“… Russians to start withdrawing from Syria…” Reuters


"President Vladimir Putin said on Monday "the main part" of Russian armed forces in Syria would start to withdraw, and instructed his diplomats to step up the push for peace as U.N.-mediated talks resumed in Geneva on ending the five-year war.

Syria announced President Bashar al-Assad had agreed on the "reduction" of Russian forces in a telephone call with Putin. Western diplomats urged caution and the anti-Assad opposition expressed bafflement, with a spokesman saying "nobody knows what is in Putin's mind".

Russia's military intervention in Syria in September helped to turn the tide of war in Assad's favor after months of gains in western Syria by rebel fighters, who were aided by foreign military supplies including U.S.-made anti-tank missiles."  Reuters


At first glance this seems like a valiant effort to "snatch defeat from the jaws of victory," but, maybe not.   Bibi's pal, Biden in his recent presser in Israel said something like "even Russia has heard the Lord about Syria."  That led Bibi to caution him on the spot to consider whether or not he wanted to use these words.  Biden may have been in Israel to shop for a retirement villa on the beach, but among his tasks may also have been the job of informing Natanyahu of a bargain with Russia over Syria and Ukraine.  IMO "bth" is probably right that we will soon see remarkable "progress" in a settlement of some kind over Ukraine and a reduction or removal of sanctions on Russia.  US "officials" have been quoted today as this having "dropped from the sky."  Well, pilgrims, "officials" often don't know what their betters are up to.

Syria?  Perhaps the judgment in Moscow is that the process of strengthening the R+6 local forces has progressed far enough that as someone wrote here "they can take off the training wheels."  Well, they are on the ground and not I, but I remain concerned about the relatively small forces at the disposal of the Syrian government.  Is partition in the future?  I suppose we will have to wait to know. 

None of this can be good news for Bibi.

I will welcome analytic posts on this development by member of the committee.  pl  


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161 Responses to “… Russians to start withdrawing from Syria…” Reuters

  1. Prem says:

    Secret deals are easy to welch on. That cuts both ways, of course.

  2. gemini33 says:

    Thanks for the heads up about those comments by Biden in Israel. I can’t find any transcript to see his full remarks. Maybe I can find a video.

  3. turcopolier says:

    Haaretz covered the presser. pl

  4. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    Putin has eliminated the oil smuggling that was the lifeblood of the ISIS/DAESH cadres and has put the tayyiban Turkey into a box. For example, the latest explosion in Ankara can morph into many more explosions if tayyip does not behave and tries to play the Sultan. The Saudi clown prince was probably given sage advice about getting involved in Syria-and given his Yemen debacle, will probably heed it. IMO, in addition to an agreement on Ukraine/Donbass, there must have been deals on the refugees in Europe, as well as a partitioning of the ME into spheres of influence. Let us see what the Kurds will get out of this gambit. Interesting times and interesting history in the making.
    Ishmael Zechariah

  5. gemini33 says:

    Thanks, Col. I just found video and a transcript on Israel’s govt. site.
    Video at 16:44 he starts the excerpt about the Arab states having an epiphany and ends saying Russia “has seen the Lord”.
    Transcript: http://mfa.gov.il/MFA/PressRoom/2016/Pages/PM-Netanyahu-meet-with-US-Vice-President-Joe-Biden-9-Mar-2016.aspx
    Thanks again for citing this. I would have missed it otherwise and I think it’s pretty significant. He seems to be saying that they’ve all come to some kind of an agreement.

  6. Nightsticker says:

    Col Lang,
    I think Putin’s statement has to be parsed
    very carefully. The Russian Navy base in Syria
    is not leaving. Nor, presumably, the forces necessary
    to operate it and protect it. This would include
    some fighter aircraft and the air defense system.
    I can’t imagine that the training and logistical
    support to the SAA will be withdrawn, it was there
    in smaller numbers before the surge. The SOF forces
    are, as far as I, know not officially there anyway.The
    Intelligence support does not require a lot of people.
    The Cease Fire Center personnel will remain.
    It is not clear to me that all this is going to
    make much difference on the battlefield.
    USMC 65-72
    FBI 72-96

  7. bth says:

    I suspect there is also a linkage between a heightened US activity level in Iraq which started earlier this month that will lead to retaking Mosul and keeping pressure on ISIS for the next 3-6 months while the Russians regroup or downsize. Perhaps it also involves Sunni Arab tribes working with the US and Kurds in Iraq while holding the sectarian militias at bay and checking Turkish designs in northern Iraq. And then there is the question of there the 101st subgroup deployed to? There is some sort of Delta force related press announcement by Carter which is very difficult to figure out from immediate news releases.
    Also perhaps there is something the US had done to calm down the Saudis. If all comes about then Lavrov and Kerry will deserve some accolades.
    Wouldn’t be surprised to hear ‘the international community’ has agreed to bankroll some major reconstruction work in Syria to ‘avoid a humanitarian catastrophe’ and also to bankroll the Italian reconstruction of the Mosul dam. Of course that means the US taxpayer will foot the bill, but that might be OK and a cheap trade.
    Perhaps we are approaching a point later this month where a 3-6 month speculative assessment on SST is warranted.

  8. Outrage Beyond says:

    To append to Nightsticker’s remarks, I think the key word in the headline is “start.” What does that really mean? Starting doesn’t imply any timetable to finishing. Russia could withdraw a token amount of forces and wait to see if the hidden bargain with the Borg is fulfilled on the other side. It’s all phrased in a way that seems to leave plenty of options for Russia.
    On top of that, Russia has demonstrated considerable cruise missile capabilities, along with the ability to launch airstrikes from Russian bases. Withdrawal or not, those options remain. Putin is talking softly while carrying the big stick.
    Meanwhile, the SAA appears to have plenty of new gear. A number of videos showing T-90s have popped up; and after seeing the post on the Tiger force, I came across various videos of Tiger and/or Cheetah forces equipped with new-looking AK-74s; and using ATGMs to blast jihadis. Those S-400 systems probably aren’t going anywhere, either.

  9. Peter Deer says:

    I think the Russians have no plans to let up the pressure on the ground (the Russian Air Force has been doing a lot of that lately), and any significant changes in troop levels won’t happen for a while yet. Perhaps Vlad is playing to the folks at home, announcing that Our Boys are coming back now that things are moving in the right direction vis a vis the rebels and ISIS/DAESH, while making a very gradual drawdown. On Putin’s timetable. Toward that end, I would concur with Nighstalker’s assessment of this news: unlikely to make much difference on the battlefield.

  10. PL,
    The plot thickens, if that is even possible ! For now we have the announcement of a withdrawal of the ground component of the (small) Russian expeditionary force. Airbase and naval base in Tartus and Hmeimim, as well as assets there, will remain. There may very well be, as you suspect, a bargain with Ukraine in the pipes … Would not be surprising as such.
    Meanwhile, short term, this move puts a lot of pressure on the western and gulf countries which support the “opposition”. Putin showing such good faith will surely not be answered by a perfidious escalation by either the GCC or Turkish proxies, will it ? Negotiations will now start with palmyra being the most likely battle to continue, and possibly end with an R+6 victory. Regardless of its immediate outcome, ISIS will be rooted out in a joint or combined effort by both coalitions, not much doubt about that.
    Also have to consider that Assad has scheduled elections for April, even if he might postpone after negotiations. He has to show a credible election with strong enough opposition votes, or he won’t have any credibility come the presidential elections of 2017.
    Big question mark about the idlib area now is whether SAA plans to pull if off on its own. With Russian air support and an end of other fronts, they certainly might. We shall see if their 4th assault corps has reached battle strength.
    Interesting times ahead …

  11. Ah Vladimir Vladimirovich, you sly mudak. And I mean that with great affection. You have maintained the initiative and used it to great advantage. You’re a game changer and a judo master. My guess is that we are in for some more surprises stemming from this announcement. I’m very curious as to what’s the current relationship between Assad and the Rojava Kurds. Have they come to some mutual understanding that will lead to closer military cooperation against their mutual enemy. Perhaps a reenactment of the meeting on the Elbe, this time on the Euphrates.

  12. cynic says:

    The Russians have achieved their minimum objectives of propping up Assad in control of western Syria. They may now be tacitly ceding the rest to the Borg in exchange for concessions elsewhere, such as Ukraine. The Borg may thus also achieve their minimum objective in Syria. This may be why the Russians say it is possible the Americans might capture Raqqa, and why that mysterious uprising or re-badging of terrorists took place there recently.

