Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was in Lucca, Italy (not to be confused with Luca Brasi) today for the G-7 conference and had a press availability. Obviously, the subject of the US missile attack on Syria and our relationship with Russia came up:
SECRETARY TILLERSON: Well, I hope that what the Russian Government concludes is that they have aligned themselves with an unreliable partner in Bashar al-Assad. They had signed the chemical weapons accord themselves – the Syrian Government; the Russian Government had signed that accord; and now Assad has made the Russians look not so good under these circumstances.
I think it’s also worth thinking about Russia has really aligned itself with the Assad regime, the Iranians, and Hizballah. Is that a – is that a long-term alliance that serves Russia’s interest, or would Russia prefer to realign with the United States, with other Western countries and Middle East countries who are seeking to resolve the Syrian crisis?
We want to relieve the suffering of the Syrian people. We want to create a future for Syria that is stable and secure. And so Russia can be a part of that future and play an important role, or Russia can maintain its alliance with this group, which we believe is not going to serve Russia’s interest longer-term. But only Russia can answer that question.
Russia’s increasingly close alliance with Mr. Assad has allowed it to expand its military presence in the Middle East and has contributed to what is widely viewed as a renewed relevance in the region. Mr. Tillerson’s suggestion that Russia’s ties with Mr. Assad would diminish the country’s standing contradicts Moscow’s recent experience.
This is rather amazing. The same newspaper assured us, when Putin intervened in Syria, that it would destroy Putin’s standing in the Middle East and that it proved Obama’s sagacity in not caring. Here we have Tom f-ing Friedman.
Really? Well think about this: Let’s say the U.S. did nothing right now, and just let Putin start bombing ISIS and bolstering Assad. How long before every Sunni Muslim in the Middle East, not to mention every jihadist, has Putin’s picture in a bull’s eye on his cellphone?
The Sunni Muslims are the vast majority in Syria. They are the dominant sect in the Arab world. Putin and Russia would be seen as going all-in to protect Assad, a pro-Iranian, Alawite/Shiite genocidal war criminal. Putin would alienate the entire Sunni Muslim world, including Russian Muslims.
Moreover, let’s say by some miracle the Russians defeat ISIS. The only way to keep them defeated is by replacing them with moderate Sunnis. Which moderate Sunnis are going to align with Russia while Putin is seen as the prime defender of the barrel-bombing murderer of more Sunnis than anyone on the planet, Bashar al-Assad?
And more New York Times:
Russia’s intervention has also enabled Mr. Putin to show off its military might and forced the United States to treat it as an equal in securing stability in Syria.
One hopeful interpretation of Mr. Putin’s decision is that it reflected a growing weariness with protracted engagement. Senior officials in the Obama administration have argued that Moscow’s intervention could have the unintended consequence of drawing Russia into a quagmire and alienating Sunni Muslims across the region, a price Mr. Putin may not be willing or able to pay.
Indeed, you find Ben Rhodes’s nasty little echo chamber at work on this across the media. Everywhere you read it is exactly the same analysis predicting Armageddon for Putin and fluffing Obama as a brilliant player of eight-dimensional chess.
Moscow’s intervention in the Syrian conflict will have the unintended consequences of drawing Russia into a quagmire and alienating Sunni Muslims across the region, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Saturday.
Russia began air strikes a month ago, changing the balance of forces in the war in favor of President Bashar al-Assad and against rebel groups that include both jihadists and non-militants backed by the West, Turkey and Gulf countries.
“The quagmire will spread and deepen, drawing Russia further in. Russia will be seen as being in league with Assad, Hezbollah, Iran, alienating millions of Sunnis in Syria, the region and indeed in Russia itself,” Blinken told the Manama Dialogue regional security conference in Bahrain.
Continued air strikes by the Russian and Syrian governments against civilians in Aleppo sparked hostile reaction from Muslims in Central Asia. Speeches made by imams in Kyrgyzstan during Friday prayers and comments posted online in regard to carpet bombings aimed at residential neighborhoods in Aleppo demonstrate that many Muslims in Central Asia feel negatively about inhumane military operations carried out or supported by the Russian military in Syria
Well-known Central Asian religious scholars have begun considering the Syrian civil war in relation to inter-Islamic disagreements. In particular, as the Syrian conflict escalates, the issue of the relationship between Shiites and Sunnis in the Islamic world is increasingly visible for Central Asian Muslims.
In private conversations many Muslim clerics say that the bloody regime of Bashar al-Assad, who belongs to the Alawi sect affiliating with the Shia, is committing genocide against Syrian Sunnis. The fact that many of those killed in the conflict are Sunni, and social infrastructure, hospitals, kindergartens, schools and houses of civilians are being destroyed as a result of strikes by Russian air forces, is deeply troubling for Central Asia’s Muslims. More than 90 percent of Muslims in Central Asia are Sunni.
Can Putin succeed where others have failed? It’s possible, but unlikely. The Russian president has opened a hornet’s nest in Syria, and everyone, including Putin, is being stung again and again.
A closer look at Putin’s gamble shows that his seven may, in fact, end up as snake eyesA closer look at Putin’s gamble shows that his seven may, in fact, end up as snake eyes — a losing gamble that fails for reasons uniquely Russian, relating to the often ignored but crucial fact that more than 20 million of Russia’s 144 million people are Sunni Muslims, who naturally sympathize with the Sunni Muslims currently being bombed and killed by Russians in Syria. Any Russian miscalculation in Syria could therefore severely undermine Putin’s political power base at home.
And it doesn’t stop there. Not only has Putin ordered the bombing of Sunni rebels in Syria, he has also created a new Russia-led coalition of Shiite powers — Iran, Iraq, and Syria — capable of sharing intelligence and striking as one against its Sunni enemies. In this way, whether intended or not, he has opened a de facto war against Sunni Arabs, who are led by Saudi Arabia, and aligned with the United States.
An Obama apparatchik in Huffington Post:
Indeed, one may argue quite convincingly that Russia is behaving stupidly in Syria: that if it succeeds in sustaining Assad indefinitely it will simultaneously subvert the interests of Russia and the security of Russians at home and around the world. And although its actions in Aleppo may have permanently alienated a large majority of Syrians, were it to stop now and help transition Assad and his entourage to Minsk or Caracas, a new Syrian government that combines serving, non-criminal officials with mainstream, nationalist opposition figures would likely suck it up and endorse a continued Damascus-Moscow special relationship, one featuring military basing rights and broad political cooperation.
None of this, of course, means Tillerson is right today. As terrorist a**hole and philosopher Osama bin Laden said, “When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, they will naturally want to side with the strong horse.” A man would have to be a fool to proclaim the end of the Assad dynasty at this stage of play. But the New York Times revealed itself as having no intellectual honesty whatsoever. After years of pushing this line on behalf of Obama, they should have had the integrity to acknowledge the genesis of the idea.
Editor’s note: And their hits keep coming. Jonah Goldberg destroys their smear against him in the below excellent article. – Caleb
— Dan McLaughlin (@baseballcrank) April 12, 2017