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Monday, September 28, 2015

Incoherent, ineffective U.S. policy in Syria and Iraq continues to create opportunity for Iran and Russia.

Links: A. Putin steps up rhetoric against the West.
           B. Russia, Iran and Iraq set up military joint coordination cell.

Everyday the media presents the international community with another example of motivated, well-planned Russian activity vis-à-vis Syria and Iraq.  Three weeks ago, the Russians announced their intention to become directly militarily involved in Syria, and since that time every day brings additional evidence of the arrival in Syria of Russian troops, personnel accommodation, artillery, mobile surface-to-air units, tanks, and air resources.  Week-by-week, northeastern Syria, so recently threatened by both ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, becomes more militarized; soon we can expect to see Russian jets flying sorties against ISIS positions.  Putin has already demanded that the Allied Air Coalition, led by the United States, must coordinate its activities with Russia, although he made no mention of advising the Pentagon regarding Russian military deployments in Syria.  Interestingly, the Russians are becoming more active in Iraq, having the confidence to openly announce the creation of a joint military coordination cell.  Given that the Russians have recently started construction on two large military bases on the border with Ukraine, and that negotiations are underway for the creation of a Russian Air Base in Belarus, the events we are witnessing are obviously part of a much broader, long-term strategy which is aimed at eclipsing the United States as the world superpower, and they couldn't have asked for a more compliant U.S. president.

Putin has managed to push Ukraine completely off of the headlines, which is one goal achieved, and his willingness to accept the mantle of "defender of the west" against ISIS will do wonders in reforming his image in Europe.  The Russian diplomatic maneuvers, including the establishment of the Baghdad military coordination cell, alongside the relaxation of tension in Ukraine and the building of military bases, obviously point to the existence of a much more intensive Russian agenda.  Putin has signed on with Iran, who will play a pivotal role in the new world that Putin envisions.  Russia has fought hard in the United Nations on Iran's behalf.  Any one of a dozen efforts to punish Iran for violating international treaty regarding their nuclear research, could have put the Iranians back another decade from their end goal.  But Russia stepped in as they always do when creating a client state (see Hafez al-Assad and Syria), and blocked any real effort to bring the Iranians into compliance.  Russia realized that it was only time until Barack Obama, in search of a "Legacy" event, would step up and lead the emasculated Europeans right into a Treaty with Iran which requires nothing of Tehran, and gives them what they most need: not continued nuclear research, but access to the international arms market sans sanctions.  Now that Russia has declared her intentions in Syria (to defeat ISIS), Turkey and the United States had better be prepared for the damage coming vis-à-vis the proposed "ISIS-free zone".  Turkey will give Russia a free-hand in Syria for the moment, in order to not compromise the all-important natural gas pipeline plan, even though watching Assad use up another one of his nine lives must be driving Erdogan bananas.  And the United States?  As long as Obama is in office, Putin, Iran and Russia have an open playing field.  You see, Obama will not take any action that might endanger his legacy nuclear treaty with Iran.  He knows that many Iranians, especially in the religious extremist community, are opposed to any treaty with "The Great Satan".  He will not approve any diplomatic or military action that might offend the Iranians.

There can be no doubt that Russia intends to make martyrs out of ISIS in both Syria and Iraq.  Expect Iranian activity in Iraq to increase dramatically in the next few months, with the possibility of Iranian troops either swelling the ranks of the militias incognito, or with the intrusion into Iraq of the Iranian Army at the invitation of the Iraqi govt.  Very soon the political stalemate in Baghdad will work itself out, with one of three outcomes: first, the Abadi govt. holds firm, but the failure of the Iranian Security Forces in Ramadi and the real threat to the capital posed by ISIS compels Abadi to welcome Iranian military involvement; second, Abadi falls and is replaced by a compliant, pro-Iranian govt., which immediately begins to cross the Iran/Iraq border; or third, the Iranians just do as the wish and cross the border on their own schedule, as the United States won't complain much.  The next month will probably provide an ample supply of fireworks, and demonstrate just how prostrate the United States has become internationally.


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