التدخل الروسيّ للإفراج عن أسرى سوريين

أبريل 30, 2019

ناصر قنديل

– لسنا بصدد النقاش حول حدود القدرة التفاوضية الروسية مع كيان الاحتلال في الضغط للإفراج عن أسرى سوريّين وفلسطينيين، طالما قاموا بتسليم بقايا جندي السلطان يعقوب. فقد قلنا ما يجب قوله في العملية في حينها، وما نحن بصدده هو مناقشة العلاقات الروسية السورية التي وجد البعض في عملية تسليم بقايا جندي السلطان يعقوب فرصة للانقضاض عليها ونعيها، وتوزيع مواعظ النصح حول عقم الرهان على صواب هذه العلاقة، وصولاً للقول إن روسيا تبيع حلفاءها من العرب كرمى لعيون نتنياهو، وأنها خاضعة للوبيات الصهيونية ولا تستطيع رد طلباتها.

– الأكيد أن موسكو التقطت ردود الأفعال التي أعقبت العملية، خصوصاً الموقف الرسمي للدولة السورية الذي قام بمراعاة العلاقة بروسيا، لكنه عبر عن امتعاضه بالإعلان عن عدم وجود أي علاقة له بها أو معرفة بحدوثها قبل تاريخ تنفيذها، كما وصلت إلى موسكو تعبيرات العتب والغضب في الشارع السوري وفي بيئة المقاومة. وهنا يصير السؤال له قيمة عن كيفية التصرف الروسي وفقاً لسلم الأولويات الذي يرسم سياسات موسكو في المنطقة.

– الخطوة الأولى كانت الإعلان القاسي الذي صدر عن موسكو للرد على الإدعاءات الإسرائيلية حول عملية تسليم وشيكة لبقايا العميل الإسرائيلي إيلي كوهين، وتعمّد أن يأتي الرد على لسان وزير الخارجية الروسية سيرغي لافروف، والخطوة الثانية جاءت بإعلان المبعوث الروسي الخاص حول الأزمة السورية ألكسندر لافرنتيف أن روسيا طلبت قيام إسرائيل بالإفراج عن عدد من الأسرى السوريين والفلسطينيين تعبيراً عن الامتنان لقيام روسيا بتسليمها بقايا جندي السلطان يعقوب، وتنفيذاً لطلب الرئيس الروسي.

– قيام كيان الاحتلال بالإفراج عن أسيرين سوريّ وفلسطينيّ من سجونه، لا يعادل بالتأكيد ما كان ممكناً تحصيله لو أدارت موسكو مفاوضات تبادل حول بقايا جندي السلطان يعقوب، لكنها رسالة روسية ذات مغزى تقول إن روسيا تعتذر عن التسرّع وترغب بطي الصفحة بما يضمن سلامة وصحة التحالف الذي يجمعها بسورية وقوى المقاومة. وهذا هو موضوعنا، لأن جوهر ما قاله المتربّصون بهذه العلاقة، هو أن روسيا تعمّدت تنفيذ العملية بالطريقة التي تمّت لأنها تريد أن تقول للعالم وللرأي العام في روسيا، ولـ«إسرائيل»، ولنا، أن روسيا لا تقيم حساباً لمن يسمّيهم الآخرون بحلفاء موسكو في المنطقة عندما يتعلق الأمر باسترضاء «إسرائيل»، وها هي موسكو تقول إنه يعنيها كثيراً ألا يترتب على العملية وما رافقها من نقص أو ضعف، أي تأثير سلبي على نظرة حلفائها وجمهور الحلفاء وبيئتهم الشعبية، وإنها لأجل ذلك مستعدة للقيام بخطوات ترميمية لا تشبه الأصل، لكنها توصل رسالة التمسك وتحدد مكان الأولوية.

– ما جرى يشبه ما كان قد تمّ في منتصف العام 2016 عندما اعتذرت تركيا عن إسقاط الطائرة الروسية ورعت موسكو إطلاق مسار أستانة، واتفاق الهدنة في حلب، وقامت الجماعات المسلحة باستغلال الهدنة لبناء قدراتها والاستعداد للمواجهة، وشعرت سورية وقوى المقاومة بأن السعي الروسي لاكتساب تركيا بات مكلفاً وأن سورية وقوى المقاومة يلحق بهما الأذى من هذه السياسة الروسية، وخرجت حينها الأصوات ذاتها تتحدّث عن روسيا التي باعت حلفاءها لتركيا لأن أولوية روسيا هي تركيا وقد استعملت حلفاءها لتصل للمبتغى وها هي تتركهم، في لغة تشبه ما سمعناه قبل اسابيع قليلة عن الاهتمام الروسي بـ»إسرائيل» واستعمال سورية وقوى المقاومة معبراً نحو هذا الهدف. ويومها مرت شهور قاسية انتهت بتحرير حلب بشراكة روسية ظاهرة، وجهت درساً قاسياً وهزيمة شنعاء لتركيا، مؤكدة مرة جديدة قواعد الأولويات الروسية.

