Category Archives: Russia

Amnesty: Russia’s shameful failure to acknowledge civilian killings in Syria

Russian air strikes in Syria have killed hundreds of civilians and caused massive destruction in residential areas, striking homes, a mosque and a busy market, as well as medical facilities, in a pattern of attacks that show evidence of violations of international humanitarian law, said Amnesty International in a new briefing published today.

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2015/12/syria-russias-shameful-failure-to-acknowledge-civilian-killings/

 

Russia seeking to drive Turkmen from Syria

Turkmen2

Russian airstrikes are systematically targeting the infrastructure of Turkmen areas of northwest Syria to prevent their return, Ahmet Arnavut, a rebel commander who controls Turkmen forces in the Bayirbucak region, said.

“Within a month, Russia did what the regime could not since the beginning of the war. They are hitting vacant villages with bombers and helicopters. They are sending a message to Turkmen by destroying houses where no one lives – ‘There is nothing left for you here. Don’t think about returning’.”

Arnavut said that mosques, schools, hospitals, roads and homes had been targeted by the air attacks. Thousands of Turkmen, a Turkic ethnic group largely based in Syria and Iraq, have been displaced by the fighting around Bayirbucak. Around 2,000 Syrian Turkmen have crossed into southern Turkey in recent weeks.

Russia working hard to undermine the Turkish position in Kurdistan

The close relationship between the Iraqi Kurdistani (KRG) and the Turkish government over the past 10 years has been the plank upon which Iraqi Kurdistan has grown, whereas the rest of Iraq’s economy has shrunk through mismanagement and corruption. The importance of the relationship was underscored by Turkey giving Barzani a head of state welcome in Ankara this week.

Accusations of untoward Turkish involvement on Iraqi territory, because of the presence of 400 Turkish troops which are providing services to Kurdistani Pershmerga forces, have been stoked by Russia. This is part of a policy of retaliation for the downing of its fighter jet, although the forces have been there all along with the agreement of, not only the KRG regional government, but of the leaders of the Sunni tribes who are trying to retake Mosul from DAESH/IS. The Baghdad government had given its assent, but not it writing. So its it withdrawing it under Russian-Iranian pressure.

Nouri al-Maliki has meanwhile called on the Popular Mobilisation Force militias to “be prepared and vigilant for the confrontation of enemy’s plans”. He also urged the Iraqi people to “stage protests on Saturday to reject the Turkish presence in Iraq as a response to all those trying to violate the land and sovereignty of Iraq,” which is another way of inviting the Shia militias that have so far divided Iraq to attack Turkish positions. It is worth noting that it was under al-Maliki that DAESH grew considerably, and that many fighters escaped from the prisons around Baghdad to form its leadership. It has never been clear whether Iran and, as a result, the Shia government of Baghdad has not encouraged the growth of DAESH/IS in order to consolidate plans for a greater Iran. This tactric was used during the 2003 Gulf War when Qasim Suleimani trained al-Qaeda fighters to fight against the US.

The US State Department press room was recently the scene of some interesting polemics over the question of the Turkish presence between an RT reporter and the State Dept spokesman.

 

الأقنعة التي سقطت بسقوط الطائرة الروسية

The Good Sense Blown Away along with the Russian Fighter

أخذت الأمور منحى آخر بعد معرفة أن الطائرة التي أسقطتها مقاتلات سلاح الجو التركي بعد إنذارها عشر مرات، ومواصلتها اختراق الأجواء التركية هي إحدى طائرات سلاح الجو الروسي.

وبدأ الحديث سريعا ليس فقط على مستوى تركيا بل على المستوى الدولي أيضا عن احتمالية تحوّل الخلاف القائم بين روسيا وتركيا الناجم عن هذه القضية إلى مناوشات ساخنة، وكلام عن كون الخلاف سيحل قريبا.

