Friday, September 11, 2015

Russia's increased presence in Syria

Yesterday CNN published "US warns Russia on military buildup on Syria" (article here).   CNN and the rest of the media outlets don't really do much analysis, merely regurgitate State Department talking points as to why Russia is in Syria at all.

First, Russia didn't just recently become involved in Syria.  The then Soviet Navy built its facility in Tartus, Syria in 1971.  The Soviets, and now Russians, have maintained a continuous presence ever since using it as a maintenance facility for Russian navy vessels operating in the Mediterranean.

Second, the CNN articles (along with the rest on Western media outlets) has Mr. Kerry taking a strong stance against Russia and tries to make it look like more Russian aggression similar to that in Crimea.  I am always leery of Russian actions that may lead to conflict with the US but in this case, CNN and others are showing their biases.

Russia has had a long relationship with Syria and the Syrian Ba'athist Party (of which Bashar al-Assad is General Secretary as well as President of Syria).  The US has long opposed the Ba'athist Party and al-Assad which is why then Secretary of State Clinton and Mr. Obama supported the Arab Spring back in 2011.  Clinton and Obama wanted to see al-Assad go the way of Qaddafi and Mubarak.  

Perhaps you remember the now infamous "red line" Mr. Obama used to warn al-Assad against using chemical weapons against the opposition?  Most people, myself included at times, point to this as just one of many examples of Mr. Obama's unwillingness to follow-through.  The real reason though may have simply been Russia had sent several warships and Russian Marines to Tartus.  Had a US strike go awry, it could have escalated things between Russia and the US at a time when the Obama Administration was still pretending relations were copacetic.  

The Arab Spring did not oust al-Assad, if anything it made his hold on power stronger.  It also increased Russian support of his government.  Now comes the little embarrassing part for the US and she-who-would-be President; the opposition group that the US supported (and which Russia opposed) became, what for it, ISIS!

CNN and the other Western media outlets do a good job of only relating stories from a pro-Obama standpoint.  Russia's increased presence in the region is to support al-Assad….which means they are there to strike ISIS.  So what's the problem?

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