A Russian White Knight or an Interventionist Power?
The imperialist Violence in Syria, Part 6 of 7
by Kim Petersen and B.J. Sabri - Dissident Voice
January 17th, 2016
Read Part 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.
It is noteworthy that the only government objecting to the substance of our initiative is the United States, which for many years has stood in almost complete isolation trying to block successive efforts of the international community to prevent an arms race in outer space.
– statement by Russian Foreign Ministry on resolution for no first deployment of weapons into outer space which was approved by UN General Assembly on 8 December 2015.1
Unlike the 4-year US active involvement in every aspect of the Syrian conflict, Russia’s direct intervention started just recently (30 September 2015). Russia’s intervention is important to distinguish under international law: unlike the US illegal bombardment of Syria, unlike the antics of states like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar who operate in Syria in contravention to international agreements between sovereign states, Russia was invited by the legitimate government of Syria to assist in defeating the mercenary insurrection.
Do we need to debate that the US, Israel, and Saudi Arabia were not invited to assist—which would be ludicrous on its face: a regime asking states seeking its overthrow to assist it? (The latest news is that Obama is putting US boots on Syrian soil unbidden by that sovereign nation. Imagine the response by the US regime if, for example, in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, Africa unilaterally placed troops on US soil to protect African-American lives?)
It is also important to note that if the US regime and its anti-Assad instruments had not participated in the aggression against Syria, then there likeliest would have been no Russian involvement, and Syrians might have been able to settle the matter for themselves. Logically, any blame for casualties resulting from Russian military involvement must be directly attributed to the anti-Syrian regime coalition—it is the law of action and reaction. In the end, we see that the ultimate culpability for all those who died in Syria rests exclusively with those who initiated the violence in the first place.
About Russia: it can be argued that from the time of Gorbachev until the overthrow of the legitimate Ukrainian government by the CIA and its Ukrainian operatives, Russia had allowed the world to be damaged through passivity against American imperialist expansions. The present authors understand why that happened and realize the constraints put on Russia since the Yeltsin years. But when the imperialist heat reached its borders, Russia awakened. Honestly, we cannot ask too much of Russia (all countries threatened by the US’s march to absolutist empire must take their share of responsibility) and we cannot blame Russia for the treason committed by Gorbachev and Yeltsin. But we can blame it, under the first Putin presidency, for consenting to the joint US-British occupation of Iraq after strenuously opposing the planned invasion of 2003. We are also extremely critical of Russia’s consent, under the second Putin presidency, to UN Resolution 2216 that sanctioned an already started American-Saudi aggression against Yemen—an aggression that has thus far killed thousands of Yemenis, and destroyed much of the country. We have other problems with Russian policy, but this is not the forum.
Still, from our viewpoint as inflexible opponents of American imperialism, we are convinced that Russia’s entry to the side of the Syrian government has great potential for finally stopping the US from treating the world as a stepping-stone to unchallenged global hegemony. What was Russia supposed to do: wait for the US (and its anti-Assad allies) to enact regime change in Damascus and moving thereafter to its borders? Above all, what could be more dictatorial than outsiders determining by military means and violence who should govern a sovereign nation?
Russia’s intervention has another angle—it exposed the cruel geopolitical game the United States has been playing in Iraq and Syria. For openers, the United States is not bombing both countries to rid them of so-called ISIS; gargantuan evidence points to the contrary. This could not be otherwise—the US founded, armed, and trained this “state,” and it needs it as a means to destabilize and break up all Arab states.
Strong suspicions surround the US conduct toward ISIS thus leading to one unavoidable conclusion: ISIS is a multinational enterprise that the United States, the West, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Qatar created, financed, and armed to fight both the Syrian and Iraqi governments according to predefined objectives. For instance, when ISIS emerged as a military power and crossed into Iraq from Syria, the US did nothing to stop it. And when it moved its convoys to occupy the city of Mosul, then descending south to occupy the city of Baiji that houses Iraq’s largest oil refinery, the US and vassals just reported the news. And when ISIS occupied Tikrit and Ramadi, the only reaction coming from the US and regional supporters was to portray the American-trained Iraqi army as inept. And when ISIS was almost on the gates of Baghdad, the US and company just spoke of its imminent fall.
