Tag Archives: Putin

SYRIAN UPDATE

BLOG 450
November 11, 2019

putin

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.

SYRIAN UPDATE

In the last blog, I noted that from the point of view of the Middle East, Trump’s actions in Syria have handed Putin his first three major objectives on a silver platter. Putin is now the king maker and controls Syria. America is out.

Between 25 and 35 million Kurds inhabit a mountainous region straddling the borders of Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Iran and Armenia. They make up the fourth-largest ethnic group in the Middle East, but they have never obtained a permanent nation state. Currently, they are struggling to exist.

In a recent article in The Jerusalem Post, Seth J. Frantzman noted that Turkey’s action in attempting to create a buffer zone with the Syrians by attacking the Kurds has re-written the rules of International Law. Declaring that the existence of a terrorist organization gives them the right to create a so-called safe zone or peace corridor, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has created a new doctrine with frightening implications for international affairs.

Countries like Saudi Arabia, Russian, and Egypt might conclude they can do the same if they want to make a grab for more territory. Declaring that they have a right (just as Turkey did) to expand their borders because some terrorist organization could be out, implies a new instability in establishing legal territorial boundaries. The silence in the international community seems to affirm the idea of invasion is acceptable simply because a country deems it necessary.

What is also implied in this action is the argument that more powerful states can assert their right to move across borders into less powerful countries that do not have the ability to protect themselves. Pakistan may now assert a need to grab parts of Afghanistan. Russia could say it can attack the border of Ukraine in the name of creating a “safe zone.” On and on the argument goes.

The abrupt action by President Trump in pulling American troops out of the border area has now left the impression America is no longer interested in such goals as religious freedom and stabilization. At one time America proclaimed an intention of reconstruction in some areas affected by the war with ISIS, but this now appears to be abandoned. The American assistance began in an effort to support the Kurds when ISIS moved to capture Kobani. ISIS was pushed out. Now five years later, America is walking away.

American soldiers have fought shoulder to shoulder with the Kurds and now the USA has abandoned them. If you care about people and their welfare, the implications are frightening!

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Filed under Kurds, Syria, The Middle East, Trump

MAKING SENSE OUT OF SYRIA

Blog 345 April 10, 2017

            A number of years ago, I spent time in Syria and stayed in Damascus, wandering around the municipality and spending time in the ancient city. Walking down the street called Straight (Acts 9:11) proved enlightening. A number of years previous to this experience, I traveled to the Soviet Union (1985), visiting Moscow, Minsk, etc. Like Damascus, wandering down the streets and talking to the people brought insights I never would have expected. These two experiences continue to run through my mind as I listen to media reports about this week’s U.S. Tomahawk and Scud missile attacks in Syria. The past gave me perspective for today.

With the lowest approval rating of any American president in memory, Donald Trump appears to have dug himself out of a hole with the unannounced successful attack on the Syrian base from where Bashar Assad’s air force jets gassed their own people. Outside of Russia and Iran, the world applauded this attack on Assad who is unquestionably a war criminal.

During my time in Syria, I recognized the dictator’s grasp on the Syrian people. Everywhere I went from Taxi cabs to bathrooms, there were two pictures: Hafez Assad, the father smiling; Bashar Assad frowning. Their faces were unavoidable and no one would talk about the pictures or them. Bashar’s brother is a ruthless general leading many of the deadly attacks on civilians. Hafez, the father, rose to power through his military position as a general. I quickly learned that the citizens knew better than to speak ill of the Assad regime.

Could Bashar Assad kill women and children? He and his family history demonstrate they have and will – possibly again.

Russia was a different type of dictatorship that worked at being more of an enigma. From the time of the Czars, the Russian government functioned with deception. When the Soviet System collapsed, the art of deceit didn’t miss a lick. Out of the ashes of the Russian Revolution, the practice of illusion sprang back to life. Putin continues the swindle.

Apart from all of Putin’s huff and puff, Russia is not in a good place. Their economy is in trouble and the drop in oil prices has seriously impacted them. Yes, they have the big Bomb, but even Putin understands the risk of a nuclear threat.

Now, Russia is caught with its pants down in Syria. They either knew about the chemical weapons or were incompetent in handling the situation. Assad promised Obama he would get rid of chemical weapons—which he didn’t. Putin’s efforts to prop up Assad amounts to selling a Sunday School class on the idea of having Al Capone teach on kindness.

Russia will continue to scream and holler – but little more as they have no idea what Trump will do next. Syria is now back in a more defensive posture and Assad is in a kettle of hot water.

Stay tuned. More to come.

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BEWARE: THE TROLLS ARE COMING

BLOG 257 June 15, 2015

Today’s blog is slightly off the usual track and broader than the Middle East, but I thought it might help in reading some of the more obscure signs of the times.  Free societies still face challenges in discerning the truth. Of course, this blog’s purpose is to maintain objectivity and sort out what is happening behind the curtains. Today’s blog aims behind the scenes.

