Here is a very interesting piece from KP. It is an interview with a man named Yakov Kedmi, and when I googled his name, I found this youtube video-interview with him from back in July, conversation appears to be in Russian, with Bulgarian subtitles.
The KP piece names Kedmi as the ex-Chief of the”Nativ” agency, and I had to google that to get the context. Apparently “Nativ” (נתיב) is the Hebrew word for “Path”, and busied itself, during the Cold War, with siphoning off Jews to leave the Soviet Union and emigrate to Israel.
Biography of Yakov Kedmi
KP gives the following brief biography of Yakov Kedmi:
Russian name was Kazakov. Born in Moscow (they don’t say what year or how old he is). In 1969 he emigrated to Israel. Participated in the 1973 war (the 4th Arab-Israeli war), also called the 18-day war. From 1977 onward, Kedmi worked for Nativ. From 1992 through 1999 he headed the agency.
Translation of KP Interview with Kedmi
Interviewer is Dmitry Smirnov from “Komsomolskaya Pravda”. I will denote him as DS, and Kedmi as YK. Forgive me, that the interview is quite lengthy. But it is so interesting, that I decided to translate in full:
DS: Yakov Iosifovich, Russia is currently doing unto Syria that which Americans and Europeans tried to do for a full year. In other words, bombing the terrorists. So, why is the West so furious with us?
YK: You are mistaken. Russia is not exactly doing the same thing, as the U.S. and Europe. Russia is fighting against ISIS, whereas they [the West] only pretended to be fighting against ISIS. What the Americans were doing, is simply schizophrenia.
And the reason why they are so furious, is because Russia has blown away all the carefully-laid plans of Washington and Riyadh. If Russia should succeed in liquidating ISIS and the other Islamist terrorist grouplets, then this will entail the total defeat of the U.S. and its allies. Their five-year attempt to use Civil War to overthrow Syrian President Assad, will have failed. It will be plain to everyone, that the effectiveness of the Russian military exceeds that of the Americans. And the main thing – that Russia will secure herself a position of strength in the Middle East, with all the ensuing consequences. Russia will obtain a base in the Mediterranean, which will become the main base against the Sixth Fleet of the Americans. Not to mention, that other nations of the Middle East will see what is going on, and will make the appropriate conclusions, with whom to make friends, and who is not worth the effort.
DS: What is the reaction in Israel to Russia’s “special operation” in Syria?
YK: Officially Israel is not opposed. And does not express any sort of dissatisfaction with Russia’s actions. We already stated, that we don’t agree with those who are trying to accuse Russia of something. When our Prime Minister Netanyahu visited Moscow [yalensis: Everybody remember the speculation over the meaning of Netanyahu’s sudden visit to Moscow about a month ago?] the purpose was to coordinate the actions of the Russian and Israeli armed forces. [yalensis again: Am I the only person who thinks this statement is a bombshell??]
DS: On the eve of Russia’s special operation in Syria, one by one, the leaders of the Middle Eastern countries arrived in Moscow. Has Russia become the center of political life in the Arab world?
YK: Without a doubt Russia has become one of the main players. Outside of the actual regional nations, Russia is the most active and has the most weight in the process.
DS: And yet Russia and Turkey have never been farther apart when it comes to the views on regulating the Syrian conflict. Turkish President Erdogan has already threatened to un-friend Moscow.
YK: Turkey has her own interests in the region. Turkey has no interest in seeing a strong Syria. Turkey would like to increase the influence of the Muslim grouplets, and to crush all signs of Kurdish activity, both in Syria, and in Iraq. I certainly would not rush to include Turkey in the list of strategic allies of Russia. Well, if we ever start to see the “South Stream” [gas pipeline] running through Turkey, then we could say that. But for the time being, it’s all wishful thinking.
DS: Did it surprise you, how decisively Russia acted? Barely one day passed between Putin’s chat with Obama at the U.N. and the start of the (Russian) bombing campaign.
YK: Everything was done quite precisely! It became quite clear, that the use of Russian aviation in Syria would begin immediately after Putin’s address at the U.N. and his conversation with Obama. To do it sooner – would have been undiplomatic. To do it later – poor strategy. Putin played it like a violin.
DS: Europe and the U.S. are constantly warning Russia: Not to miss the target and (accidentally) start to bomb the “moderate Syrian opposition”. Who is this, exactly?
YK: The Syrian Opposition, I would say 50-60% of it consists of Al Qaeda and ISIS. Of the remainder, about half – it’s “Muslim Brotherhood” types. And the rest of them: some non-religious opposition, and the others, basically some urban gangs. The usual thugs, which the West lumps together as the “Opposition”. But none of this has anything to do with the population of Syria, about 80% of whom remain on territory controlled by the Assad government. Many people have resettled there, fleeing from ISIS and Al-Qaeda.
DS: This is a precedent: First time in 25 years that Russia has participated in military actions outside the borders of the former USSR. What does this say to you?
YK: First of all, that the situation in the world is becoming very complicated and dangerous. Secondly, that Russia has made a decision, not to repeat the mistakes of the Soviet Union which, after 1985, distanced itself from playing an active role in the solution of the world’s problems. (But now) Russia has simply made a conclusion, based upon what happened in Yugoslavia, Iraq and Libya.
DS: So, for over a week now, Russian aviation has been bombing the terrorists in Syria. How do you see the further development of this operation?
YK: For the time being, Russia has only begun to roll out its aviation; it conducts prior intelligence and investigatory bombing. Up until now, Russian planes have not really unleashed their full power: the bombing has not reached full capacity, for example, the military helicopters have not been brought into play, and it is precisely they (the helicopters) which are the striking force in supporting ground troops. I have a feeling this will start to happen soon.
DS: What does Russia want to achieve in Syria?
YK: The immediate tactical goal, as I see it, is to help Assad’s army break out onto the Turkish-Syrian border and liberate those areas from the terrorists. When this occurs, then all the terrorist bases will be cut off from their main support: from Turkey. Currently, along this (Syria-Turkey) border are to be found the main forces of the terrorists. There are over a dozen of various sub-species of them.
Next, there will be a counter-offensive to the South of Syria, in order to liberate the underlying regions. This task should be much simpler: With no support, no supply of weapons, ISIS in Syria will be choked off. It is no accident that Russia created her coordinating center (for this operation) in Baghdad. This is the first stage, and unless there are some unexpected developments, the campaign should not take much longer than 3 to 6 months.
Already Moscow has placed severe limits on the (freedom of) other aviation in the region. For starters, the aviation of the U.S.A. Even the Turks, for example, cannot bomb the Kurds as freely as they would like any more. And this way, the Kurds are more free to engage in the fight against ISIS.
DS: What are the odds for Russia and her coalition to enjoy success?
YK: It all depends on the accomplishments of the Syrian army. If the Syrians are successful, then it will turn out well for Russia. And if not, this will be a problem, not just for Russia and Syria, but for the whole world. Assad needs to attack NOW, the sooner the better. Aviation alone will not solve his problems. The situation has gotten to the point, where it is no longer possible to wait. Procrastination will only make the situation worse.