Since I have had to turn my attention to other matters, let me just give a quick update on regional events, which I believe may prove a crucial pivot in global geo-politics.
To quickly summarize: Turkey now pursues its closed investigation into the Ankara massacre while a solidly entrenched (43%) AKP faces an onslaught of criticism from political party leaders and popular crowds. As crazy as it sounds, the government still seems intent in pinning the terrorist attack on the PKK (Kurdish Workers Party), even though Kurds and Turkish supporters were the main casualties. So far officials say they have evidence only for an ISIS bomber.
In the ISIS wars, the Russian and Syrian joint coalition keep up an intense attack, but proceed at careful pace. The bombing campaigns have become more isolated as Syrian ground troops and their allies advance steadily, especially around Aleppo. The US has publically repudiated the Pentagon train-and-equip program, but it may simply devote more resources to its proxies in Syria, and perhaps commit larger numbers of covert operatives and actions as well. Or, we may hope, they could back off in that arena too.
Unfortunately, a few days ago the US dropped 50 tons of ammunition in the desert hoping a hastily formed new grouping of Kurds, Arabs, and Assyrian Christians would pick them up for an attack on the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa. Let us watch where these arms and this crew re-appear, if they reappear as a group at all. Most dishearteningly, the US continues to attack Syrian civilian infrastructure rather than terrorists. US jets bombed Aleppo’s civilian power plants a week ago and then again in the last couple days. This is left unmentioned in the US press, to whom the strategy would be baffling, to say the least.
The Russian bombing campaigns, which in a week have done what the US-led 60+ nation “ambivalent coalition” couldn’t do in a year, has made it most starkly and recently evident, that “ISIS is US” as Sibel Edmonds and others have put it, though perhaps Jubhat al-Nusra is a little more closely US and some neo-cons have a soft spot for Ahrar al-Sham.
Americans are not having an easy time getting a grip on the fact that covert train-and-equip programs for Islamic terrorism have been a steady feature of US policy for decades, at least intermittently since “Charlie Wilson’s War”, or Operation Cyclone in the 1970’s. But especially since 9/11, ironically enough, the US has been organizing, arming, and even indoctrinating fundamentalist terrorist groups. Russia is often the antagonist, as it was with “our mujahadin” in Afghanistan, and then, as Putin accuses, US backing of Chechnyan terrorists in the 90’s. Now it continues with “our terrorists”, Jubhat al-Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham, and ISIS, directed against Russia’s ally, Syria.
As US foreign policy carries two sticks, and a poison carrot, and neo-cons argue with neo-liberals over the best way to defeat and asset-strip another nation, so it seems the US ever wavered between two policies in Syria. The aim of many was simply to overthrow Assad with any means possible, for others, some argue, the policy is perpetual destabilization. Certainly the latter is the best business strategy for the military industrial complex, but energy interests might prefer a stable Syria for the Qatari gas line and the banking elites would love to install their own central bank in Damascus after lifting Syria’s gold for their efforts. (Just as they did in the Ukraine.) The backers of America’s “two sticks” argued too long. Putin is killing their killers.
Assad is meeting with Putin today in Moscow. Let us hope that, as early reports suggest, some discussion has already been broached about the follow-up of the ISIS wars, when Syria is a country again. Necessarily on the table must be a full democratization process, complete with truth and reconciliation committees. (The US should devoutly hope for the same.) Transparency is key, not only about the actions of the Assad/Ba’ath regime, but also about the illegal support for terrorist opposition by the US and its allies. A fresh start for Syria may mean a fresh start for the corrupt regimes around it, Turkey, Israel, Jordan, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. When the US supported Saudi Arabia as head of the UN Human Rights Commission, this was akin to Caligula putting his horse in the Senate. Folks, the Republic is long dead and the Empire does no one any good. Maybe it’s time for a change here in the US too — not one that either Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders properly represents.