Twitter and email info

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Assad taking full advantage of Russian airpower to hammer internal opposition, regain lost territory.

Link: Russian airstrikes aimed at supporting Syrian regime offensive.

In an interview with state-run Russian media, Vladimir Putin concedes that Russia's intervention in Syria is intended to "stabilize the legitimate government" of de facto President Bashar al-Assad.  Only from Putin's perspective can the rule of Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian Ba'ath Party be considered legitimate.  Just how unpopular with the Syrian people is Assad?  Before the arrival of opportunistic ISIS on the Syrian battlefield, Assad had more than a dozen internal opposition groups that had taken up arms to remove him from power.  In the beginning, there was hope that Assad would fall as quickly as the other despots during the Arab Spring, but infighting amongst the opposition, which included the sometimes-difficult Kurds, allowed Assad to survive one military defeat after another.  The battlefield losses sustained by regime forces culminated in the capture by ISIS of Tabqa Air Force Base and at least two MIG 21B fighters in late August 2014.  Putin's strategy to focus on the Syrian opposition as opposed to ISIS supports two goals.  Assad has unleashed an offensive in northwest Syria in support of the vocal Alawite minority that has long been a loyal supporter, and Russian airpower has been laying waste to Syrian opposition positions standing in the way of the regime offensive.  More importantly, Putin is taking advantage of the current malaise in Washington DC to decimate the only U.S. allies on the ground in Syria.  If Putin had elected to conduct a more balanced air campaign, with equal number of ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra targets as Syrian opposition, then opposition to Russia's action might have had time to coalesce.  The U.S. Congress may have gotten involved, given the amount of taxpayer's money that has been spent on the Syrian opposition which is now getting blown to pieces by Russian bombs.  Putin astutely reckoned that even Obama would be forced to act eventually, so he is destroying the organized opposition to Assad first, so that after ISIS has been defeated, Russian puppet Assad will be the only player left standing.  Putin was not about to sacrifice Russian troops and airpower to destroy ISIS, only to watch the Syrian people rally in support of Assad's opposition.  By the time the Russian Air Force is finished, there will no longer be a Syrian opposition.

The Russians realize that they may be facing a shrinking window.  Not surprisingly, the raggedy bunch of cutthroats that identifies itself as an secessionist movement in Ukraine, has clammed up as of late.  It would appear that Putin does not want to antagonize the Ukrainian military while Russian resources are tied up elsewhere.  Sure the Russians have more than enough equipment and soldiers to conduct military operations on separate fronts, but wars cost money, and with the Russian economy already in tatters, Putin would like to avoid having to finance the new enterprise in Syria while continuing to subsidize the rebellion in Ukraine.  According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, the Russian Air Force conducted over 250 strikes in between 9-12 October.  In contrast, on October 8, the Russians only flew 20 missions in Syria.  Putin has a timetable, but he can't be certain just how much time he will have, before someone in the west decides to call his bluff.  

No comments:

Post a Comment