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.