Global Independent Analytics
Giuseppe Zaccaria
Giuseppe Zaccaria

Location: Italy

Specialization: Balkans, Yugoslavia

The power of simplicity

An old rule of war - and perhaps life - says that if you know how to strike in the right direction you will win, and this is quite self-explanatory.

And today, after a month-long air campaign and more than 500 raids and 800 targets hit, the major Western powers and the monarchs of the Persian Gulf seem to understand that the secret of success of the Russian intervention in Syria lies in its simplicity.

Some big Western media, namely the "Guardian", admit it: Russian jets take off knowing exactly where to go, their pilots have extremely accurate maps, proof of which is precisely the fact that so far they have destroyed numerous underground arsenals, bases, and command centers of the Islamic state.

This detail would lead to the question of how many millions were needed to build the network of "bunkers" (and who funded it), but for the moment let's put this question aside and go back to the main point: it is logical to think that a Russian "top gun" received training more or less similar to his American counterpart’s and that their aircraft are roughly equivalent. The fact that the former was successful and the latter failed can only be explained in three ways: lack of information, lack of will, or perhaps a combination of the two.  

But, once again, we put aside the most striking hypothesis and stick to the facts: Moscow decided to use its air force only after receiving information from Bashar Al-Assad’s services about key elements of the situation. It is true that an alliance has existed for years between Vladimir Putin and the Syrian President, and therefore the head of the Kremlin has enjoyed smoother cooperation with the regime (which incidentally was quite happy to offer it), but this fact also serves to explain the total failure of American policy in the area, and how at this stage Washington ended up being entangled in its own web.

Two years ago, as everybody remembers, Barack Obama sent his aircraft carriers into the southern Mediterranean and was ready to start a war against Assad, bur Putin changed his mind (and by some quirk of history, the fact that he listened to his Russian colleague did get the American president the Nobel Prize for Peace..).

But, once again, let's skip the details and return to the heart of the matter. After proclaiming to the world, "Assad must leave immediately", the US administration became the victim of its initial mistake and of a media system which, if the opportunity arises, bites. So, instead of doing the simplest thing, the White House and Pentagon wallowed in a series of increasingly self-destructive alternatives, like the infamous  500 million dollars plan to train just five or six operational guerrillas  - as General Lloyd Austin had to admit to the Senate. It is still invoking the mysterious "moderate guerrillas", who continues to change their name while remaining undetectable.

Taking in Syria without a clear picture of the situation is simply crazy. Just look at the continuously updated maps of the forces on the field: once it seemed that the picture is patchy, today we would describe it as an animal painted by Salvador Dali, an imaginative vision of Arcimboldo  -confused, twisted, and overlapping.

Four years of uprisings, guerrilla warfare and foreign interventions have spread out the local subsidiaries of  'Al Qaeda'  in Syria, native radical groups, bands of common criminals, and armed detachments supported by Turkey or Saudi Arabia. Each group fights for itself, and each has its objectives, and therefore the only way to intervene effectively is to operate surgically, knowing where to make the cut, and how. And the Chinese aircraft carrier "Liaoning" is moored in the port of Tartus  with a thousand "marines", in case it becomes necessary to intervene in an even more resolute way

Not surprisingly, a few days ago even the old and very clever former Secretary of State ,Henry Kissinger wrote in the "Wall Street Journal" that the United States should leave it to Moscow, who in the Middle East is solving many problems - obviously pursuing their own interests - and concluded with this sentence: "Fighting the Islamic state today is much more important than removing Assad from power" . 

In such a situation, it is quite understandable that the White House has chosen to remain silent, as in recent weeks also criticism of Western media became progressively attenuated (even the chatter of those specialized to not look at the moon, but to finger point it). The unfortunate hospital bombing in Afghanistan must have been conducive to a certain level of decency.

But the decisive factor, as everyone understands, is that this is going to provoke a crucial change in the political balance in the Middle East, and now the chancelleries must analyze the situation in the correct way and take the right decisions. The amateur era is ending.

In less than a month,  the Islamic state seems destroyed, its guerrillas are fleeing for refuge over the border to Jordan. It will be better not to get hopes up about a premature end. This Sunni horde is the result of old mistakes (especially with the insane handling of Iraq in the post-Saddam period, in the famous Dick Chene /Halliburton-style)  and the movement will survive as long as it can count on powerful financiers. 

The savviest governments are already making moves: Israel is watching Moscow’s intervention without interference, Iran may have sent some of its military to assist Assad's  Army, but seems disinclined to let loose its revanchist impulses and is willing to engage in dialogue. 

This is the current picture.  The specifics are fluid, but the general picture is already quite defined. Even if stability in the Middle East continues to be a dream,   facts seen today are already beginning to define a perspective that only a month ago appeared simply impossible.

Although still in a very hesitant way, the US has begun to cooperate with Russia in devising a solution for the Syrian conflict, and the leaders of the respective armed forces have entered into agreements (secret, but already functioning) to prevent dangerous clashes in the skies of the Middle East.

Let us have no illusions, the temperature of the "Cold War" has risen just a few degrees, but in Washington, those who thought to remain at the helm of a unipolar world are beginning to acquire the awareness that, from Syria to Ukraine and the South China Sea, the US  is involved in a critical series of confrontations that it is unable to afford (with a soon to be opened „European chapter“, but that is best left for another discussion).

In (geo) politics all is possible. The US waged unprecedented wars in the name of the highest civilizational values, overthrowing regimes all over the Middle East, West Africa and the Balkans, wherever their ‘national interest’ supposedly required it. But now it is clear that the aggressive US foreign policy, stemming from the presumption of “liberal moral values”, has committed egregious mistakes.

In the Middle East today, US is the loser, and its Western partners have made a “U” turn in this strange alliance.  Not by chance, in his article in "Wall Street Journal" Henry Kissinger, a very competent and wise man, writes with a great realism that "Russia has only occupied the spaces left empty by the USA." Demonstrating his belief that this political phase is already closed and not concerned with the fate of Assad, he looks pragmatically ahead and suggests that the future Syria should take the form of a federation. The fate of Syria today, according to him, is already decided.

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