Russia eclipses U.S. in the Middle East

The days of America being omnipotent are coming to an end.
Putin's tour through the Middle East this week proved it in spades.

When Russia launched its military operation in Syria in 2015, the then US President Barack Obama predicted Moscow would get "stuck in a quagmire".
His defence secretary, Ashton Carter, warned that Russia's approach was "doomed to fail".

Two years on, Russia appears to have proved the doomsayers wrong.

On a surprise trip to Syria this week, President Vladimir Putin told his troops they had fought "brilliantly" and could "return home victorious". He ordered the withdrawal of a "significant part" of Russia's military contingent.
So, mission accomplished for Moscow? It seems so.

This is huuugggeee!
While Putin's "Mission Accomplished" is a bit early (al-Qaeda still controls Idlib province, and the U.S. still has troops in Syria), it seems that Washington is resigned to the new power structure.

Despite the deaths of as many as half a million people, dozens by chemical weapons, in the Syrian civil war, the Trump Administration is now prepared to accept President Bashar al-Assad’s continued rule until Syria’s next scheduled Presidential election, in 2021, according to U.S. and European officials. The decision reverses repeated U.S. statements that Assad must step down as part of a peace process.

Well isn't that nice. I didn't know that Washington had a vote in Syria's elections.
Nevertheless, it's a de facto admission that we are no longer calling the shots in Syria.

While the news media focuses on this important development, a series of events also happened this week that re-affirmed Russia's now dominant position.
The week started with this:

Turkey aims to finalize a deal to purchase S-400 surface-to-air missile systems from Russia in the coming week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday.
Turkey has been negotiating with Russia to buy the system for more than a year. Washington and some of its NATO allies see the decision as a snub because the weapons cannot be integrated into the alliance's defenses.
...Erdogan also said Turkey and Russia were on the same page regarding the Trump administration's official recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, a decision which upended decades of U.S. policy.

This is a diplomatic coup that will resonate for decades.
Between Iran, India, China, and now Turkey, Russia now has a friendly southern border.
If Washington's intention was to isolate Russia, they are failing in a very big way.
This is only happening because the U.S. has spent the last 16 years intentionally sowing chaos, while refusing to acknowledge its faults. This left a diplomatic vacuum that Russia is now filling.

In addition, Putin managed a warming of ties with Saudi Arabia, which saw a first-ever visit by a Saudi monarch, King Salman, to Moscow.

Immediately after declaring victory in Syria, Putin went to Egypt and signed another important deal.

Egypt and Russia have signed a $30 billion deal to build North Africa’s first nuclear power plant as the Kremlin moves to expand its influence in the region. Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi witnessed the signing ceremony in Cairo on Monday.
The project increases Russia’s economic presence and political influence in the Middle East, already on the rise since President Putin intervened in Syria’s war in 2015 and began a more active role in Libya, conflicts where he and President Al-Sisi see eye to eye. The Cairo visit comes less than two weeks after the countries said they were in talks to use each other’s military air bases.

Notice the mention of Libya, because Putin intends to do something about that horrific disaster as well.

During a meeting in Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Libyan Government of National Accord Foreign Minister Mohamed Taha Siala that the Russian government was prepared to work with all parties in Libya, which has been ravaged by war since a rebel and jihadi uprising, supported by Western military alliance NATO, overthrew and killed longtime leader Muammar el-Qaddafi in 2011. Russia has been critical of the U.S. and its allies' efforts in the North African state and has also held talks with Libyan military leader Khalifa Haftar, a rival to the U.N.-backed government.

If Russia can stop the chaos and slaughter in Libya, after their resounding victory in Syria, Putin will become the premier power broker in the world, with a proven track record of cleaning up America's messes.
OK. But Russia would never actually confront our military, right?
Note this news.

“An American F-22 fighter actively prevented the Russian pair of Su-25 attack aircraft from carrying out a combat mission to destroy the Daesh stronghold in the suburbs of the city of Mayadin in the airspace over the western bank of the Euphrates River on November 23. The F-22 aircraft fired off heat flares and released brake shields with permanent maneuvering, imitating an air battle.”
At the same time, he [Major-General Igor Konashenkov, the Russian Defense Ministry’s spokesperson] noted that “after the appearance of a Russian multifunctional super maneuverable Su-35S fighter, the American fighter stopped dangerous maneuvers and hurried to move into Iraqi airspace.”

