Today I am starting this new series, based on Evgeny Krutikov’s piece in VZGLIAD, from September 14. Russian military analyst Krutikov is no pushover, there were many times when he was critical of the Syrian military and their sometimes tepid strategy. Other times when he was pessimistic of the outcome. Things could have easily gone the other way, with Syria going the way of Libya, hundreds of thousands of ordinary people dead, and the black Al Qaeda flag waving triumphantly over the capital, Damascus. Instead, fortunately for those of us who rooted for the non-Al-Qaeda side of this conflict, things seem to be moving in the right direction.
Krutikov notes matter of factly, and not even in a gloating way, that the American project in Syria comprises a series of failures. He even calls them “epic fails”, in the internet jargon. It is his task in this piece to analyze why the Pentagon achieved an absolute Zero in this arena.
He starts with the fact that the Pentagon bought up $71 million dollars worth of aging Soviet weaponry from several of its Eastern European satellites — Bulgaria, Gruzia, Romania, Serbia, Czech Republic, and Ukraine. This old cache consisted of AK-47’s, rocket launchers, howitzers, etc. The Americans dissembled about these purchases, saying they were for domestic (American) needs, but in reality all this stuff was sent to Syria to arm the so-called “Opposition” forces. By using old Soviet weaponry, the Pentagon no doubt thought they were being quite cheeky. There was a 3-way benefit: (1) the weapons were relatively cheap, (2) If they got captured, Pentagon could say they came from Russia, (3) Propaganda benefit, because Westie media got trained, like Pavlovian dogs, into repeating the words “Russian AK-47’s”, etc. Thus implanting into susceptible American brains that Russians are the bad guys everywhere, with all their weapons, and arming terrorists and what-not.
Question: If the Pentagon weapons sales were meant to be secret, then how does Krutikov know about them? He links this other piece, by Anton Kass, from September 13. The title of the piece is: “Pentagon was caught handing over weapons purchased in Ukraine to the Syrian militants”. That story, in turn, was broken by Czech journalists. Two Czech organizations, Czech Center for Investigative Journalism and the Center for Investigating Corruption and Organized Crime found the paperwork implicating the Pentagon in these illegal exports.
Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad has condemned these American actions of bringing weapons into Syria. He is even more concerned about American soldiers themselves, and say they have no business being on Syrian soil. Americans are ignoring these calls to pull their troops out of Syrian soil. As the “exceptional nation”, the American elite considers that it is entitled to plant its soldiers on any spot on the planet, even in a sovereign nation, where they can get away with it. Hence, Americans have been roaming about Syria, filling the country with weapons, even flying over it in places, where they can get away with that as well. This has always been the American way, but Americans were usually sneakier about it. Now a blustering President Trump says out loud what American policy-makers only used to say in private: That they will go wherever they damn please, and they don’t need no stinking permission from the host government.
Trump claims that his tactic in Syria is to push back and defeat the “jihadists”, those same jihadists that the Americans have been arming and supporting all these years, in their failed effort to overthrow Assad. Trump may actually be ignorant enough to believe his own propaganda. But his stated tactic of “pushing and surrounding” the terrorists is at odds with the current Russian/Syrian tactic of escorting the terrorists out of Syria. See, there are too many terrorists to actually kill them all; therefore the plan is to escort these uninvited guests and show them to the door: This way to the Egress, Terrorists. If Trump sincerely believes that the American army is capable of creating a giant battlefield-killzone on Syrian soil, and dispatching every last terrorist to Muslim Heaven, well, then, he is delusional. All that can be hoped for at this point is to make them pack their suitcases and return to their own countries. Where, no doubt, they will create much mischief; but it will be up to the various police and security services to deal with their own internal criminals at that point.
An example of faulty Trumpite tactics in this regard was the recent incident in which American armed forces opened fire on a column of former jihadists and members of their families, who were heading from their enclave into an area of Eastern Syria according to a deal that had been made between Syrian forces and terrorist forces. Brett McGurk, from the American State Department, whose title is “Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS” takes responsibility for the shoot ’em-up. He reported on his Twitter feed that the column was on its way to Iraq (which is probably true), and that he personally would not allow the jihadists to get to Iraq. McGurk, like several other hawks in the Trump administration is a “precious heritage” from the Obama administration. Such bullishness plays well to American sensibilities, but Krutikov considers McGurk’s action to be a bonehead move. Probably because in the future other jihadists will be less likely to (a) surrender or (b) swap prisoners, or (c) retreat, if they feel backed into a corner.
Fact is, the war appears to be reaching its final phase, the Syrian army is winning, and almost at the mopping-up stage. Now is not a good time to reignite the fire.
[to be continued]