A Year in Syria…Does Moscow Have the Upper Hand?

Translated by Captain Ahab


Written by Elijah J.Magnier

When the Russians decided to intervene in Syria, they sent a few air squadrons and a small contingent of their massive arsenal that can destroy the planet a few times over.

However this small contingent was able to turn the table on the Syrian battlefield, and to hand the initiative to the SAA, thus instead of the SAA being on the defensive, they are now on the offensive across many fronts, from the South to the North of the country.

Having said all of that, Does Russia have the final say in Syria?

When the US decided to wage war against Syria with the support of their European allies, and to send in bombers and ground forces during the first months of 2015, by using the chemical weapons allegations as a casus belli, Russia had no intention of intervening militarily in the war in Syria, rather they were intermediaries between Iran and the US. Iran informed the Russians that they were prepared to send everything into Syria and that the gates of hell would be opened, and that Israel would also be a target for Hezbollah in a war that would have no red lines. Only then were the major powers able to find a way out, and that was to remove the chemical weapons out of Syria.

In mid 2015 Major Gen. Qasem Soleimani visited Moscow more than once, and during those visits he informed the Russians that Damascus and it’s allies were going to retreat into the major cities of: Latakia, Tartus, Homs, Hama, and Damascus. He also informed the Russian high command that Latakia was not safe and that the Russian naval port there will be within the jihadist’s missile range. Moscow was informed that Damascus had lost it’s military initiative on the fronts, and they were now on the back foot.

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Moscow found that there are hundreds of militias all with different agendas and perhaps ideologies that shared two major traits – one was their zealous hate for President Bashar Al-Assad; second their general apathy to the consequences of their actions, such as the destruction of the infrastructure and the break up of their country. Iran and Russia concluded that Syria had become an American project par excellence, to shred a country into tiny little pieces, and that the project for a new middle east is gaining wind, while they stood by watching their strategic interests diminishing, especially that there was no unified opposition with a clear vision and command that can be negotiated with.

And so Moscow sent a tsunami of Sukhois into Syria, and thus the regional/world war began. When Russia intervened to save Latakia, Aleppo, Damascus and their countrysides and stopped attacks on the southern front, Western media-especially American news outlets-printed dozens of articles and studies that said “Russia has failed”, “Russia has entered into the Syrian quagmire”, and that the “Russian intervention will push all the moderate opposition into the arms of the jihadists to join up with Al-Nusra and ISIS”.

A year has gone by, and a few dozen of Russia’s air force, and with less than ten Russian officers dead in Syria, Russia was able to tilt the advantage towards the SAA and their allies, thus embracing Washington and demonstrating to the world that it is no longer the only policemen in the world. The Russian bear has awaken, and has regained it’s international status through the conflict in Syria.

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In comparison the US had intervened two years earlier, with their Western and Arab allies, to bomb ISIS, as a result ISIS lost 20% of it’s territory. Not quite, because those territories include Palmyra, Homs country side, Kuweires airport were liberated by Damascus with Russian air support. The Southern front has largely remained cool due to Russia’s diplomacy, they were able to retain a lot of territory back into Assad’s control, even though Washington did their level best to foil Russia’s plan.

Moscow was able to impose a cease-fire on Damascus and Tehran twice, though they were against it. The first time around, Washington was able to buy time for the opposition and the jihadists and were able to overturn several loses, especially around Aleppo, Homs, and Latakia. Moscow did not care for their allies complaints, and informed them that they were not invested in an ideological fight, rather they were there to protect their international interests, and that they will announce a cease-fire whenever it sees fit, or increase their forces accordingly. All their allies accepted that Moscow will have the final say in Syria.

Except that Russia will not allow the US to blackmail them just because they want the war to be over in Syria, and has subsequently understood that Washington is merely buying time for the opposition and the jihadists in and around Aleppo, only for them to be resupplied with weaponry and fighters. Thus President Putin decided to send a letter to his American counterpart, saying in it that Moscow will not fail in Syria and that they are prepared to protect it’s interests whatever the cost.

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Washington remains duplicitous: Deputy of secretary of state Tony Blinken said “The NSA is looking to find a new solution to the Syrian crisis”. But Moscow will not take such statements seriously, because Moscow can see that Washington refuses to stand against the jihadists, and wield their considerable influence to separate the moderate opposition from them, they are arming, training, and are allowing the passage of all kinds of weaponry, armored trucks to all the opposition groups and their allies for a long time now. Moscow is in Syria because Damascus asked them to come to their aid, and they are the only Syrian actor recognized by the UN, the US on the other hand deployed air crafts, ground forces without any legal backing, either from the UN or the Syrian government. And so, the sky is the limit for Moscow’s intervention, even if that means they increase the area of engagement.

Putin has raised the bar, he is willing to offer the opposition a place, however they must dump the jihadists, on the other hand he can escalate the war. Can Obama face down Russia with only a few months left on his term?

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