Continuation on the conflict in Syria.

There has been a two major stories coming out of Syria. Both have the geopolitical affects on the region, one in the long run and one in the short term.

First, which was a bit of a set back for the Syrian government lost control of Palmyra after ISIS had a new round of offensives not only in Syria, but also in Iraq. Since then ISIS/the Daesh has made rather large gains, but are not expected to hold control. According to the Russian Ministry of Defense there are about 4,000 light infantry involved in this renewed ISIS offensive. The general idea is that the Syrian Government, backed by Russian airstrikes will retake Palmyra in a matter of weeks, as they have already tarted their counter attack.

Second, Aleppo is now in the Syrian Government control, which is not only a military victory for Bashar Al-Assad and Russia, but it also comes as a huge political victory for the Russian-Syrian-Iranian alliance. It’s a huge political victory as it now shows that the war is swinging in Assad’s favor. This comes on the back of the United States farther aiding ‘moderate’ Syrian Rebels.

This has been a point of contest between the Russian Government and The United States Government. America  argues that with these people taking control a democratically elected government, and if Assad stays in power than Syria will continued to be controlled by a single-party authorities and totalitarian style government. The Russians argue that Syria would turn into Libya, with the continuation of the civil war because much of this region is not ready for democracy…  They say if the Free Syrian Army (US and Turkish backed ‘moderate’ rebels) gain control of Syria than you would still have a radical islamic problem.

The Russian Government also argues that it has quelled Islamic terrorism in Chechnya, and made the region better off and safer today than it ever has been. This is true, but Russian military tactics were described as brutal. Both sides have very different expectation on what they want too happen, but with the Russian-Syrian-Iranian alliance recapturing Aleppo it has given the Syrian Government an advantage in the Syrian Civil War.

A brief explanation on Russian ‘agression’

Wether or not you see Russia has being aggressive in Eastern Europe or not they so have a strategy and sound logic on why they are doing what they are doing. Let’s quickly disprove some silly theories. One big one that you hear a lot is Russia is trying to retake the former USSR. IF this was Russia’s goal, it would be impossible. Too many former Soviet states are now members of NATO and house a lot of anti-Russian sentiment. There is no real way for Russia to retake the former USSR. It is simply not their goal, what they say their goal is that of defense and national security.

Russia’s claim

Russia claim’s after the USSR fell NATO has continued to build up on their border and farther encircle them. They say after 1990 the Secretary of State,  James Baker made the promise to Yeltsin that NATO would ‘not expand a single inch forward.’ This is a controversial point between Russia and NATO, which will be discussed later. But, if we go ahead and say this is true. Russia sees NATO as adding the former Soviet states such as Poland, Romania, and the Baltic states is a clear sign that NATO/the West broke their promise to Russia. They also claim this is why they over reacted in the Russo-Georgian War (South Ossetian Conflict). The claim is that NATO was about to add Georgia as a member of NATO, but when Georgia acted up in South Ossetia by killing Russian peacekeepers that gave Moscow the go ahead to move in against Georgia troops who were currently invading South Ossetia. The EU did end up siding in Russia’s favor stating for the most part that Georgia was at fault, but Russia over reacted. The government of the Russian Federation explains everything that the West sees as aggression they are doing it out of defense. They consider Euromaidan a coup that was meant to destabilize the region and bring Ukraine into the EU and NATO farther destabilizing and encroaching on their border. They claim that they ethnic Russian people of Crimea and Donbass feel and felt threatened by the new pro-Western government in Kiev which gave them reason to aid Donbass rebels and move into Crimea. It is true that the people of Crimea and Donbass (Lugansk and Donetsk) do want to be Russian, and claim Russia is defending their right to Self determination, which is in the UN Charter which states simply, “All peoples have the right to self-determination; by virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social, and cultural development.”

NATO/the West’s claim

NATO counter claims in two ways generally. The first is that James Baker had no right to make that promise, and therefore that promise is voided, and NATO is not breaking the promise and only ensuring security and the safety of its members, especially that who fear Russia… Such as Poland, Estonia, Lithuanian, ect. Therefore what Russia has been doing is pure aggression. The other claim that you hear often is, ‘technically NATO hasn’t expanded by adding members since NATO has yet to build any military installations or permanent troop positions past Germany, therefore NATO is not breaking the promise.’ This argument can also be made, which would also result in Russia being purely aggressive, which is how much of NATO sees it. They see Russia as trying to regain its geo-political control, and NATO does not pose a threat to Russia anymore.

Conclusion

Both sides seem to be stuck in their way and both are making continual defensive moves, which each perceive as an aggressive action. It is clear that the West and Russia both have very different goals, and it will take a lot for NATO and Russia to ever work together. Both see national security differently, but there is a very good chance that both sides might not be trying to be aggressive, but are perceived that way by the other.