– ستبقى التباينات تطلّ برأسها بين حين وآخر بين سورية وقوى المقاومة من جهة وروسيا من جهة أخرى، وسيبقى المتربّصون من أعداء وأعدقاء، يطلون برؤوسهم مع كل محطة تباين، لكن ستبقى العلاقة الروسية بسورية وقوى المقاومة تثبت أنها الأساس في رسم الأولويات الروسية في المنطقة.

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No, Assad Didn’t “Win” The War, He Was Compelled By Putin To “Compromise”

By Andrew Korybko
Source

It’s misleading to assert that Assad “won” the war even though he still remains in office as the country’s democratically elected and legitimate leader since Putin compelled him to “compromise” on several important issues after the Liberation of Aleppo and accept a political reality completely at odds with what one would otherwise expect from a “victor”.

The Superficial “Victory”

One of the most fashionable things to say in Alt-Media is that Assad “won” the war just because he still remains in office as the Arab Republic’s democratically elected and legitimate leader, which is in and of itself a major accomplishment when considering that dozens of countries were conspiring for years to violently overthrow him through the Hybrid War of Terror on Syria but deliberately downplays the contemporary political reality that’s completely at odds with what one would otherwise expect from a “victor”. Putin compelled Assad to “compromise” on several important issues after the Liberation of Aleppo in exchange for remaining in office, which would have been much more difficult for the Syrian leader to do had his main foreign foes not cut deals with Russia to have this happen, though of course in exchange for something that suits their interests at the Mideast country’s partial expense. For better or for worse, and whether out of “pragmatic necessity” or “needless concessions”, this is the current situation as it objective exists in Syria today.

Everything Changed After Aleppo

The Liberation of Aleppo was a monumental moment in the country’s conflict that was largely made possible through the game-changing support of the Russian Aerospace Forces, freeing what had been Syria’s most populous city up until the start of the war and symbolically returning one of the cradles of the so-called “revolution” to government control. It was after this milestone that the world expected the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its Russian, Iranian, and Hezbollah allies to sweep through the rest of the country and put a swift end to the war, though that wasn’t what happened at all. In fact, almost immediately after the Liberation of Aleppo, Russia convened the first-ever round of the Astana peace talks together with Turkey and Iran and sought to freeze the battle lines, even presenting a so-called “draft constitution” that it wrote for Syria in order to facilitate peace talks instead of continuing the conflict. As proof of its intent to end the war right then and there, Russia implemented so-called “de-escalation zones” across the country that put an end to most hostilities.

“Balancing” And Bartering In The Syrian Bazaar

All of this was surprising for the Syrian leadership, which believed (whether naively or not) that Russia would broaden its original anti-terrorist mandate in order to help it liberate the rest of the country from other armed “opposition” forces that Moscow didn’t officially recognize as terrorists, but there’s no doubt now that Damascus couldn’t have been more wrong. Far from helping Assad regain control over the rest of the country after Aleppo, Putin put a quick end to the kinetic phase of the conflict by brokering a variety of deals with all regional powers as part of Russia’s 21st-century grand strategy to become the supreme “balancing” force in Afro-Eurasia and especially the tri-continental pivot space of the Mideast. The details of what was agreed upon behind the scenes could only have been speculated at that time, but are obvious in hindsight given all that’s happened in the country over nearly the past two and a half years since Aleppo was freed. There’s no question that Assad was compelled to “compromise”, whether willingly or against his will, with the following actors as will now be explained.