استخفاف بالسيادة التركية

كان هناك الذين نظروا إلى الموقف من تحت الستار فتحدّثوا عن أن روسيا ستقطع تصدير الغاز إلى تركيا محاولين بذلك إرباك وإثارة الرأي العام.

المعارضيون ذاتهم الذين لم يعتادوا إلا على الاعتراض لم نجد منهم من يسأل عن السبب وراء إسقاط تركيا للطائرة الحربية الروسية. بل إن منهم من وصل به الأمر إلى حد القول متسائلا: “هل يعقل أن تسقط طائرة لاختراقها الحدود لمدة سبع عشرة ثانية؟”. وفي الوقت نفسه لم ير أي من كتّاب إعلام أردوغان ولا المستظلين بمظلة الكيان الموازي أي لزوم للحديث عن السيادة التركية.

الأمر هو أن البعض من أولئك الذين لم يستطيعوا بعد سعي حثيث وأيام طويلة من المسير أن يسقطوا حزب العدالة والتنمية عن طريق صناديق الاقتراع، أصبحوا يرون أن هناك بصيص أمل ولو بسيطا لإسقاطه عبر دعم بوتين. لكن انطلاقا من التعاطف الذي أظهره مثقفونا الذين دائما ما صدعوا رؤوسنا بعشقهم وحبّهم للديموقراطية مع بوتين الذي لا يتوانى في أن يجهض أبسط الاعتراضات السياسية عليه بأبشع الطرق اللاإنسانية، نستطيع أن نرى نظريتهم في الحكم وبأي منطق سيديرون البلاد.

الأمر في أصله بسيط جدا، وهو أن تركيا أسقطت طائرة “مجهولة الهوية” طبقا لقواعد الاشتباك بعد اختراقها لمجالها الجوي وذلك ضمن مفهوم السيادة المتعارف عليه دوليا وهو حق تركيا الذي تكفله لها القوانين و النظم الدولية.

وليس من الوارد أبدا أن تأخذ الضوء الأخضر في استخدام هذا الحق من أيّ كان. وقد أكّدت مصادر الناتو أن الطائرة الروسية اخترقت الأجواء التركية فعلا.

لصٌ يطالب بالاعتذار عن السرقة!

ومع وجود كل هذه الحقائق فإنه تجدر الإشارة إلى أن مطالبة الرئيس الروسي بوتين لتركيا بالاعتذار أمر لا يمكن تفسيره بالطرق العقلية بل هو أشبه بضغط اللص على صاحب البيت المسروق وابتزازه إياه. أظن أن الرئيس الروسي الذي مافتئ يعبّر عن حبه للفودكا لم يكن ذا عقل رزين وهو يقول هذا الكلام.
فهذا الطلب أشبه بأن يطالب الرئيس الروسي أوكرانيا التي احتل أرضها “شبه جزيرة القرم” بالاعتذار.
أمر تختصره السخافة، لكن في الآونة الأخيرة لم يعد بوتين الذي يسير برأس غير رزين هو المسؤول الوحيد عن السخافة. خصوصا حين يخرج عليك رئيس ورجل دولة مثل بوتين متهما تركيا بشراء البترول من داعش، وهو الأمر الذي يتعدى السخافة ولا يتعدى كونه ادّعاء لا يليق برئيس دولة.

والسبب المنطقي الوحيد الذي قد يجعل بوتين يقول هذا الكلام هو الصدمة التي خلّفتها عملية رسم وإعادة العربدة الروسية إلى مناطقها من خلال إسقاط طائرتها بمجرد اختراق الحدود التركية، ومحاولته -أي بوتين- حشد حملة صليبية جديدة ضد تركيا. ومطالبته برد آيا صوفيا للعالم الأرثوذكسي قد يكون خير دليل يدعم هذا الطرح.

والأدهى من ذلك هو ظن روسيا أنها ستقف على أقدامها بقصفها بالقنابل الثقيلة المواطنين الأبرياء في مناطق التركمان، وليس ذلك إلا ضرب من ضروب الخيال والوهم.

