The Russian military has begun conducting airstrikes in Syria, but how this decision began is also worth noting, as is the evidence of what seems to be a Russian decision to modernize and expand the warmer water naval facility at Tartus and perhaps to stay in Syria for awhile.
A Russian three-star general carried a written warning with a clear message over to officials of the United States in Iraq, just an hour before they began bombing in Syria, according to media reports: “we request your people leave.” (See UKIndependent and USnews for more details.)
So, why is this happening in this way?
From the “Russian Politics” posting over at RTpolitics, Ramzan Kadyrov, head of the Chechen Republic told reporters on 29 September that “[s]ince the start of the armed support of the Syrian opposition by the United States and Europe and the beginning of air strikes on ISIS, the peace process has not advanced even one millimeter. On the contrary, Western forces cause tens of thousands of young men from all over the world to come to Syria and Iraq.”
Defeating ISIS/AL Qaeda
Certainly Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, previously expressed his belief that the US is to blame for much of the chaos in the Middle East (see previous story here at cmm.) Taking to the speaker’s podium at the United Nations General Assembly on Monday, President Putin stated to those gathered his own proposal for Syria. Putin envisioned that Russia and its allies would join forces with the West in what Fred Weir, writing for the CSMonitor, called “a grand anti-terrorist alliance.” Putin compared it to “World War II’s anti-Hitler coalition, to focus on the single overriding goal of defeating IS and Al Qaeda in Iraq and Syria,” Weir wrote after the speech.
But Kadyrov, head of the Chechen Republic, was emphasizing another point to reporters in the RT post. “He especially emphasized the fact that it is common knowledge already that Islamic State finances its operations by selling oil extracted on captured territories, yet no one has tried to stop this trade.”
In the UN speech, Putin accused the U.S. of “turning a blind eye to the channels of financing and supporting terrorists, including the proceeds of drug trafficking and illicit trade in oil and arms,” as previously reported here.
So does this shed more light on the subsequent U.S. Treasury and State Department decision to place sanctions on “people associated with the Islamic State group a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin called out the United States for not acting aggressively enough to curb the extremist organization’s participation in the global financial system,” as reported previously?
Refugee crisis: ‘cheap workforce’
Kadyrov’s statements on what the Chechen leader believes about the situation should be noted, too. Apparently it was Putin’s remark about the U.S. “turning a blind eye” to illegal trade in oil and arms which prompts Kadyrov’s comment that “[t]herefore we have every reason to believe the coalition is assisting and strengthening [ISIS] directly or indirectly.”
Later in the article, Kadyrov states that “… in his view European bureaucrats were creating a show out of the recent sharp increase of the number of Syrian refugees.”
That might be big news to Germany’s Angela Merkel and other European leaders, being accused of “creating a show” in trying to maintain civil order from the surging chaos of frightened refugees crossing into the West from the Middle East. “In reality,” Kadyrov is quoted by RT as then telling reporters, “hundreds of thousands of refugees are cheap workforce for Western nations, where people are getting older and where men are marrying men. Ninety-nine percent of the refugees are children and young people who can pave the roads, work in factories and plant tulips.”
In December 2014, Russia declared that the “Islamic State group” was a terrorist organization. According to RT, this means “… outlawing membership or any support for it under threat of criminal prosecution.”
The study of War
And in his blog, writer Christopher Kozak presents a worrisome word from IFTSW (the Institute for the Study of War). “Recent indicators suggest that Russia intends to upgrade its naval facility in the Port of Tartus along the Syrian Coast in tandem with its ongoing air operations based out of Bassel al-Assad International Airport in neighboring Latakia Province,” writes Kozak in the post that also credits Hugo Spaulding and Daniel Urchick for the information.
“The expansion of the naval facility at Tartus bears several implications for future Russian military activity in Syria. The base constitutes the only Russian naval base outside of the former Soviet Union and provides Russia with strategic access to the Mediterranean, although its capacity to host large, modern vessels remains limited. Russian officials have discussed potential upgrades to the base for several years without significant action, although Syrian President Bashar al-Assad stated in March 2015 that Syria would welcome ‘any widening of the Russian presence’ in Tartus.”
Kozak also writes, further on in the blog that “[t]he expansion of the naval facility at Tartus also reflects Russian intent to secure permanent strategic basing in Syria in line with its establishment of an airbase at Bassel al-Assad International Airport. At minimum, recent Russian activity in Tartus indicates that Russia views its military intervention in Syria as a long-term commitment rather than a short-term limited operation.”