  13. C L says:

    The Russian mission has achieved its primary goal – the creation of an economic safe haven on the Syrian coastal area with the Nusayriyah mountain range as a buffer zone, with security for its 2 mediterranean bases.
    Further involvement Eastward is not needed or worth the financial cost. (Russia is hurting financially)
    To the East the violence has finally penetrated Turkey (where Erdogan is trying to duplicate Putin’s novel circumvention of constitutional term limits by shuttling between the President / Prime minister / President roles).
    Erdogan needed an external conflict as a distraction in order to pull off his power switch from PM to President while usurping the new PM’s power and appeasement of his religious base.
    From the Russian viewpoint – Why assist a hostile regime whose chickens have come home to roost?
    Let the secular turkish armed forces sort this out as their country implodes under religious intolerance.
    There is enough Russian force to the north & south of the Bosporos to keep the sea lanes open. (their ‘Panama Canal’ scenario)
    Further east the combined Shiite forces of Iraq/Iran and Kurds will serve to contain the Jihadi menace emanating from Saudi Arabia, and the Shiite menace will in turn be balanced by the nuclear Sunni Pakistan.
    Saudi Arabia is the main reason not to venture further east:
    Saudi Arabia is currently a Sunni Fundamentalist Black hole, consuming all Sunni goodwill and moderate discourse in the world through the tentacles of its Wahhabi outreach, sucking the indoctrinated in to its heart (Medina, Mecca) – only to spew them out on the North/South poles with all the billowing rage we see in actual photos of black holes . Northwards to the Mesopotamian badlands and the bowels of IS, South to the heart of Africa. And just like a black hole, there is no stopping it till it implodes on itself. There can only be containment of the burning regions. Further east of the M5 is a burning region.
    The new Saudi ‘management’ is in the process of culling & bloodying its toy forces. What better way to weed out the fanatics & plumed fake soldiers from the real than having a controllable battle in the isolated region of Yemen. There is no risk of losing in this tribal battle because the Yemeni region can never be controlled by one tribe and so will never have enough consolidated power or force to upset the Kingdom power structure.
    The Yemeni status quo will resume once the fighting stops.
    The remains of the newly bloodied and tested Saudi forces can be restructured with total allegiance to the monarchy in its upcoming fight with the Mullahs/Jihadis. For the alliance with the Mullahs is at a gross imbalance and the Mullahs do have the power to overthrow the Monarchy.
    The past appeasement of the Mullahs by funding the expansion of the wahabbi fundamentalist explosion has evolved to be the threat to the monarchy.
    This threat was illuminated with the toppling of Mubarak and the (short) ascension of the Muslim Brotherhood to power. The only feasible deterrent is loyal armed forces and return to the strongman regimes of yore.
    For now containment to the north & south of Saudi Arabia is the order of the day, the Mesopotamian wastelands where Jihadis thrive are cordoned off except for the path to turkey.
    South in to Africa is where the current jihadi expansion is occurring limited only by the distance to the heart of the black hole.
    Look for Russia to bolster its defensive line in its southern satellite ‘Stan States in the mould of its defensive line around the Caucasus.

  14. gemini33 says:

    The analyses and “hot takes” are rolling out. Joshua Grimes at Russia Insider says he doesn’t see any “radical change” on the Syrian-Russian war effort since their aerospace force IS the “main part” of their forces in Syria, or so we thought. He thinks maybe this is at least in part a move to calm the nerves of Russians nervous that this will be another Afghanistan. I did think that myself too, plus it negates the repeated comments from Obama and Ash Carter about quagmires.
    The Saker thinks Putin is a “hardcore realist” who set out limited goals and achieved them, but is leaving his options open, always keeping in mind that Russia is still a relatively weak military force.
    Southfront has a source near the Russian FM who says Russia is trying to show a start contrast between the way they operate and the way the West operates.

  15. Andy says:

    First we’ll have to see if the withdrawal is actually what the Russians claim, it’s not like they have a good track record on accuracy. However, I think a withdrawal now does make sense:
    The Russian strategic interest in Syria is about ensuring Russian access to Syrian ports and other facilities. Without those, Russia cannot have any kind of major presence in the Mediterranean. Syria is all they have left since their Cold War options are gone (Libya and Serbia/Yugoslavia). Russia intervened only when rebel forces began making serious progress toward the coast and it appeared that Syrian government forces could lose the civil war. That was the catalyst for intervention. The Russian strategic position is now secure and if it’s threatened again, Russia has staging facilities ready if another major intervention is necessary. Of course, this won’t be a total withdrawal, so I suspect there will still be a significant Russian presence in terms of advisors, intelligence, special operations, and other technical support.
    So, if that is the limit of Russian strategic interests, then it makes sense for them to withdrawal now and avoid the difficulty of doing the heaving lifting in the siege of Aleppo and beyond. I think Russia understands that Syria is broken and, likely Humpty Dumpty, cannot be put together again, so why pour blood and treasure for further gains that won’t benefit Russia strategically? IMO they are smart and poor enough not to follow our example of endless quixotic nation-building. Plus, this will keep Assad on a short leash as the Syrian Government effectively becomes a Russian protectorate.
    Then there is the US to consider. There’s been a de facto coordination line to prevent incidents with the US. If Russia participates in pushing further north and east, they will have to account for American forces which brings up all sorts of political problems for both sides. I think both sides want to avoid a situation where one side’s ground or air forces attack the other side causing an international incident. A Russian withdrawal avoids that very real risk. Plus it’s not like the US can do much to roll-back Syrian government gains and it’s pretty clear that US policy to overthrow Assad is now a complete fantasy.
    As for Israel, personally I think this is the best outcome for them. Radical Islamists will not take over, destabilize Jordan and threaten Israel’s border but Assad remains weak and unable to pose any kind of threat for the foreseeable future. Syria’s allies in Hezbollah and Iran will continue to pour resources into Syria instead of preparing for another war on the Israeli/Lebanese border. Israel should be rejoicing.
    Of course the losers in all of this are the Syrian people, who will continue to be the primary victims of this bloody conflict and a Russian withdrawal means this war is not ending anytime soon.

  16. LeaNder says:

    gemini33, its later for me, 17:50+starting with “Russia”.
    The script drops some matters from this intimate exchange between good friends. Peculiar show. …
    The “official script” for this private setting leaves out bits and pieces:
    Biden: “I mean, that would not have come out of either one of our mouths – at least mine – four or five years ago, but the truth is Russia has seen the Lord on some of these issues as well.”
    Missing, is Bibi’s interruption, and Biden’s response:
    Bibi: Why not use that phrase? (not 100%, partial guess, too lazy to listen again)
    Biden: Well, I am not gonna use the other phrase.
    The intimacy of power. There no doubt are other interesting passages. But Biden is almost unbearable to listen to.

  17. gemini33 says:

    This is an interesting thought over at MoonofA. I do suspect that Erdogan won’t last through the summer.
    “If Turkey happens to be the target, the trap’s been baited.”

  18. Fred says:

    So Putin withdrawals some veterans to Moscow where they can rest, recuperate and march in the May Day parade 6 weeks from now? Or will that be the May 8th parade that celebrates that other victory over our common enemy? (Not that we helped much this time around it seems) I wonder if he cut a deal to get Kerry or Biden a Nobel? Perhaps Obama gets a second to cement his legacy as a peacemaker? That would be a cheap price to pay for a victory over ISIS and our exit from the mess we made in Ukraine.

  19. ex-PFC Chuck says:

    If there is indeed something going on that includes Ukraine it may be driven by the EU members’ discontent over the Ukraine government’s foot-dragging in meeting its end of the Minsk bargain. The situation is extensively described in this piece at Russia Insider: “Europeans Staring at Total Failure in Ukraine”
    The author argues that as long as the Banderaites are a part of the government it will be politically impossible for Ukraine to take the steps necessary. The author, Alexander Mercouris, asserts that powerful interests in northern Europe are increasingly worried about the damage the sanctions are doing to their economies, in contrast to Russia’s where they are not having the predicted very severe effects. Perhaps the Europeans are leaning hard on the US, maybe even threatening to unilaterally drop them without US agreement.

  20. PeteM says:

    Say what you many about the Syrian Rebels but they have won the right, on the battlefield, to be recognized as the legitimate opposition to the Assad regime and Putin has played a major role in furthering that recognition.
    If the frozen conflict, in western Syria holds, leaders of many of these various groups will be shaping the decisions leading to a transition government, post Assad and Russia’s decision to promote these negotiations is evident in their ramping down of their military involvement at least on that front.

  21. Bob says:

    I read some where this morning that Lavrov had said he was working on a deal with the US where Russia would take Palmyra and the US would take Raqqa so you seem to be right. That gives Qatar it’s gas pipeline to Europe so they can go F themselves now. I hope it gets blown up every night.
    If Russia isn’t going to Raqqa then there really isn’t that much left for them to do. But as with the NATO experiences in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya to name just a few “withdrawal” can mean so many things.
    “The bases “must be effectively secured from onshore, offshore and from the air,” Putin said, adding that Russia has had this military group in Syria for many years.”
    And let me say thanks to Russia and Putin for doing the right thing when our governments wouldn’t.
    I also wonder how this relates to the Iranians pulling their forces out last week or the week before.

  22. Bill Herschel says:

    And the night got deathly quiet
    And his face lost all expression
    He said, “If you’re gonna play the game, boy
    You gotta learn to play it right
    You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
    Know when to fold ’em
    Know when to walk away
    And know when to run
    You never count your money
    When you’re sittin’ at the table
    There’ll be time enough for countin’
    When the dealin’s done
    Every gambler knows
    That the secret to survivin’
    Is knowin’ what to throw away
    And knowin’ what to keep
    ‘Cause every hand’s a winner
    And every hand’s a loser
    And the best that you can hope for is to die
    in your sleep…

  23. toto says:

    The optimistic interpretation is that Putin is not interested in forcing a total Assad victory, because he realizes that this just kicks the can down the road for a few years and potentially generates an abscess of Sunni frustration.
    By withholding support short of a total rout, Assad is forced to negotiate in reasonably good faith and reach some understanding with the non-Jihadi rebels. The reconciled opposition forces will then be useful in fighting against the jihadis (not out of the kindness of their hearts, but simply because these jihadis will now turn on them!)
    In this view, Putin is trying to Syrianize the conflict, and is betting that a reconciled opposition would be much more useful than disgruntled defeated rebels.
    The pessimistic interpretation is that this is just more maskirovka.

