Samir’s Selection 02/11/2016 (p.m.)

  • by Jonathan Marcus, BBC

    tags: Russia Putin foreignpolicy strategy Syria MiddleEast Western EU USforeign explainer

    • We are not talking here about morality or what is right – there is precious little of that to go round on any side.

      Syria is an appallingly complex problem, and no single party can be blamed for the continuation of the war.

      What we are talking about is Realpolitik. And here, Moscow has given Western capitals an object lesson in what can be achieved.

    • Contrast the Western approach, beset by problems and contradictions at every turn.

      The West backs so-called moderate militias – but who exactly are these moderates?

      Many are being forced into alliances with groups close to al-Qaeda.

      Yes, Washington and al-Qaeda are objectively on the same side – contradiction number one.

    • Of course, the West is largely in it to defeat so-called Islamic State (IS).

      But is this the primary goal of its regional allies such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey?

      No, their chief goal is to secure their strategic stakes in Syria – ideally by destroying President Assad.

      IS is their enemy, but in many ways a secondary one – contradiction number two.

    • Then, of course, there is the Kurdish question.

      The West’s most effective allies on the ground are Kurdish fighters.

      But the Turks see them as a threat and any nascent Kurdish entity as a nightmare to be avoided at all costs – contradiction number three.

    • By contrast Mr Putin’s life is simpler.

      It is often said he has the advantage over his Western peers of not having to worry about public opinion.

      Thus, the downing of a Russian airliner created little of the waves of protest at government policy that might have happened if a Western plane had been destroyed.

      But think this through logically.

      Is anything about Western policy a reflection of public opinion?

      The publics are as confused as their political masters.

    • Mr Putin is not just achieving his military goals in Syria.

      His success threatens to reduce the country to two enclaves – a coastal rump dominated by the Syrian government and the rest broadly in the hands of IS.

      What will the West’s choices be then?

      Mr Putin has shown Russia remains a force to be reckoned with in the Middle East, just at a time when the Americans seem best characterised by vacillation.

      He has shown Russia has a limited but nonetheless impressive expeditionary military capability, and he has given a runout to much of Russia’s latest hardware.

      So, for now, Mr Putin has a victory of sorts

    • I suppose the question is how long will it last?

      Russia’s own underpinnings are shaky. And with low oil prices set to persist, can the president really afford to behave like a kind of throwback to the Soviet era?

      But, make no mistake, the Syrian peace process is stillborn.

      The fighting will continue, with so-called moderate forces squeezed between government forces and IS.

      The Kurdish question will continue to rear its head.

      And the refugee flow towards western Europe will continue unabated.

  • tags: BernieSanders UK

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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