World View: Russia Escalates Syria War Launching Missiles from Caspian Sea

The Associated Press

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Russia dramatically escalates Syria war launching cruise missiles from Caspian Sea
  • Russian Orthodox Church declares a ‘Holy War’ in Syria
  • Russia’s ‘Holy War’ in Syria declaration sparks calls for jihad
  • IMF warns of significant danger of global financial crash

Russia dramatically escalates Syria war launching cruise missiles from Caspian Sea

Map showing likely path of Russia's cruise missiles from Caspian Sea to Syria
Map showing likely path of Russia’s cruise missiles from Caspian Sea to Syria

Another day, another escalation. There have been rumors and reports that suggested that Russia might bomb targets in Syria from warships located in the Mediterranean Sea, and that could still happen.

But on Wednesday, Russia has surprised everyone by launching a volley of 26 cruise missiles from four warships in the Caspian Sea at targets in Syria. The cruise missiles, which have a range of up to 2,500 km, had to travel 1,500 km over the countries of Iran and Iraq, and the Russians claim that they obtained permission from those countries to do so.

The Russians claimed that the cruise missiles were targeting the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh), but analysts pointed out that, as usual, the Russians are simply lying. According to reports, the missiles targeted Urbil and Homa, which are Free Syrian Army (FSA) strongholds with no ISIS presence.

Last week, Russian warplanes that supposedly were striking ISIS targets actually attacked the headquarters of the Free Syrian Army in Kafr Nabl in northern Idlib province. Another attack was on an emergency hospital that treats wounded fighters. Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Wednesday that on two of Russia’s 57 airstrikes in Syria have hit ISIS targets, while the rest have targeted other groups.

It is increasingly clear that the Russians are not targeting ISIS, except perfunctorily. The Syrian conflict began in 2011 when the regime of president Bashar al-Assad started bombing innocent protesting civilians, massacring tens of thousands of innocent Sunni women and children with heavy weapons and Sarin gas, and with barrel bombs loaded with explosives, metals, and chlorine gas.

It is al-Assad’s genocidal actions that drew tens of thousands of young jihadists from around the world to Syria to fight the al-Assad regime, resulting in the creation of ISIS. Al-Assad has never targeted ISIS, but has supported ISIS because ISIS has been fighting other Syrian opposition groups, doing al-Assad’s job for him.

Russian warplanes violated Turkey’s airspace earlier this week, and now Russia is launching cruise missiles from the Caspian Sea. Both of these actions are significant escalations by the Russians. It is increasingly clear that the Russians do not accept any limit to their military intervention into Syria, including, if desired, a full-scale invasion.

Now the Russians are continuing al-Assad’s genocidal acts, with warplanes and now with cruise missiles. This is not going to defeat ISIS, since ISIS is not even being targeted. This is going to strengthen ISIS by drawing more thousands of young jihadists from around the world to join ISIS. Asia Times and Moscow Times (5-Oct) and and Daily Sabah (Turkey)

Russian Orthodox Church declares a ‘Holy War’ in Syria

Patriarch Kirill and Vladimir Putin (Ria Novosti)
Patriarch Kirill and Vladimir Putin (Ria Novosti)

As I suggested last month in “13-Sep-15 World View — Russia opens a dangerous new chapter in Syria and the Mideast”, one of the worst outcomes from Russia’s intervention in Syria would occur if jihadists saw it as an Orthodox Christian invasion of a Muslim country in the same way that they viewed the 1980s Soviet invasion of Afghanistan as a Christian invasion of a Muslim country.

Astonishingly, Russian officials seemed determined to make that worst-case scenario a reality.

According to Vsevolod Chaplin, a senior cleric in the Orthodox Church:

The active position of our country has always been connected with protection of the weak and oppressed, like the Middle East Christians who are now experiencing a real genocide. Russia’s role has always been in protecting peace and justice for all Mideast peoples.

Terrorism is immoral and we need to protect those who are being driven from their lands by war.

Whatever they are trying to justify terrorism with, it cannot be justified. Thus, any fight against terrorism is moral, we can even call it a holy fight.

Chaplain said that the invasion of Syria is supported by Russians of all religious (which is highly doubtful), but it does not matter because the phrase “holy fight” is being quoted in media around the Mideast.

Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, issued a statement saying:

The Russian Federation has made a responsible decision on the use of armed forces to defend the people of Syria from the sorrows caused by the arbitrariness of terrorists. We believe this decision will bring peace and justice closer to this ancient land.

Wishing peace to the peoples of Syria, Iraq and other countries of the Middle East, we pray for this tough local conflict not to develop into a major war, for the use of force not to lead to the death of civilians, and for all Russian military [personnel] to return home alive.

Russia Today (30-Sep) and Interfax-Religion (Moscow 30-Sep)

Russia’s ‘Holy War’ in Syria declaration sparks calls for jihad

The statements made by the Russian Orthodox Church describing the war being fought by the Russian army in Syria and its role in protecting the Christians in the region as a “holy war” has sparked a wave of angry Arab responses and statements on social networking sites. Such statements have reached the point of declaring a jihad in response to the Russian statement.

According to one jihad activist:

The Russians are burning our Syria, the Jews are desecrating our Jerusalem, the Majoos (fire worshippers) are emptying our Iraq of Sunni Muslims, and our leaders are killing our free youth.

Our world is on the verge of exploding in anger and jihad. The toughest fighters are those who have nothing to lose, and our youth are so.

Jerusalem is besieged, blood is being shed in Egypt, Syria and Iraq, justice in our countries is a thing of the past, and our youth are longing for jihad. Beware to the secular Russians from our Muslim youth who long to fight them and beware of the Zionists from the jihad that is coming; a jihad that their allies prevented us from carrying out. It seems that Syria will be the meeting point and from there we will return to Jerusalem.

Dozens of Salafist clerics in Saudi Arabia signed an online statement containing strong sectarian and anti-Christian language reflecting mounting anger among many Saudis over Russian and Iranian involvement in Syria’s civil war.

The clerics’ statement compared Russia’s actions to the 1980s Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, which prompted an international jihad, as I’ve described many times. According to the statement:

The holy warriors of Syria are defending the whole Islamic nation. Trust them and support them… because if they are defeated, God forbid, it will be the turn of one Sunni country after another.

It is not clear that these online statements are inciting anyone to action, but they are reflecting the enormous anger that Saudis feel over arch-enemy Iran allying with Russia to kill Sunni Muslims in Syria. Middle East Monitor and Reuters

IMF warns of significant danger of global financial crash

According to a report issued on Wednesday by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the risk of global financial crash is increasing because of a “triad of risks”:

  • Emerging market vulnerabilities: Emerging market economies have been declining for five years, making them more susceptible to financial stress, economic downturn, and capital outflows. The economic slowdown in China has had global effects. China’s bursting equity and margin-lending bubble, falling emerging market equities, and pressure on exchange rates, underscore these challenges.
  • Legacy issues from the crisis in advanced economies: The financial crisis that followed the bursting of the real estate bubble eight years ago pushed many people, companies and countries into extremely high debt. America’s $17 trillion national debt has been well-publicized, but many other countries are in similar situations.
  • Weak systemic market liquidity: Because central banks around the world have been flooding the banking system with money, through zero interest rates or quantitative easing, investors can no longer make money by buying bonds, and so they have to make extremely risky investments to make money. Even a small economic downturn could cause a chain reaction that could result in multiple bankruptcies. This kind of chain reaction is the cause of many historical crashes.

One of the ironies of the global financial crisis so far, especially in developing economies, is that many countries have devalued their currencies relative to the dollar. The result is that the dollar, which has always been a strong currency, continues to become even stronger.

In many countries, people have incurred business, mortgage or personal debts that are denominated in dollars, rather than their local currencies. With the dollar strengthening, these debts are becoming substantially more expensive. According to the IMF report, countries that are particularly exposed in this way are Hungary, Mexico, Indonesia and Chile. BBC and Guardian (London) and CBS and International Monetary Fund (IMF)

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Russia, Syria, Bashar al-Assad, Vladimir Putin, Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria/Sham/the Levant, IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh, Turkey, Ahmet Davutoglu, Caspian Sea, Iran, Iraq, Patriarch Kirill, Vsevolod Chaplin, Russian Orthodox Church, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, International Monetary Fund, IMF, China, Hungary, Mexico, Indonesia, Chile
Permanent web link to this article
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.