Tuesday, February 16, 2016

A World Without Peacemakers

‘The agenda is being shaped by Russia, Assad and Iran.’ Illustration by Matt Kenyon 
DDGD February 16, 2016

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Today’s Post is brought to you by… Peacemakers Anonymous: A support group for those who are peacemakers at heart, but who are forced to play the warmongers in public in order to preserve their secret identity as peacemakers, an identity so secret it could never influence their public behavior and could only be preserved as an ethos. And… Warmongers Anonymous: A support group for warmongers battling with their secret craving for peace.

The Delirica

I seek to document for posterity the insanity of the current hour in the hope that they might choose to learn what we have clearly decided not to learn: that indifference to the plight of others is wrong, that the world has grown too small for us to keep clinging to tribal modes of belonging, that our sense of humanity and decency cannot have geographical boundaries, that we should be aware of our interconnectivity and its implications just as we are becoming aware of the interconnectivity of our physical environment and its implications, that our fate is one, that if some of us should fall, no one will be left standing long enough, by history’s standards, to feel sorry or even gloat. WE ARE ONE.

When Aleppo falls ethnic cleansing is bound to follow, and that will translate into more refugees going to neighboring countries, and on to Europe. In fact, this is already happening. Tens of thousands have by now fled their homes, hundreds of thousands, then millions, will soon follow. This is what a victory by the Assad regime, or to be more specific, by his Russian and Iranian overlords, actually means in practical terms. Assad, Iran and Russia are pursuing a scorched-earth policy, so those who are forced to leave now will have no place to return to tomorrow, even if they were allowed to return, which they probably won’t. During the conflict and for many years after it’s over, people will keep streaming out of Syria, because life under oppression and want is no less abhorrent or possible than life under constant bombing. Fate has struck, and we all had a hand in it. Syria will be depopulated, and the world will have to cope. And there will be other Syrias to come.

Michael Ignatieff: A Syria policy that dare not speak its name. “This is where risk avoidance has led a conscientious, prudent American president — to a diabolical transaction in which he and his allies regretfully sacrifice the lives of innocent civilians in the name of the mistaken belief that the west’s only overriding strategic interest in Syria is the defeat of Isis. If this is the actual policy of the US the consequences should be spelt out. Russia and Iran will consolidate control of a rump state in the Middle East but the millions of Syrians who have fled the fighting will never return home and the region will never know peace.

The Daily Delirynth

A refugee camp for Syrians in Lebanon, Richard Hall / GlobalPost

Syriosis: The Ethnic Cleansing continues: Missiles in Syria kill 50 as schools, hospitals hit; Turkey accuses Russia. “Almost 50 civilians were killed when missiles hit at least five medical facilities and two schools in rebel-held areas of Syria on Monday, according to the United Nations, which called the attacks a blatant violation of international law.” Syrian regime’s lies notwithstanding: Syrian envoy to Moscow: U.S. jets hit hospital in Syria.

So does the encirclement of Aleppo, the ceasefire notwithstanding: Syrian Army Is Now 15 Kilometres Away From Cutting ISIS in Half.Loss of crucial Al Tabqah corridor would leave a huge swathe of ISIS territory on the right bank of the Euphrates without a road connection to the rest of ISIS' statelet.” But that’s not the goal at this stage, but an incidental achievement that comes as part of the plan to completely encircle and lay siege to Aleppo. There will be no major clashes between IS and the pro-regime militias yet, and no attempt to wrest control of Raqqah back from IS.

But let’s be clear here, according to local reports, IS has withdrawn much of its leaders from the city itself, with many of them relocating to Mosul, perhaps on their way to their new colony in Libya. But, IS still maintains control over the Tabqah Dam, and IS is playing a part in besieging local rebels in north Aleppo by ensuring that they care caught in a pincer situation, between PYD forces and Shia militias on the hand, and IS Jihadis on the other, all while enduring Russian airstrikes: While peacemakers talk, Aleppo's children pay the price of Syria's war. “The rebels in Aleppo are now being attacked by Bashar al-Assad in the south, Kurdish insurgents in the west and Islamic State in the east.

As for Raqaah, whoever wants to go after IS positions there needs to secure the Tabqah Dam first. If not, then, the fate of the Dam and so many thousands of people in different parts of Syria and perhaps Iraq will be left in the hands of IS’ local leaders, as I have previously argued.  