  24. Ghost ship says:

    Russia is also keeping a military presence at the Khmeymim airbase. How many men are required to operate the S-400 batteries there? Was the intervention by the RuAF to free up Syrian aircrew and groundcrew to train/retrain on more modern Russian aircraft and incorporate best Russian CAS practices. According to Wikipedia, the RuAF are operating twelve Su-24, twelve Su-25 and eight Su-34 strike aircraft and eight Su-30/Su-35 fighters. Not exactly a large force (a couple of hundred men in all) and one that could be quite comfortably operated by the Syrian or Iranian air forces. So will we see a reduction in the tempo of air operations – maybe not. Perhaps the eight fighters will remain to act as a tripwire in case the sultan to the north misbehaves. And if the Syrian forces require increased air support for specific operations, there are always the strategic bombers operating out of southern Russia and cruise missiles from the Caspian flotilla.

  25. turcopolier says:

    My SWAG will be that the campaign to clear Idlib Province and recover all of Aleppo City will continue outside the “terms” of the “gentleman’s agreement.” SAA will probably take Palmyra. The SAS will probably take Tabqa to seal off the oil route west of the lake and the US supported YPG will accept the surrender of Raqqa from the “reformed” rebels. pl

  26. Ken Macaulay says:

    Russia needs partners not puppets.
    If they stepped up their involvement and took the lead in cleaning out the rest of the jihadi’s then it would be regarded as purely a Russian victory.
    Assad would be regarded as a weak leader – one of the major causes of the war – & the Syrian state not taken seriously in any international negotiations.
    The Russian’s have essentially stalemated the western interventionists – the biggest threat – and seems to have played the major role in turning the Syrian army back into a competent, national fighting force – something they haven’t been for several decades.
    Hezbollah & the IRGC can be utilised to make up numbers to deal with any new flood of mercenaries coming across the Turkish border, and the Russian’s will continue to provide top-notch training – likely turning this into long term, permanent training facilities/programs – keep the sky clear, & supply intelligence & support as needed.
    The Russian’s always seem to take the long view, and while it looks like a bit of a gamble considering the forces arrayed against Syria, I think this shows their confidence in the Syrian’s to deal with it…
    PS. it seems very unlikely that the Russian’s would trust any kind of deal coming from the west these days. There may be several on the table to give western politicians some selling points and help avoid escalation – but they are not likely to take it particularly seriously in regards to strategic planning or anything that matters..

  27. Alexey says:

    “I could be wrong” (c)
    But I think it’s unique Putin’s trait to lose already won war. Time and time again.

  28. SmoothieX12 says:

    Winning war means achieving its political objectives. I don’t know what wars Putin “lost” and I am not his fanboy, not even close, but I couldn’t recall even one.

  29. Alexey says:

    Just a little correction. “Mudak” is a bit hard to use with affection. That means “idiot” in most obscene sense. Sometimes young people could call themselves that for fun but it’s hard to imagine positive connotations for a head of state.

  30. turcopolier says:

    Ken Macauley
    “PS. it seems very unlikely that the Russian’s would trust any kind of deal coming from the west these days.” Trust? Trust? What “world” do you come from? Trust was not mentioned by me. IMO the Russians can take it one step at a time and see if the deal works. pl

  31. Alexey says:

    Ukraine. I understand school of thought that claims Minsk to be long term victory but I do believe that best way to go in fall 2014 was to push westward for rebels. now it is a festering mess for a foreseeable future.

  32. different clue says:

    Ishmael Zechariah,
    I should think the Syrian Kurds will be firmly advised
    that their gains should be limited to domestic autonomy within their parts of Syria. They will be firmly advised not to pursue anything that looks like a free-lance “foreign policy” regarding any contacts whatsoever with any Kurds outside of Syria.
    What will happen if they reject this firmly-given good advice is beyond me to predict.

  33. mbrenner says:

    My understanding, informed by people like Stephen Cohen, is that the strongest internal opposition to Putin’s Syria strategy is NOT from those who wish to soften it (for financial and other reasons) but from those in his inner circle who believe that he has been accommodating of the US. That strikes me as an entirely reasonable reading of the domestic front.

  34. different clue says:

    If the SARgov is indeed reconsolidated in the west and maybe even center of the country, then those Syrian peoples living within the SAR zone of unchallenged control won’t be losers. They will be winners in terms of being spared the expulsion or extermination or dhimitude planned for different minority groups there by the ISIS and the alphabet jihadis.
    And if the Syrian Kurds get the sort of strictly limited domestic-only autonomy they may feel they have earned by fighting ISIS and not-fighting the SAR, and especially if their autonomous area is contiguous and unbroken and shares a “border” with the SAR government area to its west; then they too will come out relative winners.

  35. Alexey,
    I ran with a group of old school hackers mostly from Saint Petersburg and Moscow back in the days of FIDONet. We threw the term “Mudak” around quite liberally both as a term of “endearment” and as a curse. I’ve been in units here in the US where we through around the term “c#@ksucker” in the same manner. Of course I wouldn’t use that term in Putin’s presence either in some state function or on the hockey rink.

  36. toto says:

    About the jihadis turning on the non-jihadi opposition: looks like it’s already started.

  37. Valissa says:

    Thanks for the link. And while I think it’s probably true that the people of Syria are anti-jihadi and ready to participate in Syrian politics again, reading that article stirred suspicions of it being some sort of propaganda piece. The Russians weren’t mentioned at all and the the “legitimate opposition” seemed to be getting too much credibility. So I decided to see who sponsors/funds/guides the Middle East Institute.
    MEI Board of Governors http://www.mei.edu/board
    MEI Advisory Council http://www.mei.edu/advisory-council
    Suggest clicking on the various members above. It looks like a Borg operation to me.

  38. Threadzilla says:

    This might have some information, however reliable, on the current state of the Syrian Army’s forces reinforcing the idea that Russia is taking the training wheels off. http://www.voltairenet.org/article190703.html

  39. Babak Makkinejad says:

    The statements of Obama to Goldberg: “… Saudi Arabia, Iran must shape cold peace…” indicates to me that the United States and Iran have come to an agreement on the desirability of dividing the Middle East into the Shia Crescent (a.k.a. the Iranian Sphere) and a US sphere.
    Leading from behind, Obama is delegating the necessary detailed work to Saudis – they must now define and consolidate their sphere. Saudi Arabia has already begun the process by designating Hezbollah as a Terrorists organization, banning travels to Lebanon etc. and has gotten the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (minus Oman) and the Arab League to go along with that.
    Houthi representatives have begun meeting with Saudis – I imagine that some generic agreement to seek an agreement has been reached and Iranians are not going to interfere in it.
    On Syria, Putin clearly has achieved what he had wished; he has set the political process in place for SAR to prevail and has the backing of EU and US. He has avoided the “bear trap”.
    I think the wars of containment of Iran are coming to and end – say in another 5 years.

  40. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Yup; like Malakas (μαλάκας) in Greek!

  41. VietnamVet says:

    You are correct. There was no invasion by Turkey and Saudi Arabia. But, the threat of it and Vladimir Putin’s judo move may have negotiated a pause in the Great Game. These are very strange days. Russia is hurting but Europe even more so. Even the dimmest of the western elite have to see that the anger to throw the wealthy bums out is burgeoning. Reopening trade to Eurasia is a good way to get things moving again. Russia is working the Sunni tribes to sign on to the peace accord. In a more rational world, perhaps Russia got the USA to remove the CIA operatives out of Syria and to agree to military coordination.

  42. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I do not think Russians trust Iranian or Syrian governments either; read that the rocket forces of SAR are under control of Russians (lest a trigger-happy or a stupid or a bought officer attacks Israel).
    I also would not put it past the Russians to have called Iranians about the ransacking of the Saudi Embassy – causing Ayatollah Khamenei to finally condemn it- after 2-week delay.
    But they also have no other alternatives; the Muslims with Brains – to use the apt phrase of Robert Baer – are the Iranians and no one else.

  43. Babak Makkinejad says:

    In my opinion, US and EU are also both losers in that they failed to bring about the destruction of SAR.
    And specially EU, now is facing some of the less-consequential artifacts of that war.
    Mind you, SAR was always interested in improving her relationship with US, but US was not.
    Turkey has also been one of the greatest losers – having squandered once in a half-millennia chance of being and remaining on friendly terms with Russia. And then there are all those trade/truck routes through Syria that are now gone.
    The Persian Gulf Arabs – minus Oman – have succeeded in cutting themselves off from the source of their civilization and culture. They also have succeeded in dragging a number of other Muslim governments with them into that civilizational dead-end.
    I suppose as long as there is a supply of Englishmen to provide the leadership of their various enterprises as well as an abundant supply of sub-humans Muslims from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh to perform the manual work all is good and dandy.
    As for Israel – it is difficult for me to see anything but damage to them as the Shia Crescent is now abutting their Northern and Eastern borders – with their enemies from multiple countries and languages having cooperated on the same battle field for 5 years.
    Not to mention their Southern border which is also being threatened by those Arabs who years earlier had received an Iranian Brain-graft.

  44. turcopolier says:

    Maybe he has a lot of native intelligence and is too smart to listen to academic advisers. pl

  45. Fred says:

    What is the probability of the Obama administration taking this agreement as an opportunity to disengage from Syria and shift efforts to create some kind of government (acceptable to the borg) in Libya?

  46. turcopolier says:

    IMO MEI has always been at the heart of the Borg. pl

  47. turcopolier says:

    Someone here said the Iranians pulled their forces out of Syria couple of weeks ago. I seem to recall that this was pretty shaky reporting. pl

  48. Brunswick says:

    Iran hasn’t pulled any forces from Syria, and in fact is scheduled to add 1,500 more Basaji’s and IRGC Forces.