تدخل روسيا في سوريا بهذا الشكل سيعيد للأذهان كل ما انتقدناه لسنوات من قصف الاتحاد السوفياتي في القرن الماضي، وسيجعل عالي الوجه الروسي في المنطقة سافله، سيعيد -دون شك- للذاكرة الاجتماعية ماكان يردّد دائما في القرن التاسع عشر أنه لا يمكن لكافر موسكو أن يكون رفيقا.

See  English translation

https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/blogs/politics/22617-why-is-nobody-talking-about-turkish-sovereignty-in-russian-fighter-analysis

 

We know Turkey supports rebels against Assad. So what? – it isn’t supporting ISIS, although Putin wants to equate them

Gareth Porter writes in

http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/real-turkeys-shoot-down-russian-jet-1615790737

that the Russian plane shot down, hardly touched Turkish airspace, and that the real reason the Turks shot it down was to protect the Turcomans.

We know that. We know that Turkey thinks Assad is a butcher and that his régime, like that of his father’s is fundamentally corrupt. A lot people support him in Syria, just like many Egyptians support Sisi, a combination of patronage and Stockholm syndrome keep a core of those countries’ populations loyal to these butchers and the rest of the country have to lump it. But it’s not like say, the left wing in the UK having to stand for a conservative government following policies they are not in favour of, it is about these other sections of society being butchered when they complain about lack of freedom to carry out normal activities like setting businesses up without paying protection money to Assad’s coterie. Get real!

Furthermore, let us say that the Russian jet screamed through the bottom-most corner of Turkey’s Hatay province at 700mph and couldn’t have been in Turkish territory for more than a nanosecond. The thing is there had been several earlier clear violations, which the Russians were warned about and ignored.

What the hell are the Russians doing there anyway? Putin says he has an official invitation from the Assad régime. But the Assad régime isn’t recognised in Ankara. If Putin wanted to act on Assad’s invitation, he should have left a buffer zone of a couple miles along the Turkish border to make sure there were no incidents.

Instead he is intentionally goading Turkey. He thinks he has leverage because with the existence of steadfast Marxist-Leninist youth movements in Turkey, the Turkish state is thereby held to ransom by groups the FSB can support . He is also implicitly allying himself with the Syrian YPD, whose Turkish branch (PKK) is carrying out an armed struggle within Turkey. The trouble is Putin is equally if not more vulnerable in his Southern provinces in the Caucasus in respect of insurgency.

He has now stirred up a hornets nest, which adds to and doesn’t not reduce instability in the region.

Alert on the Middle East! Seriously…

Putin became a Western hero of sorts as the US and EU bumbled into the Ukraine, giving him every excuse to take Crimea and secure the Black Sea military base at Sevastopol. He moved into Syria with Obama’s acquiescence to secure the Mediterranean base at Lathakiyya, and now will not be moved easily. He is exploiting his hero status in left-of-centre Western opinion, and exploiting also the dislike of Erdogan in these same quarters, in order to goad Turkey into subsmission. The fact that Putin openly said that Erdogan is ‘Islamizing’ Turkey – which is a ridiculous statement –  is evidence of this.

Putin is now cementing his ties with Iran during Obama’s lame duck months, and backing the bloody repressive regimes of Assad and Sisi to take an aggressive posture towards Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey. We are now seeing the Ukraine/Crimea veneer wear off Putin and the brutal Chechnya reality gradually appear from beneath. Russian GDP fell -4% last year and is on course for a similar decline this year. It wouldn’t be the first time that a declining economic power engages in military adventurism to distract the local audience. Sputnik is full every day of new Russian weaponry coming on line, and RT is beating the Putin drum less and less objectively. The Independent newspaper in London owned by Alexander Yevgenievich Lebedev, who also owns the free evening paper – the London Evening standard, and the increasingly popular ‘summary newspaper’ for the Independent called the ‘i’, is joining that bandwagon.

