Western media show a unique awareness of issues that relate to the Russian military department. At first, it was suggested that Russia was preparing to enter ground forces in Syria. Moreover, many media outlets, especially the French, succeeded in this, even justifying such a possible decision by the military and political leadership of the Russian Federation that the coalition, waging war only by air raids, did not achieve any results in the struggle against IS. On the contrary, the “Islamic state” only in some places undertook a tactical withdrawal, and in general even expanded its holdings. Therefore, some journalists of the fifth republic expressed the view that only Russia is capable of conducting ground action against Islamist forces in the Middle East theater of war, the need for which, in their opinion, was long overdue.
Then there were clarifying messages that Russia is not really going to send troops into Syria, but only supplies arms. As for the personnel, then, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry, only military advisers are sent to Damascus to train Syrian soldiers in the use of Russian weapons. The media traditionally mistrust such official statements and emphasize that the supply of military cargo from Russia has recently increased significantly. Moreover, the Russian side is building new military facilities, modernizing airfields. It is primarily a military airport near Latakia, where runways are being reconstructed, caponiers are being built, air defense systems are deployed and Tanks T90 in the amount of as many as seven pieces and howitzers, which specifically and how many - is not specified. And also one more base is mentioned near the city of Safita, the personnel of which already now totals 250 people.
US Secretary of State John Kerry was one of the first to respond to the information about “increasing Russian military activity in Syria,” he called the head of the Russian diplomatic department Sergey Lavrov and demanded explanations, received them, but they did not seem to satisfy him. The Russian side does not hide the fact that it supplies weapons to Damascus in accordance with long-concluded contracts. Regarding the introduction of troops was given a negative response. John Kerry said that the increase in arms supplies and the appearance of the Russian military in Syria will inevitably lead to "the death of a large number of civilians, an increase in the flow of refugees and the risk of confrontation with the coalition acting against the Islamic State." The US Secretary of State apparently forgot about the fact that the United States and its allies are supplying weapons to the so-called moderate Syrian opposition, but also chose not to mention the coalition air raids that carry no less danger to the lives of the civilian population. The logic behind the main overseas diplomat is iron: the weapons of Western countries do not kill civilians, they have magic, they kill only bad guys. They don’t want to admit in Washington that they are co-authors of the creation of the “Islamic State”, which in the past two years has become a threat to the world. They also do not recognize the fact that Washington’s desire to overthrow unwanted regimes does not lead to the spread of democracy, but as an alternative to despotism, in fact, offers the people of the third world the chaos of civil wars. As evidenced by the events in Libya, Iraq and Syria.
White House spokesman Joshua Ernest, for starters, allowed himself to speak on this topic in a threatening tone, he voiced irritation of Washington regarding Russia's attempts to pursue an independent policy. He said that the support of Syrian President Bashar Assad will lead Russia to even greater isolation from the world community. Barack Obama said earlier about the policy of his administration in the Middle East and North Africa: "The United States is ready to use all elements of our capabilities, including military force, to ensure our key interests in the region."
PEAKING AT A HIGHER LEVEL
During his speech at the CSTO summit in the Tajik capital, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared his readiness to cooperate with the West in the fight against the IG, but made it clear that this is not possible under any conditions. He said: "I am convinced that it is necessary to resume a substantive discussion on the topic of creating a system of united and indivisible security in the Euro-Atlantic area." The Russian leader also confirmed that he intends, despite the opposition of the coalition, to support Bashar Assad, and announced the readiness of the Syrian President to engage in political communication with the opposition in order to achieve peace.
The head of the Russian state stressed that the main threat to the countries of the Middle East region, as well as to the world, is the “Islamic state” and the entire civilized world should aim at joint struggle with it. At the upcoming UN General Assembly, Vladimir Putin is expected to address the Syrian-Iraq issue and the fight against international terrorism. It is possible that the Russian president will be able to seize the initiative, for a start, at least in the ideological field.
