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Thursday, October 1, 2015

It begins: Russian disinformation campaign, now a fixture in the Ukrainian crisis, arrives in Syria.

Link: Russians targeting Syrian regime opposition as opposed to ISIS.

As Russia begins its military campaign in Syria, the international community is discovering the reality behind President Vladimir Putin's motivations.  Putin has cloaked his intervention in Syria as a decision to destroy ISIS and end the civilian casualties and refugees that have resulted from the conflict.  Excuse the cliché, but it doesn't take a Rocket Scientist to determine that Putin is targeting ISIS, but only as it is part and parcel of the operation to save the Russian puppet regime of de facto Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.  Since it will be necessary to destroy ISIS in order to save Assad's skin, Russia, which is slowly unveiling is strategy to use its ally Iran to pressure ISIS from the east, the Russian military machine will eventually get around to targeting ISIS forces.  But ISIS was a bit "Johnny-come-lately" to the Syrian conflict.  Readers will recall that an evolving, determined opposition to the Assad regime was in place and making progress, albeit at a less-than intimidating pace, before ISIS began its main offensive operations in Syria.  It should come as no surprise that the first targets of Russia's military fist are the Syrian opposition groups who are fighting the despotic and decrepit Syrian Ba'ath Party and Bashar al-Assad.  Russian jets launched bombing sorties against the opposition-held community of Talbisah in northern Homs Governorate, with the official death count at thirty-three so far.  Like an old friend, the Russian disinformation machine immediately announced the successful initial bombing raids "against ISIS targets".  Just how do you say, "bullshit" in Russian?

For those of you who haven't been following the Ukraine crisis closely, you will soon get to know the Russian media campaign and its bellicose sycophants.  These political activists masquerading as journalists are still trying to blame the United States and the Ukrainian Air Force for the destruction of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17), even though western media was able to disseminate photographs of the Russian-made Buk Surface to Air Missile System (initially, the Russian press announced that that two Ukrainian Air Force jets, with the help of U.S. radar, had purposely targeted and destroyed MH17; when that theory and its doctored photographic "evidence" was laughed off the front pages, others were proffered, including that the Ukrainians THEMSELVES used a Buk to shoot down the civilian airliner).  Since the West has had enough time to forget the crash site photographs of mangled children and personal belongings, the same media machine is now engaged in blaming every aggressive action taken by the Ukrainian separatists as a provocation on the part of Ukraine.  In a short conversation I had with a Ukrainian journalist out of Kiev, he made the interesting point that the Russian media covering the Ukrainian conflict could not claim even one accurate storyline on its behalf, since the crisis began.  Because the western press feels some obligation to present both sides of an issue, we always get the Russian version of events, usually just after the truth has been reported.  Be prepared; the Russian media is an arm of the Putin regime and will only disseminate information, accurate or not, that subscribes to the desired storyline.

Now that we realize that Putin is going to thrash with a vengeance even those opposition groups who are pro-Democracy and only wanting the removal of Assad, what impact will this have on U.S. policy?  On one hand, the Obama Administration refused to agree to Russian demands that the U.S. suspend the Coalition Air Campaign, but on the other hand, Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the United States would welcome Russian airstrikes, if they are targeting ISIS positions.  At this stage, I'm almost sympathetic to John Kerry, given the totally reactive policy he is forced to defend.  Did the Obama Administration consider Russian intervention, and if so, what was the intended response?  Since we haven't seen a response, only reactionary commentary, we can only surmise that a plan doesn't exist.  Given recent Russian maneuvers in Iraq, which appear to create a military communication network between Russia, Iran and the Iranian-backed Shi'a militias, has the Obama Administration given consideration to full Iranian military intervention in Iraq, supported by Russia?  What would be an acceptable response to that development?  I don't have an answer to that question.   

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