Small Wars Journal

Obama Versus Putin: The Making of Another Great Power Proxy War in the Quicksand of Syria

Wed, 11/04/2015 - 2:57am

Obama Versus Putin: The Making of Another Great Power Proxy War in the Quicksand of Syria

Ehsan M. Ahrari

The United States has announced that its Special Forces will participate in ground operations in Syria against ISIS.  That announcement contradicts President Barack Obama’s previous assurances that there would be no American forces participating in ground operations.  Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter went beyond the aforementioned statement by noting that such Special Forces operations would increase in the future.  Is President Obama breaking his frequently iterated promise of no troops on the ground, or is it just a crucial tactical adjustment?  Has he quietly reached a moment of desperation whereby he sees his promise of “no boots on the ground” has been overcome by events (OBEs); or has he decided to outdo Russian President Vladimir Putin in his own determination to take drastic action to save the regime of Bashar al-Assad?  At this point, Obama’s decision appears to include factors mentioned in both questions.  Putin, for his part, seems to have forgotten that military involvement in a Muslim country may turn out to be too costly for Russia.  He seems to have forgotten the lessons of the Afghan war of the 1980s.

Things are not going well for the United States in Syria.  Despite its heavy reliance on air power (as an alternative to committing ground troops) to degrade and then eradicate ISIS, the latter has yet to lose its effectiveness.  The United States decided to rely on recruiting, training, and equipping the so-called moderate Islamists to fight ISIS.  It originally allocated $580 million to train and equip those individuals.  But the chief restriction imposed on those recruits was that they would only engage in fighting ISIS and not the Assad regime.     

To Washington’s dismay, much of the US-supplied equipment and vehicles quickly fell into the hands of Al-Nusra (an al-Qaeda affiliate).  The next twist in the policy, according to the Wall Street Journal, was, instead of training the moderate rebels, it was also to equip them.  The “equip” part of the program was to be “dramatically reduced to providing weapons to some 5,000 friendly moderate Syrian rebels to carry on the fight against both ISIS and presumably, against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.” Senator John McCain was spot-on when he observed that the Obama administration’s insistence that rebels fight only against ISIS was a “fundamental flaw.”

The greatest American hesitation has been about providing heavy equipment to the anti-ISIS forces.  Sadly, from Washington’s perspective, the pro-American Syrian insurgents have not impressed the American advisors with their fighting capabilities.  In addition, their loyalty to the American objectives of ridding the country of ISIS first conflicted with the Syrian insurgents’ own intense desire to defeat pro-regime forces first.

The US-Turkish alliance also suffers from intricate problems of its own.  Turkey remains focused on ousting Assad first, but it also remains acutely worried about enabling the Kurdish forces to emerge as an effective fighting force.  Ankara has also remained vexed about the possibilities that the territories liberated by the Kurdish forces are likely to become an integral part of Kurdistan, which is the dream of Kurds of all political stripes.  Thus, “Turkey appears to be actively working at direct odds with U.S. anti-ISIS strategy, having attacked Kurdish groups in Syria—the same groups that the United States recently armed and counts among its ‘capable partners’….”

The United States, on the contrary, has a high degree of trust in the commitment of the Kurdish forces to fight, degrade, and destroy ISIS.  However, it has to be careful about not antagonizing the government of President Recep Erdogan.  Thus, while the Kurds are fighting ISIS, they are also frequently targeted by the Turkish Air Force.  That is also one more reason why the United States is careful about not increasing the fighting capabilities of the Kurdish forces by supplying them with heavy equipment.  There is a great possibility that those arms might also be used against the Turkish forces.

America’s other problem is that no Arab country is ready or willing to commit its ground troops to the Syrian theater of operations.  As much as everyone claims to despise ISIS and its ghastly tactics, no Arab regime is willing to commit ground forces and then becoming a powerful target of ISIS global propaganda that it is killing Sunni Muslims.

Russia has studied the modalities of America’s involvement in Iraq and Syria within a Machiavellian framework.  If the United States were to be effective in defeating or at least substantially weakening ISIS forces in either of those countries, Russia would have stayed out of the fray.  However, President Obama’s overly cautious approach—indeed, his sustained refusal to commit ground troops to Syria or Iraq—has provided Russia with a superb window of opportunity.  Putin fired his opening salvo on behalf of Bashara Assad in September 2013, when the latter violated Obama’s declared “red line” by using chemical weapons.  As the United States was poised to take limited military action against the Assad regime as punishment, Putin came up with the suggestion that Assad transfer the ownership of his chemical weapons stock to an outside body.  The United States readily accepted that palpably sensible proposition.  However, the Russian President had an ambitious agenda up his sleeve.  He operates as a believer of that old adage: Nature abhors a vacuum (Horror vacui).   

Undoubtedly, Russia has been looking for a long-term, if not a permanent, presence in the Middle East, since its ouster from Egypt by President Anwar Sadat in 1972.  It has a naval base in Syria, but the potential ouster of Assad from power would have permanently closed that facility.  As an integral aspect of his profound desire to reestablish Russia as one of the great powers to have a major say in the future power plays in the Middle East, Putin needed an even a larger Russian presence.  He has already made significant overtures by reaching out to the Egyptian dictator, General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, in the form of arms sales, and promises of further boosting that aspect of Russo-Egyptian ties in the future.  Russia has been well on its way to filling that vacuum.

Putin asserted Russia’s influence in Syria with a bang.  He sent bombers to Syria ostensibly for bombing ISIS; however, in reality, he started targeting the US-backed Syrian insurgents, who were already facing an uphill battle because of America’s legalistic requirement of vetting them first, training them, and only then supplying them with light weapons.  On the contrary, Putin instantly went after the US-backed insurgents for the explicit purpose of weakening or even eradicating them.  That was the most assured way of saving the Assad regime, according to his calculations.  Bombing ISIS was only his secondary objective, especially considering the fact that the Iranian Quds forces and Hezbollah were already carrying the heavy baggage of fighting ISIS.