For the ceasefire has many holes that can be easily exploited: Assad and Putin Will Likely Disregard the Syria Cease-Fire and Destroy the Opposition. “Deal or not, Russia and the Syrian regime have no reason to voluntarily jeopardize their recent gains or slow their momentum… Assad and Putin can target any opposition group they please, claiming the group is fighting alongside the Nusra Front… The regime and its Russian and Iranian backers are on track to overwhelm the insurgency in the north and south.

Add to the mix the pontifications of Mr. Assad… Ceasefire Doesn’t Mean Parties 'Stop Using Weapons,' According To Syria's Assad... and you get something more akin to… continued slaughter, especially when Assad’s allies seem to entertain similar ideas Hospitals in Syria Bombed as Fighting Escalates. Strikes on terrorist groups will continue in any case, even if a cease-fire is agreed upon in Syria,” Mr. Gatilov told the German magazine Der Spiegel. “After all, the main point is that the cease-fire would cover those who are truly interested in a beginning to the negotiation process, and not terrorists. And isn’t it just convenient when you are able to define all your enemies as terrorists?  

But will Obama? With this in mind, the decision by Mrs. Merkel to back the establishment of no-fly zones is the right thing to do, albeit it’s long overdue: Angela Merkel backs no-fly zones to protect civilians after Russia accused of bombing schools and hospitals. “The air campaign has sent a new wave of refugees to the Turkish border, alarming both Ankara and European leaders fearful that more people could seek to reach their shores.” But, will the U.S. and NATO back such a move? And will that have any perceptible effect on what’s transpiring in Aleppo? This remains to be seen. For a successful intervention in Syria requires confronting Putin and downsizing his ambitions.

For when Putin’s aggressions goes un-confronted his reach gets extended: Ukraine: 50 Russian tanks and 40 missile systems rolled into the country while Putin talked peace. And: Day 727: Head Of OSCE Says There’s “Circumstantial Evidence” Russia Is Again Arming Militants In Ukraine. As for Syria: Russia’s grip on Syria tightens as brittle ceasefire deal leaves US out in the cold. “At the peace talks in Munich and on the ground in Aleppo, two things became clear last week: Moscow was running the show and Assad’s opponents felt abandoned by Washington.” And Russian “professionalism” may not always be the modus operandi.  

Refugenics: Lebanon doesn't want Syrian refugees getting too comfortable, even in winter. The refugees are there to stay and the sooner they are accommodated the sooner a serious process of integration can take place. The refugees have no place to go back to, and won’t for many years, if ever. The humanitarian thing is the only right policy when it comes to refugees, politics be damned.  After all, we are dealing with another Nakba in the region, writ large: Exodus and betrayal: How a Syrian Nakba was created. “Abandoned by the US, betrayed by Arab governments, shut out of Europe, Syrian refugees are an increasingly significant political fact.

So, about that old thing: Cologne: Three out of 58 men arrested over mass sex attack on New Year's Eve were refugees from Syria or Iraq. “Majority of suspects are of Algerian, Tunisian or Moroccan descent and none had recently arrived in Germany, police have reportedly said.” For, it’s sexism that needs to be confronted, not refugees, and sexism is not just a Middle Eastern thing. It’s a global phenomenon.

 Saudocalypse: Saudi Arabia embarks on massive military drill with 2,500 warplanes and 20,000 tanks.  Still, that does not mean that Saudi in serious about the threat to invade Syria, or remove Assad by force, especially considering that a Saudi intervention risk getting into a direct showdown with Russia and Iran,  challenge that Saudi cannot handle on its own, even if supported by its GCC colleagues, among others. Saudi Arabia Cooking Up Strategic Move Against Russia. “Saudi-Turkish threat to invade Syria points to the gap between the desire for a cease-fire agreement and reality. Judging by Russia’s conduct so far, Riyadh and Ankara might want to reexamine what could be a dangerous gamble.” In fact, Turkey has just made clear that it does not intend on sending ground troops to Syria. This may not prevent Turkey from backing a Saudi intervention, but it does raise that possibility. Still, with Merkel opting to support the establishment of no-fly zones, Turkey may change its position yet: Turkey asking coalition partners for joint ground operation in Syria, official says.  

Meanwhile, the search for that added insurance is afoot: Gulf states seek nukes against Iran, had secret contacts with Tel Aviv – Israeli defense chief. Oh that Faustian deal that keeps on giving.

A Saudi man waves his country's flag during Janadriyah Culture Festival on the outskirts of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia February 8, 2016. AP

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