  49. Brunswick says:

    Putin wanted to keep Crimea, not the Ukraine.
    In the Ukraine, he has a small affordable pocket that leverages a non-Nato Ukraine, and leaves most of the rest of the Ukraine in “the West’s” hands, to the tune of over $180 billion dollars a year that’s flushed down the toilet in a failing state.

  50. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    A cursory reading (in English translation) of Putin’s remarks at the 2015 Valdai Club meeting point out that this region has a history in which people of the region have too seldom their own decisions, which have mostly been imposed. He specifically speaks to the need to amend this problem.
    I would count this as a minor note to a far more complex situation, but there is certainly a case to be made that this announcement is consistent with Putin’s earlier remarks.
    Then do a “Find” on ‘Syria’

  51. Dubhaltach says:

    In reply to PeteM 14 March 2016 at 09:19 PM
    How do work that out? They’re losing. Since when do losers get to shape the terms of the peace settlement? Furthermore by their behaviour have shown that they’re too savage to be allowed survive.

  52. jld says:

    Not at all!
    The “generous tit-for-tat” is NOT the dominating strategy, there is a very clever way to cheat the opponent which cannot be countered except (of course…) by being yourself aware the snag:
    “Iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma contains strategies that dominate any evolutionary opponent”

  53. Ingolf says:

    That may well be right, Michael. I thought the piece was useful not so much for its attempt to explain why this step is being taken but for its conclusions about the practical effects in Syria.

  54. Seamus says:

    The Syrian Kurds whole ideology is based on the attainment of autonomy within a united Syria. So too for the Turkish Kurds: The idea of an independent state was disavowed some time ago by Ocalan and the PKK; they see it as a regressive idea. Their ultimate goal is to democratise the middle east based on “democratic confederalism”.

  55. Ken Macaulay says:

    There does seem to be quite a few people around the net saying that this was a betrayal of Syria in return for the US to put pressure on the Ukrainian government or some other quid pro quo. This was in reference to them.

  56. Ken Macaulay says:

    Not surprised on Iran (although hopefully the co-operation on Syria will strengthen the trust level – especially when dealing with the wahhabi menace in the ‘stans’; and in the economic sphere, where they have a lot to offer each other).
    With Syria – is it more of a worry about competence levels in certain issues?

  57. aleksandar says:

    Before the arrival of the Russian contingent, the Syrian aviation was not equipped with high precision guided weapons which could provide support for ground troops. It used mainly rockets of 57 mm calibre and bombs FAB-50, FAB-100, launched in dive from 1 500 to 3 000 m. So, Syrian planes were vulnerable to 23 and 30 mm caliber AA, and MANPADs, what explains the numerous losses undergone by the Syrian aviation. Meanwhile, 21 bomber Su-24MK of the SAA were upgraded in Russian aeronautics factory N ° 514 ARZ in Rzhev, and put in the standard of Su-24M2, endowed with systems integrating navigation and precision weapons guidance systems (PNS-M). In 2015, Russia had supplied in Syrian aviation with engines and state-of-the-art avionics to bring 64 planes MiG-23BN / MLD to the standard of MiG-23-98.
    MiG-23 possesses equipments OLS-M, class LANTIRN, for the night navigation, infrared detection of ground targets and a multi weapons guidance system, Now, the Syrian plane Su-24 and MiG-23 can execute precision bombardments, day and night,out of reach of MANPADS. They were able in particular to destroy with penetrating bombs HQ underground tunnel that Jihadists had built almost everywhere.
    A lot of job behind the curtain.
    IMO russians have very good intel about ISIS strenght, manpower and capabilities and know that due to destructions, desertions and deaths, SAA/ ISIS balance of power has changed.
    Some kind of ” Do it yourself now ! ”

  58. IMO Russia intends to expand its airbases throughout the Med! And uptempo communications both offensive and defensive!
    The Russians have inherited the Churchill “soft Underbelly of Europe” gene.
    The entire IC community should also focus on the Arctic and Russia East of the Urals. Why? The Chinese have chosen the Moon to colonize and exploit but the Russians Siberia and the Arctic.

  59. And good links on how Russia and China treat their Muslim populations? How it impacts [or doesn’t?] their foreign policies?
    How does oil/gas pricing impact Russian FP? Chinese?

  60. Petrous says:

    It seems like others are pulling back too. This piece sheds some additional light on the matter
    “… At the same time, Reports emerged in Beirut that hundreds of Hizbullah fighters are also withdrawing from Syria, returning to the Dahiya district of east Beirut…. ”

  61. LeaNder says:

    Valissa, it feels this leads into the center of a dilemma the revolutionaries face and faced:
    “Another sheikh I spoke to, who is closely linked to the armed opposition in Idlib and Aleppo. ‘Nusra has been an invaluable ally in our struggle against the regime, but the people are beginning to see that their real agenda threatens ours. Sooner or later, if Nusra continues its aggression, things will explode. Our patience cannot continue forever.'”
    Who’s your top suspicion raising member on the board list?

  62. Smith, W. says:

    As usual a very interesting discussions. Thx to all involded. I’d be interested to get an opinion by the well informed observers if they think that progressive Russian disengagement could/would increase the likelihood of Israel opening a front on Hezbollah in South Lebanon. It seems to me that this might be a possibility as the hope that Hezbollah would be weakened by its engagement in Syria certainly has been disappointed. Too the contrary, I would argue.
    Admittedly I have no real insight in what Israeli strategic thinking is. It did provide modicum of support to JaN in the Golan, it seems so far to have fanned (even if only in a limited fashion). It seems to me that it would rather like to shut down the probably most important corridor for resupply to Hezballah coming from Damascus. This certainly hasn’t been achieved. As such an engagement with Hezbollah that would contribute to a re-destabilsation of the Regime does seem like potentially interesting option????? thanks.

  63. ex-PFC Chuck says:

    “Did Putin just ‘smelled’ the Western trap?”
    This is the headline of a post at Failed Evolution (whose main area of interest is Greece) suggesting that Putin assessed recent US evolving strategy as attempting to lure Russia into an Afghanistan II type quagmire.

  64. different clue says:

    I agree. Towards the end of the article, Mister Lister the author told us why now is the time to arm and otherwise support the “moderate Revolutionary opposition” now more than ever. Mister Lister clearly wants to get the USgov to keep the war against Assad going and going.

  65. LeaNder says:

    Ok, registered Pat’s comment below. 😉

  66. gemini33 says:

    Previewing your Comment
    I noticed they left that out of the transcript too. What was the “other phrase” Biden was referring to? I thought maybe it was “come to Jesus moment” and they were joking because he’s in Israel? Or it would offend the Russians somehow? I don’t know if I’ve ever seen Netanyahu crack a joke though. Agree on the unbearable, all around. As I was listening I wondered if he ever gives a speech on the world stage without some corny anecdote, usually about a family member, as if it is some important detail millions of people should hear.
    This lovefest was supposedly part of a trip whose purpose was, at least in part, to “patch things up”, according to the media. But I’m not sure if they reported the reason why patching up was needed. Are they having trouble agreeing on the military aid MoU? Yesterday I saw a report that Ya’alon, while in DC, said he wanted that signed “sooner rather than later”. I also read that Netanyahu’s last visit here included a pitch for the US to formally recognize the Golan as Israeli territory, as part of the consolation prize for the Iran deal. Israel’s argument is that Syria has become a non-state and cannot be put back together again, will be broken up.
    Haaretz reported that Obama didn’t give Netanyahu an answer, but WH officials told him that agreeing to Israel annexing Golan “would undermine attempts to reach a diplomatic solution to the Syrian civil war.”
    From the same article – Hillary (and Rubio) claim that an agreement on Israel and Palestine is “out of reach” until they “know what happens in Syria and whether Jordan will remain remain stable.” Israel has very recently issued some drilling permits inside the Golan territory they control. It seems like the main parties in the region have all agreed on the spoils of a war they couldn’t win, still want their chunks of Syria whether they win or not, and expect us to get it for them.
    In reply to LeaNder

  67. SmoothieX12 says:

    “but I do believe that best way to go in fall 2014 was to push westward for rebels.”
    It wasn’t possible for a huge number of political, operational and technical reasons. I am not interested in opinions of kinds of Girkin (aka Strelkov) and “Colonel” Cassad. I am more than sure that same Putin has much more comprehensive briefings from Chief of General Staff than any representatives of “Putin Vse Slil” school of thought.
    P.S. Ukraine was not a political objective during Crimea’s return, it just turned out this way, which required a lot of improvisation.

  68. SmoothieX12 says:

    “Putin wanted to keep Crimea, not the Ukraine.”
    Exactly. But that is the argument which is completely ignored by certain group of people in Russia. Fairly tamed and fast extinguished protests in places like Odessa, Kharkov etc. are best illustration. Only Donbass took up the arms and that changed the dynamics.

  69. YT says:

    Yes, the horrid Cantonese go “dew nei loh mu” for Good Measure while the obscene Hokkien folk from Formosa all the way to singapore go “gan ni nah (bu).”
    Both implies you “go screw your mom.”
    Worse than the Hellenic curs when they go “μαλάκας,” but on the same negligible level of insult.

  70. Poul says:

    Itar-Tass states that the Russian are redrawing most of their forces.
    “The Kremlin press service released a statement on Monday evening that the Russian and Syrian presidents, Vladimir Putin and Bashar Assad, agreed to start withdrawing the main part of the Russian aviation task force from Syria because the Russian Aerospace Forces had fulfilled the fundamental tasks which had been assigned to them. Russia will leave an air flight control center in the Syrian territory that will monitor the observation of the Syrian ceasefire, the Kremlin said. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu ordered starting the Russian troops’ withdrawal as of March 15.