Worsening relations between America and Russia? It’s not what you think.

In the media you constantly hear a how relations are worsening between the United States and the Russian Federation. The two strongest military powers on the globe at the moment. Just last week Russia released it’s newest nuclear intercontinental Missile nicknamed the “SATAN-2” by NATO. This missile is said to have the capable of outfoxing the NMD (National Missile Defense) and delivering a payload of fifteen warheads, which has the destruction power to take out all of the state of Texas.
This doesn’t look good for US-Russian relations. It may even seem like both countries are reverting back to the Cold War period, with one potential presidential candidate threatening to shoot down Russian jets that fly in Syria, and the Russian president deploying surface to air missiles (S-400s) to Syria to shoot down any American or NATO aircraft.

The truth behind the matter is before every presidential elections tensions increase around the world for many different regions. I’ll explain why Russia is acting the way it is, or at least why I believe it is acting this way. Russia is acting on the idea that it is most likely another Clinton will become president, and Russia had terrible experiences with Bill Clinton for two reasons.

1. Bill Clinton is seen as breaking the 1993 promise to Russia that NATO wouldn’t expand Eastward past East Germany. Now, this is a very controversial subject between Russia and NATO. At first NATO claimed that it never existed until released transcripts said otherwise. Then they said Baker had no right to negotiate that with Yeltsin. Now NATO claims that they never broke the promise because they have not expanded “militarily.” What do they mean by militarily? Military installations. On the other hand Russia claims that Baker made that promise to Yeltsin, and when he said not another inch eastward, they also expected NATO to not add countries East past Germany. But for Russians, this is true to them. Therefore, this is one reason they are afraid of another Clinton. They fear farther encirclement.

2. Bill Clinton said some insanely idiotic things during the Second Chechen War, which to be honest he did quickly walk back on. He said Russia will “Pay a heavy price” for their actions in Chechnya. Of course the Second Chechen War broke off when the the IIPB (Islamic International Peacekeeping Brigade) invaded Dagestan. Turns out they were backed by the one and only Al Qaeda and are linked do approximately 100,000 civilian deaths in Dagestan and Chechnya, which Russia fought to end. Granted, Russian troops were extremely brutal during this war, but the civilian death toll is no surprise to most. By saying that, Clinton was perceived as backing Chechen Islamic Extremist, who were responsible for the Beslan School Siege, Moscow Theatre Crisis, and Volgograd Apartment bombings, which ultimately left close to 1,000 Russians dead.

At this point the most likely person to become president is Hillary Clinton, and Russians see this in a negative light. She is seen as being extremely Russophobic and anti-Russian government. She has claimed Putin doesn’t have a sole, called him a dictator, and a few more personal attacks, which make Russians believe they’re about to see a copy of Bill Clinton. Many do believe tensions will continue to rise if she becomes president, but this is highly unlikely. This has happened before, and tensions went back down to normal, such as after the Russo-Georgian war. If she does get elected, there will be some tense moments, but it will probably not go beyond Armed Neutrality, which is what it currently is now, but leaning towards Cold War. This due to the situation in Crimea, Donbass, and Syria.

Russia is simply preparing for the worst case scenario, which is understandable from how Russians see it. The West (NATO countries) see it at flat out aggression, but either way it will probably not boil past this point, and can most likely be expected to die down after the election.

ISIS losing ground in Syria and Iraq

Hello! I’m back after a while! I hope everyone is having a nice fall!

  • ISIS is no longer a military power in the Middle East. Not that they ever were a military power per say, but they’ve lost five of the ten major cities they’ve held.  They only have a presence in Mosul, Deir al-Zour, Manbij, Raqqa, and Tal Afar.
  • On top of ISIS already losing ground due to international intervention, Turkey has thrown its hat in the ring to test its military force out against ISIS. Now, the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) has compared this act to a proxy war, as it sees NATO invading it’s ally, Syria. Granted, Syria can’t do much to stop Turkey, nor will it as all Turkey is going after right now is the Daesh. There has been some concern on wether or not Turkey will target Kurdish forces, due to the long-standing hatred between Kurds and Turks.
  • On a farther note there was a video released of US Special Operational Forces fighting the Daesh  being mocked and ‘chased’ off by US-Backed rebel forces. What does this say about American policy on backing moderate rebel groups in Syria? And will this change anything?
  • Overall ISIS has continued to lose ground in Syria, this could possibly mean a greater number of terror attacks on Western countries who oppose ISIS, as ISIS strategy of establishing a caliphate has ultimately failed in the Middle East. Meaning, they will probably resort to more standard terrorist actions, which target civilians in countries who oppose them.

