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“Nyet” says Putin – and they listen

July 1, 2014

America and its European allies have been frustrated again and again by Russia’s chutzpah. Putin’s Russia took Crimea without firing a shot. Obama wondered out aloud that how could boundaries be redrawn in the 21st century. Putin showed them how. Crimea is now a Russian territory. Eastern Ukraine is boiling. Russia backed separatists who could well be Russian army regulars shot down a Ukrainian helicopter killing more than half a dozen. Its plausible that Eastern Ukraine cedes and merges with Russia. Will Obama again wonder as to how boundaries could be redrawn? If he does, the Russian president will again show him how! Russia has cut gas supplies to Ukraine over outstanding bills. While Europe is acting tough I will not be surprised if they cut a deal with Gazprom on the sly. Europe just cannot do without Russian gas especially in the winters. West through the Ukrainian leadership asks Russia to ‘return’ Crimea – its like baying at the moon. Putin unveils plans to develop Crimea, which was a resort during Soviet era, anyway.

West has been frustrated in Syria too. A protracted war resulted in little. Israel bombed parts of Syria as a last ditch attempt to overthrow the Alawite Bashr al-Assad regime. ‘Nyet’ said Putin again and they could not. The West concluded that the war in Syria could go on for decades without any real outcome. Assad mocked the West by conducting an election which was of course a farce but enough to give him some kind of legitimacy. West grimaced and looked the other way. It was not the elections per se that were important, it was the semblance of normalcy in Damascus and Homs that irritated the West like nothing did. Did Putin give Assad a thumbs up, I do not know but the fact that he still heads the Islamic State of Syria is reason enough for the West to squirm.

West realized that Syria was out of bounds so they looked East – to Iraq. The Shiite Nouri al-Maliki government had been facing insurgency from the minority Sunnites. They concluded that if al-Maliki government is overthrown that may weaken the Shiite influence over the Levant and they could then tackle Syria better. A phantom like organization emerged from nowhere called the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) with one shady character named Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as its head. Americans have put a bounty of a million dollars over al-Baghdadi’s head. Media has it that ISIS is better trained than the Iraqi army and it showed as they breezed past Iraqi forces moving from the West to East taking over towns and hamlets including Tikrit, the birth place of Saddam Hussein.

ISIS is not only very well trained but also very well armed. They have spanking new armoured vehicles and arms and ammunitions and rocket launchers. Where did they get all this from? They say they purchased it from money that they earned from oil fields they control in Eastern Syria. Then they looted a few banks, kidnapped some and raised money enough to buy sophisticated weaponry. It is also said that mercenaries from various countries including Australia are a part of this deadly force called the ISIS. Some of this may be true but this surely is not the whole story. I will not be surprised if there is a definite Saudi hand behind the ISIS with a subtle and perhaps not so subtle backing from the West. Are there Saudi and Emirates army regulars in the ISIS one can only guess, I will not be surprised if there are. I mean the logistics of such a force are a challenge by itself. It can’t be a self sustained ephemeral Sphinx rising from the deserts of the Levant.

The latest development where Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has declared himself as a Caliph and the area he controls as a Caliphate has raised the hackles of many. It is a dangerous move they say. What does the US do? It prevaricates over sending fighter jets to halt the relentless march of the ISIS towards Baghdad. Instead it decides to send some 275 troops to safeguard its assets and another 300 ‘advisors’. US unleashed drones armed with Hellfire missiles which will never be fired. Secretary of State John Kerry descends on Baghdad in an attempt to convince Nouri al-Maliki to step down. Al-Maliki like any other Middle Eastern leader refuses. Remarkably Kerry has the courage to visit Baghdad when the world’s most dangerous terrorist organization –the ISIS is just 3 hours away from Baghdad.

Syria sends sorties of fighter jets to bomb ISIS in an attempt to check its advance towards Baghdad. Did Putin give Assad the idea? Maybe he did because soon after he sent Russian jets to help Al-Maliki government fight the ISIS. West’s plans to take over Iraq have again been check mated by Putin. Russian president says Nyet and they listen.

Israel does not condemn ISIS nor does it feel threatened by this world’s most dangerous Islamic terrorist organization – more deadly than the al-Qaeda. This is a tad out of place, is it not? For Tel Aviv Hamas is more dangerous. They fume over the death of three Israeli teenagers whom Hamas has apparently killed. They bomb 34 targets supposed to be Hamas hideouts! Israel’s angst at the murder of tennagers is understandable but what defies logic is Tel Aviv refusing to condemn or demand a halt on the world’s most dangerous Islamic terrorist organization – the ISIS. Is Israel okay with the emergence of such a terror outfit in its neighbourhood? Instead Bibi Netanyahu calls for the creation of a separate state of Kurdistan in Northern Iraq. Why is Israel calling for the creation of Kurdistan at this juncture? Clearly, Israel is not comfortable with Shiite Iraq getting revenue from the oil rich northern parts which is dominated by Kurds. They reckon that if the royalties or claims by Baghdad cease Shiite Iraq will be weaker and more responsive to West’s demands.

Putin’s Russia has again put a spanner in West’s game plans. By sending fighter jets to Baghdad Putin has in effect proclaimed that the West cannot do as it wishes. The latest development is that Iraqi forces have taken over Tikrit from ISIS. After Syria, again in Iraq Putin has said Nyet, and they have no option but to listen.

Addendum: The situation in Ukraine is getting out of control. There is every possibility that Eastern Ukraine might cede and join Russia. Obama’s inaction in Ukraine could cost him his job. There is every likelihood that if Ukraine is truncated a US Congressional inquiry maybe instituted in the matter and the President maybe asked to depose. Unsatisfactory response could lead to further proceedings and I am not ruling out impeachment on charges of compromising national security. I know this sounds farfetched but this is not of of the realms of possibility.

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