Provocative headline to grab attention, then ridicule.
Russia’s diplomatic plan conveys a lack of seriousness on its stated intent to battle Isis
The desperate conflict in Syria has triggered another flurry of diplomacy, with Russia suggesting it is now driving ahead plans for a political solution as robust as its recent military intervention. There is no sign of anything more hopeful on this bleak horizon so the US and its partners could do worse than call the Kremlin’s bluff — on the allegedly clear goals that President Vladimir Putin contrasts with Washington’s fog of indecision and adventurist backing of Syrian rebels.
During his annual Valdai gathering in Sochi last week, Mr Putin said that, at his recent meeting in Moscow with Bashar al-Assad, he had won the Syrian president over to the idea of supporting rebel groups if they were willing to fight the jihadis of Isis. Little is known of what transpired at this meeting, not least because Mr Assad was spirited out of Damascus without his entourage. So Mr Putin won attention in Sochi when he said he would “pull open the curtain a little on my talks with President Assad”.
The Russian president said he asked Mr Assad: “What view would you take if we found, now in Syria, an armed opposition which nonetheless was ready to oppose and really fight against terrorists, against Islamic State [Isis]? What would be your view if we were to support their efforts in fighting Islamic State in the same way we are supporting the Syrian army?” Mr Putin reported that Mr Assad said he “would view that positively”, and that as a result “we are now thinking about this and are trying, if it works out, to reach these agreements”.
Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, later glossed the armed groups to which his boss referred as units of a still undefined “patriotic opposition”. He then proceeded to magic out of the thin mountain air a nine-point plan to take to Vienna, where he met last Friday with John Kerry, US secretary of state, and the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia and Turkey, who are due to meet again this Friday.This is from the Financial Times! A nine point road map is not serious- Perhaps a 10 point plan would convey seriousness? How about 3 points? Would that be more serious?
The ostensible clarity of Russia’s démarche would be more convincing if it were not based on a narrative so manifestly at odds with the facts. (Whose 'facts'?) A nine-point diplomatic road map, moreover, does not convey substance so much as a lack of seriousness — at least, not enough seriousness to prioritise effectively.
Russia’s priority has been to bomb those rebel forces that have been fighting both the Assad regime and Isis — the principal target of the US-led coalition since the jihadis declared their cross-border caliphate in Syria and Iraq in 2014. Far from joining the fight against Isis, Moscow is concerned to secure and expand the Assad regime’s shrinking rump state. (So?) Western and Arab officials responsible for Syria policy report that the vast majority of Russian air strikes have targeted non-Isis forces.( Again, what's the point?)
These forces include the Free Syrian Army backed by the west, and Islamist militia supported by Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar. Mr Lavrov last week complained the US was refusing to supply the positions on the ground held by this putative “patriotic opposition”. Given that Russian jets have had little difficulty targeting non-Isis rebels so far, from killing their commanders to destroying their hospitals, this was presumably either a satirical touch or throwing yet more sand in people’s eyes.Financial Time fails to mention that all brand rebels are attacking Syrian people. It's military. It's infrastructure and it's national Army. Making them all terrorists to the nation.
Of course, it is discomfiting to all external parties to Syria’s viciously complicated conflict to categorise some of their allies. The west, for example, regards Assad regime allies such as the Iran-backed Hizbollah paramilitaries of Lebanon or some Iraqi Shia militia as terrorists. Moscow for its part describes as terrorists Ahrar al-Sham, backed by Turkey but allied with Jabhat al-Nusra, the local al-Qaeda branch supported from the Gulf; it often claims the Free Syrian Army does not exist.
Yet no nine-point plan is going to make headway with any of this — especially since about the only point discussed so far is Moscow’s insistence that Mr Assad, regarded by much of his Sunni majority population as a war criminal, must stay on through an interim transition. If the Kremlin really does perceive the well-financed millenarian jihadism of Isis as a regional and global threat, then a more immediate, say, three-point plan might show it is serious about addressing it.Nine points must have been silly, because author presents a three point plan- which the reader is supposed to take much more seriously then some absurd 9 point plan! Also it's quite obvious that the vast majority of Syria's Sunni population still support Bashar Assad or he would have been long gone. When one considers SAA is mostly Sunni. A fact glossed over by this disingenuous writer
First, start attacking Isis, which Moscow says is the only alternative to the Assad regime. “Just do Isis first, and then, when we see them pushed back, we can get on and talk about [the transition] and whether Assad stays for a period of time”, as one western diplomat involved in the Syria talks puts it.I would wonder at why it is Russia must fight ISIS, when the west has been claiming to fight them for going on two years now?
Second, stop targeting non-Isis rebels and the barrel-bombing of civilians in rebel enclaves. That would also help ensure a safe zone in the north-west for millions of internally displaced Syrians. Instead, there is a danger that Aleppo could be encircled. Already more than 100,000 people have fled this northern city — an omen of the bigger exodus that could happen.If alternative to ISIS brand rebels are attacking Syrians in Syria then they are an obvious target. Why should they not be a target?
Third, Russia, like all external actors in Syria (except Isis), is committed to a unitary state restored to its original borders. In practice it is reinforcing the de facto partition of the country by fortifying the Assad statelet. Moscow, and Washington — which is backing Syria’s Kurds across the north — need to start thinking now about viable forms of decentralised local leadership that might eventually coalesce nationally.Financial Times writers fails to mention that the Kurds alongside NATO are not committed to a unitary state, nor have they ever been committed to such a state. Partition has been the game at play.
So, it's odd to see a western piece claiming Russia is fortifying the partition the west worked so hard to create. Reality being reality, the coastal area was the only area Russia could have worked from. It was the only possible start point to launch any sort of military operation in Syria.
These three points are all part of the same point, which can no longer be disguised by smoke and mirrors: the survival of Syria and its diverse people and the defeat of Isis.Three points? That's it? Cripes Russia has nine and that wasn't 'serious' enough, but, three is?
And still, Financial Times published this tripe under a very provocative headline and fakes concern for the diverse people of Syria. Garbage. About the only point I can take away from this entire article is the NATO/Israeli terrorists are getting hit hard.