Russia withdraws troops from Syria

In recent news, Russia is pulling the bulk of it’s troops from Syria for multiple reasons.

1. The economy of Russia has been in a weak state since the price of oil has dropped, which is what the Russian economy is directly linked to. So, waging a war inside of Syria is costly. Plus, this keeps them from investing more into Syria if something was to happen. The Russians not wanting another war like the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

2. Mission objects were reportedly completed, with over nine thousand airstrikes, and 400 populated local areas freed from ISIS/Al Nusra/Rebel control.  These five months gave the Syrian Government time to recuperate their war torn forces, all while putting mounting pressure on rebel/terrorist groups operating in Syria.

3. The peace talks will start soon, and according to the Kremlin, a withdraw of troops will help the talks go smoother, which this is true. Russia has also shown when things don’t go their way, they will be more than happy to use military force, which is why there will be troops still on the ground in a minimal role, most likely Special forces and military contractors. Russia has also stated it will keep some air-power there. This could also be seen as a deterrent to Turkish and Saudi military operations in Syria, which both Saudi Arabia and Turkey have stated they are more than ready to conduct operations.

While terrorism in Syria will probably not be quelled for awhile. Russian, French, and US/Coalition airstrikes have beaten back ISIS to a shell of it’s former capacity to fight. ISIS will not be stopped unless someone is willing to invest a lot of money, time, and troops into the region. That is the only way, ISIS will be destroyed.

Situation in Syria and the refugee crisis.

Currently we’ve seen the international community get more vocal about ISIS actions since the Paris terror attack that left 129 killed, and hundreds injured.  Also the Russian airliner that was bombed, which left over 200 dead, mostly Russian. The French government has made many statements against ISIS, and is now actively partaking in airstrikes in Raqqa (which is the self proclaimed capital of ISIS). Meanwhile the United States and the Russian Federation have stepped up their airstrikes. 

This has lead to a bit more tensions in the region as Russia and the United States/West have very different goals in the region. The United States/most of the West backs the Free Syrian Army, and other moderate rebel groups, while Russia backs it long time ally the Syrian Government. Both sides of this spectrum have a common enemy, which they’ve recognized and that is the Islamic State.

With Syria in a war torn state hundreds of thousands of people are displaced by the fighting in the region. Many of whom are going to Europe. Europe is close and has a many social policies in place, making it one of the best areas for refugees to go to. Sadly, many of these refugees are not vetted, and are coming in by the thousands. Many countries in the Balkans have been overrun to the point where Slovenia along with Hungary have built razor fences on their borders. A very real fear of these EU countries is Islamic extremist coming into the EU, and committing terror attacks against European countries.

This leaves the question, how do we vet all these refugees? Where do they go? Some have proposed a demilitarized zone which would be defended by the United States and it’s allies in the region. Of course, this would mean we would have to put boots on the ground. The other problem to this idea is where would you place the demilitarized zone? Right now there seems to be no good answers on how to deal with the immigrants.

There is an obvious think, which should not be left out. Many of these refugees just want peace. Many of these children having grown up i warn torn regions, many just want  a new life. An escape from the bloodshed of the Syrian Civil War.

The author’s personal opinion:


As the Western countries of the world, who are expected to hold liberty and freedom over all things, and believe all people deserve this. Then isn’t it worth the risk? We can’t claim to be humanitarian as tens of thousands pour into Europe. Sure, Europe needs a better vetting system, but that’s possible. What’s not possible, is sending these people away. European governments can’t just say no.  You will never beat ISIS in straight out conventional war as it is being waged right now, it is almost impossible to stamp out terrorism, as it has shown over and over again. You have to beat ISIS militarily, intellectually, and morally. Airstrikes cannot destroy ISIS. If you wanted to get rid of them militarily it would take hundreds of thousands of soldiers, and many decades invested in the region. Saudi Arabia, and Turkey won’t get involved as long as Iran is supporting Assad. So, how do we solve the issue?   Are we going to sit back, and let the region keep heating up? Or are we going to try and fix it? And be decent humans while we are at it?

Riots in Montenegro

That capitol of Montenegro has recently spiraled out of control as thousands after peaceful protest turned violent with the demand the Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic (Leader of the Democratic Party of Socialist, or DPS) step down from his position of power following Djukanovic’s attempts to become closer to the West, and with NATO. This of course throws off the Montenegrin population, as they have always been close to Russia, and Serbia. Keeping in mind NATO bombings of Yugoslavia in 1999. Leaving thousands dead and infrastructure of Montenegro and Serbia ruined. Many still remember the NATO bombings, and oppose NATO with a passion.

Milo Djukanovic blames the Kremlin for these riots, and inciting violence in the Montenegro, while the Kremlin quickly dismisses them.

Sources:
Source One.
Source Two.