  71. oldjack says:

    A nice development sans the training wheels: surprise SAA movement south of Deir ez-Zor. No indication (yet) that the skeleton RuAF force struck in this area.

  72. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    “The idea of an independent state was disavowed some time ago by Ocalan and the PKK”
    Nonsense. How do you reconcile this with their demand for their own “defence forces”?
    PKK is a terrorist organization. After their recent bombing of a purely civilian target three days ago, their MO should be clear to all. “democracy” as used by the West and their tools such as PKK simply means murder and pillage. Putin would probably agree with this definition. He just stopped the democratization of Syria.
    Ishmael Zechariah

  73. Chris Chuba says:

    Putin always supported the Geneva 2012 peace plan that called for multi-party elections as long as they included Assad, he never wanted to annihilate the entire opposition, only the Jihadis. This will encourage Assad (and any unruly members of his party) to listen to their better angels.
    The S400’s will most certainly remain to keep the Turkish air force at bay, as will the artillery. The withdrawal must mean, mostly the air force. aleksandar’s take regarding the refit of the Syrian air force is interesting. We’ll see how capable they are against the MANPAD armed ISIS / Nusra forces.
    The Russians stated that they will leave in their surveillance assets, so if Turkey/Saudi Arabia and gasp, the U.S., try to take advantage of the situation to escalate the arming of FSA / Nusra coalition and break the cease fire agreement the Russians can redeploy their air force. Since the military bases have already been built up, I would think that the Russians could re-deploy in a fraction of the time that they did before. How long did the build up take last time, 1-2 months? I would think that the Russians could now do it within a few weeks.
    This is either a master stroke or a mistake. I am inclined to trust their decision making even though it unsettles me. It looked like they were on the verge of cracking ISIS wide open but perhaps they view this as a critical step towards long term stability vs. a quick flashy win.

  74. Alexey,
    While I think the lashings of ‘liberal’ sanctimonious and self-delusion in Ivan Krastev’s columns in the ‘New York Times’ hard to take, I think he was onto something in the piece he published last October under the title ‘Is Valdimir Putin Trying to Teach the West a Lesson in Syria?
    (See http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/08/opinion/ivan-krastev-is-putin-trying-to-teach-us-a-lesson.html?rref=collection%2Fcolumn%2Fivan-krastev&action=click&contentCollection=opinion&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=6&pgtype=collection .)
    Putting it in different terms: Krastev was arguing that Putin was attempting to persuade the West that, in very much of the world, the principles of Thomas Hobbes have a great deal more relevance than those of Thomas Jefferson.
    A corollary of this – as Krastev also saw – is that rather than trying to attack the West, Putin, in Syria as elsewhere, is trying persuade it that, given the clearly growing pressures towards Hobbesian anarchy inside many states, precisely what we cannot afford is a parallel anarchy in the relation between great powers.
    In fact, prior to 1914, the major European powers had precisely this kind of common interest in cooperating to attempt to control the forces of anarchic disintegration that were putting the international state system under pressure – and failed to grasp this fact. By contrast to Krastev, I think that Putin is substantially right on the major politico-philosophical issue.
    If this reading of Putin is correct, then this provides yet another reason for thinking that the self-restraint he has manifested in Ukraine, and his current move to scale down Russian involvement in Syria, is well-calculated.
    Moreover, if one ignores the – truly massive – lashings of ‘liberal’ sanctimoniousness in the remarks that Obama made in his interviews with Jeffrey Goldberg, it seems that something of the message may actually be getting through.
    As or more important, at the level of public opinion in Britain – and I suspect much of Europe – it is certainly getting through. And here, the self-restraint shown in Ukraine was critical. It has made the common ‘Borgist’ propaganda about Putin seeking to restore the Soviet empire significantly less credible.

  75. LeaNder says:

    Thanks, for the link, Treadzilla.
    “influx of poorly-trained but well-equipped foreign mercenaries”
    I wondered about these participant for longer now.
    “During the five years of war, the frontiers with Turkey, Jordan and Israël became crossing points for between 100,000 and 250,000 Islamist mercenaries (recruited and trained by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United States and Turkey) who opened several fronts,”
    What source do you think he may rely on concerning infiltration via Isreal? Or did I miss something?

  76. Andy,
    As regards Israel, there is a simple and fundamental problem with which
    they are left.
    Inevitably, the normal course of technological development means that missiles of increasing range and accuracy in hardened Hizbullah positions are going to present more and more of a threat over time.
    The problem here is less with ‘deterrence’ than – to use Sir Michael Howard’s phrase from Cold War arguments – ‘reassurance’.
    How you you reliably persuade a ‘critical mass’ of the educated and technologically sophisticated élites on whom the Israeli state depends that they are better off bringing up their children in Tel Aviv rather than New York or San Francisco?

  77. Alexey says:

    Don’t want to go deep in a linguistic dispute but I still think “Mudak” looks a bit strange here. All the “sons of a…” and “c#%ksuckers” feel more appropriate. May be that’s because those words don’t deal with intellectual capacity.
    But alas there is no rules for this kind of thing that I’m aware of.

  78. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I rephrase your question:
    “What is the chance of the creation of a new Libyan government that enjoys widespread legitimacy by Western Diocletian states?”

  79. Erika says:

    First, I am going to apologize. Months ago, I tried to post and I didn’t do it correctly. Hopefully, second time is a charm.
    This is a post from Fort Russ regarding Putin’s move “What Success Looks Like – When a ‘withdrawal’ is not a withdrawal.”
    It explains Putin’s reasoning and how the East/West interpret retreat/withdrawal and how by understanding this we can better interpret Putin’s move.

  80. The Beaver says:

    “Russia will continue air strikes in Syria despite the withdrawal of most of its forces, a senior official has said….Deputy Defence Minister Nikolay Pankov said it was too early to speak of defeating terrorism, after a campaign that has bolstered Syria’s government.”

  81. LeaNder says:

    “As such an engagement with Hezbollah that would contribute to a re-destabilsation of the Regime does seem like potentially interesting option????? thanks.”
    Interesting question. What side would trigger this? I suppose we had no more urgent-planning-news concerning Israeli danger assessments in Lebanon recently. Did we?

  82. LeaNder says:

    to much reliance on earlier prognostications on an admittedly superficial look. Or maybe I should say too guided by ideological perception?

  83. SmoothieX12 says:

    Raqqa was circulating in Russian media for some time now, which is a good indicator that some kind of coordination was achieved between Russia and USA. Meanwhile, one of the factors which is being overlooked is the fact that Admiral Kuznetsov and its carrier battle group are going to Med most likely by the start of Summer. If Kuznetsov air wing will be comprised of latest MiG-29Ks (not SU-33s) than it is obvious that “parking” this carrier near Syria will be the only natural course of actions. Unlike SU-33, MiG 29K is a true multi-role fighter capable of air to ground operations.
    P.S. Starting in March Syria has a season of sand storms.

  84. kooshy says:

    I think you are correct, from what I have read and listened by insider Iranian analysts, the Iranian aim has always been to give credit for any victory or achievement mainly to SAA and NDF, although they do give credit to Iran for proposing and creating the Syrian NDF. with regard to Syrian state instructions strength, their argument is very similar to yours ( they want partners not puppets on life support). In this regard I believe all Syrian state supporters meaning R+6 have an agreement.

  85. LeaNder says:

    Hmm, odd layout of your response.
    “Israel’s argument is that Syria has become a non-state and cannot be put back together again, will be broken up.”
    I missed that. Were there official statements?
    I’ll look into the Haaretz article.

  86. LeaNder says:

    why didn’t you link to the Jewish Insider, seems that’s the ultimate source of the Haaretz article. That was pretty obvious, wasn’t it?

  87. Bill Herschel says:

    The Russian force was designed to provide air and special forces support for the Syrian Army against jihadists.
    When Turkey shot down a Russian jet that force was augmented to provide a no-fly zone protecting Russian aircraft and ground forces.
    Within the past few days, Lavrov has said there is a creeping Turkish invasion of Syria: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-russia-turkey-idUSKCN0WF0I3
    What the Russian force was not designed to do was defend Syria against a Turkish invasion.
    Recently, things have been heating up in Ukraine, and, mirabile dictu, Turkey is leading the way: http://www.newsweek.com/ukraine-and-turkey-launch-joint-naval-drill-amid-russia-stand-434806 [among many others]
    Russia must protect its interest in Ukraine and will. They have started a peace process in Syria that the “West” is free to do with as it pleases. What Russia cannot and will not do is be in the center of a Turkish invasion of Syria. They will not dirty their hands with the Turks unless and until they wipe Turkey off the face of the earth. Civil unrest in Turkey? That is already happening.

  88. gemini33 says:

    RT is reporting that Russian fighter jets have started leaving Syria. I didn’t realize they were going to pull those out since there was word that they would keep the air base. I wonder how many planes they will leave in Syria. I also wonder if those Iranian air force jets were ever deployed to one of the two bases in eastern Homs, near Palmyra. That was reported back in December.

  89. Chiron says:

    Dr. E. J. Dillon of the London Daily Telegraph wrote in his book “The Inside Story of the Peace Conference,” (1920): Many delegates deduced that “henceforth the world will be governed by the Anglo-Saxon people, who in turn are swayed by their Jewish elements…” (i.e. the central bankers and their factotums) p 497.

