Putin’s peace approach
The expanding terror waged by the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) had just been about to come to its abrupt conclusion when President Vladimir Putin, with the approval of the Duma, ordered the use of the Russian air force to bomb its positions to stave off advancement that has wrought a swath of destruction. Along with that decision, an agreement was reached that Russia, Syria, Iraq and Iran would exchange intelligence information on how to pinpoint the enemy. The decision of Iraq to participate in that informal alliance dealt a big blow to a country which the US thought it had liberated.
The Russian move was earlier sounded out by Putin to US President Obama during their sideline meeting at the UN General Assembly. Russia’s entry into the long-drawn Syrian conflict virtually changed the approach on how to deal with the ISIS that has now coagulated with some of the dreaded Islamic radical groups like the Al Nusra and the Al Qaida. Since the start of the so-called “Arab Spring,” the US and its allies have been using Islamic fundamentalist groups to foment upheavals in secular Arab states they see as remnants of the Cold War.
The regime change that saw the violent ouster of Saddam Hussein of Iraq and Muammar Khadaffy of Libya and now seeking to oust Basher al-Assad of Syria left many European allies with the challenge of staving off the unprecedented influx of refugees and migrants into their territories. With Russia on the saddle, the war against terrorism now focuses on hitting the right target. The selective approach adopted by the US and its Nato allies only saw the rapid rise of ISIS and the wanton destruction of artifacts by these modern-day barbarians that see no value in anything that has no relevance to Islam.
Some political analysts believe that the decision of Russia to bomb enemy positions decapitated those that have been funding the ISIS. They observed that the US has co-existed with some of the most notorious Islamic states in the Middle East, like Saudi Arabia where both enjoy the luxury of trading arms for oil. For a long time, the US has been supplying Saudi Arabia with its most sophisticated weapons, and allowing it to exert its sphere of influence in the region, and to spread Wahabbism, a sect in Islam that continues to impose the most barbaric laws unacceptable to modern civilizations.
There is really nothing that would justify the continued support of the US for Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia remains the most undemocratic regime in the Middle East that could put to shame medieval governments of old Europe. It holds the record of being the number one violator of human rights; and that freedom and democracy remains alien in that kingdom. Today, Saudi Arabia is one of the trusted surrogates of the US, with the latter turning its back, as it imposes its ruthless policies on other Arab states like its ouster of a democratically elected Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, the bombing of country without the approval of the UN Security Council, the support for the autocratic government of Bahrain for its continuing suppression of its people, the majority of whom are Shiites, and the brains behind the religious civil war in Iraq.
Israel also competes with Saudi Arabia in serving US interest with a ramification that it wants to carve its own policy that is more dangerous for the fact that it has its own nuclear weapon. Its bombing of Syria in January 2015 to purportedly cut Syrian supply line to Hezbollah forces in Lebanon was, in reality intended to weaken the Syrian forces loyal to Assad, although paradoxically strengthened the ISIS. That action spelled out the truth that an informal alliance exists between Israel and Saudi Arabia brokered by the US to make Syria and Lebanon free-fire zones. Syria had to give up its own chemical weapons because of pressure principally from a country that has its own chemical weapon to aver an attack for which Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov successfully defused.
Sensing Russia is just about to lay down a plan that could put to an end to the five-year civil war that has been fueled by the duplicity of the US and its Nato allies, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Moscow a week before Putin flew to New York to sound out his plan to Obama. The visit by Netanyahu was an attempt to recreate a wedge between the White House and the US Congress, which Putin knew will not prosper, much that Russians feel that terrorism should be stopped. There is fear because they see Chechnyan volunteers fighting with ISIS, and if not suppressed, could be revived to wreck havoc in Russia. Besides, Russia has a naval base located in the Syrian port of Tartus. Its support for Syria is to reaffirm its friendship to an old ally that dates back to the Cold War, and to abandon it now is to forsake its remaining goodwill in the Middle East.
Surprisingly, China’s only aircraft carrier, Liaoning-CV-16, was spotted in the Syrian port of Tartus accompanied by a guided missile cruiser. Though China has not announced plans to involve itself in the conflict, there is a growing consensus that the presence of the Chinese naval force with its military advisers on board are acting pursuant to President Xi Jinping’s declaration that China will actively participate in the UN peacekeeping operations. In fact, it surprisingly contributed $100 million and promised to increase the level of military personnel for peacekeeping operations to 8,000.
As usual, during the joint press conference at the lawn in the White House, President Obama lectured China on the issues of human rights, on its conduct in the China Sea, and on the issue of cyber attacks. Some observers found the threat to impose sanctions on China for alleged cyber attacks in bad taste. The presence of Chinese naval flotilla is an indirect response to US arrogance during the meeting at the White House of seemingly brushing aside the warm gesture of friendship where President Xi Jinping witnessed the conclusion of a contract with Boeing Corp. to purchase 300 aircrafts costing $38 billion, ahead of the date he was to set foot in the White House. Despite the irritating tirade on China’s behavior, President Xi Jinping reminded the US to give up its “winner take all” policy and subscribe instead to the “win-win” policy to secure stability and lasting peace.
Finally, since US and Nato’s misadventures in the Middle East have only resulted in the division of Europe Union, Germany’s Angela Merkel has come out to say that Syrian President Assad “must be involved in peace talks to end the Syrian crisis.” It seems that they are tired of that tit-for-tat approach, much that it has only ushered in some unintended consequences just to cope up with the unprecedented influx of refugees since the Second World War. The bombing of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and now Syria and the bloody policy of regime change has created a dividing wall between those seeking to dislocate more people and those willing to accommodate them, for which the US has done so little to help.