Before we get started: If you missed it, Saudi Arabia shot down a missile fired from Yemen by the Houthi rebels. Yemen hasn’t been on the media much lately, but there’s plenty of activity going on. Since late March, the Saudis have exchanged fire across the Yemini border a number of times. The firing of a Scud has raised fears that the Yemini rebels have started an escalating pattern of violence that could lead to an expansion of the war.

While the Saudis claimed to have destroyed the Houthis’ supply of heavy and ballistic weapons, the missile firing undermined those claims. However, immediately after the Scud was knocked out, Saudi warplane located and destroyed the missile launcher. Who knows what comes next. Stay tuned.

A year ago I was driving from Jerusalem to the Tel Aviv airport when I noticed a new large expensive mosque that had been built in a small village just beyond  Jerusalem. I inquired how the obviously lavish  mosque had been built in such a small poor village. I discovered the entire structure  was a gift from Vladimir Putin to the Muslims. Putin in Israel? Really? Afraid so – but on the behalf of the Palestinians.

I made a mental note. Don’t underestimate Putin –ever!

President George Bush said he looked into Putin’s soul. Political nonsense. If he had, Bush would have run for the door.

The latest revelation about Putin’s backdoor approach was explored in the Sunday, June 7, magazine section of The New York Times. The writer Adrian Chen had stumbled on to a nondescript office building in Russia’s St. Peterburg that actually housed a full time working Troll force whose job is to invade the world-wide internet and post deceptive and untruthful accounts of imaginary events that discredited the United States and spread misconceptions around the world.

Last September 11, the internet carried a disaster story occurring in St. Mary Parish, Louisiana. Toxic chemicals were reported from a plant called Columbia Chemical. The internet lit up with hundreds of responses decrying the danger. Of course, none of the story was true and the responses bogus. The hoax was not a simple prank but one story from a highly coordinated disinformation campaign in which  “Trolls” spend hours sending out lies, deceit, and deception. A similar story came out about an Ebola outbreak in Atlanta, Georgia. The trolls were coming!

The word “trolls” emerged out of the ‘90’s to describe internet abusers. Russia’s Internet Research Agency has now “industrialized the art of trolling.” By the way, those trolls in St. Petersburg have no idea who runs their company. They just print what is handed to them. Guess who started those anti-American, anti-Israel stories?

Putin, the former KGB agent, should get the Gobbels Nazi award this year for disinformation. Make no mistake about it, Putin is at war with the USA and is walking behind the scenes in Israel.

Don’t stay tuned to what you can’t check out –this junk from Russia will cloud your mind.

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CONFUSION BREEDS CHAOS

            As you probably know, Vladmir Putin was a colonel in the KGB, the dreaded secret police organization of the Soviet Union: Meaning he specialized in everything from murder to international deception. Putin now majors in self-promotion sending out pictures of himself riding a horse shirtless, supposedly killing tigers, and practicing judo.  Recently, he stole a Super Bowl ring from Patriot’s owner Robert Kraft (although this issue is now under contention) He has clearly been the friend of Iran and Syria along with supplying the weapons to Assad to suppress his own people. Never underestimate Putin’s capacity to push himself to the front of the line. He has even hired an American PR firm to get his message in the newspapers.

            Putin showed up in the headlines of The New York Times lecturing President Obama and warning the American people about attacking Syria. You think this tyrant doesn’t know how to use propaganda?

The problem is that the Obama administration has been flapping around like the proverbial chicken with its head cut off. Jumping back and forth between threats and retreats, nobody is sure what they stand for or intend to do in Syria. For several years, they have had no clear cut stance on dealing with a tyrant like Assad and now are fishing for a way out of the bind Obama created with his own red line speech.

Enter Putin. While claiming to be a partner in diplomacy, he has overplayed his hand and betrayed his true purpose to gain global superiority. Never could he have reached for such a status if Obama had not dug himself into a hole. And nobody loves watching an adversary fall in the hole like Putin does.

America watched the Soviet Union sink and then attempted to be a friend to Russia as it struggled to regain integrity. Putin arose out of the chaos of Russia politics struggling to find footing. Putin remembers this time well and has been looking for a come back. By supplying arms to Assad, he has been able to payroll the arms industry in Russia.  Because we have been afraid to act decisively, he has continued to gain authority in world politics even if Russia ranks only around l8th in world economy.

Putin appears to be aiding Obama’s digging himself  out of the pit. But when you need the help of a former KGB officer to stabilize your position, you really are in trouble. Actually, Putin’s purpose is getting Syrian chemical weapons out of his own backyard. Only time will tell how far Putin is willing to go to enforce his grab for the top. My hunch I that there is no limit to how far he will attempt to reach.

This episode needs to remind us who Putin is and what he is about. There’s no happy ending to his story.

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Filed under America, middle east, Russia, Syria