Russia Enters the Fray: The New Syrian Score

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By:Chronicles | October 01, 2015

Srdja Trifkovic’s live RTTV interview, Sept. 30, 09:09 GMT

It will no longer be possible in the new setup – with the Iranians, the Iraqis, the Syrians and the Russians sharing intelligence – for the Gulf monarchies and for Erdogan to get away with the duplicity of pretending to fight ISIS while pursuing their separate agendas. For as long as they were able to do so, the Americans couldn’t get very far with their anti-ISIS campaign.

RT: Srdja Trifkovic joining us live, for more insight on [the upper house of Russia’s parliament authorizing President Putin to deploy military forces abroad]. What kind of reaction do you expect from Washington to this latest move, announced from Moscow this morning?

ST: Not much, frankly, because we are really looking at a formality which was very quickly passed. The real surprise – one might even say shock that needed to be absorbed, and options taken stock of – was the announcement that there would be a contingent of the Russian air force [in Syria] with all the supporting personnel. It is also significant that the Russians announced upfront that there would be no combat troops involved, and indeed they are not needed. What Assad primarily needs is air support, spares and servicing of his worn out equipment. As far as the manpower is concerned, if need be there will be foreign volunteers from the Hezbollah in Lebanon, or from the Revolutionary Guard Corps in Iran.

RT: What do you make of China’s potential involvement here? We understand that one of China’s biggest aircraft carriers has just arrived off the Syrian coast, assisted by a missile destroyer as well; so apparently China is getting involved with the Russian coalition here as well. Your feedback on that?

ST: It is significant because, for the Chinese, the symbolic meaning of a gesture and the signal it sends is probably more important than the military value of the gesture itself. The Chinese are quite clearly sending the signal that they are on the same side with Moscow on this one, and that they will not condone any further attempt by either the U.S. or its allies – and in particular by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Oman – to put bringing down Bashar al-Assad ahead of the fight against ISIS. This involvement of the new third parties will finally clear the situation. The waters had been muddied by [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan and by the Saudis for far too long. They have been playing double games which have really prevented a sustained effort against ISIS.

RT: What do you mean, “they have been playing double games” with ISIS?

ST: In particular that the Saudis and the Omanis had been the early backers of ISIS – before it became Frankenstein’s Monster, if you will. To this day they want the downfall of Bashar al-Assad first, and their protégés such as al-Nusra Front – hardline Islamists, every bit as bad jihadists as ISIS – coming to power. The Turks, at the same time, have been fighting an anti-Kurdish war. The Syrian offshoot of the PKK, the Kurdish Workers’ Party, has been at the receiving end of four times as many Turkish air attacks as ISIS itself. It will no longer be possible in the new setup – with the Iranians, the Iraqis, the Syrians and the Russians sharing intelligence – for the Gulf monarchies and for Erdogan and his AKP to get away with this duplicity. For as long as they were able to do so, the Americans couldn’t get very far with their anti-ISIS campaign.

RT: We seem to have this converging now over the skies of Syria, Russian war planes, French war planes are in the are, Israeli war planes are secretly there as well, Australian war planes . . . What kind of potential do we have here for some sort of international incident?

ST: I believe that this is a purely technical issue. With all the technology that we have, with countless satellites tracking everything that moves in real time… if there is the political will to coordinate activities and to avoid an accident, then I am sure there is the technical wherewithal to ensure that it does not happen.

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