Something disrupted this chain of events though. In Iraq, ISIS sacked the Yezidi areas and moved their Toyota convoys toward Erbil, which the Kurds consider their provisional capital, and almost seized the oil-rich, multi-ethnic city of Kirkuk that the Kurds consider their future capital. In Syria, ISIS entered Ain al-Arab (Kobane) thus disrupting the connection between Iraqi Kurds and Syrian Kurds. At that point, the US, the West, European volunteers, and the Kurds made their combined moves to drive ISIS out of Kirkuk, Erbil, and Kobane. In the meanwhile, no action was taken to remove ISIS from the cities and territory it occupied in Iraq and Syria.
This must be by design. In fact, once the US started pounding ISIS entrenched near Kirkuk and Erbil, the Kurds—who have been claiming Kirkuk as theirs since the US invasion of Iraq—moved their Peshmerga forces to occupy the city immediately. At which point, the Baghdad government, itself a servant of Washington, declared the Kurdish occupation of Kirkuk null and promised to retake it once it finishes its business with ISIS.
What to conclude from all this is simple: For the US, disrupting the scheme to create a Kurdish state extending from Iraq to the Mediterranean while taking territory from Turkey and Syria was a red line that ISIS crossed. This explains why Turkey supports ISIS against Kurdish separatists. And it explains why Saudi Arabia supports ISIS under the pretext to fight Iran in Iraq and Syria. And when the Kurds declare that any area they “liberate” from ISIS become a Kurdish territory (as when they took, with American air support, the multi-ethnic cities of Duhok and Sinjar), then we cannot but conclude that ISIS is a player created by the West and regional powers to facilitate the partition of the Arab states in Western Asia. Kurds should not rejoice. The history of imperialism and colonialism warns that the final aim of the US and the West is not about caring for the national aspirations of the Kurds. Creating a Kurdish state at the service of American and Israeli objectives is the target. And the Kurds are moving into this trap. (Discussing the Kurdish issue goes beyond the scope of this work.)
Let us recap the ISIS move against Arab, Kurdish, Assyrian, and Yezidi areas in Iraq and Syria areas. Although ISIS is an American (and Saudi creation)—it provided the United States with the operational rationales for massive intervention in Iraq and Syria—its moves and attacks suggest one of two things: either it has developed a separate agenda, or it is following American orders as a part of a plan to rein in the moves of the Kurds. In the end, the US reasons for allowing ISIS to survive and expand despite pretentious bombardment and publicity balloons is all too evident: the US and Israel want to create a Kurdish state from parts taken out of Iraq, Iran, Turkey, and Iran,2 and ISIS is the means to implement it.
Are the Kurds and ISIS enemies? There is a plenty of evidence to suggest they were not when ISIS occupied Mosul only. In fact, once Mosul fell to ISIS and the weakness of Baghdad’s central government was exposed, it gave Kurds the opportunity to move instantly to occupy Kirkuk (with its Arab, Kurdish, Turkoman, Assyrian, and Armenian population) which Kurds have been claiming as theirs since the American invasion of Iraq. This is reinforced by the fact that when ISIS attacked Ain Al-Arab (a Syrian own with a Kurdish majority), Iraqi Kurds crossed into Syria to fight it.3 One can surmise, therefore, that the US has been effectively coordinating with ISIS to execute the strategic purpose of creating a de facto expansionist Kurdish state.
Overall, the US strategy regarding ISIS is apparent. 1) Keep the “islamic state” in Iraq viable to harass the Iraqi government—under US control, anyway—thus browbeating Iraq’s regime to give in to Kurdish demands to secede and form an independent state. 2) Keep “ISIS” strong enough in Syria to help with the toppling of the Assad government. 3) Keep spreading the propaganda that the “Islamic state” is real and here to stay; this will allow for protracted Western military intervention. 4)
Continue with current strategy to keep the region—with the exception of Israel—afire and permanently unstable. Ponder: how could we explain the fact that ISIS seems more intent on fighting Arab Muslims than fighting European Zionist Jews or American interests? What drives the rage to re-Islamize Arabs who have been Muslims for over 1500 years unless this drive was designed by Washington and Tel Aviv to discredit Muslims and prepare the path for the final conquest? What should one make of an organization that has no program about anything except making people worship in the regressive and oppressive Wahhabi way? This seems a premeditated plan for the total destruction of the Arab Muslim mind.