Putin plan seems to be working for him, at least for now.  Russia has emerged as a major player.  He has already entered into negotiations with the United States, Iran, and Saudi Arabia over the future of Syria.  The Saudis themselves have approached Moscow to inquire about the modalities of the post-Assad era, a topic that is most irrelevant to Putin as long as Russia and Iran have an upper-hand in the Syrian theater of operations.  More to the point, Putin has managed to elevate his country as a coequal of the United States, as the American and Russia military officials have started regularly coordinating their air attack plans to eliminate any potential for a mishap.

The Obama administration has maintained that it has no intention of deploying ground troops in Syria.  Thus, the decision to insert a small number of US Special Forces is merely a tactical adjustment.  As President Obama is becoming increasingly focused on his legacy of not becoming a party to another war in Syria, Putin seems to have calculated that the path to Russia’s advantage leads through the battlefields of Syria, especially while Moscow’s ally, Iran, is bearing the major brunt of the ground fight and the resultant losses in its war against ISIS.

The Syrian conflict has all the markings of transforming itself into another proxy war between two major powers a la the Afghanistan war of the 1980s.  One feature of that war materialized when Putin decided to plunge his country into the Syrian quagmire.  The ghosts of the Afghan war are awakening in the battlefields of Syria, when one considers the fact that heavy weapons are once again emerging as the game changer of winning that conflict.  While reports surged that the Russian bombing decimated the heavy weapons used by ISIS fighters, there was also a report that the United States and Saudi Arabia were supplying heavy weapons to pro-US forces.  In the meantime, 55 Saudi Wahhabi clerics have declared a Jihad against the Russian forces.  As consummate practitioners of Machiavellian power game, one can be rest assured that Putin’s advisors are busy calculating the long-term implications of their boss’ decision to plunge them into the quicksand of Syria.

About the Author(s)


Outlaw 09

Sat, 11/21/2015 - 4:56am

In reply to by Outlaw 09

This is the mess Obama has now gotten NATO into due to his lack of a coherent strategy and true leadership.....

Pushkov taunts the Baltic States, over their failure to join the shiny new anti-IS coalition. Yes, it's official. There is now a coalition.

BUT wait.....seems Russia forgot there was already an anti IS coalition that they refused to join.......

Outlaw 09

Sat, 11/21/2015 - 4:50am

In reply to by Outlaw 09

Russia has a serious problem with either their maps or their GPS systems....but wait Russia claims to have highly precision weapons--only as good as the GPS behind them.....

Russia says it bombed ISIS HQ at Idlib, which has no ISIS. Oh wait, Idlib is east of Aleppo on MoD maps - El Murid

Outlaw 09

Sat, 11/21/2015 - 4:35am

In reply to by Outlaw 09

Obama has boots on the ground and they are effective against the IS but they need better weapons, more direct air support AND THEY NEED Obama to get Putin off their backs so they do not have to dodge bombs when actually fighting IS.....WHY BECAUSE Putin is definitely fighting to support IS.....

BREAKING: FSA forces take over Harjaleh area of northern Aleppo after intense clashes with ISIS Syria Aleppo

Syrians taking care of the problem has always been the way forward...WH does not seem to realize that though....

Outlaw 09

Sat, 11/21/2015 - 4:19am

Kind of sums up the current mess in Syria in which the US is now a two bit player and not a major player any longer......

ISIS being decimated by Russian air strikes.
Oh no... it was a mosque in Aleppo.
Hollande, please come & help Putin.

Russia brought another BIG BLOW to ISIS...
Oh wait! It was a textile factory.
And France wants 2 cooperate with Putin?

Since 2011 Russia vetoed 4 UN resolutions aimed at ending Syria genocide & RU provided WMD to Assad

IS is nowhere to be seen and or attacked and yet Hollande is trying to be this great minor/major player in international affairs since DeGualle.....sometimes the French also get distracted from reality.

Remember it was the French that nudged Obama into Libya...

Outlaw 09

Sat, 11/21/2015 - 1:55am

Concerning the Obama "led from behind mess" which really never existed in Syria and the total lack of a strategy for just about anything except when it comes to his legacy then he has a plan.....

We all get uptight rightly about the killing by IS of 130 civilians in France...BUT when we see the videos daily coming out of Syria on the countless Russian air strikes, cluster munitions, WP and now cruise missiles striking civilians, hospitals, religious sites, schools, critical infrastructures, and residential areas ALL not in IS controlled areas WHAT is the complete Western response....silence.....

And yet we the West wonder WHY Syrians are to rise up and attack IS...right now they are seriously questioning just why they should be supporting at all the West...I would....

Day before yesterday a video was posted that I did not post here---it was the loud crying of a father as he bent over his killed daughter--killed by a Russian dumb bomb that Putin repeatedly called Russian precision strikes.

A dumb bomb dropped deliberately on a residential area 140km from the closet IS position--we have seen these Putin attacks also in eastern Ukraine and YET said nothing there as well.

Does the US even care anymore outside of idiots stating we must have databases and ID cards for ALL Muslims.

This is not the US I spent almost my entire lifetime defending either via the IC and or military service through participating in four of her wars without complaining.

Now I am complaining because when I vote for a President I expect him or her to truly lead....not sit idly by when genocide is being committed in front of rolling cameras......

We claim to be guided by "Christian believes/morals" and truly support freedom of religion and all the other freedom values BUT do we really.....?

"Thou shalt not stand idly by the blood of thy neighbor" - Leviticus 19:16

Right now the West is waiting and waiting and waiting for some sort of serious leadership from the US and YET all they get is also can that be??

Retrenchment is great BUT in the end when we come out of this Obama withdrawal from the world phase the price we will pay to rejoin the world will be far higher than it would be now if we engage and lead.

Outlaw 09

Fri, 11/20/2015 - 1:31pm

Putin rules the ME or at least he thinks he does......

Stunning. The Kremlin has ordered Beirut airport and Lebanese airspace to close for three days.…

And the mess just gets worse and worse........

