Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Putin’s Gambit!

Can anyone of those who attended the Geneva Conference explain to pro-democracy protesters in Syria how will their proposed plan end the massacres, the ethnic cleansing and the ongoing partition of the country? I have read the full text of their final communiqué and I still can’t understand how they plan to accomplish this.

Monday July 02, 2012

Today’s Death toll: 114. The Breakdown: 32 in Damascus (30 in the Suburbs and 2 in the City), 27 in Hama, 20 in Homs, 13 in Deir Ezzor, 6 in Idlib, 4 in Aleppo, 4 in Daraa and 1 in Lattakia.

In a new provocation of Turkish authorities, pro-Assad militias shell the refugee camp of Kilis right across the border http://youtu.be/Fk3w1RT6zgY


Recent weeks have seen an escalation in the number of Syrian troops fleeing the country. The troops flee as the international community has failed to decide on a unified response to the crisis in Syria.

Op-Eds & Special Reports

Mounting Pressure on the Syrian Army Unless the army finds a way to relieve growing pressure on its capabilities and cohesion, it will likely collapse, sweeping away much of the regime in the process.

“A combination of military operations by the local resistance with aerial cover from the U.S. and allies will shortly provide a separation of forces between the few real areas that are still loyal to the regime and the majority of the country which has joined the revolution. It’s at this stage that talks over transition can truly begin.”

Putin’s Gambit

I agree that Russia’s position on Syria is not about Syria. But it’s not simply about the question of who makes the call on international issues either. Russians have their own doublespeak as well, and we just have to find ways to decipher it which the Russians themselves often provide. In my conversations with Russian policy experts back in late May, mention of Saudi Arabia was as frequent as that of Syria and the U.S. The bottom line was: “what can you (the opposition) and the Saudis can offer us to help us change our position?” Some did indeed put it as bluntly as this, so I didn’t really have to struggle to piece things together.  

Putin views developments in Syria as a new front for the struggle between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and he believes that Saudi is the main sponsor of the Syrian opposition. If Saudi wants to prevail on this front Russia would like to help for a price.

And the price is not a port along the Syrian coast, Russia already has that and has no plans to give it up, nor do they see that a need for such a move could seriously arise. The opposition, in their view, will never be able to control the coastal areas and force such a development.

And the price is not a multi-billion dollar arms deal with Saudi, albeit they wouldn’t mind that. But that is not as urgent a need as this stage as that other thing that Putin really needs: driving oil prices up! Current oil prices coupled with chronic mismanagement and corruption in Russian circles will soon translate into an economic nightmare for Russia where the elite has until recently lived in the same kind of cocoon that the Ben Alis, the Mubaraks, the Salehs, the Gaddafis and the Assads have been living in: they thought they were invincible. Then came the Arab Re-Awakening, and Putin and his crowd saw in that, rightly, a clear warning sign.

In order to avoid what happened to Arab regimes, Russian officials knew they had little time to tackle some very knotty economic and developmental problems in record time. But for that, they need cash, and plenty of it, and for this they need higher oil prices which constitute the quickest possible fix to their problems.  

But Saudi cannot deliver on that without American approval, and Obama cannot give his approval on something like this during elections season, and so long as the economic situation in the U.S. and the E.U. remains as problematic as it is today. Higher oil prices might good for Russia among few other countries, not to mention oil companies, but, at this stage, they are bad for the world.

So, Russia cannot have what it wants at this stage, and that means that Russia cannot be part of the solution in Syria.

Video Highlights

This leaked video shows how pro-Assad troops are pounding the Damascene Suburb of Daraya from a square in the Midan District http://youtu.be/iFFupmLA-Yo The pounding leaves many dead http://youtu.be/hLJ0PNFgOg0 , http://youtu.be/ZKtlea7ssAE

Pro-Assad militias transform the Damascene Suburb of Douma into another ghost town http://youtu.be/M9Jic0FnRbw Local activists retrieve the bodies of people who seem to have been executed in their homes by pro-Assad militias http://youtu.be/7ARu2nj4wIQ , http://youtu.be/U3v7OWbOePM , http://youtu.be/K9GeK_MSE6k , http://youtu.be/-T9Li1XWVuE , http://youtu.be/QcA9HSpKmKk A body that lies unclaimed in the stairwell http://youtu.be/E9IzcCPxKJw

The pounding of Deir Ezzor City in the northeastern parts of the country continues http://youtu.be/nbAAS8ZTOHI A mortar round lands on a passing car disintegrating the inhabitants http://youtu.be/se4QIRNjd3A Homes catch fire http://youtu.be/BrHFXxp7qGA The impact of pounding http://youtu.be/NGPZCqQE_Tc

Lattakia: fires started by pro-regime militias continue to rage in Al-Akrad Mountains driving locals out finishing the job of ethnic cleansing http://youtu.be/9lNYs-_pBCs

The pounding of Talbisseh, Homs Province, continues http://youtu.be/VLe1jdOEEtc So does the pounding of Rastan http://youtu.be/fp1KqcUrnks , http://youtu.be/mF3JJINpUqo

The pounding of Naeemah, Daraa Province, continues http://youtu.be/fQtwkbMza20 , http://youtu.be/bxj1Ik4J5wA