“Putinyahu’s Rusrael”

The Russian Defense Ministry acknowledged in September 2018 after the spy plane tragedy that it allowed “Israel” to bomb Iranian and Hezbollah targets in Syria over 200 times in the preceding 18 months alone, with the attacks still continuing to this day and as recently as just last week. Putin also announced the creation of a so-called “working party” with “Israel” to seek the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Syria after his second-most recent meeting with Netanyahu, with the Russian Ambassador to the UN even telling Saudi media the other week that even Iran “should leave when Syria is stabilized”. Relatedly, Russia also carved out a 140-kilometer anti-Iranian buffer zone beyond the occupied Golan Heights at Tel Aviv’s behest last summer and Putin just helped Netanyahu win reelection through the last-minute photo-op of returning 20 “IDF” remains a few days before the vote. Since then, rumors have been swirling that Russia also recently delivered notorious Mossad spy Eli Cohen’s remains too. Altogether, it’s now impossible for anyone to credibly deny the existence of “Putinyahu’s Rusrael“.

America & The Kurds

US-backed Kurdish-led forces currently occupy the northeastern agriculturally and energy-rich one-third of Syria beyond the Euphrates and there are no indications that they’re going to surrender their self-professed autonomy to the centralized Syrian state anytime soon, not least because of the continued presence of US troops there in spite of Trump’s promised “withdrawal”. The American forces act as a “tripwire” preventing the SAA from crossing the river and reasserting its sovereignty over this strategic space, and the Disaster at Deir ez-Zor in February of last year proved that the US will use overwhelming force to crush any hostile elements that dare to cross the so-called “deconfliction line” that it agreed to create with Russia. Contrary to what’s regularly implied by Alt-Media, Russia has absolutely no political will to militarily confront the US and risk World War III, hence why it agreed to this informal “partition” of Syria in the first place that it hopes to codify into law through the “draft constitution” that it wrote for its “ally”. Therefore, Russia’s deal-making ensured that Syria lost not only the Golan, but probably also the Northeast as well.

Turkey’s “Sphere Of Influence”

That’s not all that Damascus lost as a result of the “balancing” that Russia has done in Syria since the start of its anti-terrorist intervention there because it seems increasingly impossible that it’ll reclaim control over Idlib and the other Turkish-occupied areas of the country too. To be clear, it would probably be just as impossible for the SAA to do so had Russia not intervened in the first place, but the fact remains that Turkey’s conventional operations there and ongoing presence in several borderland regions were tacitly approved by Russia, not out of some “devious plot” to slice up Syria but — just like with the American case — because it lacked the political will to enter into World War III-style brinkmanship with a NATO country and thought it much more pragmatic to strike a series of unofficial deals instead. Russia understands Turkey’s national security interests in countering Kurdish militants and securing its own “Israeli”-like buffer zone in Syria, hence why it’s helped expand its “sphere of influence” and actually formalize part of it through the “de-escalation zones”.

“Rebels” & “Decentralization”

Damascus was already experimenting with amnesty programs prior to the Russian intervention but these picked up pace after Moscow’s anti-terrorist campaign began, with Syria’s top military partner offering all armed groups in the country the possibility of being recognized as “rebels” who could theoretically participate in the fledgling peace process so long as they disowned internationally recognized terrorist groups like Daesh, with many of them did. This led to several of the most notorious non-“terrorist” groups being invited to the Astana peace process, which eventually led to the decision to create a so-called “constitutional committee” of 150 total members, with only 1/3 (50) of them being from the government while the remaining 2/3 (50 & 50) will be from the “opposition” and “civil society”. Damascus is therefore being treated far from the diplomatic “victor” and is actually equal to the civil society forces that didn’t even fight in the war at all. The end result, as Russia envisages it, is the approval of most of the clauses in its “draft constitution”, specifically “decentralization” in order to legitimize the “spheres of influence” that it’s brokered for others in Syria.

“With Friends Like These…”

The aforementioned deal-making details are entirely factual but extremely unpopular to talk about in Alt-Media, especially among the most zealous “wishful thinking” “Putinists” who remain bizarrely convinced that this is all part of some “5D chess” “master plan” that will ultimately see the Russian leader unleash a hail of fire and brimstone on all of Syria’s enemies as he “gloriously” liberates the country and deals a “deathblow” to the “New World Order”. Many of these voices seriously think that they’re “helping” Syria by “covering” for the deals that Putin brokered with the exact same “New World Order” that he’s supposed to be “fighting”, but they’re actually the worst sort of “friends” that Damascus could ever ask for because they’ve prevented the world from seeing the objective reality of the country’s current political situation. While there are undoubtedly those who will argue that Russia is the “friend” that Syria should be most worried about, Damascus has yet to criticize Moscow for “overstepping”, suggesting that Assad (begrudgingly?) agrees with what Putin is doing as the “most pragmatic solution” possible.