Kofman says Russia is strong enough to break the intl rules, but not strong enough to rewrite them. This is Russia's post-Crimea reality.

Outlaw 09

Fri, 11/20/2015 - 12:41pm

In reply to by Outlaw 09

Russian MoD and Putin have lied so much since they arrived in Syria...we need some humor.....

Russia MoD: Our jets killed 731 terrorists in the last 3 days. Total terrorists killed in Syria so far is: 9,456,4564,442,906..

Outlaw 09

Fri, 11/20/2015 - 12:35pm

Eliot Higgins ‏@EliotHiggins
The Violations Documentation Centre just published a 44 page report on Russian air strikes in Syria

Syria: Rebels are illegitimate & governments must not talk to them
Ukraine: Rebels are legitimate & governments must talk to them

Finally Putin bombing ISIS... Ooh wait, it's a school!

Outlaw 09

Fri, 11/20/2015 - 12:25pm

Putin playing Caesar, Americans call refugees "dogs" & Iran's Shia militias/IRGC all over Syria a Sunni country.

Remind me again why the uprising is becoming more radicalized?

AND western leaders say what again......silence.....

Outlaw 09

Fri, 11/20/2015 - 9:54am

Not sure who is in a bigger mess in Syria--Putin or Obama.

The Times: Putin's hypocrosy on bombing of Russian plane over Sinai at odds with his terrorism of MH17 over Ukraine

Putin wants the UNSC for his bombing but rejected it for MH17

IMHO both are in the same boat and both do not have exit strategies--the same goes for eastern Ukraine. Actually I am not sure they even have strategies...Shame the clock cannot be turned back 24 months and then let them start again...

Outlaw 09

Fri, 11/20/2015 - 7:55am

Putin's mess just got worse...not so sure he has an exit strategy....

So much for the "famed" Russian high precision weaponry........"friendly fire incident"....?

Russia cruise missile landed in the regime held Khattab town in northern Hama

Outlaw 09

Fri, 11/20/2015 - 7:42am

If some can see through Putin's ploy can Obama...not exactly sure anymore...

Russia’s offer for the West: an anti-terrorist coalition on Russian terms


Witold Rodkiewicz

On 17th November the Russian government revealed that the Russian passenger jet which came down over the Sinai peninsula on 31st October fell victim to a terrorist attack perpetrated by militants affiliated with Islamic State (IS) and announced that it would step up air strikes in Syria. Russian air forces in Syria, which for the first time received support from strategic bombers stationed in Russia, launched a series of air strikes targeting Raqqa, an IS stronghold. Vladimir Putin reiterated his call to form a common front in order to combat terrorism and ordered the Russian military to treat French military forces as allies and to coordinate their operations in Syria with them. Putin’s participation in the G20 summit, which was held on 15th and 16th November in Antalya in Turkey, was also meant to bring round Russia’s Western partners to its concept of ending the Syrian crisis. The Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov took a similar course during a meeting of a ‘group of Syria’s friends’ in Vienna on 14th November.

▪ The Kremlin has been using the attacks in Paris to persuade the West to fundamentally shift its policy towards Syria – and also towards Russia. It is also enticing Western leaders to accept a political formula of a common front for fighting Islamist terrorism which presents the illusion of Russian help in solving problems generated by a protracted civil war in Syria. Russia’s objectives regarding Syria are still in stark contrast to those of its Western ‘allies’: it wants Assad to remain in power and to use the conflict instrumentally in order to improve the Kremlin’s bargaining position in its relations with the West. Russia’s diplomatic measures are meant to provide a convenient excuse for a possible shift in the West’s policy towards Moscow. The change would consist in Western capitals accepting the Russian diagnosis of the causes of the Syrian conflict and the Kremlin’s formula for ending the civil war (leaving Assad in power). This solution is unacceptable for the majority of the anti-Assad armed opposition and may rally popular support for the radical Islamist opposition. This would be more likely to bring about an escalation of the conflict than an end to it.

▪ If the West were to agree to take part in the anti-terrorist alliance Moscow is putting forward, this would imply that it recognises Russia’s privileged position in the post-Soviet area. This area would thus be shifted to the margins of mutual relations. It was no coincidence that President Putin raised the issue of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) between Ukraine and the EU during his talks in Antalya, most likely in order to insist that its implementation be further postponed beyond January 1, 2016. The chairwoman of the Federation Council, Valentina Matviyenko, while talking with Gerard Larcher, the president of the French senate on 18th November, made the improvement in relations between Moscow and Europe dependent on the sanctions being lifted.

▪ Moscow is hoping that in the aftermath of the attacks in Paris the balance of power on the Western European political scene will change. Conservative, nationalist, anti-immigration and anti-US ideas will gain popularity and this will strengthen those parties and groupings (and perhaps even help them ascend to power) that seem ready to take into account Russian interests and are inclined to adopt slogans calling for Europe’s ‘emancipation’ from the American domination (the Front National in France, the AfD in Germany and Lega Nord in Italy).

Serious question---CAN Hollande see this or does he actually agree with Putin---thinks so based on recent comments he has made concerning Russia....

Outlaw 09

Fri, 11/20/2015 - 7:34am

A little "mess" humor..........

The Putin Plan:
1) continue Ukraine invasion
2) talk about fighting ISIL...but nothing more than talk...
3) actually bomb Syrian civilians
4) demand sanctions be lifted

Outlaw 09

Fri, 11/20/2015 - 6:57am

Russia is in a war of extermination vs the non Assad-controlled parts of Syria. The fight against ISIS is at best a side effect if it was the real reason to begin with.

Putin has now fully committed Russia to support the revolutionary Islam as practiced by Iran globally against the global Sunni community...

Core question for Obama who got the Syrian civil society into this he willing to stand up and call a spade now a spade and openly state the Russian AF strikes targeting civilians and critical infrastructure is an open and clear act of state sponsored war crimes.....

Seriously doubt it.....he needs evidently Putin for his legacy.