  90. turcopolier says:

    Bill Herschel
    IMO the Spetsnaz thing is interesting but not important. much more important has been the staff advice, training and participation in planning as well as re-training and re-supplying the troops. pl

  91. Serge says:

    My takes on all of this,it should be disclosed that from the onset of the direct Russian involvement I never believed that any of their goals extended beyond the consolidation and fortification of an Alawite-dominated “Coastal Syria”. In this, the mission has indeed been accomplished, with any jihadi threatening of the government heartland being unthinkable now compared to it being a very possible reality just months ago.
    whether Assad can sustain the momentum after the removal of the training wheels depends on too many factors to be successfully predicted. I believe a very germane factor to the Russians not extending the mission any farther(which they obviously have the military capability to do so) is the question of what to do with the ten-20 million jihadi civilians living all across jihadi land, whether that be in Iraq or Syria(it doesn’t matter anymore). The same question rests on the shoulders of the powers that be in the USA.
    This is a question that it is imperative to answer before any question of a jihadi defeat can be brought up, and so far no realistic answer to this dilemma has appeared as of today.

  92. Babak Makkinejad says:

    One has to ask why does PKK exist if they espouse a political position of living within Turkish state with Turks in peace.
    Put another way, now that there is a Kurdish party with representatives in the Turkish parliament, why does not PKK transform itself into another such political party.
    May God save us from gullible Western people.

  93. Babak Makkinejad says:

    The Law of the Seas – which US has not ratified – would have helped US position in the Arctic. But now her position is a minor one – based on her seashore – compared to Russia, Norway, Canada, Denmark….
    US has so little shoreline in the Arctic that I fail to see how it makes any sense to treat strategically.

  94. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Israelis are openly discussing moving their petrochemical industry outside of Haifa; lest at attack on those industries make Haifa uninhabitable.

  95. Erika says:

    According to Southfront, it takes 3 mths to train recruits/soldiers.
    The first bunch that got trained by Russians came into force in early January, the next in late February. That would mean in late March, the next wave of those trained should be coming in / deploy?
    Perhaps that is enough to help stabilize the situation.

  96. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Both Senegal and Tunisia are teetering; Oman will be up in the air once Sultan Qabus dies (any day now) and Afghanistan will almost certainly break along the old Seljuk boundary.
    The R+6 do not have the resources to prevent the coming Hobbesian anarchy; will US & EU do anything to help?

  97. gemini33 says:

    I asked Elijah Magnier and he said Iran has withdrawn troops 11 times according to “analysis” but has “returned again with a time machine the same day”. 🙂
    Since the news about Russia’s withdrawal was such a surprise, I figured it was a good idea to check with him again though I knew there had been false reports in the past.

  98. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Very good, thanks.

  99. robt willmann says:

    I think that Russia is trying to seize the initiative in a settlement of the violence in western Syria and of the maintenance of some governmental structure in Syria. The “cessation of hostilities” that began on 27 February 2016 was going to be done by the “moderate opposition” in the form of a two-week truce. That time period is now up, and Russia, by this move, is looking to box in the U.S. once again by emphasizing a more peaceful and “political” resolution to the conflict. What is the U.S. going to do now? Aid and assist the “moderate opposition” to again start shooting and trying to take over territory?
    Previously, Russia boxed in the U.S. by using the U.S. propaganda about “terrorism” and that ISIS is more dangerous than any government, military, or organization in the history of the world. The Russians simply said in September 2015 that they went to Syria to fight “terrorism” and ISIS. What could the U.S., Britain, and Israel say about that? Nothing.
    Now, Russia is using the “moral” and “psychological” technique of “some withdrawal” and “peace talks” to keep a lid on the anti-Assad activity in the western part to allow the Syrian goverment to try to clear and stabilize Aleppo and other western areas.
    The Syrian government, Iran, and Russia should have very good information on what is happening on the ground and what the opposition is doing and where. I guess this has led Russia to think that the Syrian government and militias can prevent a counter-offensive and have enough strength to take back the eastern part of Syria all the way to the Iraq border.
    One would think that Russia would keep its surveillance, anti-aircraft systems, drones, and some airplanes and helicopters in Syria, as well as logistical support and advice.
    I think Russia also has its eye on the U.S. presidential election, as a new president is to take office in January 2017. That is only 10 months away, and time flies. Most of the candidates are promoting more violence in the Middle East. The Russians are trying to create a situation in which it will be politically and psychologically difficult for the new U.S. president to again escalate violence in Syria and elsewhere in the ME, even by a secret “finding” for more (and continuing) “covert action” by the CIA in the area.

  100. LeaNder says:

    not a fighter but a softie, if I trust my Old Greek dictionary? Menge-Güthling.
    Did it make a huge semiotic shift after?
    Strictly, I think TTG is a great bastard.

  101. gemini33 says:

    Sasha Kots, war correspondent: Russia prefers “a diplomatic victory in which no one loses.” That seems like propaganda but that is what was achieved with the Syrian chemical weapon removal in 2013, so there’s that.
    She describes what she thinks will stay in place and says Putin said they would protect their air base but only strike in an emergency.
    From a translation at Russia Insider: http://russia-insider.com/en/politics/8-answers-why-russian-forces-are-returning-syria/ri13374?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

  102. mbrenner says:

    Two points:
    1. In regard to a Ukrainian connection, there is no sign of Washington moving toward a deal that will result in a removal of sanctions. Petroshenko has withdrawn his tentative plan to pass the legislation requisite to meet the conditions of Minsk. He did so with Washington approval and Merkel/Hollande have taken off the pressure. We moved heaven and earth to keep the current coalition in power – despite approval ratings in the single digits – by letting them off the hook on this. A new election will bring to power the ultra-nationalists and neo-Nazis.
    2. As is pointed out, we’ve been slighting the Turkish factor. Logically, what Erdogan might do or not do (communicated to Russia or not) has to be a major factor in the equation. Regrettably, knowledgeable reporting from Ankara is as scarce as it is from Moscow. We’re all flying in the dark on this – Obama included. Only for him it’s nothing new.

  103. Dubhaltach says:

    Colonel, All,
    “Russian fighter jets have continued to carry out intense air raids in Syria in support of forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad after Moscow said it had begun withdrawing its forces from the country.
    Syrian government forces on Tuesday advanced towards the historic city of Palmyra under “heavy Russian air cover”, according to Al-Manar – a television station belonging to Hezbollah, which is fighting alongside the Syrian president’s regime.
    The reports of Russian air involvement follow Monday’s surprise Kremlin announcement about troop withdrawal from Syria. ”
    The article also has what seems to be a fairly up-to-date map showing who controls what.
    Read in full here: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/mar/15/russian-fighter-jets-continue-syria-raids-as-troops-withdraw

  104. Patrick H says:

    I suppose the answer to the question in your second paragraph is: Because the Kurdish party already in parliament is already very closely entwined with the PKK. Not an exact parallel of course, but think of Sinn Fein/IRA a couple of decades ago.

  105. Fred says:

    “US and EU are also both losers in that they failed to bring about the destruction of SAR.”
    Losers in the sense that the policy objective was not met? It sure wasn’t in the interest of Western civilization to allow the creatation of an ISIS state; which being a self proclaimed Caliphate would have had enormous destructive impact on the world.

  106. Thomas says:

    “Since when do losers get to shape the terms of the peace settlement?”
    People suffering from Borg-bonic Plauge have a hard time accepting truth even when their Creative Reality worldview is shattering all around.
    It is a shame that some posting here suffer from this horrible malady.

  107. Valissa says:

    Thanks Erika… that’s the best analysis I’ve seen yet of Putin’s recent actions. A very straightforward explanation of the power dynamics. I found it very refreshing after wading through the fog of war-punditizers’ attempts to ‘splain Putin’s move.

  108. bth says:

    I would submit that a series of what might appear to be disparate events are connected by national super power interests and diplomatic timelines. Further that Lavrov and Kerry have been winding the clocks in the backroom and now we are hearing the chimes.
    …Proposals on ensuring security measures at elections in the southeastern Ukrainian region should be submitted to the OSCE (the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) by March 31…
    …The Normandy Four urged the parties to create by April 30 a mechanism for prevention of ceasefire violations in Donbass.
    …Another agreement concerns the release of prisoners of war. The Normandy Four called on the conflicting sides in Donbass to hold the exchange of prisoners by April 30, 2016. This effort must take place under international control. The access of international observers to all prisoners should be simultaneously ensured.

  109. Babak Makkinejad says:

    It was not in the interest of Muslim Civilization to allow the creation of an ISIS state either – but things like that happen all the time; like the War between the States in US.

