“Russia Betrayed Syria” – Part 2: Spheres of Influence and Deconfliction Zones

By Ollie Richardson

The following text concerns the content of the May 29th article authored by Elijah Magnier entitled Russia has reached the end of the road in Syria, so Damascus will continue to fight on with its remaining allies“.

First of all, it is important to stress that the author of these lines doesn’t contest the information presented in Magnier’s article, but believes that some wider context is very much-needed in order to arrive at sensible conclusions. Seemingly, the premise of the article is that Russia has achieved all it wanted to achieve in Syria concerning ending the war, and thus, Russia now wants to kickstart wide negotiations, which will probably take time. However, some fronts of the war are still open, albeit relatively minor, peripheral ones, if to take Aleppo and Damascus as the definition of “major” and “central” fronts.

So, Damascus is determined to liberate all of its territory. Okay. This is both expected and understandable. All sides, both allies and belligerents, are aware of this determination. However, the “problem”, apparently, is that Russia won’t provide assistance in liberating the south.

Screenshot from https://syria.liveuamap.com/ – taken on 29.05.2018

This southern area is essentially occupied by belligerents (Israel/US). And they don’t like Assad’s plans to confront this sphere of influence. Okay, this is understandable too (regardless of whether it is legal or morally correct, which, by the way, it isn’t, since it contravenes international law). In fact, looking at Syria today, it is divided into 4 spheres of influence: US (north-east); Turkey (rest of the north); Russia (Latakia); Israel (south). The rest is more under Assad’s wing, which also includes Iran, which helps as needed (legally).

A question: was the division of Syria into spheres of influence avoidable? The answer, based on today’s reality: no. After all, has the UN Security Council done anything to prevent incursions? Today, in conditions of fourth generation warfare, geopolitics/international relations is like a pool of water. Particles of water are displaced (moved from one place to another) via impetus (energy). One of the results of the propelling of globalism was this new model of international relations. If countries are going to be connected in many intricate, complex ways, then the action/reaction paradigm will play an even more pivotal role. Here is an example:

British citizens voted for “Brexit” in 2016. It is now 2018 and it looks even more likely that it will not happen as was planned (or as voters voted for). This is because the knock-on effect of such a move would affect every single country economically. Thus, Britain, which is now floating in the air since Trump prefers to extort others in order to receive one-sided deals, finds itself having to stall and buy time because as things stand it has no place in the emerging “multipolar” world order. Britain was tied to NATO, the EU, a number of economic institutions, think tanks, NGOs, etc that are all based on the old model of US saying jump and others asking “how high”. This model has now been shattered (the resources needed in order to maintain it simply aren’t available), and Britain is thus lost, especially financially.

So, coming back on topic, today all actions in international relations, especially ones that allude to geopolitical changes of a tectonic strength, affect every single person on this planet. What does this mean? It means that he who dares is responsible not just for their own citizens. So let’s use the example of Russia. Russia/USSR has been under attack by the Western world for over 100 years. And during this time nobody came to the USSR’s aid. In June 1941 the Russian nation was presented with a choice: either stand and fight, or be exterminated. This is important to remember. The attempts to carve up the Russian world never subsided during all this time. Kahn, Napoleon, Hitler, etc all failed. And there is a reason why. Russia survived WW1, civil war, a revolution, and then WW2 all in the space of under 30 years. It went from ruins to launching rockets into space. For comparison, Ukraine went from being the #1 economy in the post-Soviet space to being poorer than Ethiopia in the same time span.

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So now fast forward to Syria. An explanation of what Russia has accomplished here isn’t needed (and Magnier himself outlines it), it’s visible for all to see. But it is regrettable that Russia’s decision to perhaps take a neutral position (in line with international law) concerning southern Syria is being perceived as a “betrayal”. Let us now come back to “spheres of influence”. The situation we have today is that warfare as we know it is changing. And this is because the act of injecting energy into sensitive areas (like the Middle East) entails much more risk than it did, say, 50 years ago.