Clearly stated far more Syrians have been killed and wounded by Assad and now Putin than what Islamic State has contributed to in the last 4.5 years.

Outlaw 09

Fri, 11/20/2015 - 6:49am

In reply to by Outlaw 09

MORE evidence that Putin is now just into killing Syrian civilians and really does not care at all about attacking Islamic State so all of his comments pertaining to IS were just lies to lull the West into allowing him to invade Syria and protect Assad, Iran and the Hezbollah land bridge between Lebanon and Iran ie the Green Crescent.

Of the TU-160 cruise missile barrage it fired today ONLY THREE landed near Raqqa with no damage what so ever BUT the remaining targeted Syrian civilians and the FSA.

Russia just keeps on killing civilians as if they simply do not matter in their attempt to keep Assad in power and stopping FSA.

5 dead- among them 2 children & mother after impact of #Russia'n cruise missile in Mir'ian village #Idlib

Injured girl after impact of #Russia'n cruise missile in Ayn al-Arus village /#Idlib

Russia'n airstrike target radio tower in rebel hold part of #Daraa city southern #Syria

Russia'n cruise missile attack target Mount al-Zawiya in #Idlib #Syria again
- far away from #IslamicState (130km)
The moment Russian cruise missile hit Midan al-Ghazal village western Mount Zawiya #Idlib.

Russia'n cruise missile hit industrial area in #Aleppo suburb Hayyan

Russia'n cruise missile in low flight above northern #Hama/#Idlib #Syria … …

Remains of Putin strategic missiles hit Darat Azzah vlge in NW #Aleppo 50km away from #ISIL

One of Putin cruise missiles hit and completely destroyed this School in Kansafra village. Thanks God its Friday..

Russia'n cruise missile hit Conserve Factory at western entrance of #Idlib city

6 Russian cruise missiles hit al-Bara and Kansafra outskirts in Mount Zawiya #Idlib today.

Syria malfunction of #Russia'n cruise missile- exploding in the air over #Idlib

6 #Russia'n cruise missiles hit #Idlib towns this morning
so far only some damage & injured

AND this is the nation that Obama seriously believes will assist him in resolving Syria???????

Think again is all I can say as the actions of Putin speak volumes of his actual intentions...

Outlaw 09

Fri, 11/20/2015 - 6:20am

Even Putin is "messed up in Syria".........

Appears as if Russia meaning Putin's own RuAF CANNOT for the life of themselves and all their GRU intelligence....CANNOT find Islamic State positions in all of Syria.....just how strange is that???

70 km from ISIS
RussianAirForce Tu-160 with escort over northern Hama prov.

Putin's RuAF is flying again in the wrong direction---makes one really ask the core question WHY would any nation join his "coalition" if his own AF CANNOT find IS and strictly bombs and kills civilians....who wants to join a war criminal in action outside of maybe the French......?

65 km to the next ISIS main territory.
Intense RussianAirstrikes on civilians in the liberated parts of Daraa city.[/B]

Outlaw 09

Fri, 11/20/2015 - 2:47am

30 Shia militia groups are fighting for Assad in Syria. The foreign jihadists that don’t concern the world.

Appears to be an unusual definition these days of what a terrorist is or is not.

Russia kills 8K in eastern Ukraine via their mercenaries and these mercenaries are not terrorists..... along with Russian destruction of the eastern Ukraine, stealing complete factories, stealing whole grain harvests and hundreds of tons of coal are not terrorists......

Hamas and Hezbollah are not terrorists per Russian FM statements.....

Iran sending IRGC into Syria to kill Syrians are not terrorists.....

Russian air strikes killing between 20-200 Syrian civilians daily and targeting hospitals, schools and residential areas using dumb bombs, cluster munitions and WP are not terrorists.........

Assad's genocide against his own civil society killing over 300K, wounding 1.2M and creating up to 11M IDPs and refugees is not a terrorist......

BUT the only lonely group that are terrorists is IS--what a strange world.

Outlaw 09

Thu, 11/19/2015 - 12:43pm

The mess just keeps on getting messier.....

Today's NYT, page 1: 2012 DIA report predicting ISIS caliphate 'disregarded by the White House,' didn't 'meet the narrative.'

Outlaw 09

Thu, 11/19/2015 - 12:13pm

OK---now is getting bad when IS starts to agree with MSM and social media....

Putin in Syria: Even ISIS Says Russia Is Not Bombing ISIS

THEN this......

Putin appears preparing to attack Saudi Arabia and Qatar next, Illarionov says

BLUF....this is the third comment coming from three different sources leaning towards Russian attacks on KSA...maybe just a scare tactic by Russia against the KSA due to the large number of TOWs KSA has delivered to the FSA.

BUT with oil now heading to 40USD and lower---anything that raises the price will do for Russia.....

Outlaw 09

Thu, 11/19/2015 - 11:32am

Well worth reading this thoroughly......…

Remember since 2008 Putin has stated repeatedly his three core geopolitical goals;
1. discredit and damage NATO
2. discredit and damage the EU
3. completely disconnect the US from Europe and the ME

Why--Putin wants a new Yalta dividing the world into two spheres with Russian controlling Europe and the ME.

After Paris, Putin Offers the West a Three-Part Deal He Thinks It Can’t Refuse, Yakovenko Says

November 19, 2015

Staunton, November 16 In the wake of the Paris tragedy, Vladimir Putin, Moscow officials and Russian commentators have precisely duplicated “the classical model of behavior of a racketeer,” pointing out to the West that because “you didn’t want to pay, now look how your store is burning to the ground,” according to Ukrainian commentator Igor Yakovenko.

But in this case, he says, the West is being called to “pay” with a different kind of currency. First, in Putin’s view, “the West must reject its own principles and chief among them freedom.” Second, “the West must hand over Ukraine to Putin.” And third, “the West must recognize the division of the world into two zones” one of which is to be governed by Russia.

