The ability to gain victory by changing and adapting according to the opponent is called genius. – Sun Tzu, The Art of War
29 November 2015
Russia’s two-month long battle against the Islamic State has proven fruitful and elevated her status as a champion against global terrorism, but while the country has much to celebrate militarily and economically, its successes eventually placed it at cross-purposes with a key strategic ally.
The “stab in the back” heard round the world—Turkey’s surreptitious downing of a Russian SU-24 as it flew in Syria’s northwestern Latakia province—not only cost pilot Sergei Rumyantsev his life and constituted a war crime under Article 51 of the UN Charter, but reveals Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s ambivalent geopolitical ambitions. Turkey has become a servant of too many masters, forcing the ruling AKP in a predicament that it may not be able to control later.
On October 6, Reuters reported that “a MIG-29 fighter jet of unknown nationality and Syria-based missile systems ‘interfered’ with eight Turkish F-16 jets patrolling along the Syrian border”, yet a Middle East Monitor article shifted focus on Ankara’s concerns to a Russian Su-24 by stating that, in a press conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, “the military did not specify the type of plane but Turkish presidential sources and the Russian Ministry of Defense identified the aircraft as a Russian SU-24”. This created the perfect conditions for the Nov. 24 takedown of the Su-24, as the Syrian Arab Army commonly uses MIG-29 fighter jets, but Russia’s Sukhoi-24 fighters could come under Ankara’s crosshairs to escalate future provocations. In the article MEMO sources, they do not specify the type of plane which caused the provocation.
When President Obama bragged earlier that “The United States is and will remain the one indispensable nation in the world…” adding that “no other nation can do what we do,” we should have guessed some more war-mongering was coming… and sure enough. As AP reports, it appears Syrian airstrikes are on their way.. but there’s a mind-blowing twist in US foreign policy: “In an effort to avoid unintentionally strengthening the Syrian government, the White House could seek to balance strikes against the Islamic State with attacks on Assad regime targets.” In the words of the Guinness commercial, Brilliant.
The intelligence gathered by U.S. military surveillance flights over Syria could support a broad bombing campaign against the Islamic State militant group, but current and former U.S. officials differ on whether air power would significantly degrade what some have called a “terrorist army.”
"Air power needs to be applied like a thunderstorm, not a drizzle,“ Deptula said, entailing "24-7 overwatch with force application on every move of ISIL personnel.”
Further complicating the plans, any military action against Islamic State militants in Syria would also have the effect of putting the U.S. on the same side as Syrian President Bashar Assad, whose ouster the Obama administration has sought for years.
So first Iran and now Syria are best buddies with America? Well we can’t have that…
The U.S. is not cooperating or sharing intelligence with the Assad government, Pentagon and State Department spokesmen said. But the U.S. flights are occurring in eastern Syria, away from most of Syria’s air defenses. And experts expressed doubt that Syria would attempt to shoot down American aircraft that are paving the way for a possible bombing campaign against Assad’s enemies.
In an effort to avoid unintentionally strengthening the Syrian government, the White House could seek to balance strikes against the Islamic State with attacks on Assad regime targets. However, that option is largely unappealing to the president given that it could open the U.S. to the kind of long-term commitment to Syria’s stability that Obama has sought to avoid.
On this edition of the podcast, we have the honor of talking with Iara Lee, founder of the Cultures of Resistance Network, journalist, activist, and filmmaker. We discuss her most recent film, “The Suffering Grasses”, about the destruction of Syria in the wake of its civil war, her ideas on revolution through artistic expression, and her experiences while on the 2010 IHH Turkish flotilla en route to Gaza that was hijacked and attacked by Israeli forces.
Please read more about Iara Lee through her bio located at http://www.culturesofresistance.org/iara-lee
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