  110. Parj says:

    it all make sens if one consider a large oil reserve under the golan

  111. Babak Makkinejad,
    It is really a question of how far, and how fast, Western élites, and also the kinds of people to whom they listen in societies they don’t understand, can ‘sober up’: also, what happens when they do.
    Having just chanced upon Krastev’s NYT columns, I find them a fascinating ‘case study’.
    From a tentative attempt to grapple with the delusional mindset of the ‘Borg’ in column he published last year under the title ‘Why Did the ”Twitter Revolutions” Fail?’:
    ‘There has also been a dangerous so-called normative turn in American political science. It reduced our understanding of complex social and global problems to a series of correlations that reassure us that, among other things, democracies do not fight one another, that democracy makes countries richer and less corrupt, and that every country is on its way to becoming, well, a democracy. Liberal teleology came to replace the Marxist one.’
    (See http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/12/opinion/why-did-the-twitter-revolutions-fail.html?ribbon-ad-idx=9&src=trending&module=ArrowsNav&contentCollection=Opinion&action=keypress&region=FixedLeft&pgtype=article .)
    Actually, a key point made by British ‘liberal’ thinkers against Marxists was that a properly ‘scientific’ – using the term in the sense of the German term ‘Wissenschaftlich’ – history could not vindicate any kind of teleology. This was the case alike with the philosopher of science Sir Karl Popper, and the philosopher of historical explanation R.G. Collingwood.
    A classic discussion is on pps. 265-6 of Collingwood’s posthumously published ‘The Idea of History’. Having demolished the ‘scientific’ pretensions of Hegel, Mark, and others, he goes on to observe of the kind of schema they produced, which, explicitly or implicitly, claimed the kind of predictive power of generalisations in the ‘hard sciences’:
    ‘If any of them has ever been accepted by any considerable body of persons other than the one who invented it, that is not because it has struck them as scientifically cogent, but because it has become the orthodoxy of what is in fact, though not necessarily in name, a religious community.’
    This is what ‘the Borg’ – alike in the United States and Europe – is: ‘ in fact, although not necessarily a name, a religious community.’
    That is why ‘correlations’ of a rather limited kind, are taken to imply ‘causation’: a style of argument recognised as fallacious in any genuine ‘science’. (How can anyone conceivably argue that the very limited evidence about the behaviour of ‘democracies’ in international relations can vindicate a generalisation about they, by contrast to ‘authoritarian’ systems, being ‘pacific?’)
    Accordingly, the ‘Borg’ has come to mimic the situation of the Marxist-Leninist ‘religious community’ – that it cannot confront reality without collapsing. One needs to grasp this background, before one can hasard any guesses as to how protracted its inevitable disintegration is likely to be, and how it may play out.

  112. bth says:

    It will be interesting to see how Bibi reacts to all this. Biden shows up last week and announces a multi-year defense tribute to Israel’s congressional lobbyists that was below Bibi’s target and there were some statements last week that Israel might prefer ISIS over Iran in Syria. Can Bibi restrain his natural inclination to kick over the chessboard that the Russians and perhaps the US are playing on?

  113. Seamus says:

    As far as I’m aware no organization has claimed the bombing you mention. The Turkish state has said it was the PKK; then again the Turkish state has said it has never supported ISIS.
    I’ve read much of Abdullah Ocalan’s work, and fully stand by my statement.

  114. Croesus says:

    “Is partition in the future? I suppose we will have to wait to know. ”
    Israeli DM Moshe Ya’alon at Wilson Center on 14 Mar to talk to Ash Carter about a new MOU for Israel, desperately needed because now that an agreement to limit Iran’s nuclear capability is a reality, “Iran is more dangerous than ever.” (sigh)
    Moshe said that a “re-unified Syria is magical thinking. It’s not going to happen.”

  115. Joe100 says:

    The Colonel Cassad blog indicated today that: “For those who are worried, the Kremlin has confirmed that airstrikes will not be discontinued, just reduced their volume due to the reduction of aviation group.” (Yandex translation)

  116. Smith, W. says:

    NO urgent–planning-news– maybe you lost me, but atleast no alarming reprots or posturing this or that in while… as for who triggers it. I think Hezbollah is not likely to do so just now. I can see some other faction trying to lob a couple of rockets or so over, which starts the circle of retaliation. An operation by the Israelis on some Hezb commander in Syria that would get the retribution game started. Should it be wanted I am sure it can be engineered…May be Patrick Bahzad has an opinion and wants to input? Thanks

  117. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Yes that bit about democracies not fighting one another was a bit much after World War I.
    It is not just the case of “The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our life-time.” – it is more like this:
    “Let us see how far we can go in extinguishing lights here and there – regardless of the danger that all lights could be extinguished all over the planet.”

  118. Babak Makkinejad says:

    The Armenian communities in Eastern Anatolia balanced the Kurdish communities (and not Turkish ones).
    When those Armenian communities were extinguished, that balance was destroyed and has not been restored since.

  119. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg says:

    Since Bibi’s Isreal is already sitting on Syrian national territory (the parts the water comes from), I imagine that Bibi has nothing really to lose if the Assad government stays in control of the country. He’d have been happier having it all turn into another Iraq, but he’ll probably be satisfied the most of the place is in utter ruins. Speaking of the water, didn’t the Syrian version of the Arab Spring start because a drought had ruined their agriculture? (and no, I don’t doubt the ramshackle ancien regime mismanaged it if someone told me).
    As to Russia, it looks like Putin is very skilled at what one of the other commenters here said was ‘playing a poor hand expertly’ or something to that effect. The Russians really seem determined to act in ways that are nimble and cost-effective, leveraging a little bit of force for a whole lot of effect.
    I wonder also if the denouement of this whole rancid affair won’t include increased devolution of power in Syria. Wasn’t Bashar Assad originally attempting to do this when he took over?

  120. SmoothieX12 says:

    Immediately, wrong premise from the article:
    ” … dragging Russia in the Middle East front, is probably part of Washington’s changing strategy at this moment, and has two main targets”
    Nobody in Russia, from average housewife up to GOU (Chief Operational Directorate) of General Staff and up to highest political level has any illusions on US account. Done, over with. But fact is, Washington would rather have no Russians in the ME at all. And then, comes this sensitive issue: Washington is not a rational player, let alone capable of adaptive strategies, let alone in relation to a country (Russia) who has a very good understanding (unlike it is vice versa) of what is going on in D.C. In other words, Russia’s military-political top produces on the order of magnitude more OODA loops than people in D.C. It is truism–more OODA loops, the higher is the probability of outplaying the opponent. Different dynamics is here and Putin doesn’t have to “smell” anything.

  121. Kooshy says:

    Colonel IMO quality of comments and discussion on this thread was superb and deserves an A.

  122. different clue says:

    Babak Makkinejad,
    Our Arctic coastal shoreline may look like “so little” compared with Canada’s and Russia’s, but the Arctic Alaska shoreline is quite a lot of shoreline.

  123. hans says:

    I find it – no snark intended – likely that in Putin we have an actual, rather than imputed, master of 11 Dimensional Chess.

  124. Fred says:

    I partly agree, however I must point out that the war between the states was not based on religion or one’s interpretation of it.

  125. Kooshy says:

    With regard to Russian policy on Ukraine and Syria, and more pointedly eastern Mediterranean, IMO Putin, (unlike western press here I mean Russians) have achieved an important goal and have sent or established an important message. First the Russian/ and their Resisting allies goal of denying Mediterranean Sea to become a fully western NATO sea is now stablished both in Ukraine’ Black Sea region and in Syria’ Latakia coast. Secondly and as important the Russians have now sent an strong message to the west US that they still are a contender both in political and military terms. IMO in Russian policy makers view the rest is just an unnecessary expanse that need not to be paid now.

  126. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    Seems like you go by “writings” and not by actions. Ocalan has been singing this tune since his ass landed in jail. A craven coward and turncoat, he should have swung for his earlier actions. I knew him and his organization way back, in the seventies. He is a terrorist and will get his reward sooner or later. Just like Bayik will get his when the West wearies of this issue and goes home.
    Since you “know” so much about “PekeKe”, tell us how they fund themselves. You can also discuss the identity of the bombers.
    As far as ISIS goes, we all know who supported/supports it.Same folks who supported tayyip a decade ago. Go read some Seymour Hersh. Then you can stand or sit as you may.
    Ishmael Zechariah

  127. turcopolier says:

    Nah. I have been listening to that 19th Century Mahanian stuff about Russia’s drive to warm water ports since I was a kid. that is far too mechanistic a view. Why don’t you try listening to what they say? pl

  128. turcopolier says:

    Fred is right. The WBS was not in any way a war of religion. pl

  129. LJ says:

    My recollection was that Surkov and Kerry engaged in months of highly publicized negotiations before the Russian acceptance of Syria’s invitation to help militarily. I suspected that one outcome of these negotiations was some kind of deal, which we are now seeing played out.

  130. bth says:

    Putin and Lavrov are remarkably explicit about what they want and in communicating it through open media. I don’t remember such clarity from Russia or the USSR in the past. Is it me or are others experiencing the same thing?

  131. different clue says:

    Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg,
    I looked at a map of Syria and it looks to me like almost all of Syria’s water (except for what is retained on or under the land it falls on) is flowing down the Euphrates River. Some of that originates in Turkey and some of it originates in Syria itself. It looks to me like that almost-all-of-Syria’s-water is way over in the other end of Syria from where the Golan Heights is. So Golan Heights water is very important to Israel’s water budget but much less important to Syria’s overall water budget.
    I include a link to the map, so other people can tell me if I am reading it wrong.

  132. Alexey says:

    Russia doesn’t treat it’s Muslim population any different. Don’t have any links but Islam as far as I’m aware is beneficiary of the same conservative policies as christianity. May be a bit lagging behind but not significantly.

  133. Babak Makkinejad says:

    My understanding has been to play at the Grand Master, players study and memorize previous games of other masters and champions.
    If the analogy obtains, one must expect that Putin has a very deep knowledge of historical events of the last few centuries in Europe and perhaps even earlier. He must also be a student of Machiavelli – at least the Prince.

  134. rg says:

    I think one of the purposes of Biden’s trip to Israel was related to the possibility that Hillary will be indicted and driven out of the Presidential race, leaving him as the candidate. He is probably not thinking about retirement. Apropos a longer comment I just posted on another SST thread.

  135. gemini33 says:

    Odd layout – I didn’t see that until after I posted the comment. What happened was, I was composing the comment and I was called away from my computer for awhile. I came back to hit post and it told me too much time had passed and it wouldn’t post the comment. So I copy/pasted what was in the box, put it into a new comment, and that other stuff was in it, alas.
    There were several sources for the Israeli argument about Syria being “humpty dumpty” because I think it was said by multiple people over a pretty long period of time. I will look those up tomorrow and link one.