Responding to Vladimir Putin’s speech in Dushanbe, White House spokesman George Ernest said that Washington, of course, would welcome Russia's entry into the already established US coalition to fight ISIS, but would not tolerate an independent game of Moscow in the region. In addition, he recalled that the West does not consider Bashar Assad as a participant in the negotiation process. Barack Obama, in turn, called Russia's support for the Syrian government a big mistake. It is clear that he had in mind, but, fortunately, this phrase was followed by conciliatory steps on the part of Washington. The decisive actions of Moscow related to the support of the Syrian government, somewhat discouraged Washington. Now overseas they guess what the next step of the Russian leadership will be. The West did not dare to open confrontation, as evidenced by the contacts that began between the military departments and the special services of the United States and Russia. The parties generally agree to cooperate in the fight against a common adversary, the Islamic State. The stumbling block is the support by the Russian side of Syrian President Bashar Assad, whose overthrow is a long-established goal for the West.
At the same time, reports began to appear in the Western media that the generals would not miss the opportunity to test new weapons in the present case, in a battle with a strong adversary. Moreover, the territory of this inspection will be limited to the Middle East theater. Even if some types of weapons are clearly weaker than their counterparts, the consequences of these failures will be light. It remains to hope that the possibility of such checks to any one side is not presented.
The activity of the Russian military in the Middle East naturally worries Israel. The recent visit to Moscow of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for talks with the first person of our state is evidence of this. The Israeli military-political leadership, of course, worries over whose hands the newest weapons that arrive on Russian ships by sea in Syria fall. Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in Russia accompanied by the Chief of General Staff and the head of military intelligence. From this we can conclude that the issues of interaction of these two departments with the relevant Russian structures were resolved.
Syrian aviation strikes again
on the positions of the Islamists. Reuters Photos
on the positions of the Islamists. Reuters Photos
DAMASK DOES NOT TALK
Syrian President Bashar Assad did not remain in debt to his political opponents. In turn, he accused the West of supporting terrorism, of hypocrisy, of the massive death of the civilian Syrian population and of creating a situation where almost half of the country's population was forced to leave their homes and seek refuge not only in their homeland and neighboring countries, but and over the sea. According to the Syrian leader, the flow of refugees, which has now rushed into Europe, is the result of the short-sighted policy of the West in the Middle East. Bashar Assad also admitted that government forces are too few to hold vast territories, so their task is to defend the most important settlements, industrial conglomerations and the most significant communications.
To understand the situation in the region, it is worthwhile to consider Iraq and Syria as one whole, since the events in these neighboring countries are closely interrelated. And the alignment is as follows. There are real political collective players that have armed forces at their disposal, such as: official Damascus (Bashar Assad), the Shiite government and the Shiite army of Iraq (Baghdad), Kurdistan, Iraqi and Syrian can also be considered in aggregate, the Islamic State, - and There are political players who do not have a real armed support, whose role is already insignificant at the moment, and in the future it is not visible at all. And the circumstances were such that the Arab world and the West support precisely these amorphous opposition groups, which have no support in the form of armed forces. It is primarily about the Syrian National Council (SNS) and the National Coalition of the Syrian revolutionary and opposition forces (NCCRO). Initially it was thought that these two organizations, primarily the NKSRO, were the political wing of the armed insurgent units, conditionally united in a structure called the Free Syrian Army (FSA).
To begin with, there was no hard link between the SSA and the NCRO. The fact is that secular politicians and Christians prevailed among the NKRO and SNS leaders, and the SSA paramilitary forces were staffed mainly from Sunni Arabs. In addition, the free Syrian army itself was never monolithic and consisted of separate autonomous militias. It is not clear why the West called these armed Muslim groups secular, then it suddenly became clear that most of them are subject to Salafi ideology. The commanders of these formations, regardless of the opinion of even their patrons, themselves decided who to join the alliance. Thus, some detachments of the SSA conducted combat operations in alliance with the "Al-Nusra Front," which is recognized in the West as a terrorist organization. Sometimes these groups fought among themselves. In the end, from the SSA left one name. In its place later, some amorphous association of the Supreme Military Council (BBC) arose, which by inertia some media call CCA in the old manner, others use both names at the same time, they write BBC – CCA. It is worth noting that a large number of fighters from the free army went into the fighting units of the "Islamic state". The newly formed Air Force formally included five completely independent so-called fronts, which, in turn, are also not monolithic and consist of many completely independent combat groups.
