Russia, Iran, and China are cooperating in supposedly supporting Assad and ousting ISIS from Syria as the United States sits on the sidelines. Many U.S. media pundits are happy to see, what they perceive, as other countries eliminating ISIS from the other side of the world. This, however, may prove downright disastrous for the United States.
Why is Russia so interested in product-evaluation moving its own tanks, troops, aircraft, and missiles into Syria in order to prevent the fall of Assad, and why are they willing to do this so brazenly?
Russia has a business history with Syria, one that goes back to the 1960’s. The former Soviet Union was the major supplier of military arms to Syria and helped give rise to the Ba’athists. A whopping 90% of exported Soviet arms were sent to the Middle East nation during the last 20 years of the USSR. After erasing close to $10 billion of Syrian debt, Russia reestablished itself as Syria’s main arms supplier in 2006.
TARTUS NAVAL BASE
Tartus was built in 1971 by the Soviet Navy. The debt and arms arrangement in the 2000’s may have sparked an agreement for Russia to be allowed to expand Tartus to accommodate Russian nuclear armed vessels. Since 2009, Russia has been dredging the port to support larger warships and is also revamping the base. Tartus is Russia’s only naval presence in the Mediterranean. It’s importance as a replenishment and repair port is vital to Russian warships traveling to naval bases in the Black Sea.
OSNAZ GRU ELECTRONIC SURVEILLANCE FACILITIES
The Russians have maintained listening posts in Latakia, Al-Harra, and other areas of Syria. The Al-Harra surveillance facility near Golan Heights was abandoned and captured by U.S. backed Syrian rebels in 2014.
TADMUR (PALMYRA) AIRBASE
This airbase is near a vital area of Syria’s road system, gas supply system, and ammunition depots.
Let’s not forget that Vladimir Putin is an ex KGB agent. He is extremely popular in Russia, and it feeds his fire to bring Russia back to it’s USSR glory days. In 2005, Putin proclaimed to fellow Russians that ‘The breakup of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical tragedy of the 20th century’.
In 2012, the United States made a huge mistake. Russia proposed to have Assad cede his power as part of a peace deal. U.S., British, and French leadership were convinced that Assad was close to falling. They let the Russian proposal fall on deaf ears. The ignorance of President Obama and his crew have resulted with thousands of deaths in Syria, as well as the refugee crises that, most likely, has delivered a jihadist Trojan Horse to Europe. Not only that, it’s allowing an excuse for Russia and Iran to eliminate all rebels and not necessarily eliminate all of ISIS.
Russia and Iran’s relationship dates back to the 1500’s. Though off and on with each other throughout the years, the two countries have complimented each other as they each garner a policy of Western obstructionism. With the West’s sanctions on Iran, Russia stepped in and became strategic allies and trading partners with Iran. This allows Iran to sell oil to Russia and Russia to sell arms to Iran.
Iran has been Syria’s closest ally since the Iran-Iraq War. With hatred for the United States and Israel, they work in consort to smuggle arms to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Iran, being a Shia muslim country, has been training and supporting Iraqi Shia militias fighting ISIS. Even though Syria is majority Sunni, Bashar al-Assad is Alawite (a sect of Shia Islam). In recent days, Iraq has agreed to provide intelligence for Russia, Iran, and Syria.
China plays an important role with Syria as they have significant trade relationships. China is Syria’s main importer as well as a partner in Syria’s oil production, helping to produce 100,000 barrels of oil daily. China also has trade relationships with Iran exceeding $50 billion yearly. They export $170 million of arms to Iran yearly and have a history of assisting Iran in the development of nuclear weapons.
So what does all this mean? Russia will begin attacking Syrian rebels, not exclusively ISIS. As President Obama and John Kerry have proven to be a less competent and weaker adversary, Putin will defy the West’s demands by defending Bashar al-Assad. Obama will foolishly send airstrikes against ISIS Sunnis, while Putin and Assad attack other Syrian rebels. If Putin succeeds in keeping Assad in power, I would not doubt that he will beef up Russia’s presence and gain a foothold in the Middle East in his quest to become a world dominant power. Not only do I see a growth of Russia military personnel and armaments, I also expect Russian missile systems to placed in Syria in defense as Iran develops and builds nuclear missiles to aim at Israel and the West. With intelligence being feed to Iran and Russia via Iraqi Shia, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Iran vie for Iraq and its oil. It was definitely the mistake of the United States not to take Iraq’s oil after the war with Iraq. Putin, after all, went for regaining Ukraine, which happens to hold pipelines of 80% of Russian natural gas flowing to Europe.
How long will China cooperate with Russian efforts to gain foothold in the Middle East is yet to be determined. Saudi Arabia has become a major trade partner with China. Saudi oil export to China now exceeds oil export to the United States. Saudi Arabia has several oil storage and refinery projects with the Chinese in China which will triple capacity. It has also established operations of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority and Saudi Arab Airlines in China. Likewise, China has invested in aluminum facilities in Saudi Arabia and has built a monorail to Saudi Arabia for Mecca pilgrims. China and Saudi Arabia also cooperate in nuclear development to be used for energy. Saudi Arabia, being Sunni, definitely has tension with Shia Iran and both countries have very different views of stability in their regions. Iranian backing of Syria has further divided the Saudis and Iranians.
The United States may be forced into a strategic military alliance with China if China defects from its Russian and Iranian relations. Unfortunately, with the incompetence of President Obama, the imbecilic John Kerry, and the deterioration of the United States military, the United States is definitely a weak player in this power grab in the Middle East. This is disheartening as Vladimir Putin is not the sharpest tool in the tool shed, yet he’s playing Obama like a fool. It looks as though we will have to hold on until 2016 for the United States to seriously take on Russian aggression. By that time, it may be too late.