I had some hope that Putin would consider economic ties with Turkey important enough to take it easy on Erdogan, but apparently not. Putin is allying himself with the Kurds to fight the rebels, shoving them out of Turkish border areas to create a Kurdish corridor, and denying Turkey its demand of a buffer zone. Meanwhile, Turkey is preparing itself with Erdogan visiting Qatar to guarantee his gas supplies, if he cuts Russia out, until the Trans Anatolian pipeline to Azerbaijan is ready in 2018. I can’t believe Putin is gambling all or nothing on Syria like this.

It is highly highly that HIllary Clinton will become next president of the US. She will face a de facto situation where Russia has firmly installed itself in its imperial back yard. What will she do? Iran is now out of its corner, and Putin is delivering the S-300, reversing Mevdeyev’s previous decision to cancel the deal. Syria is getting the S-300, if not the S-400, but there is hardly any army left in terms of Syrians – it’s all Iranians and Hezbollah fighters – and now increasingly Russians. I have looked and looked at the evidence on this – is Turkey’s claim that Russia is aiming to destroy the opposition in Syria, rather than ISIS, true?  I cannot but conclude that it is.

In this post:       http://different-traditions.com/?p=3135

(The evidence for Russia’s bad faith on the Turkish border)

I have Ibrahim Kalin’s article summarising the facts involved, and repeating the well-known fact that it is Russian banks that are clearing ISIS oil monies. Putin’s claim that it is Erdogan who is buying ISIS oil is a deflection to hide the true facts.

In this post :     http://different-traditions.com/?p=3138

(How things have changed for the worse in the Middle East with Putin’s entrance)

I have Jamal Khashoggi’s opinion piece on Putin. He is close to Adel Al Jubeir, the Saudi Foreign Minister, and his piece makes worrying reading indeed. Saudi Arabia is already a war-state in virtue of operations in Yemen, and it takes little imagination to project a massive military escalation in both Syria and Iraq. Saudi Arabia is also a state whose establishment feels existentially under threat, not exactly like Russia’s but, in many senses, worse.

With Syria and Iran firmly now in the Russian camp, what will Hillary do if she’s president? She’s not exactly a dove. What will the implications be for Sisi’s regime, and for the resolution of the Libyan crisis, with Saudi Arabia/Qatar vying against the UAE on the opposing sides there? What will the deal be over the UAE, which is playing a double game, with and against Saudi Arabia, which cannot last. Their backing of Sisi also cannot last. The UAE is seeking closer and closer ties with Israel to protect itself, but Israel is increasingly becoming a bystander in what is shaping up as a massive showdown.

Meanwhile Western nations are vying for their place in the bombing circus against ISIS, killing children in schools and making craters in the sand. They are not even seeking to think about the fundamental reason for its existence – namely, the summary expulsion of the Sunni population from the Iraqi state by sectarian Shia governments in Baghdad, this one (Abadi) no better than the last (Maliki). Nor will any future one change things.

Will Erdogan and Muhammad bin Salman turn to embrace the Iraqi sunnis and eventually domesticate and back ISIS in a new escalation? Will we then have a repeat of 1980s Afghanistan in the Levant? It doesn’t bear thinking about.

NATO having sabre rattled in Eastern Europe for months, now sits and watches as Putin smashes through its encirclement. The US is now paying for its regressive and anti-democratic policies in the Middle-East, as Russia takes full advantage of its endless mistakes, and the empty and irrational course that the American foreign policy establishment has charted since 2004. That was when the Democratic party’s Progressive Policy Institute backed the Princeton Project on National Security (PPNS), to create the post-Bush consensus, i.e. the Obama doctrine, which sought to achieve Bush-type goals by stealth, and which has failed as royally as the Bush boots-on-the ground approach.

Meanwhile, whichever way it goes, the Middle-Eastern peoples keep getting trampled on by empires.