So, the fronts: "Northern" (operates in the provinces of Aleppo and Idlib), "Eastern" - fighting against the IG, aimed at the provinces of Raqqa, Deir-ez-zor, Hasaka, "Western" acts against the troops of Bashar al-Assad in the provinces of Hama, on northeast Latakia, east Tartus, Central (Homs, Rastan), Southern (Damascus, Deraa). The air force as a military structure, in fact, is incapable. It is falling apart into a large number of rebel independent groups, the total number of which now exceeds a thousand.
What is the essence of these formations? Most of them are local Sunni militia, that is, they are tied to a specific locality, and only a small part of them are mobile and only enjoy the temporary support of the local Sunni population. The tactics of these groups are extremely simple: they attack the checkpoints of government forces, using the land version of the firefighters - which are suicide-guided vehicles filled with explosives. Moreover, their thrust is unclear, which will certainly attack the checkpoint, which can be bypassed without loss. Then, by some forces, as a rule, not very large rebels — from a dozen, to a couple of hundreds, or a maximum of three hundred — attack various objects that are being defended by government forces or other hostile rebel groups, while the parties have minor losses. There is an action on squeezing the enemy and the seizure of territories. And it's not the humanism of the parties. Proof of this is the fact that no one is ceremonious with the prisoners.
The armed opposition, naturally, is not able to organize any large-scale offensive, since for the most part it is focused on the protection of a certain area, and the majority of the militants do not target away from their homes. Those who are ready to go with fire and sword throughout Syrian territory are not many among the rebels, and these are mostly foreigners. So it turns out that in Syria, the West and the countries of the Persian Gulf support not a consolidating political force, but some unorganized together chaotic multi-fractional military movement and some political substance torn off from this movement in the person of NCCRO, SNS and others like them.
Let's talk about real political players in the region. First of all, this is Bashar Asad, the Alawite community stands behind him (about 20% of the country's population), he has an Alawite army, he is supported by a part of the Christian population, respectively, representatives of Arab Christian and Armenians are fighting in the government armed forces or militias that interact with these forces. The Syrian president can count on the loyalty of the militants of the Shiite Lebanese organization Hezbollah and volunteers from Iran. The number of government forces, both regular and irregular, by military experts in the West is estimated at 170 – 180 thousand bayonets, of which no more than 50 thousand make up the most effective base.
Apart from the shortage of human resources, government forces are currently lacking armaments and ammunition, partly due to the increase of military supplies to Syria by Russia and Iran. Bashar Assad failed to attract the Circassians and most of the Druze, by the way, they both receive considerable support from Israel. But as a military force, Circassians and Druze can hardly be useful both to the Syrian government and the opposition, the militia of these two ethnic groups is aimed only at defending their densely populated areas. In general, given the possible military assistance from Russia and Iran, the Syrian president can only count on the human resources he has.
According to Western analysts, in sum, the entire disparate Syrian opposition, excluding the army of the Islamic State, has, according to one estimate, about 100 thousand fighters, on the other - their aggregate number surpasses 300 thousand. But not in the number of the enemy problem. The armed Syrian opposition is divided, so we need to beat them in parts, not to defend the objects scattered throughout the country, dispersing forces, but to attack, concentrating their troops at the right time, in the right place, destroying one group of rebels after another. Government troops and military leaders, their leaders, must show a steady will to win, activity, vigor, each time consistently seek either destruction or surrender of the enemy.
Once again, it is necessary to say about the possible Russian military assistance to President Asad, since Russia, unlike the West, supports real political power in the region. If you believe the latest information, the number of our military in the provinces of Tartus and Lattakia brought to 1,7 thousand. These forces are sufficient only for the defense of their military facilities, nothing more. The appearance of Russian military aviation in Syria is widely discussed on the Internet, but this fact is unlikely to contribute to a fundamental change in the course of events in the region. Russia will be able to help Bashar Assad defend, say, the same Latakia and Tartus, but the Syrian government must wage a war for the integrity of the entire country. Between the coastal (Alawite) provinces where the Russian bases are located, and the territories of the Islamic State are settlements occupied by numerous armed formations of the so-called Syrian opposition - in fact, local militia. Russian aviation, located on the airfields of Latakia, is aimed primarily against the IG. By the way, the situation now is such that it’s already late to talk about the territorial integrity of both Syria and Iraq.
