrikes, is likely gone as well. Indeed, with Europe under tremendous pressure from the crush of Syrian refugees, the fear among Sunni Arabs is that the West will latch on to Putin and Iran as the only hope for reining in Assad.

But that’s not why Russian troops are now fighting in Syria. They are there to prop up Assad by helping him destroy “terrorists”—defined as anyone fighting against his regime. It’s been about four and a half years since Syria’s civil war commenced—since it became a “geopolitical Chernobyl.” The meltdown may have only just begun.

Justification of War

World War I, was declared “the war to end all wars.” Unfortunately, wars just kept happening and we have to inquire why.

Once upon a time wars were fought for strength, fun and profit where that is still prevalent. We saw that with the Germans in WWII and was the best predictor of civil war in poor countries with the availability of lootable resources like diamonds. War in the preindustrial world was and still is more like a competition among crime families over who gets to control the rackets than a fight over principles.

You can rationalize that war simply does not pay if victorious even for the modern, wealthier nation(s). In this regard, military power is socially and economically futile. War would necessarily inflict severe economic harm even on the victor and that modern war is very, very expensive. For example, the Iraq war cost us over $1 trillion, many times Iraq’s entire G.D.P.
With that in mind, modern nations can’t enrich themselves by waging war. Yet wars keep happening. Why?

Is it a delusion that Putin thought that he could easily overthrow Ukraine’s government or enough of a chunk of it to land it in his lap on the cheap side? And for that matter, remember when the Bush administration predicted that overthrowing Saddam and installing a new government would cost only $50 billion or $60 billion?

War is always about money or a faltering economy that needs a distraction with hopes to gain politically from war. Leaders hope to distract its public from this debacle and history has shown like the present that sheep favors its ruler that invokes war.

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The fact is that nations almost always rally around their leaders in times of war, no matter how foolish the war or how awful the leaders. Argentina’s junta briefly became extremely popular during the Falklands war. For a time, the “war on terror” took President George W. Bush’s approval to dizzying heights, and Iraq probably won him the 2004 election. True to form, Mr. Putin’s approval ratings have soared since the Ukraine crisis began.

Starting a war going back 100 years when Britain entered the first World War was very bad but that is not valid as it is today. Times has changed with the proliferation of modern day Islamic Extremists. In the past, most cases wars are initiated by governments, not by populations. And, most of the time, they are the result of disputes over resources and land, or of a government’s desire to increase its influence and power. However, looking back over the history of warfare, what is most striking is how willing most people have been to fight in wars, or at least to support them.

It creates a sense of unity in the face of a collective threat. It binds people together – not just the army engaged in battle, but the whole community. It brings a sense of cohesion, with communal goals, and inspires individual citizens (not just soldiers) to behave honourably and unselfishly, in the service of a greater good. It supplies meaning and purpose, transcending the monotony of everyday life. Warfare also enables the expression of higher human qualities that often lie dormant in ordinary life, such as courage and self-sacrifice.

There is a moral and ethical purpose that drives men to war that gives us that sense of feeling alive, of belonging and purpose but more importantly to me and not speaking to the masses of the American people but of right and wrong but our philosophies of life, freedom, liberty, and oppression. Americans do not commit acts of genocide in the endeavor of world domination.

This isn’t to say that a warring party may not have a just cause, and this argument doesn’t explore other important social and psychological factors involved in war, such as social identity and moral exclusion. However, it does show that any stable, lasting peace depends on creating societies with a richness of opportunity and variety that can meet human needs. The fact that so many societies throughout the world fail to do this makes our future prospects of peace look very bleak.

Teddy Roosevelt was probably the last U.S. president who seemed to view war as an activity to be welcomed (he once remarked that “A just war is in the long run far better for a man’s soul than the most prosperous peace”), and subsequent presidents always portray themselves as going to war with great reluctance, and only as a last resort.

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In 2008, Americans elected Barack Obama in part because they thought he would be different from his predecessor on a host of issues, but especially in his approach to the use of armed force. It was clear to nearly everyone that George W. Bush had launched a foolish and unnecessary war in Iraq, and then compounded the error by mismanaging it (and the war in Afghanistan too). So Americans chose a candidate who had opposed Bush’s war in Iraq and could bring U.S. commitments back in line with our resources.

Above all, Americans thought Obama would be a lot more thoughtful about where and how to use force, and that he understood the limits of this crudest of policy tools. The Norwegian Nobel Committee seems to have thought so too, when they awarded him the Nobel Peace Prize not for anything he had done, but for what it hoped he might do henceforth.

Yet a mere two years later, we find ourselves back in the fray once again. Since taking office, Obama has escalated U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and launched a new war against Libya. As in Iraq, the real purpose of our intervention is regime change at the point of a gun. At first we hoped that most of the guns would be in the hands of the Europeans, or the hands of the rebel forces arrayed against Muammar al-Qaddafi, but it’s increasingly clear that U.S. military forces, CIA operatives and foreign weapons supplies are going to be necessary to finish the job.

I believe America’s biggest problem is that we never learned from our mistake in our prior engagements. The most obvious reason that the United States keeps doing these things is the fact that it has a remarkably powerful military but not using it to its full potential. We have the resources; hundreds of planes, smart bombs, cruise missiles and even WMD.

With reconciling our differences with other countries and rebuilding the infrastructure as our government defines it, we have put millions of arms and other weaponry into the very hands of the Terrorists who kill the very valor or our brave and honorable Military personnel.

The platform and foundation of our country is that we never negotiate with terrorists. It appears that this platform has shifted in an ominous dishonorable manner one would fashion to determine to be treasonous. This has directly led to the loss of hundreds of thousands of our own American lives.

If one was to look at who fuels the ideology of war between warring parties is the media and government. Both fuel each other. If not for the media, there is no vessel for propaganda and one’s justification.

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Obama justifies his resort to force by invoking America’s special place in the world is his usual . rhetoric and couched terms of U.S. values, commitment to freedom, etc. Back in the 2008 campaign, Barack Obama said that his favorite movie was The Godfather. And if I recall correctly, he said his second favorite movie was The Godfather, Part II. But his presidency is starting to play out like Part III of that famed trilogy, where Michael Corleone rails against the fates that have foiled his attempt to make the Corleone family legit.

I can just hear Obama saying it: “Just when I thought I was out … they pull me back in.”

Putin Diplomacy

It has become apparent that Putin no longer has a soul. That is the transparency we are seeing now and the fear of what will Putin do next?

In the aftermath of the Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 jet that was shot down by alleged pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine killing all 289 on board two Ukrainian Jet fighters have also been shot down also by the same alleged missile systems of Russia which ironically crashed near the Malaysian site.

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