Russia has nuclear weapons (for defensive reasons to deter Anglo aggression); America has them (for offensive, bullying purposes); and other nations with less influence also have them (for general survival purposes). This is an indisputable fact. Such a situation creates a standoff, and thus new ways of achieving foreign policy aims and objectives are needed that bypass this high risk game (or at least stack the cards in an improved way). Enter proxies. They act as shields. America & Co risked nothing by helping create ISIS/Al Qaeda.

More people die in America from banal things like falling asleep in the bath with an electrical device than because of an ISIS terrorist. And America doesn’t mind when these terrorists die, because they take the evidence of sponsoring terrorism into “paradise” with them, and also because their replacement can be found with absolutely no effort (just let the BBC do the roll call).

All players in the Middle East are subject to this new geopolitical reality. Such is the consequence of globalism. All sides have the potential to make things either spiral out of control or visa-versa – towards peace. But this also changes the percentage of risk involved. Israel has the means to nuke Syria; Russia has the means to forcibly remove America from Syria; Iran has the means to remove Israel from the planet; America has the means to end life as we know it; even Saudi Arabia can rock the boat enough to capsize it. But the key word here is “can”. None of the mentioned examples have happened, because these decisions involve such high risk that it would create a reality that calls the very existence of the “high-roller” nation into question. It is not even a zero-sum game – it is suicide.

So instead an equilibrium is created, where all sides are aware of what the others CAN do, but also understand the element of risk involved and thus are aware of why certain things either happen or don’t happen. What can seem completely irrational is in reality very rational. Israel is neither stupid nor suicidal. Its airstrikes in Syria are low risk but ultimately serve no purpose even in the short-term. If it is about sending messages, then Hezbollah learnt nothing new. It seems like Tel Aviv is fighting for survival. But it must be remembered that Israel was created by the western world, so it is dependent in many ways, especially in terms of its security. In fact, it basically lives off hand outs from the western tax payer. So Tel Aviv isn’t exactly an independent actor.

Iran has no interest in stoking the fire in Syria. It simply wants to live in peace, but it understands that it will always be in the crosshairs of Salafism/Wahhabism/Zionism. Thus measures are taken and deterrents are demonstrated. Syria just wants to return to the pre-2011 situation, and ideally with a reduction in the influence of the Salafism/Wahhabism/Zionism bloc. So that’s why it’s understandable that Damascus wants to liberate every square inch. This is a spiritual matter, a matter of justice, an example of “righting a wrong”.

Turkey put its eggs into one basket (NATO, America, EU) but realised shortly after the Syrian war began that this path leads into the abyss, so changes (rather drastic) were made (Davutoğlu was fired). I.e., the ship is turning 180°, so any sudden movements can be grave.

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And now onto Russia: the main problem for Moscow is the western world’s attempts to destroy it (carving it up like roadkill) from many different angles. These attempts put the very existence of the Russian nation under threat. The way in which the West tries to destroy Russia today is different to the 1940’s. If before Nazi Germany could launch Operation Barbarossa and try to literally annex Russia, today Russia is more than ready to liquidate any invader the moment it cross the border. Here we are talking about complete and utter annihilation. Every single country with a basic level of education knows this. NATO (not a country, but a bloc) knows it, the White House knows it, Israel knows it, Turkey knows it. And this is why today no nation dares to even try to defeat Russia in a military way. So instead America tries to destroy Russia from the inside – harakiri style – by subverting Russian society and thus pushing Russian people into killing other Russian people (Ukraine). It’s like a psychological Operation Barbarossa. So far, it hasn’t worked as America had hoped.

But this doesn’t mean that America will simply rely on methods of what the West calls “hybrid war” (how funny – they accuse Russia of doing what they themselves do). There is a need for tangible pressure too – theatres of military operations. America tries to export the terrorist package from the Middle East to the Caucasus and to places like Chechnya. This is a copy and paste of the Yugoslavia scenario. They also try to inject some elements of Operation Gladio into Ukraine and Belarus. Nazi and jihadist proxies. But the West is forced to convert even these actions into elements of “hybrid war” when the Russian border is “crossed”, because otherwise the FSB will liquidate the Ukrainian saboteur or takfiri militant on the spot. Thus, inside Russia itself there is another process. The West creates NGOs that try to take the baton from the hands of “heroes” who managed to “cross” the Russian border (not literally, but in spirit – Sentsov is a recent example) and to sabotage Russia from inside: whether it is Red vs White, Liberal vs Communist, etc. All means are good in order to stoke the fire. Take, for example, the Yeltsin Center in Ekaterinburg. How this center can exist inside Russia is a discussion for another time…


