Vladimir Putin’s latest poker move

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In Novorossia Today, March 15, 2016

Translated from French by Tom Winter

168 days after the onset of the military operation, Vladimir Putin has stupefied the world by announcing the withdrawal of “the greater part” of Russian forces in Syria. And already the commentaries are streaming in, be they amazed, dumbfunded, or cynical, as was the case last September 30 when Moscow announced the deployment of the military contingent.

We ask “What is behind this declaration that no one was expecting?”

Several hypotheses are plausible. It’s for certain that the Russian intervention has considerably changed the facts on and around the ground.

According to the minister of defense, Sergei Shoigu, Moscow has succeeded in cutting off the main route of hydrocarbons between Syria and Turkey, depriving the terrorists of their supply lines. 

The Russian airplanes have destroyed 209 sites of production and processing of oil and 2,912 tanker trucks in Syria,” declared the minister. They completed more than 9,000 sorties and carried out attacks on Daesh and Al-Nusra Front positions. “Our actions have permitted dislodging the terrorists from Lattakia Province, re-establishing communication with Aleppo, and liberating most of the Hama and Homs provinces, and re-establishing the control of the oilfields near Palmyra.”

Yet, the official explanations — “the objectives have been completely met,” and it will stimulate the peace process” — aren’t but half way to convincing public opinion in the west. But all the same, why stop on such a succeeding course, why not put on another layer? –one reads in the press.

Let those lines about “Russia is going broke” or “Putin is abandoning Assad” go for laughs.

Syria, it seems has been put in a condition, whether in weaponry or level of training, to be able to hold out, or even to finish the war. More interesting are the attempts at explaining, in terms of a poker “bluff” in the sense that the Russian side keeps a site for aircraft maintenance, the airbase at Hmeimim in attakia Province, and the base at Tartus.

Actually everyone has forgotten the answer given by Vladimir Putin to a reporter about the duration of Russian operations in Syria. At the start of the airstrikes, the president indicated the withdrawal date: March, 2016. So he was happy to keep his word, to the general astonishment. 

And now, for the “game” part of the plan:

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First off, it is a signal (not to say an invitation) to all the belligerents to withdraw. If the Russian mission has successfully run its course, there is no longer any reason to see members of the US-led coalition to be on or near Syrian soil.

Secondly, it is a signal to respect the implementation of UN Resolution 2254 which envisions a political solution. Which is exactly what is going on. The announcement comes on the first day of the Geneva negotiations between representatives of the Syrian government and the opposition. After the five years of war, a political transition is capable of being envisioned.

Third, this allows Putin to avoid immediately attacking Turkey and thus embarrassing NATO.

Besides the case of the Su-25 shot down and the information already at hand about the personal links of President Erdogan with the Al-Qaida banker, and his son’s fencing oil stolen by Daesh, Moscow, at the end of February, turned over to the Security Council a report containing information on Turkey’s support of jihadists.

Theirry Meyssan, politial consultant and president-founder of the Voltaire and of the Axis for Peace conference, has specified: 

“The document contains a dozen revelations of the activities of the MIT [Turkish Intelligence Service] including the transfer of Daesh combattants from Syria to Yemen, the existence of the “Tatar Village” (The US, Turkey, and Ukraine sponsoring Tartar jihadists in Syria, Crimea, and Tatarstan comprised of Al-Qaida and Daesh members). . . The list goes on.

Were an accounting taken of the accumulated documentation, Russia could have the Erdogan power condemned before the tribunals as war criminal, and for other failings.

One can see, just at the moment when certain experts had predicted the outbreak of operations on the ground, that the Americans were rubbing their hands with glee on the expectation of “another Afghanistan” for Russia, the latter has caught them up short and has, again, made himself a major player in the Crisis of Syria.

This sage position has permitted Vladimir Putin a massive win, including over Washington, which finds itself “like a baby lost in the woods of the chaos of the near East,” as Fox News put it. 

Anyway, this turn of events leaves us in search of the reasons for the withdrawal of Russian force. 

And meanwhile, just a few hours after Putin’s decision, the terrorists of the Al-Nusra Front were announcing the start of an offensive in Syria within 48 hours….

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