Friday, July 22, 2016

The New Middle East: Exit America Enter Russia

Is the genie finally out of the bottle?
A myriad of seemingly unrelated events and loose ends are converging in a manner that points in the direction of a huge win for Russian diplomacy in the Middle East, and we only need to connect the dots to see this scenario unfolding.
What dots, one might ask?
Henry Kissinger made it law for America to protect Israel. In his shuttle diplomacy trips in the lead up to the Camp David agreement, Kissinger has basically removed the USSR from the position of a superpower and a key partner on the negotiating table between Arabs and the Israelis and reduced its role to zilch. The ensuing dismantling of the USSR and the emergence of the so-called “New World Order” meant that Israel was to maintain its military superiority.
However, with the rise of Axis of Resistance in general and Hezbollah in particular, Israel’s technical military edge proved unable to provide Israel with any real security. As a matter of fact, it seems to have done just the opposite. Israel has never ever been under the kind of existential threat that it faces now, with an estimated hundred thousand Hezbollah missiles, if not more, poised to hit Israeli targets as far as Eilat.
And because America had been such a biased supporter of Israel for so long, it has lost its stature as a non-partisan arbitrator and mediator. In reality therefore, whilst America tried as hard as possible to enable Israel to impose its own peace, under its own terms, in practice, it has not been able to provide Israel with any peace under anyone’s terms.
Off to Syria.
Syria has been deadlocked in a war for more than five years. The Russian intervention that commenced in late September 2015 took the conflict, for the first time, into a direction in which the Syrian Government and its allies gained the clear upper hand.
Then, and in the height of the military operation, and seemingly just a tad before achieving and declaring victory, Russia suddenly declared a major pullout and eventually a ceasefire. Many questions were raised, and even the staunch and extremely savvy ally of Russia, Hezbollah chief Nasrallah himself has questioned publicly in a recent speech the rationale behind the Russian stand and asked: ”Who has benefited from the ceasefire?” Nasrallah was obviously referring to the fact that Al-Nusra Front and other groups have taken advantage of the ceasefire to bolster their positions and even to gain some territory in some regions.
In as much as the Russian intervention in its speed, accuracy and effectiveness has stunned the world, especially NATO, so did the pullback and ceasefire. Why did President Putin suddenly decide to scale down the military offensive, was a question that many analysts asked and tried to make speculations about.
Short-sighted analysts, especially those who love to hate Russia, found in this a golden opportunity to lash at Russia and accuse President Putin of backing off and letting Syria down. But would Putin truly back down after he had put his global political reputation on the line? Was he really expecting the Americans to come clean and work with him on identifying who is who on the ground? Would he back off after Russian lives were lost both in Syria and in the tragic jetliner crash in Sinai, and which was done in retaliation to Russia’s military action in Syria? Would Putin risk being seen in a negative way by his own people after he had risen to the level of a rescuer and hero? Last but not least, would Putin leave Turkey, and Erdogan specifically, “unpunished” after Turkey deliberately downed a Russian plane and killed its pilot?

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