The next serious political and military force in the region are the Kurds, which, oddly enough, are consolidated by enemies (including not only IS, but also Turkey, the Syrian opposition and in the likely future the Syrian government forces). The possibility of the unification of Iraqi and Syrian Kurds for a long time no one disputes, in fact, this issue has already been resolved. Moreover, among the Kurds there are Sunnis, and Shiites, and non-Muslims - Yezidis and others, but this does not prevent them from waging a defensive war sufficiently united, as a result of which, perhaps, a Kurdish independent state will arise. The total number of Kurdish militia in Syria and Iraq is estimated at 40 – 45 thousand bayonets, and this is a serious force, especially considering their exceptional motivation. With regard to the Kurds, the coalition behaves quite ambiguously, Western countries support them, the states of the Persian Gulf show hostility, and Turkey openly fights with them.
SHIIT GOVERNMENT IN BAGDAD
The Shiite government in Baghdad and the Shiite army also represent a real force in the region, but this force is not seeking to achieve the integrity of Iraq within its former borders. Shiite troops do not seek to attack deep into the territories inhabited by Sunni Arab tribes. In addition, the Sunni monarchies of the Persian Gulf are clearly hostile towards Baghdad, which means that the IS receive support from them. And despite the fact that lately Iraq received the latest weapons from the financial support of the West and Iran, there has been little military success. Only Russia delivered to Baghdad heavy flame-throwing systems TOS-A1 “Solntsek”, attack helicopters Mi-35М and Mi-28НЭ and other military equipment and weapons.
AND ONE MORE PLAYER
The “Islamic State” is undoubtedly one of the strongest political players in the region, with real military power. But it has also recently shown some changes in its rhetoric and military activity. As for the latter, we can say for sure: the offensive impulse of the IG has noticeably weakened, while the rhetoric of the leaders of this political group has become less radical. The desire for world domination, it seems, they gradually fade into the background, and the primary task is to retain the achieved results. In connection with the increase of the Russian military activity in the region, the problems of the IS in the near future will increase considerably. But while there is an influx of volunteers, funding and weapons, the Islamic State has a chance to defend itself, but not to attack. In the internal structure of the IG, changes are also visible, the top of the state has noticeably moved away from the openly Salafi ideology and is now in favor of a “pure”, original Islam (it is clear that they put a completely modern version of its interpretation into the word “original”). What caused such changes? The structure itself, or, better to say, the IS organization, relies on armed formations numbering about 80 thousand fighters. In the vast territories that the Islamists hold, they must interact with the local Arab Sunni tribes, which means that the rulers of the Islamic State are forced to be flexible and take into account the opinion of the heads of these tribes. Former military personnel of the army of the deposed dictator Saddam Hussein, former members of the Ba'ath Party, who, like the sheikhs of local tribes, do not need world domination, have their own distinct local goals and needs. The Sufi order, the Naqshbandiya terikat, has a significant influence on the ideology of the IG. Moreover, Sufis and armed formations that are under their control have a certain degree of independence and only interact with the IS.
The US-led military coalition is rather sluggish in carrying out its main stated mission - the war against the “Islamic State”. So far, the whole essence of this war has come down to arming, training and military consultations of the so-called good Syrian opposition, the Shiite army of Iraq, the Kurdish militia. Moreover, Western assistance to the Kurds and Baghdad does not meet with understanding among the Sunni countries of the Middle East region, the US allies. First of all, we are talking about Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, which makes a considerable split in the actions of the coalition as a whole. An additional irritating factor for the coalition is the cooperation of Baghdad and Damascus.
The most interesting thing is that over time, the active members of the coalition become more and more, but it does not give a noticeable result. Canada, Australia, France, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia joined the actions of aviation, intelligence, special forces of the United States and Great Britain. In total, 60 states are involved to some extent. But the “Islamic State” for some reason still lives and flourishes.
The coalition is also unable to fulfill the second, no less ambitious task aimed at overthrowing Bashar Assad, moreover, in the West there are already arguments about possible cooperation with him, at least for a certain period, until the IG is defeated.