That may seem like a sweeping conclusion to some, but Yakovenko backs it up with quotations from a wide variety of people in Moscow that suggests if anything he has understated Putin’s idea of a deal. Among them are the following:

· Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said that “we hope that the events in Paris will put everything in its place and significantly change the ranking of priorities in Washington and other NATO capitals.”

· Patriarch Kirill’s protégé, Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin said that after Paris, “the world must forget about tolerance.”

· Sergey Markov, a member of the Russian Civic Chamber, wrote that “it is necessary to end the conflict of Russia and the West as a result of Ukraine. The junta must be replaced by a technical president. The constitution must be changed…the Kyiv junta is one of the main obstacles for the joint struggle of the US, the EU and Russia against terrorism.”

· Igor Karaulov, a poet and commentator, wrote in Izvestiya that “the closing of borders and the introduction of martial law” show the way to the future. If France follows them by electing Marine LePen “and sets up a national French government, based on traditional values, then it will be possible to find some solution of the problems presented by migrants.” Zakhar Prilepin, a writer, seconded that opinion. With LePen in power, “Russia will have a most powerful ally in Europe and then we will talk.”

· The writer Eduard Limonov, also in Izvestiya said that once again Russians are being asked to “save the world.” The costs will be high but not as high as in World War II, hundreds of thousands of dead rather than millions.

· Maksim Shevchenko, a Moscow commentator, immediately after the attacks in Paris focused on the Charlie Hebdo case as a way of suggesting that those who had died in Paris had in large measure brought it upon themselves. TV host Dmitry Kiselyev said much the same thing.

· Moscow political analyst Pavel Svyatenkov was more explicit: he wrote in Izvestiya that “France has sowed the wind and is now reaping the whirlwind.”

· Duma Deputy Irina Yarovaya said on a Sunday talk show that what Russia faces now is “the attack of American anti-democratism” and that just as everyone united against Hitlerism 70 years ago, they will do the same against the American threat.

· Senator Igor Morozov observed that “since the Americans cannot be the guarantor of security, Russia and Europe must establish a unified Europe, the key link of which is Russia.”

· Political analyst Dmitry Kulikov insisted that “our fate is Eurasian” and thus Russia must organize “Eurasian security” to include the countries of the Middle East.

· And orientalist Ruslan Kurbatov said that the news since Paris was good as far as Moscow is concerned: “First, we have seized the initiative from the US, and second, Europe is ready to reach agreement with us.”

Outlaw 09

Thu, 11/19/2015 - 11:29am

Russian dreams again of the West fully accepting Assad to remain in power after the death and destruction he has caused the Sunni majority.....?????

Question is ---will in fact Obama cave and allow Assad to remain although the Sunni Front States have set the bar at the height of he has to go before anything else is decided.

Russia: Paris attacks changed West’s views on #Assad

Thursday, 19 November 2015

The Paris attacks have helped the West understand that the priority in Syria is to fight ISIS not to topple President Bashar al-Assad, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday, according to Russian agencies.

Lavrov reiterated Moscow’s position that there was no way to solve the Syria crisis peacefully without Assad, who he said represented the interests of a significant part of Syrian society.

Meanwhile, Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem plans to visit Russia on Nov. 25, Sputnik news agency reported on Thursday, citing Syria’s embassy in Moscow.

Walid al-Moualem will visit Russia next week for talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov about his country’s crisis and the struggle against terrorism, RIA news agency reported on Wednesday.

Coordination with France

Russia’s chief of general staff held talks with his French counterpart on Thursday on combating ISIS in Syria, in the first such contact since the start of the Ukraine conflict last year.

Valery Gerasimov and Pierre de Villiers “discussed on the phone the coordination of military troops’ actions against ISIS terrorists in Syria,” the Russian defence ministry said in a statement, adding that the conversation lasted an hour.

The two military chiefs “exchanged their evaluations of the current situation in the country” following calls to unite efforts against ISIS group by presidents Vladimir Putin and Francois Hollande.

“The terrorist acts in Paris and on board of the Russian passenger plane are links of one chain,” Gerasimov was shown by state television as saying on the phone to his French colleague.

“Our grief and our wrath must help join efforts of Russia and France in the fight against international terrorism.”

Putin on Tuesday ordered his navy in the eastern Mediterranean to cooperate with a group of French ships set to arrive in the area Friday and “treat them as allies,” which would be the first such joint operation since World War II.

De Villiers and Jean-Yves Le Drian, the defence minister of NATO member France, had no contact with Russian counterparts since Moscow annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in March 2014, according to a French source familiar with the situation.

Moscow and Paris announced close cooperation against the Islamic State group following the bombing of a Russian airliner over Egypt and the attacks in the French capital, which killed 224 and 129 people respectively.

Outlaw 09

Thu, 11/19/2015 - 10:23am

This is the Russia/Putin Hollande wants the US to work with in Syria....

Daraa 20-30 dead workers after Assad-forces hit olive press in Shayk_Maskin

All Russia seems to understand is how to kill civilians following the mantra if I kill enough then they will come to the table and accept what I dictate to them....

BLUF.. Putin did the exact same thing in eastern Ukraine --destroying critical infrastructure and housing, stealing complete factories, complete grain harvests and literally hundreds of tons of coal, killing over 8K Ukrainians, and forcing 1.2M into being refugees and or IDPs.

AND there Hollande, Merkel and Obama never said a single word.

Actually those famous words in 2014 from Obama will haunt him in the history books...."we will judge Putin on his actions not his words".

Notice the similarities????

AND we even debate the mess......?

Outlaw 09

Thu, 11/19/2015 - 6:56am

Now a total mess with France becoming the second voice for Putin in Syria...gentle reminder for the French--Hollande has repeatedly state he thinks the Ukrainians should talk with the Russian mercenaries in eastern Ukraine....SO does this mean Hollande is going to talk now to IS in Syria??

France has always driven a parallel track with Putin that does not represent often what the EU/NATO or US would support currently with Putin first in the Ukraine and now in Syria....

