Cessation of Hostilities and the Social Media Tantrum

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By Ollie Richardson for Fort Russ

22th June, 2016

There are some very dangerous assumptions being made as of late by self-proclaimed military experts, because of the fact that Russia and the US have signed a cessation of hosilities agreement in Aleppo. The reason Russia signed this agreement was to buy time and split the “moderates” and Al Qaeda (Nusra). However, Al-Nusra has recovered most, if not all, the territory in South Aleppo it had lost when Russia initially launched its aerial campaign back in November 2015.

Russia’s “withdrawal” (swapping jets for helicopters to liberate Palmyra) from Syria was labelled a great betrayal, leaving Iran and Hezbollah in a precarious position. However, these statements do not correlate what so ever with Russia’s careful observation of International Law or construction of a multipolar geopolitical paradigm. 

The comments in question are far too numerous to include in the article, so for the sake of space and time, an example is provided below:

November, 2015 – South Aleppo

Map of South Aleppo as of June 18th 2016 – HD link: imgur.com/A9WTxMG

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What did Al-Nusra recapture?

Al-Nusra have regained control over important hills, such as Khalsah, Al-Eis hill, Kallojah, Khan Touman, Al-Ma’arra, Zentan, Bernah, Al-Humaira, Al-Temrasi. This was accomplished by working side by side with Ahrar Al-Sham, Faylaq Al-Rahman, Ajnad Al-Sham, Jaish Al-Sunnah, Jaish Mohammad, the Turkistan Islamic Party, and FSA 13th Division – in other words, a mixture of “moderate” and Al Qaeda forces. 

This should come as no surprise as Al-Nusra have adapted to guerrilla warfare very well, and when Russia began to drop bombs, they entrenched themselves underground using Turkish supplies to stay alive. Among the ranks of Nusra are commanders who have many years of experience in various conflicts in the Middle East. ISIS on the other hand have made many strategic errors, and the fact that they still have a presence in Deir Ezzor is purely due to the quantity of the reinforcements, not their quality. 

Takfiri seperation 

In order to see how baseless this ‘expert’ opinion is, it is paramount to look at official statements from both the US and Russia regarding what is going on the ground in Aleppo. 

As was even admitted by the State Department themselves, who used the comical phrase ‘commingling’ to describe the blending of “moderate” rebels and ideological throat-cutters, the situation in Aleppo is far from being black and white.

We know there’s commingling happening, physical commingling. Some of that’s unavoidable, given the dynamic, fluid situations, and particularly in places like Aleppo. 

In addition, a press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation dated 21st June, 2016, stated that: 

The ministers focused on settling the conflict in Syria, including consolidation of the ceasefire regime, and simultaneously waging an uncompromising fight against terrorists. Mr Lavrov again focused on the inadmissibility of pandering to the terrorist group Jabhat al-Nusra, which is sheltering itself behind units of the US-oriented opposition, and is even closely cooperating with them. ~ Lavrov

Aside from the fact that there simply isn’t any other party for Russia to negotiate with, the US openly admits that things on the ground are blurred. Embedded inside this simulacrum are other factors that are contributing to hindering Russia’s efforts:

Firstly, the US knew that the simple way to deter Russia from bombing areas of Aleppo was to use this ‘commingling’ stratagem. Every time Russia bombs an area of Aleppo, the US will ensure thats some green and white flags are nearby, thus Russia is portrayed as the villain.

In order for Russia to successfully liberate Aleppo,  the conditions must be right in both the media sphere and on the ground. Neither are currently present as streams of Takfiri terrorists, some backed by Turkey, some backed by Saud, are answering the global call to Jihad. These calls are of course amplified by the ‘lax’ Youtube and Social Media policy of turning a blind eye to pro-terrorism accounts. 

Secondly, the US is trying to stretch Russia’s capacity by liberating Fallujah (and soon Mosul) in tandem with approaching Raqqa, with the Kurds riding shotgun. This is forcing Russia to move north of its T4 airbase towards Deir Ezzor and the Syria-Iraq highway. 

Thirdly, in addition to the struggle to stop the flow of White House cannon fodder, Russia is jostling with the US over the definition of International Law – something that the US changed since its popularisation of the term “intervention”. Russia maintains its position of acting according to the Responsibility to Protect UN agreement, and is simply challenging this new status quo invented by the US post-1999. 

