Twitter and email info

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Russians wasting no time building up military presence in Syria, and at the same time expanding diplomatic activities in Iraq.

Links: A. Russian military hardware increasingly present on Satellite Imagery.
           B. Russians coordinating militarily in Baghdad with Iranians and militias.

Vladimir Putin has wasted no time in committing Russia militarily to the conflict in Syria.  Northeastern Syria, including Hama Province, the strategically important al-Ghab Valley, and the large port city of Latakia.  In the last year, ISIS made inroads in this part of Syria, which is home to the politically influential Alawite community, and the Assad family home.  These successes came at the expense of regime forces, and increased pressure on Assad to act.  Within the last six months, Jabhat al-Nusra (JN), the armed militia that is aligned with Al-Qaeda, has complicated the issue by repeatedly defeating ISIS in Hama Province, and occupying towns that were formerly under ISIS control.  As for Assad and the pressure exerted by the Alawite community, regime forces have been increased and air sorties have become much more frequent.  The question is, who are they bombing, JN or ISIS?  I assume at this point it doesn't matter, since both groups are opposed to the Ba'ath Party and Bashar al-Assad.  As if the scenario wasn't crowded enough, the Russians appear to have chosen northeastern Syria as the location for their initial military foothold.  Besides the troops and supplies that have already arrived in Latakia, new satellite imagery identifies a number of Russian jets on the tarmac at Bassel al-Assad Airport/Airbase in Latakia (the Airport was named after the late brother of de facto Syrian President Bashar al-Assad).  Visible on the imagery are a number of SU-30SM (multi-role fighter), SU-24 (all-weather attack/interdictor), SU-25 (close air support), HIND-24 (attack helicopter, and an IL-76 (strategic airlift).  It would appear that the Russians almost have enough air power present in Latakia to kick the shit out of both JN and ISIS, at least in northeast Syria.  But we can expect to see many more air elements before the Russian military takes the offensive.

As an indication that Putin is determined to go after ISIS in Iraq as well, Russian and Iranian military officials have set up a military coordination cell in Baghdad.  This development is the best news to hit the capital in some time, as a Russian military presence almost totally discounts the possibility of Baghdad falling to ISIS.  But this depends on the Russians making a firm military commitment in Iraq as they are doing in Syria.  Working with the Iranian military and Shi'a militias in Baghdad are a clear indication that Putin sees Russia's conflict with ISIS to be international and not limited to Syria.  This makes sense; for Putin to be declared the hero who vanquished ISIS and saved the lives of all the Syrian migrants who would have drowned, it is necessary to defeat ISIS in its entirety.  We have evidence of Putin's determination and long-term strategic thinking, which leads us to believe that Russia will commit itself completely to this campaign.  The media in Moscow is already onboard, with news stories about their international hero-President, again being thrust into the danger zone, to tackle an enemy that has totally emasculated Barack Obama and the west.  In recent weeks, state-sponsored media in Russia has made repeated references to the absolute determination of the United States to avoid American "boots on the ground."  No doubt the brave Russian soldier isn't frightened of ISIS. 

At the end of the day, Putin and Russia are filling a hugely important role.  Every second of every day, the Islamic State (ISIS) becomes stronger, and expands its global footprint.  Billions of dollars in funds continue to fill their coffers, with the identity of the originators always unknown.  Actually, intelligence organizations across the globe have had little difficulty tracing much of the funding for ISIS to Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E., Kuwait, and Bahrain.  Its not politically correct to make any public accusations, but the host governments are aware of the problem.  The dilemma is, exactly how do ancient Arab royal families govern themselves?  How does a multi-millionaire nephew instruct his older, more influential multi-millionaire uncle how to spend his money?  If the Russian military begins to make short-work of ISIS, which is what we expect, the funding will dry up on its own, and ISIS will have to go to ground, mirroring Al-Qaida.

No comments:

Post a Comment