  136. Mishkilji says:

    Perhaps Putin, unlike any recent US President, knows how to treat a recalcitrant subordinate ally.
    Assad recently allowed distance to emerge between him and Putin over the political process outlined in Geneva.
    Putin, judging that the situation is stabilized or ISIS is on the rope, wanted to send a message about who is in charge.
    The Russians have greater situational awareness concerning Syria and the various factions at work than we do.
    I disagree that this development hurts Bibi. Any situation that leads to potential Syrian partition (and partition in Iraq) serves their strategic goals: a divided and incoherent Arab state system.
    The notion that Russia’s aims center on a small port in the Mediterranean masks Russia’s long term project (one that has been going on for nearly 50 years)–the Syrian Army.
    Putin just created a gap between Assad’s interests and those of the Syrian Army.

  137. aleksandar says:

    Putin thinks most of the time « out of the box », effectiveness and pragmatism.
    The need for Russia to keep Tartous and Lattakié air base is too much an « empire»  idea and a 19eme century problem.
    Putin was very clear when asked the question.:
    Q: Will Russia keep Tartous and Lattakié airbase ?
    PUTIN : We don’t know, if we think it’s neccesary, maybe, but nowadays, when you have 1800 km range Kaliber missiles , strategic bombardiers and submarines, the need for foreign bases must be evaluated cautiously.
    Some comments are about a « deal » : Russia’s withdrawal / Ukraine.
    But, does Russia need a deal about Ukraine ?
    IMO the answer is no, current situation can last many years,economic sanctions harm EEC more than Russia. Putin has already refused to let DPR and LPR join the Russian Federation and in the long term they will be russian political fifth column inside Ukraine.
    So clever !
    Russia’s withdrawal
    Lessons from Afghanistan remain clears :
    « Don’t look like an invader, don’t stay too long ».

  138. turcopolier says:

    But would Putin LIKE a deal that reduces or eliminates sanctions? pl

  139. turcopolier says:

    I am assuming that Syria will not be partitioned and that the Syrian Army + friends will be a more potent potential opponent for Israel. pl

  140. aleksandar says:

    You’r absolutely right, and he was blocked to do so by crocodiles of the Baath Party.
    At this time, he was only ” the son of Haffez “.
    Things have changed.

  141. different clue says:

    I can’t imagine the government of Syria giving up in the longest run the Euphrates River or its valley or its watershed to some kind of rebel or ISIS control. Water is the fate of the state in a dry area. Perhaps the SARgov will allow itself to remain not-in-control of the absolutely most worthless totally desert areas for a while.

  142. Babak Makkinejad says:

    “The need for Russia to keep Tartous and Lattakié air base is too much an « empire» idea and a 19eme century problem..”
    Then why are the English still in Gibraltar?

  143. Babak Makkinejad says:

    All right; consider World War I instead.

  144. Thomas says:

    “Can Bibi restrain his natural inclination to kick over the chessboard that the Russians and perhaps the US are playing on?”
    Or, can Israelis restrain Bibi’s natural inclination to kick over the chessboard that the Russians and perhaps the US are playing on?
    Do they want to?

  145. Respectfully disagree with second sentence. Canadian/US relations becoming the most important “special” relationship.

  146. IMO Mosul will NOT be retaken!

  147. LeaNder says:

    “Western Diocletian states?”
    Why don’t you simply call it “the West”, as Pat “transcribed” it somewhere?
    Seems the Diocletians are both black and white, good and evil.
    white: culturally, no chance for the ones that where outside the limits at Diocletian times. No doubt some from the outside, like Russia and Poland slipped into the colonial spheres. But forget about the rest, other then some Diocletian adoptive-in-Waiting like Russia.
    Black: since they are the above. Will they ever allow a legitimate Libyan goverment?

  148. Whatever the risk the next U.S. President will stop pouring blood and terasure into the sand!

  149. Is Chechknya [sic] majority Muslim?

  150. LeaNder says:

    “I can see some other faction …”
    no doubt that is always a possibility considering the context. Meaning? The Gaza scenario or the brewing dissent in Gaza & “Judea and Samaria” may trigger events in Lebanon too?
    in any case, to this acknowledge nitwit, it triggers this association. Concerning Israel/Palestine, I seem to need a mental distance.

  151. LeaNder says:

    SmoothieX12, dear, while I have no idea if you are real or if you invented yourself as concerned Russian living in the US. No clear picture yet.
    “But fact is, Washington would rather have no Russians in the ME at all.”
    Who is Washington, and who is Putin?

  152. aleksandar says:

    I wouldn’t use “like” about Putin thinking, I always wonder if this guy in not a new model of Super Cyborg.
    Well, sorry for the joke, sir.
    Economic sanctions are weapons for Putin against the oligarchs, most of them pro-west and waiting for the “ol’ good Yeltine years”.
    The main effect of sanction is not about trade,and so on, and so on as the MSM repeat but about the fact that russian firms cannot finance theirs activities and projects with loans on the western bank market.
    They have to find internal funding or ask China.
    Both solutions will reduce financial ties between oligarchs and the West, push them to use roubles and yuans, and by the way, less US dollars.
    That under the political and economic supervision of Putin administration.
    Not so bad, isn’t ?
    Russian banking system is less than efficient.
    To drain money russian Gvt has decided last month to create a Official Postal Bank all over Russian Federation using post offices network.
    It’s a long term project but the idea is clear, russian money funding russian economy.
    The one who pay (or invest) can order.
    Sanctions, so far, are viewed in Moscou as an opportunity of financial autonomy and a step toward banking, industrial and agricultural development.
    ie : Agriculture Minister, Alexander Tkachyov stated on Tuesday that Russia will be less reliant on food imports in future, hoping to eliminate them from the market altogether by 2025.
    The bear walk slowly, but walk.

  153. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I prefer my own formulation which is empirically based on the Diocletian Line and the notion of the Persistence of the Past.
    “Seems the Diocletians are both black and white, good and evil.”; how droll, Mani would have been amused by your statement.
    The time for the creation of legitimate political authority by the Western Diocletians states outside of her original boundaries is past.
    Accept that limitation and move on to avoid further grief, to yourselves and to others.
    I do not understand your last sentence.

  154. Babak Makkinejad says:

    There is a saying in Persian:
    “If you do not have a headache, you should not bandage your head.”
    So, my view is this: what does the United States gain by an endless confrontation with the Russian Federation? Or Iran? and I suppose, in the ripeness of time, with China?

  155. LeaNder says:

    Explain: “Putin Vse Slil”
    the military in Russia knows what they are doing but analogous to Jelzin the Putin “Entourage” does not?
    Anyway what does the above mean?

  156. SmoothieX12 says:

    “Anyway what does the above mean?”
    It means that there is a “school of thought” (or rather lack there of, I mean thought;-) in Russia, which since the very start of Maidan coup in Kiev thinks that Russia could have gone even further and not just returned Crimea but liberated the whole Novorossya. In general, these are people who are very much for military solution to everything. Their favorite slogan is “Putin Vse Slil” which means in English Putin Flushed Everything down the toilet. This phrase became a meme. The most popular representative of this school is so called Colonel Cassad (Boris Rozhin) who, since the inception, was in permanent panic mode predicting the collapse of everything and accusing Russia of:
    1. Sabotaging Donbas, leaving it alone;
    2. Of having omnipotent, God-like, Surkov making decisions on sabotaging Donbas over the head of poor, confused and impotent Putin;
    3. Basing, initially, own “assessments” on the thoughts of infamous Igor Strelkov, all of which turned out to be utter BS.
    Plus many other things of this nature. It was not until famous interview of REAL former officer and famous military journalist Vlad Shurygin with representatives of “Northern Wind” that Colonel Cassad, who is not a colonel, and his “equals” such as ever hysterical El Murid got shot down in terms of accusing Kremlin of “flushing everything down the toilet”. The fact that people such as Cassad or Murid or famous BSer Putnik, whose audiences are mostly young and inexperienced people, while serving as combat news clearing houses, were absolutely not acquainted with the way decisions are made on the top military-political level was somehow lost on Putin Vse Slil crowd.
    Needless to say, even today, these people still believe that Russia in 2014 could have gone in victorious march to Kiev, those people also will, and they do, think that Russia should have completely liberated Syria. Any appeals to think within larger geostrategic, resources, operational and political frameworks go unheeded by this crowd so short of utter destruction of evil, raising Russian flag over ruins of whatever–nothing will move those people to admit that Putin plays well and he has on several hundred orders of magnitude better knowledge of global arena than all those Putin Vse Slin “analysts” and bloggers combined.
    In my post I underscored, that I am not a fanboy of Putin (and I still have a lot of questions to ask him) but it is impossible to ignore anymore a simple fact, that today he is the only global figure which can be compared to likes of Bismark and Peter The Great, or Stalin in the scale of his influence on the formation of the new geopolitical order. Losers and Vse Slil people simply do command such level of both hatred and admiration which Putin does today. Events in Syria proved it yet again. Another matter, that it should be clearly understood that Putin is not alone and he is, indeed, a “moderate” one.

  157. SmoothieX12 says:

    Correction. In: “Losers and Vse Slil people simply do command such level of both hatred and admiration which Putin does today.”
    To be read:”Losers and Vse Slil people simply do NOT command….”

  158. different clue says:

    I have read somewhere that before the sanctions, most of the salmon eaten in Western and Central Russia was farmed salmon imported from mainly Norway. What about in Eastern Russia (Siberia and the Farthest East)? Before sanctions did the people there eat wild-caught Kamchatka or other wild salmon, or did the people way out there also eat Norwegian farmed salmon if they ate any salmon at all?

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