Russia is seemingly damned if they bomb, and damned if they don’t. Whether it’s directly bombing the “moderates” (although the US is doing a good job doing that themselves);

or bombing an Al-Nusra-White Helmets ‘hospital’;

or even bombing terrorists even remotely near the district of Aleppo;

Note the White Helmets logo on the video, as well as the use of the word “monitor”. This refers to the notorious Syrian Observatory for Human Rights

The result is always the same – the US NGO media lies!

The US used a combination of its toxic NGO’s and fourth generation warfare obfuscation to present Russia with a very dark abyss. So for this reason, Russia decided instead to give the US 3 months (ceasefire) to at least try to ‘un-commingle’ their mercenaries. In the meantime Russia liberated Palymra, an area that was not so swamped in Takfiri flag-swapping, as it was primarily an ISIS stronghold. In addition, ISIS is the weakest player in Syria, as it is bankrupt, and focuses their efforts on producing execution movies that would make even Hollywood’s toes curl.

Multipolarity – The Greater Picture

While it is understandable to become frustrated with day-to-day events in periods of war, one should not lose sight of the horizon. For Russia, blitzing Aleppo to make some people on the Internet smile at the expense of civilian suffering is beyond short-sighted, and actually throughly illogical. Some even want to see the S-400 launched every 30 seconds, forgetting that for a “deterrent” to serve a purpose, it should never be used. 

In any case, one of the understated processes that is ongoing globally is a shift towards multipolarity. This shift has manifested itself in the forms of Euroskeptisism (Front National, Lega Nord, UKIP) separatist movements (e.g. Spain), defense cooperation (SCO), economic blocs (BRICS), and general trade agreements. In this realignment of both regional and global forces, Russia sees the US as playing a prominent role in maintaining the security of regions such as the Middle East.

However, in order to consider why the US has caused so much destruction in Syria, it is important to consider who benefited from the previous illegal incursions post September 11th, 2001.  

The US as a bastion of Liberalism has followed the idealism branch of International Relations for decades, and this further evolved with the inception of neo-liberalism in the 1980’s. This model states that the behavior of states globally correlates with not only the full implementation of national interests, but also universal values that are recognized by all countries. 

The foreign policy of invading Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and now Syria does not actually benefit the US in either the economic or the ideological spheres. Washington benefits more from a stable MENA that it can assert its influence on using the dollar and US corporations (e.g. Monroe Doctrine). Tedious trigger-words such as “democracy” and “human rights” are merely justifications the US uses to frame its foreign policy as being its own. By process of deduction and an objective historical reflection of the past 100 years, we can conclude that the real string-puller in the region is Israel, which uses its foreign lobby in the US to ‘rent’ the Pentagon’s military might.

So, in order to at least try to resolve the problems in the Middle East, Russia needed to contain not the US, but in fact Israel. To do this, Russia has done 4 main things:

As a result of the aforementioned points, Israel really has no other choice but to swallow its pride and accept that the current unipolar geopolitical paradigm, which has for so long allowed the expansion of the its state, is entering a transitory phase. For Russia, aggressively pursuing the full annexation of the Golan Heights is a red line – one that is far too close to the strategic  warm water port in Tartus. 

Now with Israel contained, Russia can focus on slotting the US into the new global order, dragging it kicking and screaming (they didn’t seriously think they could back out of that Iran nuclear agreement,  did they?). This process will be less painful should Donald Trump win the elections in November, and will be excruciating should Hillary Clinton claim victory. But with Iran on the ascension, the balance in the Middle East is titling away from the post WW1 Sykes-Picot order. 

In conclusion, war is very long, and in an ‘ideal’ scenario there wouldn’t be any war in the first place. Demands for Russia to act in a manner that is synonymous with the US’ Operation Shock and Awe gives the unipolar model authenticity, and is contrary to the peaceful international values that Russia and allies are trying to enforce. Al Nusra are no fools either, and their leader has proven time and time again that he knows how to keep his battalions alive in Syria in the long term. 

In other news, Al Nusra will receive the stolen Syrian Arab Army T90 tank from their Takfiri brothers. Maybe Putin should negotiate with  al-Julani for its return?

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