The Plan to Defeat ISIS
Putin to Rescue - Redux
As the events in Syria become clarified, the actions of the newly constituted SIR Triad - Syria, Iran and Russia, -- expose an apparent plan; yes, there is a plan. With Russian air support, Assad's forces, together with limited troop assistance from Iran and Hezbollah, intend to completely clear out all "behind the line" threats from the area controlled by Syrian government forces, secure Damascus and Homs, recapture all of Aleppo, and recreate a viable Syrian state. To accomplish the effort, the Triad will have to force out the al-Nusra Front and the free Syrian army from the territory they control - not an easy task. The concentration of Russian air attacks on the northwest region controlled by al-Nusra and the Free Syrian army demonstrate the Triad's emphasis on that task, while the limited bombings in ISIS controlled territory serve to satisfy U.S. demands.
If the initial offensive in re-establishing a secure and viable Syrian state succeeds, then it will be the first step in an arrangement of Baathist Syria, Shi'a Iraq and Kurdish forces that cuts ISIS supply lines and creates a pincer for destroying the caliphate. The following map provides a clue to the apparent plan.
This mighty undertaking does not come about from an aggressive maneuver by Russian President Vladimir Putin to increase his nation's footprint on the world stage; it arises from his outlook that decisive action is needed to resolve an international problem that can lead to larger conflagrations. The Syrian engagement follows a pattern of behavior the Russian president has exhibited in the past, which have provoked western criticism, but have been successful. Bothered that United States military interventions in troublesome situations have worsened the situations and created chaos and instability, Putin has drawn his nation into the Syrian conflict..
Disregard the hype and regard the record.
U.S. military, reacting to supposed and real threats to its homeland, generated conflicts with its huge invading forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. After more than a decade, the U.S. interventions have not resolved the conflicts, while bringing the new Afghanistan to fight a renewed Taliban and Iraq facing an ISIS that has occupied 1/3 of its nation. In Somalia, Libya and Yemen, U.S. policies have backfired, created havoc and strengthened Radical Islam elements. After 60 years of playing broker to the Israeli/Palestinian crisis, U.S. efforts have accomplished nothing that ameliorates the crisis. Each day the situation worsens.
Except for Chechnya, Russian military has not presented huge numbers of troops (including volunteers) into conflict zone areas, and each Russian intervention resolved the situation within a short period of time. In Abkhazia and South Ossetia, insurgents that felt they had legitimate grievances against Georgian dominance managed to break free with Russian assistance. Today, both areas are independent nations, who together with Transnistra and Nagorno-Karabakh form the Community for Democracy and Rights of Nations. No more fighting, no more aggressive quarrels and each of them slowly progressing.
Chechnya was a long war for Boris Yeltsin but a much shorter one for Vladimir Putin. Today Chechnya remains a Russian Republic, without insurrection and some prosperity. Grozny, Chechnya's capital, once declared by the United Nations to be "the most destroyed city on earth," has, with Moscow's assistance, been able to rise from total destruction to become a new and modern city. The following images tell that story of Grozny.
Grozny in March 1995. Photo courtesy worldcuphumanrights.blogspot.com The center of Grozny, 2014. (Photo: yuga.ru)
Russian takeover of Crimea with little bloodshed followed Putin's decisive pattern. Feeling that Ukraine's control of Crimea countered Crimea's largely Russian population and Moscow's interests, Putin found an opportunity to resolve the situation in Russia's benefit and take the problem off the table. Russian intervention in Eastern Ukraine remains an unresolved problem, but Putin, as of October 2015, has managed to quiet the hostilities and maintain the upper hand.
All of these comments are not meant to excuse Putin's actions; depending on perspective and agenda, they are either diabolical or meritorious. Nevertheless, they have shown that Putin is a man of action whose Russia enters conflict zones with conviction and determination to achieve success. He succeeded in gaining the trust of Boris Yeltsin, in obtaining overwhelming support from the Russian people, in being able to win all elections and secure victories in all combat situations. Although he and his two partners have giant hurdles to overcome, Putin obviously does not expect the Russian mission to fail in Syria. Considering his three most significant impediments -- Tow Missiles, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, the Triad has a difficult task for achieving success.
- The deadly Tow missiles, which the Free Syrian forces have and al-Nusra can probably obtain, have proved effective in neutralizing Assad's superiority in armed equipments.
- Saudi Arabia and the Emirates will continue to supply funds and equipment to support their al-Nusra and free Syria allies in the battle against the Assad regime.
- Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is not likely to permit Assad to retake the border areas between Turkey and Syria.
Because Putin must realize these severe impediments, he must have confidence his Triad can overcome the difficulties. He has already used the conflict to test military tactics, strategies and weapons. Does he have some new weapons and strategies that can prove effective? Probably! Have deals been made with the Saudis and Turks that once the job is finished, Assad will go? Definitely!
For sure, Russia's entry into the battle has reinvigorated efforts to defeat ISIS, given sustenance and been a morale builder to the Syrian forces and motivated them into renewed actions. What is also clear is that a year of bombings of ISIS targets has not dislodged the extremists and they maintain control of a large territory.
From past history, when the Russian president engaged Russia in a difficult task, he completed the task, totally - no loose ends that can reopen the tragedy. Why would he behave differently now? Just strengthening the Assad regime, leaving Syria a broken nation, permitting ISIS to retain some control and having the violence continue makes the Russian intervention meaningless.
Completing the task seems an almost impossible endeavor but there are positive reinforcements to its formulation;
- Syrians do not want to be divided and will work to put the country together again.
- Syrians against the Assad regime are mostly passive, a relatively few willing to join the Free Syrian army and fight the battle. Assad's supporters are more active and willing to join the offensive.
- ISIS power has been overrated. Rather than capturing Raqqa in Syria and Mosul and Ramadi in Iraq in fierce battles, the controlling forces simply got up and left. Where ISIS has been engaged, such as in Tikrit, Iraq and Kobani, Syria, ISIS has been defeated.
- The Kurds and Iraq Shi'a add the necessary forces to surround ISIS and slowly pulverize its followers.
Putin must be confident his assistance can turn the tide. Again, from past history, the military victory will be only one part of the total solution. If Putin applies his usual techniques, he will strive to mollify Syrian grievances against a new government and enable a rebuilding campaign that will satisfy the disaffected populations. Because, as territory is regained, new civic administrations reporting to the central government will be required, having Assad in power and the Alawites in total control, creates doubt that the people will support these new civic administrations. By not containing the insurrection and causing much of the mayhem, Assad has shown himself to be a proven loser. Sometime in the near future, at a convenient time, he will have to relinquish power. For these reasons, a calculating Putin who wants to decisively end the conflict is unlikely to continually support an Assad government or any mostly led by the polarizing Baathists.
Another fallout from the newly constructed Syria will be a changed relation with the Kurdish region. The Kurds are playing a vital role in defeating ISIS and it is likely that role will gain rewards. It is unlikely a new Syrian regime will have the capability and wherewithal to engage in battle with the Kurds. The new relationship may be either total autonomy or total freedom. In any event, the Kurds will no longer be Syria's problem and will entirely become a Turkish problem.
Except for Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin is not admired by western leaders. History and the facts tell a different story than the western media depiction of the Russian leader. He now has a new moment of truth. Considering past actions, Putin will use real strategies in an attempt to succeed while Washington will continue to be guided by an agenda that makes a good Hollywood movie.
october 22 2015
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