World View: U.S. Cuts Off Talks with Russia, Signaling Turning Point in Syria

John Kerry, Sergei Lavrov

This morning’s key headlines from

  • United States ends diplomatic talks with Russia over Syria
  • Russia accuses US of sabotaging ceasefire and ‘allying with terror’

United States ends diplomatic talks with Russia over Syria

Sergei Lavrov and John Kerry on Sept 22 (EPA)
Sergei Lavrov and John Kerry on Sept 22 (EPA)

Monday’s announcement by the U.S. State Department that it would end diplomatic talks with Russia over Syria is a watershed in the war in Syria because it ends a period of self-delusion by the Obama administration, while it signals the continuation of even worse self-delusion in Damascus, Syria and Moscow, Russia.

The State Dept. issued the following statement:

The United States is suspending its participation in bilateral channels with Russia that were established to sustain the Cessation of Hostilities. This is not a decision that was taken lightly. The United States spared no effort in negotiating and attempting to implement an arrangement with Russia aimed at reducing violence, providing unhindered humanitarian access, and degrading terrorist organizations operating in Syria, including Daesh and al Qaeda in Syria.

Unfortunately, Russia failed to live up to its own commitments – including its obligations under international humanitarian law and UNSCR 2254 – and was also either unwilling or unable to ensure Syrian regime adherence to the arrangements to which Moscow agreed. Rather, Russia and the Syrian regime have chosen to pursue a military course, inconsistent with the Cessation of Hostilities, as demonstrated by their intensified attacks against civilian areas, targeting of critical infrastructure such as hospitals, and preventing humanitarian aid from reaching civilians in need, including through the September 19 attack on a humanitarian aid convoy.

The self-delusion in the Obama administration that is apparently now ending is the belief that by making one concession after another to the Russians, then the Russians would be reasonable.

After years promising to help end the violence in Syria, Russian and Syrian warplanes have been indiscriminately attacking civilian neighborhoods and hospitals with barrel bombs, chemical weapons (chlorine gas), phosphorous bombs, cluster bombs and bunker bombs. It does not take rocket science to see that Russia and Syria have no intention of ending the violence.

The last straw for the Americans was the recent intentional attack by Syrian or Russian warplanes of a humanitarian aid convoy traveling to Aleppo, during a so-called “ceasefire.” It was perfectly obvious that the Bashar al-Assad regime was never going to allow that humanitarian aid reach the victims of his bombings.

And yet, US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Lavrov played the game where Kerry would concede something, Lavrov would promise to be better, and then Russia would do the opposite of its commitments. Russia has consistently made fools of the Obama administration, so I have to conclude that even President Obama has some tolerance limits. Whatever policy in Syria President Obama can claim to have had is now widely believed to be a failure, especially after last week’s leaked audio tape, in which John Kerry implicitly blamed President Obama for the failed policy in Syria.

So now it is a new day in Syria. The scales have been lifted from the eyes of US Administration officials. Analysts are going to say that this announcement gives total freedom to the Russians to continue their extermination of Syrian Sunnis. That is true, but they’re been exercising total freedom all along. This announcement just makes it more apparent, and perhaps more dangerous. US State Dept and BBC and Washington Post

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Russia accuses US of sabotaging ceasefire and ‘allying with terror’

Russia responded to the State Dept. announcement by accusing the US of sabotaging the Syria ceasefire, and of “[forging] an alliance with hardened terrorists” in order oust Bashar al-Assad.

According to a Foreign Ministry statement:

[The US] has never exerted any real pressure on Jabhat Al-Nusra, done nothing for delineation to succeed and taken no action against its militants…

We are becoming more convinced that in a pursuit of a much desired regime change in Damascus, Washington is ready to ‘make a deal with the devil’ [and to] forge an alliance with hardened terrorists, dreaming of turning back the course of history.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova added: “Why could Washington not deliver what it promised – to delineate between the terrorists [the Al-Nusra Front] and the so-called moderate opposition?”

I’ve listened to several Russian officials, including Sergei Lavrov and spokesman Dmitry Peskov, make this same demand, and I can’t even figure out what it means.

There are over 200,000 people in east Aleppo, and probably a few thousand, or maybe even 10-20,000, of them are members of Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Nusra Front) which recently renamed itself Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (JFS) when it cut its ties to al-Qaeda.

So apparently the Russians are demanding that American troops go into Aleppo and figure out who belongs to al-Nusra and who doesn’t, and then separate out the al-Nusra people and move them into a separate place so that the Syrian and Russian warplanes can kill them. In other words, it’s just more bizarre garbage coming out of the mouths of Russian officials.

Bashar al-Assad’s Shia/Alawite clan are historic enemies of the Sunni Muslims dating back centuries, and it has been clear for years that al-Assad has a highly emotional and highly self-delusional desire to exterminate the Sunni Muslims.

The intention of the Russians is clear from new reports that Russia is moving large squadrons of Sukhoi Su-24 and Su-34 fighter jets to the Humaymim Military Airfields in Syria. Russia claims that their purpose is to conduct air strikes against the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

Possibly even more ominous are reports that Russia is also deploying advanced SA-23 anti-missile systems to Syria. Since neither al-Nusra nor ISIS has an air force, we must presume that Russia is preparing for a possible military conflict with the United States. Russia Today and Russia Today and Almasdar News (Syria) and Fox News

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KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Syria, Russia, Bashar al-Assad, John Kerry, Sergei Lavrov, Maria Zakharova, Dmitry Peskov, Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria/Sham/the Levant, IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Nusra Front, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, JFS, Front for the Conquest of Syria, Sukhoi Su-24, Su-34, SA-23, Humaymim Military Airfields
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