Posted by Curt on 9 August, 2016 at 10:32 pm. 2 comments already!


Richard Fernandez:

Though president Obama swore that he would never find himself in a proxy war with Russia in Syria that was exactly the result. Moreover it is a proxy war he is losing, according to the New York Times. “Russia has not only avoided a quagmire in Syria, its successes on the battlefield against C.I.A.-backed rebels have given it new leverage in the Middle East.”

For the first time since Afghanistan in the 1980s, the Russian military for the past year has been in direct combat with rebel forces trained and supplied by the C.I.A. The American-supplied Afghan fighters prevailed during that Cold War conflict. But this time the outcome — thus far — has been different.

“Russia has won the proxy war, at least for now,” said Michael Kofman, a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington.

The war that Obama didn’t want not only happened but is reaching its apparent climax in Aleppo as both sides poured their remaining strength into a war that has already claimed more than half a million lives and sent millions of refugees into exile — many into Europe. “Syrian regime forces and rebel factions sent hundreds of reinforcements to Aleppo Monday as both sides braced for a crucial battle to control the country’s second city.”

The Hezbollah have deployed their elite reserves to the ‘most destroyed city on earth’, as Aleppo is now known. Their sectarian rivals have done likewise promising their troops the pleasures of paradise. “Reclining on a drab, olive-colored couch wearing army fatigues and a checkered red-and white kuffiyah, Abdullah Muhaisini announced that “in a few hours, the greatest epic battle of the Syrian jihad” would begin. The Saudi cleric had risen from obscurity over the last few years to sit at the apex of the Syrian insurgency’s jihadi circles.”

As a wide array of Syrian rebel factions mustered late last week to bust the government’s siege of Aleppo city, Muhaisini rallied their men.

“Where are those who want 72 gorgeous wives?” shouted Muhaisini in a YouTube video viewed by tens of thousands, his voice trembling as he spoke of the Hoor, the beautiful women with lustrous eyes promised to martyrs in Paradise in the Islamic religion.

Between them they’ll level what’s left, both of Aleppo and Obama’s foreign policy. It’s been a long time coming. Liz Sly described what was at stake in the Washington Post as far back as February. “Syria’s civil war long ago mutated into a proxy conflict, with competing world powers backing the rival Syrian factions almost since the earliest days of the armed rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad. But perhaps never before have the dangers — or the complications — of what amounts to a mini world war been so apparent as in the battle underway for control of Aleppo.”

But more is at stake than the outcome of Syria’s war. The Aleppo offensive is affirming Moscow’s stature as a dominant regional power across the heart of the Middle East. The advances by Shiite Iraqi and Lebanese militias are extending the sway of Iran far beyond the traditional Shiite axis of influence into Sunni areas of northern Syria. Although Syria’s army is claiming the victories, rebels, military experts and videos by the fighters themselves say almost all of the advances are being made by the Lebanese Hezbollah movement, the Iraqi Badr Brigade, Harakat al-Nujaba and other Iraqi Shiite militias that are sponsored by Iran. …

For Turkey, the biggest concern is that the vacuum along its borders will be filled by Kurds, whose dreams of independence have been brought closer by the chaos in Syria.

It’s a fight Obama is now on the point of losing.  The Institute for the Study of Warnoted that despite disclaimers by the Obama administration that nothing vital was at stake in Syria — he famously referred to ISIS as a “jayvee team” — nothing could be further from the truth. A bad outcome in the Middle East would pose “an existential threat to the US and Europe”. The ISW conclude that “the activities of ISIS and al Qaeda interact with the policies of Russia, Iran, and China to endanger the international systems upon which American safety and freedom depend.”

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