Keeping the preceding arguments in perspective, and tying them to the Russian intervention in Syria, we see this intervention in positive way. Unlike all the other uninvited interlopers, Russia intervened at the behest of Syria and its legitimate government. Yet, this is war, and war causes casualties including civilian deaths. However, since it became clear that Russia’s approach to eradicate Western-controlled violence was resolute, fake sources were formed to cast doubt on Russia’s role including the accusation of causing more civilian deaths than those caused by the US and its terrorist allies. Because we support Russia’s intervention to end violence in Syria, some might think that we are defending Russia. This is not the case. A balanced investigation, however, posits that when propaganda and disinformation contradict facts, we must debate it.
One dubious source is Airwars.org. This site reports of “104 incidents of concern in Syria in which Russian aircraft allegedly killed between 528 and 730 non-combatants.” Of those “incidents as fairly reported” there “are likely to have killed between 255 and 375 civilians.”4 The reliability of such reporting does not improve: “The number of Russian airstrikes which caused non-combatant deaths has to an extent been exaggerated.” This is self-contradicted somewhat later by the claims: “Even so, credible allegations of civilian fatalities inflicted by the Russan [sic] Air Force are worryingly high.”
A number of questions arise from such sources. First, for example, what denotes “fairly reported” and who determines what this is? What is the difference between a “credible allegation” and a “fact”? Second, what is one to make of imprecise, waffling phrases as “likely to,” “to an extent,” and again who determines this extent and likelihood? Third, who is Airwars.org?
From the source site: “Airwars.org is a collaborative, not-for-profit transparency project aimed both at tracking and archiving the international air war against Islamic State, in both Iraq and Syria. With a dozen nations reportedly bombing – along with the air forces of Iraq, Iran and Syria – there is a pressing public interest need for independent, trustworthy monitoring.” Airwars.org’s “data is drawn heavily from US and allied militaries. In addition to tracking the strikes, we also seek to report – and where possible follow up on – credible allegations of civilian casualties.”
Credible? What is the verisimilitude of information disseminated by US and allied militaries?
Nonetheless, even if the present writers accept on its face everything reported by US propagandists, it does not change the thesis of our argument: regrettably, in warring, civilian casualties are bound to occur. However, casualties occurring after the entrance of Russia to the violence in Syria have to be weighed against the quarter million people killed prior to Russia coming on the scene. Any subsequent deaths attributable to Russia’s air warfare against violent armed groups have to be weighed against those who would not have been saved if Russia didn’t enter the fray. Yes, Russia weaponry may have caused civilian deaths, but how does one calculate all the civilians saved from death at the hands of mercenaries and other killers?
Moreover, we are arguing that all deaths since Russia intervention are to be blamed on US-, Saudi-, Gulf state-, Turkey-, and other western-backed mercenaries and terrorists. Had these forces and their proxies never invaded Syria and Iraq, and had they never received protection in Turkey and Jordan, then Russian warplanes would not be fighting today.
To conclude our note on Russia, although it entered the war on the side of the legitimate government, Russia has never declared any strategy or long-term objective in Syria except the one supporting a legitimate UN member from not being overrun by American/Saudi-supported terrorists and mercenaries. Consequently, Western imperialists and their media stenographers have no moral underpinning or legal standing to criticize Russia.
Next: Leftists and Violence in Syria: Part 7 of 7
1. Matthew Bodner, UN Approves Russia-led Proposal To Limit Militarization of Space,” Moscow Times, 2 December 2015.
2. Read article “Blood Borders” and see map by Ralph Peters.
3. Read “Iraqi Kurdish forces enter Syria to fight Islamic State.”
4. See Chris Woods, “International airstrikes and civilian casualty claims in Iraq and Syria: October 2015.”
Kim Petersen is a former editor of Dissident Voice and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. B.J. Sabri is an observer of the politics of modern colonialism, imperialism, Zionism, and of contemporary Arab issues. He can be reached at email@example.com. Read other articles by Kim and B.J..