The Pentagon first responded that the engagement never took place ("There is no truth to this allegation.")
But then today the Pentagon changed it's story completely.

“In one instance, two Air Force A-10 attack planes flying east of the Euphrates River nearly collided head-on with a Russian Su-24 Fencer just 300 feet away — a knife’s edge when all the planes were streaking at more than 350 miles per hour,” according to the Times. “The A-10s swerved to avoid the Russian aircraft, which was supposed to fly only west of the Euphrates. Other Russian planes have flown within striking distance or directly over allied ground forces for up to 30 minutes, escalating tensions and the risk of a shootdown, American officials said.”

Something happened, and the only thing we can be sure of is that Russia isn't backing down.

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Putin to soon celebrate

While work on both the road and railway sections of the Crimea bridge are ahead of schedule, and construction workers have completed the installation of all supporting structures for the highway section.

The Crimea Bridge is now in the final stage of construction and is set to open in 2018. Walking across the Kerch Strait from Russia's mainland to the Crimean Peninsula will be possible by the end of December. The bridge across the strait will be the longest in Russia, spanning a whopping 19 kilometers.

When Putin commissioned this bridge to be built, the U.S. press said it was folly.

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Pluto's Republic's picture

@gjohnsit

It was a major endeavor, because it supplies water and power, too. But it was finished just as the Russians said it would be. I can't imagine why the US was in doubt about something so ordinary..

The loss of the bridge to Nazi bombing during WWII, was how this Russian territory of East Ukraine and Crimea got put under Ukraine jurisdiction by the Soviet Union in the first place.

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Azazello's picture

@Pluto's Republic
Crimea is Russia. That is all.

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Amanda Matthews's picture

wonder, what will we do to push us closer to war with RUSSIA! RUSSIA! RUSSIA! now?

Our Betters would rather see us all in our graves than to lose their ‘leadership’ position in this world.

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I'm tired of this back-slapping "Isn't humanity neat?" bullshit. We're a virus with shoes, okay? That's all we are. - Bill Hicks

Politics is the entertainment branch of industry. - Frank Zappa

@Amanda Matthews
on the cheap

The US internet giant responded to an investigation from the Electoral Commission by saying the Internet Research Agency, a shadowy organisation with links to the Russian government, spent just $0.97 (73p) in Britain during the two months of the EU referendum campaign.

97 cents! Now that's a return on investment.

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divineorder's picture

Meeting of OIC in Turkey a big deal as well. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/world-europe-42335751?__twitter_impressio...

If Turkey leaves NATO for a piece of the action in Russian pipeline that is a game changer.

According to Al J, Putin involvement in Syria is quite simple:

...

Was he also touting alternatives to the Petrodollar?

US relations at low ebb, maybe felt nothing left to lose?

Even though the MIC has lost face in this shouldn’t go all gaga over Putin’s actions.

Could feel empathetic toward for having been demonized , but there are plenty who don’t like him in Russia.

Breaking News: /s

Edited for punctuation spelling and clarity.

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A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

And finding willing partners. Russia now has a reputation for saying what it will do, doing excactly that, and then getting out when asked. This stands in contrast to the other "pole" in our now multipolar world. Russia is really getting fed up with the West, and how can you blame her? In the 18th and 19th centuries the cities of Moscow and St.Petersburg were definitely European, culturally and politically. French was the language of court. Most educated Russians were multi-lingual. You can see strong Italian, French, German and English influence in the architecture and the Russian language. The Kremlin was designed and built by Italian craftsmen. Russia would very much like a strong friendship with the West. There is really something psychotic about the current attitude towards Russia in the West. I think that the root cause of this is that the US refuses to allow that there might be a different perspective on international relationships, and it's to the benefit of politicians and the MIC to hold this view. I really can't believe how many Democrats are railing against Russia. I tell you, the Clintons are the most evil political couple in American history. They managed to completely destroy FDR's New Deal and international relations with counties that are our near equals and should be our friends.

There is no future in making Russia our enemy. She has a very powerful culture, moderately conservative, with a strong belief in science, technology, education and social benefits. She is building a quality country for her people with a strong commitment to their safety and security. Russia has vast resources, the largest producer of grains and positioned to thrive as global warming shuts down US and Western Europe agriculture. The US is a (dangerous) fool to not allow her to be our friend.