Why is all of this being described? Because there is clearly a need to outline the wider context that Russia is manoeuvring in. It’s not just a case of liberating South Syria and handing the keys to Daraa to Assad, which is the Hollywood happy ending many on social media seemingly want. Of course, this event is very desirable and would bring some much-needed light to the gloomy room, but it’s just not that simple. Israel, Turkey, America, etc all came into Syria for a reason. And here we are talking about events that are a century in the making – from Sykes-Picot onwards. What has happened in Syria over the past decade stems from roots that were already planted long ago. I recall that “EHSANI22” wrote a magnificent Twitter thread about how the war in Syria was quite predictable, whether it be due to socio-economic factors or the birth of Wahhabism itself.

So, why is Russia being blamed so much as of late? Do the blamers have tunnel vision? Are they aware of Russian history? Have they themselves lived through trials and tribulations? Can this Disney “that’s all folks” ending even become a reality? Today the past 100 years of global order is being ripped apart at the seams. And in reality influence over countries was always akin to a tug of war anyway. It’s just that the ways in which influence is exerted has changed. From military to diplomacy. This change happened not because of economic reasons, and not because there is some moral high ground to occupy. But simply because the human soul is SO TIRED of this paradox of bombing for peace. Somebody has to say “enough is enough”, or “do you realise what you have done?”.

The author of this text affirms that only Russia can take this burden upon itself. The suffering it has endured in the last 100 years alone and the experiences of genetics gives Russia the backbone it needs to carry out this task. No other nation has this today. Someone has to stop shooting, and just because that side stopped, it doesn’t mean that they lost. In fact, in today’s reality it means that they are in a position of strength, like Muhammad Ali vs George Foreman (rope-a-dope). But the problem is that this victory needs time to come into fruition. And most social media users (as was explained here) are impatient. They want everything now; they want the Hollywood ending because they, apparently, are entitled to it (for entertainment purposes, mainly). Sorry, but life is not like that. One must work for this victory just as much as the next person.

So, Russia will be blamed, accused of “betrayal”, spat at, and Putin, as the head of State, will be called every insult under the sun. “Father” is always to blame, because the child was burdened with being responsible for their own life. But behind Russia’s decision to give impetus to wide negotiations in Syria (and to let Syria itself sort out the South of its lands – after all, it is likely that one day Syria will have to sort its own problems out without Russia’s – mummy’s/daddy’s – intervention) is historical lessons. Everyone who reads this text is advised to watch the movie “Come and see” ( Иди и смотри). It concerns what the villages of Belarus had to live through under Nazi occupation. Perhaps after watching this movie Russia’s actions today in Syria may become more understandable for some.

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Liveleak.com – Come and See (1985) with English subtitles

[watch the full thing here]

Lastly, 4 Russian soldiers recently died in Syria in Deir Ezzor. It is most likely that the US was involved, as always, just to spite Russia. These servicemen, ultimately, gave their lives so we can at least stand a chance of repairing this enormous crisis of the human condition. Sometimes events that happen can only be truly understood when some time has passed.

Just because you closed your eyes, it doesn’t mean that the problem disappeared…

P.S. The main problem is that the complexity of geopolitics/International relations cannot be represented on the Internet in any meaningful way. We can develop models that try to outline basic patterns and concepts, but they are just simulacra at the end of the day. So instead, in order to compromise and to use the most popular formats and tools to try to affect the minds of the masses, the most successful way of utilising the Internet has shown to be presenting to people these models, but to also provide them with the algorithm to transfer them into real life. They don’t need to be a like-for-like replica, but as long as the framework of reality corresponds, then it’s already a much more useful way of processing information.

“Russia Betrayed Syria”: Geopolitics Through the Eyes of a Fearful “Pro-Russia” Westerner

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