Recently, the US Senate heard a report on the work of its military department in training soldiers for the Syrian opposition. During the year of training camps in Jordan, half a billion dollars were spent, and as a result, now, according to the Pentagon itself, no more than five militants (instead of the planned 15 thousand) trained by US military instructors are fighting against the Assad troops. Irreconcilable Russophobe Senator John McCain called Washington's activities in Syria a terrible failure. Taking into account the current situation, the overseas special services and the military are going to urgently change the principles of working with the opposition. The stake will continue to be placed on the in-depth training of a small number of fighters who will act only in the interests of the coalition. Their main task will be target designation and adjustment of allied aviation strikes. The first group of 75 such fighters have already entered Syria from Turkey. But the trouble is: the very idea of a war from the air without a ground invasion clearly does not justify itself. Each of the reports on the conduct of massed air strikes is accompanied by very modest figures of losses from the IG (or Al-Nusra Front). Hence the West’s dual perception of information about the activities of the Russian military in Syria. On the one hand, there is a danger that at some stage coalition planes or fighters of that part of the Syrian opposition, which the coalition supports, will be in contact with the Russians. On the other hand, everyone clearly understands that the Russian participation in the fight against the IS can benefit the coalition. And Western leaders are tempted to draw the Russian armed forces into this meat grinder. And the most successful option for them is the Russian land invasion. According to many Western military analysts, this option is almost win-win for the coalition. Military operations in Syria (and Iraq) are taking place in densely populated areas and along roads. The main problem is precisely the densely populated areas. And the whole calculation is that the Russian troops supporting Bashar Assad will, of course, be asked to fight against the Sunni Arabs on their lands, whose militia enjoys the support of the local population. The consequences of such hostilities, as practice shows (for example, the war in Afghanistan of 1979 – 1989), can be very destructive for the interventionists. Of course, the Sunni states of the region will support the co-religionists. And one more important fact that cannot be ignored: the overwhelming majority of Russian Muslims are Sunnis, and unpredictable problems may arise on this basis. Hence the conclusion: Russian military participation in the events of the Middle East should be carried out with extreme caution. "East is a delicate matter. Rush? No! ”Helping Bashar Assad to defend the Alawite provinces, to create a reliable rear and uninterrupted military supply of the Syrian government forces, to carry out their support from the air is one thing. And getting into a fight, where the local population will be your opponent, this, excuse me, is quite another thing, from this, undoubtedly, it is necessary to disown. In the end, only the state is worthy of existence, which can do this on its own, without the support of foreign troops. So let Bashar Asad and his generals themselves show what part of Syria they are able to regain control of. The task of the Russian troops is not to allow the West to interfere in this process unconstructively, and this is more likely not a military task, but a political one. As for the fight against the "Islamic State", here too, you should not wave thoughtlessly with a sword, you don’t have to climb on the rampage, if only because this whole epic looks like a skillfully set trap.
WHAT IS THERE, AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL
One of the possible outcomes of this long and bloody war, according to many leading Orientalists, is the division of the total territory of Syria and Iraq into several states. Shiite state in southern Iraq, including Baghdad. The Sunni state can settle in the densely populated areas of Sunni Arabs in present-day Iraq and Syria. The Alawite state, which will include the maritime provinces and the western lands of Syria, possibly including Damascus. Kurdistan - the north of Iraq and northeastern Syria, that is, the territories that are now controlled by the Kurdish militia. And, perhaps, the country of the Druze, to which the Circassians can join. Of course, such a division of territories is easy to accomplish on paper; it is actually more difficult to do this. Too many stakeholders are involved in the process. If we take into account the irreconcilable position of the Sunni Middle Eastern monarchies and Tehran, then we can assume that the parties will not be able to reach an agreement for a long time. The situation is aggravated by the fact that many different-sized settlements of Shiites, Sunnis, and representatives of other faiths are interspersed, therefore, before drawing the line between them, it is necessary to resolve a lot of unsolvable contradictions. It is also not clear what political forces each of the newly formed states will represent. Now, none of the formations included in the aggregate concept of the “Syrian opposition” and the West do not consider the possibility of conducting negotiations with the participation of Bashar al-Assad. The same "non-negotiating", for example, is the "Islamic State". Perhaps time will change this situation. The conclusion suggests one thing: in the foreseeable future, the parties will decide by military means who in the end will be worthy of becoming a party to the peace negotiations on the division of territories.