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Capitalism has always been the rule of the people by the oligarchs. You only have two choices, eliminate them or restrict their power.

divineorder's picture

@The Wizard Develoment and promotion of fossil fuels, so the government and industry are climate criminals like the best of capitalists.

That said, there have been interesting moves in Russia into Wind....

...and solar!

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A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

@The Wizard goes back to Putin clawing back the industries Yeltsin gave away to his pals, and they in turn, partnering with US companies. But the full-out assault came after Putin proposed the EU open up a trade block to include the former Soviet Republics (2010, iirc). "The Continent" being unified has been the nightmare of the Anglo-Saxon elites since at least the 1830s, if not since Peter the Great.
If they could get rid of Putin and get another Yeltsin in place... that's what all the hostility is about, thinking they could foment his overthrow; some kind of Plaid Revolution or something. Thing is, we play 11-dimensional chess, which exists only in fantasy, while the Russians play real chess.

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snoopydawg's picture

hopefully something can be done soon to stop the slave trade there. Have any other country's governments spoken out about this or plan to do something about it?

I've been wondering if the Saudis are fighting the Iranian backed Houthis, why doesn't Iran use their Air Force to defend them? Would that open up Iran to further military actions? Can Russia do anything to stop the war in Yemen?

The pot and the kettle again.
Barack Obama predicted Moscow would get "stuck in a quagmire".
Which country has been stuck in a quagmire for 16 years?

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Sessions would have taken Jesus away from his homeless refugee parents

@snoopydawg @snoopydawg

Have any other country's governments spoken out about this or plan to do something about it?

Yes and no. NATO countries are outraged, but are more interesting in bombing Libya than stopping the slave trade.

I've been wondering if the Saudis are fighting the Iranian backed Houthis, why doesn't Iran use their Air Force to defend them?

Because it isn't Iran's fight.
KSA tries to paint it like this is Iran's doing, but the Houthis are only distantly connected to Iran.
Besides, the KSA has one of the best air forces in the world. Iran, not so much.

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snoopydawg's picture

@gjohnsit

I don't know much about the Houthis. Can you point me to where I can find out about this?

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Sessions would have taken Jesus away from his homeless refugee parents

dervish's picture

@snoopydawg is Hillary's idea of feminism, apparently, it's her legacy. I still say we dodged a bullet.

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"Obama promised transparency, but Assange is the one who brought it."

mimi's picture

@dervish

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“Politicians and diapers must be changed often, and for the same reason.” -- Mark Twain

@mimi As a politician she would be more of a timeshare type arrangement.

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dervish's picture

@MinuteMan or by the hour...

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"Obama promised transparency, but Assange is the one who brought it."

The Russians would've had a hard time accomplishing this without the incompetence of US foreign policy.
This is more of a US foreign policy failure (unnecessary military interventions, regime changes, creating political vacuums to inevitably be filled by regional militarily power) than a Russian success story.

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Mike Taylor

dervish's picture

@Mike Taylor but remember that US foreign policy has been incompetent for a very long time, with no prospects for improvement in sight.

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"Obama promised transparency, but Assange is the one who brought it."

lotlizard's picture

@dervish  
It’s no secret that 90-plus percent of the time, U.S. Middle East policy — dragging European NATO partners behind it — does what Israel wants, and does not do what Israel does not want.

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dervish's picture

@lotlizard the US is effectively possessed by Israel, everyone knows it, and no one in the mainstream is allowed to so much as mention it.

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"Obama promised transparency, but Assange is the one who brought it."

Amanda Matthews's picture

@lotlizard
taken out and we do the dirty work.

Can’t get a better deal than that.

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I'm tired of this back-slapping "Isn't humanity neat?" bullshit. We're a virus with shoes, okay? That's all we are. - Bill Hicks

Politics is the entertainment branch of industry. - Frank Zappa

Bollox Ref's picture

Has been supportive of various Arab regimes in the ME for a very long time. Over the decades, all those shots of T-54/-55 and T-62 tanks doing various things in various places is testament to that.

In other words, business as usual.

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Gëzuar!!
from a reasonably stable genius.

dervish's picture

Na zdrovie!

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8 users have voted.

"Obama promised transparency, but Assange is the one who brought it."

Lookout's picture

Mr. Erdogan urged nations of the world to recognize the state of Palestine, and declared Jerusalem as its occupied capital. He warned there would be no peace in the region unless the city’s status was recognized as such.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/13/world/middleeast/muslims-jerusalem-pa...

Called and raised...

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”