What Do The Russians Want With Syria ?

The weekend is here and it’s time for our weekly shoot-the-shit topic. New readers note that with any shoot-the-shit you can make unsupported assertions, use profanity, insult anyone you wish or change the subject altogether, all of which is free of charge. It doesn’t get any better than this!

Folks, there are so many cluster fucks unraveling domestically and around the world that it was damned near impossible to select a topic. Our first thought was to shoot-the-shit about Layne Bryant’s Cacique’ line of intimate apparel for the full figured woman but gave up on that. However, the Russian participation in Syria seems to be getting a great deal of bandwidth. So, we decided to take our shot at it.

This situation is not a ball game where each side cheers for their team. This is a global issue with the potential for profound ramifications and you can’t solve problems without looking at all aspects of the problem. Having said that, let’s identify the catalysts

  1. We blew the Ukraine. We were backing the Ukrainian coupe with financing, PR etc. etc. Vladimir Putin knew that and since the Ukraine is vital to Russia’s  oil exports, Putin was not about to let that happen any time soon. We then spanked Russia by imposing sanctions.
  2. We entered into an agreement with Iran that will release $150 billion dollars of frozen assets and lifted sanctions in exchange for Iran abandoning its nuclear weapon ambitions. Even as the terms were being worked out, Gen Soleimani was hitting Moskva trance houses, sipping Grey Goose and shopping for Russian advanced weapon systems.
  3. Shia controlled Iraq under Nouri Kamil Mohammed Hasan al-Maliki, alienated every Sunni in the country and Iraqi military. He essentially created the petri dish giving rise to a merger between Baathist Sunnis and radical elements of AQAP rebranded as ISIL. That organization expanded alliances with elements operating in Syria. The objective is to eliminate Shia influence in Iraq and depose Bashar al-Assad who is an Alawait.
  4. We were way too cautious in supporting anti al-Assad rebels in the early stages of the civil war.

Like most conflicts, there is a huge economic component to the Russian calculus. Russians have three large customers at stake: Iran, Iraq and Syria. Less significant is Lebanon, Palestine and Libya. Should Syria fall to either ISIL or moderate Sunni elements, Russia would loss some vitally important resources. First, the Russian Black Sea Fleet is completely surrounded by NATO member countries and Russia would potentially loose access to the Bosphorus Straights; thereby, the Mediterranean.  So Russia needs a friendly sea port on the Mediterranean which it gets from Syria. A Russian friendly Syria creates a land route for Russian products, military equipment, etc. to Syria, Iraq, Iran and other points in the Middle East. This access is worth billions of dollars to the Russian economy.

It is highly unlikely that Vladimir Putin sees himself sunbathing in Speedos with al-Assad  while sipping a little Arak. However, it’s easy to see what is driving Russian actions in Syria. Russia’s risk is that their actions will consolidate ISIL and moderate Sunni factions. This is going to be one to watch…

Have a great weekend readers. If you’re on the East Coast stay out of the rain. If the sun is shinning where you are get to the range or do something with your buds and family!

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