Russian support for Assad clashes with Western strategy


All media yesterday reported that Paris and Moscow are in agreement to conduct the war against ISIS together. This does not mean there is widespread enthusiasm.
As noticed repeatedly before, that struggle can only be won by cutting the jihadists’ financial line to Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states (so no holidays in Dubai either). After the shooting down of the Su 24 the Russians have been reminded the hard way of this fact. The leader of the Turkmen fighters boasting about shooting dead one of the two pilots on his parachute, turns out to be a Turkish fascist of the Grey Wolves. 


The West does not support the anti-ISIS coalition but the combination Turkey-Saudi Arabia-UAE-ISIS-al Qaeda etc., against Russia, Iran and the Assad regime. Ukraine has awarded the pilot of the Turkish F-16 a medal and President Poroshenko is in the Netherlands on a state visit, meeting the prime minister and the kind. As prime minister Rutte has said, ‘We are at war’—yes we are, with Russia and with all disobedient governments/regimes in the world. China is also on the list, let us say, lon the waiting list.

The electricity supply to the Crimea has been cut after Ukrainian fascists blew up the pylons. Repairs are being obstructed by disaffected Crimean Tatars, the ethnic group whose history goes back to the days of Dzhngiz Khan. According to the German Foreign Policy webasite, the Tatar leaders, Mustafa Dshemiljew and Refat Tshubarov have extensive contacts with the German ministry of foreign affairs. In the background is the history of the Crimean Tatars, who suffered greatly from the Stalinist terror in the 1930s, and in the Second World War collaborated with the Nazis. Stalin in reprisal had the majority of Crimean Tatars deported to Uzbekistan after the liberation of the Soviet Union. Only in the 1960s the accusations against them were rescinded, although it took until Gorbachev’s perestroika before they regained the right to return to the Crimea. 

The Crimean Tatars have had tortuous relations both with independent Ukraine and, after the incorporation in 2014, with Russia as well.

They are Muslims and there are salafist Crimean Tatars fighting in Syria; in addition there are pro-Russian Tatar organisations. Finally, an estimated six million Tatars are living in Turkey, the descendants of migrants who once left the Crimea to the Ottoman Empire (that is, 24 times the number on the Crimean or in Ukraine, who number around a quarter million).
Three weeks ago Dshemiljew and Tshubarov have geld talks with the EU representative for foreign affairs, Federica Mogherini, about possibilities for ending the ‘occupation of Crimea’ as well as ‘peaceful actions’ that can contribute to it, in particular in the area of energy supply. Crimea is dependent on Ukraine for 80 percent of its energy and 85 percent of its fresh water supply, and the blowing up of the power lines is a real blow.

In Moscow Hollande has not spoken on behalf of the EU but only for France, and the alliance with Russia is a bilateral agreement—not the first time France operates outside the Atlantic bloc.

The forces that want to corner Putin and who are thinking seriously of regime change in Moscow, are hoping that the cost of the intervention in Syria (50 million dollars a day, and unpopular in Russia) and the continuing low oil price, caused by the coincidence of the crisis and Saudi pricing policy, will force Russia to give up. Like all air wars bombing is a rather ineffective way to gain ground and although the Syrian army is becoming ever more effective militarily because of its fighting experience (read Robert Fisk in The Independent), it is to small to ever reconquer the whole of Syria.

Neither do the Russian sanctions against Turkey help Moscow regain economic breathing space, because it was exploring possibilities to find ways round the NATO/EU blockade (gas pipeline, food imports).

Hence the NATO support for Turkey, in glaring disregard of the facts surrounding the shooting down of Su 24; Hollande on his own in Moscow; American advisers for the Ukrainian army; the blowing up of the power lines to Crimea. Slowly but surely the fronts of the ‘War against Terror’ appear to be capsizing into a front against Russia.

Kees van der Pijl

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