#Russia brings in new @UN resolution, called "anti-ISIS".
It is indeed "pro-Assad", calls for "coordination" with the regime.

Here we go...
We stopped caring about reality.
France becomes 2nd spokesperson of the Kremlin.

BREAKING France says Russia is open to cooperation over Islamic State in Syria. AFP

Assad to Rai:
“If we talk after that,one year and a half to two years is enough for any transition.”

Outlaw 09

Thu, 11/19/2015 - 6:49am

Inferno in KafrNabudah.
New Russian cluster ammunition destroys town.

Appears Russian tactics are to bomb the Assad opposition onto the negotiation table and to totally keep Assad in power--there is not other explanation for the sheer destruction of Sunni areas and targeting civilians other than outright this being terror attacks.

AND what do we hear from Obama and his 700 person NSC....not a single word about the possibility of a war crime being committed with the use of WP against civilian targets....but wait Putin will argue IS was there ...but wait IS is only 145kms from this location.......

So why cannot a nation state being declared a sponsor of terror just as we state IS is a non state terrorist org.??

Outlaw 09

Wed, 11/18/2015 - 12:25pm

In reply to by Outlaw 09

Messier and messier and messier...........

Andrew Roth @ARothWP
There is one unverified report that joint session of Russian parliament will ask Putin on Friday to launch ground operations in Syria.

Outlaw 09

Wed, 11/18/2015 - 11:49am

In reply to by Outlaw 09

This goes to the heart of the Obama mess in Syria and just about everywhere else these days.......

The US is "sending mixed messages" on Syria to its partners and allies in the Middle East, according to @Begumdonmez #ACsummit

Appears the WH is just as confused as Putin is on where exactly IS is inside Syria........

Outlaw 09

Wed, 11/18/2015 - 11:38am

The mess just keeps on getting messier..................

Russia combat troops are now engaged in the ground fighting NOT against IS anywhere in Syria BUT against those that want Assad out of Syria--the FSA.

120th Guards artillery brigade is in Mahin, Syria providing "fire support."

A "Holy War" now being fought by Russian ground troops---not a Russian to be seen anywhere near, close to and or even within 200kms of any IS position anywhere inside Syria.

So has Putin been largely lying to the entire world and Obama wants to work with a "lie"........"we Russians are fighting to destroy IS anywhere anyplace by any what Putin stated yesterday.

Outlaw 09

Wed, 11/18/2015 - 11:22am

Putin the ‘Only Defender of Christianity’ – Bashar Assad

Middle East
10:26 18.11.2015(updated 10:45 18.11.2015)

Syrian President Bashar Assad considers Russia’s Vladimir Putin as the “only defender of Christian civilization one can trust.”

“When I look at the present state of things in the world I realize that Vladimir Putin is the sole defender of Christian civilization one can rely on,” Assad said in an interview with French magazine Valeurs Actuelles.

The Syrian leader also said that he would step down only if asked to by the Syrian people and the Syrian parliament, adding that the issue of his possible resignation had not yet been raised on an international level.

Syria will only share intelligence information with France if Paris changes its policies in the region, President Assad said.

"If the French government is not serious in its fight against terrorism, we will not waste our time collaborating with a country, government or an institution that supports terrorism," he noted in the interview carried out the day after Friday's deadly attacks in Paris.

"You have to first change policy so that it is based on one criteria, to be part of an alliance that joins countries only fighting terrorism and not supporting them," Assad added.

More than 220,000 Syrians have lost their lives in four-and-a-half years of armed conflict, which began with anti-government protests before escalating into a full-scale civil war.

More than 11 million others have been forced from their homes as forces loyal to President Bashar Assad and those opposed to his rule battle each other — as well as jihadist militants from Islamic State and the al-Nusra Front.

BLUF--appears if Obama supports Putin we are now in the so called "clash of civilizations era"....

BTW--the Russian Orthodox Church did call for the "Holy War" in Syria least the WH forget that small point in all of this.....

Outlaw 09

Wed, 11/18/2015 - 11:04am

Iran sending designated terrorists into #Syria. What will #Russia do about it?…

BUT wait did not Iran and the US do an Iran Deal and Iran was to supposedly stop being a state sponsor of terrorism?????

And one wonders why there is a US mess in Syria??? do we ourselves even understand who we are and are not supporting at the moment especially since Iraqi Shia militia are using US weapons in Syria but we cannot ship TOWs to the Ukrainians.......

Outlaw 09

Wed, 11/18/2015 - 11:01am

In reply to by Outlaw 09

VIDEO Russian use of unguided OFAB 250-270 Bombs shows no care for civilian deaths

ALSO just what would the US be joining with Russia---Putin who declared his own war on IS and shouts to the world that he is attacking IS SEEMS to be focused totally in a different direction--attacking US supported moderate forces fighting against Assad.

As I thought!
Seems #Russia "missed" #ISIS -as always- by 200 kilometers, bombing #Latakia.

Outlaw 09

Wed, 11/18/2015 - 6:44am

Obama cannot be truly contemplating working together with Putin.....?

Some stated that he was so inclined after the Iran Deal as a payback for the so called Russian assistance.........

"Senior US officials have raised serious concerns over joint action with Russia - say Moscow's appetite for civilian casualties much higher."

Seems that no one fully understands that such a position would firmly anchor the US perception wise as well as the blunt reality--being pro Shia in a country that is 70% Sunni and who is rebelling against Assad.

Notice Obama has not said a single word about Iraqi Shia militias fighting in Syria against the FSA and using US weapons provided to Iraqi for the defense of Iraq......not a single word.

We are up to four destroyed US Humvees...and there are solid rumors of Abrams tanks also in Syria...all flown there by the RuAF.

Outlaw 09

Tue, 11/17/2015 - 11:25am

Putin has been pushing for a "new Yalta"---seems he has gotten it and more.

The Ukraine now fully falls under Russian influence as well as the entire ME.

