World View: Russia Reconsiders Its Support of Assad

World View: Russia Reconsiders Its Support of Assad

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Turkey’s Erdogan agrees with Obama to provide aid to Syria’s opposition
  • Russia reconsiders its position on supporting Bashar al-Assad
  • Russia struggles to bring Georgian territories under tighter control
  • European Union escalates its war against Somalia pirates

Turkey’s Erdogan agrees with Obama to provide aid to Syria’s opposition

Nobody really wants to do anything to interfere with the continued bloody slaughter by the regime of Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad, for fear that an outside intervention would spiral into a larger war. Everyone has been hopin’ and prayin’ that the slaughter would just stop on its own. But the fact that it isn’t stopping is providing increasing embarrassment to Turkey, Russia, the European Union, America, and other countries. Turkey has particular issues:

  • Some 17,000 Syrian refugees have crossed the border into Turkey and are in refugee tent camps.
  • There are suspected growing ties between Syria and the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is continuing its attacks in southeastern Turkey.

On Sunday, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with US President Barack Obama at an international nuclear proliferation conference in Seoul, South Korea, and “discussed” medical and communications support and other “non-lethal aid” to Syrian rebels.

Turkey has frequently “discussed” another option, using the military to create a buffer zone on Syrian soil where people could flee from the army, but that has always been shelved. On Sunday, Erdogan said it was still on the agenda, but “We are looking for a final solution that includes Russia, China and Iran,” the three major international backers of the Assad regime. Iran lends its support to the Iraqi Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, in his fight against the Sunni Arab bloc, and is thought, along with Russia, to be a major arms supplier to the Bashar regime. Zaman (Istanbul)

Russia reconsiders its position on supporting Bashar al-Assad

Russia has become alarmed because their support of the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria has lost them a great deal of influence in the Arab world. The nightmare scenario for Russia is that the al-Assad regime gets kicked out, and a new government is hostile to Russia. Russia has its only remaining naval base in the Mediterranean at Syria’s port of Tartus, has big arms sales to Syria, and has other big investments in Syria, so has a lot to lose. Russia is supporting a farcical ‘peace plan’ adopted by the U.N. Security Council and led by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. At a Sunday meeting in Moscow with Annan, President Dmitry Medvedev said that Annan’s plan “is the last chance for Syria to avoid a bloody civil war.” Russia Today

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this just continues the silliness. Some would say that Syria is already in a “bloody civil war,” with thousands of people massacred by the al-Assad regime. But Syria is in a generational Awakening era, and so a crisis civil war is impossible, which means that the current “bloody civil war” is pretty much as bad as it’s going to get. It’s possible that Assad will be forced from office, but right now it looks much more likely that Assad will crush his opposition. Historically, what always happens in those situations is that the war ends for the time being, and is followed by alternating periods of conflict and peace, with each period of conflict worse than the previous one, and with each period of peace punctuated by terrorist attacks.

Russia struggles to bring Georgian territories under tighter control

When Russia defeated Georgia in the 2008 war, Russia ended up in control of two Georgian territories, South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Since then, Russia has stationed military forces in both territories and supplied substantial economic aid, even though internationally they’re still both considered to be part of Georgia. It was clear during the war, as I reported at the time, that Georgians and Russians didn’t particularly hate each other, although they were at war, but that the South Ossetians and the Georgians hated each other enormously, and keeping the conflict between the South Ossetians and Georgians from spiraling into a major regional war was undoubtedly one of the principal motivations for Russia’s intervention. But now Russia is stuck with governing both territories, and the local populations are becoming increasing hostile to their Russian occupiers. This comes at at time when Russia’s largely Muslim North Caucasus provinces (just above the Caucasus mountains) are increasingly subject to jihadist terrorist attacks. With the 2014 winter Olympics being held in Sochi, on the Black Sea just above Abkhazia, Russia is determined to bring the two territories under closer control, assuming that’s possible. Accordingly, Moscow is throwing out any pretense of democracy, and has just appointed two “special representatives” to govern the two territories. Jamestown

European Union escalates its war against Somalia pirates

The European Union is escalating its war against Somalia pirates, by authorizing its military forces to make air and sea attacks on targets with Somalia itself. “Operation Atalanta” previously could only target pirate ships on the high seas or territorial waters. The objective of the new mandate is to give the mission the powers to attack makeshift “logistical facilities” the pirates use on Somali beaches. Irish Times


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