Despite all you've heard about Russia's great airstrikes and "Putin going full beast", the Russian position in Syria and the world is looking weaker by the day.
First off, the main supply line of the Russian force in Syria, and in fact the entire Syrian army, which is fighting almost exclusively with Russian munitions, hangs on the Bosporus and Dardanelles. The required volumes of jet fuel, ammo, etc., simply cannot be brought in by air.
In a state of war or near-war with Turkey, or say a Russian cut-off of gas supplies to that nation as retaliation for the SU-24 downing, Ankara would have not only perhaps the legal right but certainly U.S. approval to shut down this lifeline.
Assad would then probably collapse within weeks and the Russian force, lacking fuel and munitions, would have to evacuate by air, perhaps via the Iraq-Iran-Caspian route if Uncle Sam hasn't closed off Iraqi airspace to Russia by that point.
So in truth, despite the brave talk on most sites not sympathetic to the Empire, Russia can do nothing militarily against Turkey. Moreover, Russia's problems are now mounting by the week.
The destruction of the tourist plane over Sinai has led Moscow to ban direct flights to Egypt, potentially throwing a big wrench into Russian-Egyptian relations, which had up to that point been strengthening. Now with the Turkish crisis, Russia's relationship with one of its main trading partners is on the skids.
Yes, Turkey may lose over $20 billion/year or 2.5 percent of its GDP (can you say recession?) from Russian sanctions, including comprehensive restrictions on flights and tourism (there were 4.4 million Russian visits to Turkey last year), import bans, loss of massive construction contracts throughout Russia, and an end to Russian investment in the Akkuyu nuclear power plant, which Rosatom was building on its own dime.
But is this a good thing? Who needs it? There is no prize for guessing who benefits from these two strong, proud, sovereign states (so unlike America's emasculated European colonies) butting heads.
And what will next week bring? You just know something bad will happen. Some Russian pundits have suggested recognizing Syrian Kurdistan and arming the Kurds. OK, then what? It will just keep rolling downhill.
The "solution" to problem A will cause problems B and C, and so on. Don't they realize this is precisely America's M.O.? But at least Uncle Sam can afford it. This is a terrible swamp Russia is sinking into.
Also at this time, it is clear that the Iranian-Hezbollah "Big Offensive" was a load of hot air. Making use of the Russian air strikes, the Shi'ites have stabilized the situation and taken a few villages here and there, but they are also wasting themselves with casualties they were not prepared for.
Nor does Hezbollah have any strategic reserve to speak of. What they've thrown into the mix is all there is. There won't be another "Big Offensive."
Only someone who has spent too long playing too many computer games could have thought that the Iranians and just 6000 Hezbollah and what pathetic ragtag bits remain of the Syrian army were ever going to chase the rebels or Nusra or ISIS out of Syria.
At most, destroying ISIS' oil business might lead the group into Chapter 11, causing it to splinter into many small outfits, perhaps with local tribes taking back some of their own lands.
But for Assad to recover that territory? Forget it! No one in the region will allow it, even if Assad had the manpower for it, which he does not at this point. Nor do I think his goons would ever be welcome back. Notwithstanding the sad apologias we have seen on his behalf, he is now the "legitimate elected leader" of precisely Jack and squat.
So it seems that the great geostrategic genius, Vladimir Putin, may have finally gone a bridge too far. If he had left it alone, the problems of a hyper-fragmented, Somalia-esque, post-Assad Syria as well as ISIS would have been 100-percent owned by America and its lackeys.
This permanent catastrophe would have sapped any remaining will on Uncle Sam's part to intervene in the region. In fact, after colossal, nation-destroying failures in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and of course Ukraine—which saw Washington's chaos devouring our world like "The Nothing" from The Neverending Story—it could have been the very last straw, the end of U.S. Global Dominion. But now, all the Empire needs to do is sit back and watch Russia screw up and exhaust itself.
And Assad is still toast, even if his "Saigon embassy roof" escape to Moscow, Tehran, or Bolivia has been delayed by a year or two. Like the late Najibullah in Afghanistan, this patient can never come off life support, and the only question is when does the hospital get tired or go broke trying to keep him alive. (Besides Russian involvement, Iran is reportedly sending him $6 billion a year, which probably amounts to his entire state budget.)
For Russia, the only benefit I see is its air force gaining experience waging a US-style extended bombing campaign as well as impressing countries such as India, who then line up to buy even more Russian arms. Other than that, I see no gains, only risks now manifesting as one crisis after another.
As for Russian and other post-Soviet nationals involved with Nusra or ISIS, who present an existential threat to the entire former USSR, they can run back to their support base of Turkey at the drop of a hat, then return when things have calmed down.
Only the delusional think the Russian air force will kill them all, or even enough to make a difference. Short of dropping neutron bombs, this is a fool's errand.
Just as with the 9/11 attackers and their ilk, the only real solution is stopping them at the border or at the airport immigration control booth. The "we have to fight them over there so we don't have to fight them over here" approach is pure fantasy imported from America.
It pains me to see wise Russia parroting failed Bush-era mantras straight out of Fox News. For a country that is intellectually head-and-shoulders over the US, with a leader who can speak coherently and in great detail for three hours without a teleprompter, it is certainly a new low.
Russia should have stayed home. Now it is in a hopeless situation that is rolling downhill at dizzying speed. I'm almost afraid to open my eyes at this point.
This post first appeared on Russia Insider
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