Yury Barmin ‏@yurybarmin
12 TU-22 bombers struck Raqqa & Deir Ez-Zor at 5AM and 4PM today. 5 TU-95 and 6 TU-160 launched 34 missiles at 9AM. All flew in from Mozdok

Yury Barmin ‏@yurybarmin
THIS: Moscow is massively expanding its operation in Syria, will add 25 strategic long-range bombers, launching strikes from bases in Russia

Yury Barmin ‏@yurybarmin
Just to make it clear, Moscow wouldn't have admitted Sinai crash was a terrorist act unless it was sure it can use it in its favor in Syria

Yury Barmin ‏@yurybarmin
Note a major shift in Moscow's rhetoric: From Assad's request to intervene in Syria to Russia's own right to self-defense.

Yury Barmin ‏@yurybarmin
Important: Putin has just ordered to intensify the Russian operation in Syria, says Russia to exercise its UN right for self-defense.

SYRIA: Russia claims to have destroyed 140 facilities belonging to 'terrorists' today. - Interfax.

BREAKING: #Putin orders Def Min to co-operate with French naval group in #Syria as allies - @RT_com

BREAKING: French President Hollande to meet Obama Nov. 24 in Washington, Putin in Moscow Nov. 26 - AP

Outlaw 09

Tue, 11/17/2015 - 11:04am

This is now just how badly Syria and the administrations foreign policy is messed up......

If we accept this statement at face value from Putin and this individual has been extremely correct in the past.....JUST why not has the US not shipped TOWs to the Ukraine with the same exact argument--that the Ukraine invaded by Russia in August 2014 has the same right to defend itself under the UN charter as does Russia invading Syria to destroy IS but attacking someone else.

Yury Barmin ‏@yurybarmin
Important: Putin has just ordered to intensify the Russian operation in Syria, says Russia to exercise its UN right for self-defense.

Outlaw 09

Tue, 11/17/2015 - 6:39am

Just how badly does Obama and Kerry want to damage US foreign policy--by allowing Putin out of the dog house does not stop his killing of Ukrainians, get back Crimea, and or stop their bombing and killing Syrians nor does it stop him in his drive the replace the US both in Europe and the ME using non linear warfare.

This could be big: #CIA head calls for "enhanced" intel relationship between US and Russia…

Remember it was the same Russian MoD that is bombing the US supported FSA and it is the same Russian MoD that recently stated they knew everything going on in if they know everything then why exchange intel???

Outlaw 09

Tue, 11/17/2015 - 6:31am

Let's no even talk about the utter mess made by DoS Kerry in Vienna and Obama in the G20 by elevating Putin.....

DoS Kerry failure in Vienna---the KSA is definitely not onboard so to speak with the ideas being pushed by Kerry and Obama--nothing will happen until Assad leaves now---Sunni Front States are adamant on that point.

Saudi FM: We have talked about a political transition in a document that is 3 pages & we are missing a 4 letter word, A S S A D...

Listen to Saudi FM that seems to be not happy w/outcome of latest Syria conference in Vienna (He speaks in English)

Outlaw 09

Tue, 11/17/2015 - 6:09am

Now Obama has a real mess on his hands--try explaining to Congress that weapons provided to the Iraqi's for the defense of Iraq are being used by Shia militias fighting anti Assad forces (FSA) in Syria after being flown there by Russia AF transports........

JaF seized 2 #US Humvees + BMP from #Iraq'i Shiite militias in southern rural #Aleppo -another destroyed …

So US made tanks also deployed? Looks like rebels had too confirm this by their own. Shia militia didnt show any.
Video is coming once confirmed visually....

Iranian soldiers (IRGC) are present at the following battlefronts:
Southern Aleppo
Eastern Aleppo
Northeastern Latakia
Southern Damascus

Obama seems to be unable to provide the Ukraine TOWS to defend themselves from Russian tanks and IFVs BUT he can provide armed HUMVEES and Abrams tanks to the Iraqi Shia militias fighting in Syria.......

Outlaw 09

Mon, 11/16/2015 - 3:40pm

This is a perfect example of the total mess Obama has the US in Syria in....

Great find by @green_lemonnn!
So Iranian proxies brought in US arms via the BGW-ALP air bridge with Russian planes.

Shame we cannot fire Obama and Kerry and replace them with 3rd year IR students who might actually have some ideas that might in fact work......

Feinstein breaks now with Obama..........
“I read the intelligence faithfully. ISIL is not contained. ISIL is expanding.” | Getty

Russia scores just another point: Australia excluded from Syria peace talks after #Kremlin objection. Unbelievable how naive the West is

Outlaw 09

Mon, 11/16/2015 - 2:37pm

What an utter waste of the taxpayers money to send DoS Kerry anywhere as he always agrees with the Russians on just about anything.....

Michael O'Hanlon: Kerry's Syria peace talks in Vienna are "almost hopeless" and "counterproductive." @BrookingsFP

Outlaw 09

Mon, 11/16/2015 - 2:35pm

In reply to by RantCorp

Your make an interesting comment...notice the distinct lack of Obama using the word genocide when he talks about Assad or that Russia is a state sponsor of terrorism inside eastern Ukraine for the killing of 8K Ukrainians and creating over 2M refugees and IDPs...wonder why that is??

We jump like crazy when non state actors act out but when nation states act out no one calls them on it........


Sun, 11/15/2015 - 3:29pm


It's interesting to speculate what the reaction would be if you pointed out that for the last two years more than twice as many civilians die every day in Syria than were killed in the Paris atrocity. 129x730x2=188340 dead.


Outlaw 09

Sun, 11/15/2015 - 8:16am

Appears the proxy fighters of the US have other intentions than does the US---Kurds now destroying Sunni property just because it is Arabic---this does not bode well for this form of proxy support.

Houses marked "Sunni" set alight in Singar

Outlaw 09

Sun, 11/15/2015 - 8:30am

Yesterday was another abject FP failure day for both Kerry and Obama--think about it Russia got JaN declared a terrorist group---JaN is basically everyway in the rebel areas SO this basically was the US handing Putin the virtual rights to continue the bombings and further killing of civilians.

Yesterday released from JaN who is fighting right now hard against Iranian troops and yes even Islamic State....

Video: Captured Hezbollah Soldiers — “Few Regime Troops in Aleppo Offensive, Iranians in Command”

Jabhat al-Nusra has posted video claiming to be of three Hezbollah fighters captured in southern Aleppo Province.

The fighters said that almost all of the fighting in the offensive is being carried out by Hezbollah, Iranian, Iraqi, and Afghan troops: “The Iranians are in command and control of the battle.”

Does the US leadership ever learn------not really...

"Looks like nothing was achieved at the Vienna talks. Just a bunch of hot air with Russians getting everything they want..."

Obama talks a great FP but when it comes to supporting and or protecting a civil society---nothing.....we have seen it in eastern Ukraine and now again in Syria.

Syrians under Assad regime siege mostly have no electricity, & barrel bombed daily, hold night vigil for Paris

After 300K killed Syrians, 1.2M wounded and another 11M either refugees and or IDPs----one would think Obama and Kerry might just be a tad more aggressive in defending their own moral beliefs especially an anti war leader and VN veteran ie Kerry.

After this one has to ask themselves do Obama and Kerry really understand Syria--not a single comment on the Russian/Assad killing of civilians, targeting and the destruction of schools and hospitals--not a single word--nothing in Vienna 2, nothing in the UNSC and absolutely nothing at the G20.

MORE Russian air strikes on schools and civilians.....
RussianAirStrikes hit a school in Maarat al-Numan in #Idlib suburbs,killing 3children and injuring scores of others

"Um Maher" a #Syrian woman displaced from #Damascus, lost 2 children in the war & now fights with rebels in #Idlib.

Aleppo: a squadron of 14 Russian jets flying over rebel held southern Aleppo...I mean seriously wt heck is going on now? Has Obama agreed with Russia that they can just carpet bomb everyone in Aleppo?
Idlib: Russians bombing Khan Sheikhoun, it looks like they've been given or have themselves green light to bomb anyone they want

NOTICE that at the same exact time the Russians are in a massive violation of the very agreement they pushed Minsk 2 with increased ceasefire violations--over 30 attacks yesterday alone--and Obama talks and talks and talks.

Outlaw 09

Sun, 11/15/2015 - 3:38am

Here is the perfect example of the split personality of the Russia ie Putin that Obama is totally failing to understand just as he does not fully understand the IS form of UW especially when the info war element is the key to countering IS.

Yesterday this was trending all day in comments in official Russia media.....

Russia's proposed solution—send the whites to Russia, let non-whites of Africa & Asia tear up what's left of Europe

Russia's media: Europe is being told by the U.S. to take in refugees as part of the plot to later unleash them on Russia through #Ukraine.

Here is the source referenced in 3 previous Tweets:…

Outlaw 09

Sat, 11/14/2015 - 2:53pm

I have been saying since the Crimea that this administration has absolutely no foreign policy strategy to handle Putin, eastern Ukraine and now Syria.

Hope was the core policy. But prayer is the insurance policy.

SecKerry on Assad agreeing to Syria transition: "I hope it will happen, I pray it will happen because if it doesn't, this war won't end."

Assad Fueled The Al-Qaeda [ISIS] Surge That Has Kept Him In Power.

Social media comments coming out of Syria from the “moderates”—another view we often do not want to hear and or read

I just heard the Vienna proposal, transition in 6 months, no mention of Assad stepping down. Ceasefire, but continue to fight ISIS another rumour I heard is they will be fighting Nusra too. If that's the case then it's a bull#### proposal.

what can be gained by it? Assad hangs on, Nusra that's fighting both ISIS & Assad gets targeted, for what? They didn't strike abroad Nusra might be al Qaeda affiliated but they've fiercely fought both Assad & ISIS & never attacked the west.

the smart move by Nusra now would be to sever ties with Al Qaeda. It doesn't gain anything by it, it was a stupid move to begin with. This would mean Assad gets to kill almost half a million ppl & the ppl he radicalized by crimes he committed against them be punished

Anyway it's ppl on the ground that matter, Syrians have got to stop letting Obama hijack their revolution when he's working against them Obama has to be cut out of the equation, Qatar, Saudi & Turkey have to stop letting Obama tie their hands & Rebels need to unite Obama couldn't get anything over the Russians, he agreed for 6 months transition, agreed Assad could stay, agreed Russian intervention...

allowed Iraqi militias with US weapons to flood to Syria, trained 50 Rebels, told them they can't fight Assad or pro Iran militias he didnt do anything after CW attack in 2013, couldn't stop further sarin & mustard gas attacks or barrel bombs or install NFZ or buffer

Outlaw 09

Sat, 11/14/2015 - 2:01pm

The US WH/Obama FP confusion over Putin, eastern Ukraine and Syria stems from a total lack of any strategy for anything.

I have been saying this here at SWJ since the beginning --ie Crimea.

Hope is the core policy. But prayer is the insurance policy.

SecKerry on Assad agreeing to Syria transition: "I hope it will happen, I pray it will happen because if it doesn't, this war won't end."

Outlaw 09

Sat, 11/14/2015 - 10:41am

In the current Russian/Syrian info war I often mention the key is social media that is so necessary to "win" daily against the Russian/Syrian/Iranian/IS info warfare.

Last night I was able to match the social media reporting out of Paris in virtually real time to that being carried by MSM, Sky, Reuters, BBC or even the old standby CNN.

Social media was tens of minutes faster and far more accurate than anything MSM was putting together with had long periods of just chatter not information critical to those on the streets of Paris......

Extremely interesting to watch how social media was so cautious in their reporting and attempted to report accurately and without emotion as the killing unfolded in Paris.

Sheer speed and accuracy was the difference.....

Just a side note:
@BBCBreaking and @cnni quoting "social media" on fresh news reports.
Evolution of journalism.

Social media is the key to defeating information warfare regardless who uses it.