Concluding Thoughts

Bearing in mind what was revealed and reviewed in this analysis, it’s inaccurate for anyone to assert that Assad “won” the war because, apart from remaining in office as his people’s democratically elected and legitimate leader (which is a remarkable feat in and of itself), he was actually compelled by Putin to “compromise” on many fronts and with each of his country’s sworn enemies. Russia’s “balancing” role provides Syria the “diplomatic distance” to claim “plausible deniability” and maintain a degree of “strategic ambiguity” that its media surrogates spin according to the situation to suggest whether it truly supports what its “ally” is supposedly doing on its “behalf” or not depending on whichever narrative is thought to be most beneficial for it at any given time. That said, this is probably due more to “pragmatic necessity” on Syria’s part because it’s technically powerless to oppose Russia even if it think that its “ally” is brokering “needless concessions” at its expense in order to bolster its own regional diplomatic standing, which reinforces the argument that Assad definitely didn’t “win” the war like his Alt-Media “friends” swear he did.

“Putinyahu’s Rusrael”

By Andrew Korbko
Source

Comment:  Another Illusion Smashed?

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President Putin and “Israeli” Prime Minister Netanyahu are brothers-in-arms after the former helped the latter win his historic reelection with a last-minute photo-op stunt that ultimately proved pivotal to his victory, and with Russia and “Israel” now proceeding along the path of “two states, one nation” after their close and comprehensive cooperation with one another since the onset of Moscow’s 2015 anti-terrorist intervention in Syria, the era of “Putinyahu’s Rusrael” has finally arrived.

A New Era For The “New Mideast”

Netanyahu’s historic reelection to a fifth term in office will make him “Israel’s” long-serving Prime Minister since its “founder” Ben-Gurion, and it wouldn’t have been possible for him to pull off such a victory in the neck-and-neck race without the pivotal last-minute assistance that President Putin provided through the photo-op stunt of returning 20 “IDF” remains that the Russian military dug up in Syria specifically at Tel Aviv’s request. The Russian and “Israeli” leaders are now brothers-in-arms at precisely the moment when their two governments are proceeding along the path of “two states, one nation” as a result of their close and comprehensive cooperation with one another since the onset of Moscow’s 2015 anti-terrorist intervention in Syria, thereby making 2019 the year in which the era of “Putinyahu’s Rusrael” has finally arrived as a force to be reckoned with on the world scene.

From “Balancing” To Allying

Most of the Alt-Media Community is likely in a state of cognitive dissonance at the moment after practically everything that their “trusted outlets” indoctrinated them for years to believe has been proven to be false, especially the “wishful thinking” narrative that President Putin has supposedly turned Russia into an “anti-Zionist crusader state allied with the Resistance”. Nothing could be further from the truth as the Russian leader is totally disinterested in taking sides on any dispute that isn’t of immediate relevance to his nation’s security and has therefore positioned his country to play the part of the Eastern Hemisphere’s supreme “balancing” force instead. In the case of Russian-“Israeli” relations, however, he’s moved beyond simply “balancing” and towards the extreme of outright allying as part of his risky gamble to “seize the moment” and attempt to replace America’s historic patronage over the self-professed “Jewish State”.

Right Under Everyone’s Nose

I’ve been extensively documenting the creation of “Putinyahu’s Rusrael” and strongly recommend that readers who aren’t already familiar with my work kindly review the following analyses in order to be brought up to speed and understand the strategic context in which this game-changing development is taking place:

* “Russia’s Grand Strategy In Afro-Eurasia (And What Could Go Wrong)

* “President Putin On Israel: Quotes From The Kremlin Website

* “It’s Official, ‘Israel’ Is Now A Joint Russian-American Protectorate

* “Alt-Media Silent As ‘Israel’ Admits To 200+ Strikes In Syria

* “Here’s How The Latakia Tragedy – Nay, Conspiracy! – Might Have Played Out

* “Russia’s Reshaping Syria’s ‘Deep State’ In Its Own Image

* “Russia’s Non-Denial About Brokering Iran’s Withdrawal From Syria Is A Big Deal

* “I’m A Pro-Putin Anti-‘Putinist’ And It’s About Time That Alt-Media Acknowledges That We Exist

* “So What If Trump ‘Recognizes’ ‘Israel’s’ Annexation Of The Golan?

* “It’s Time To Talk About The S-300s, ‘Status Symbols’, And The ‘Savior Complex’

* “Mideast Activists Need To Stop Their Double Standards Towards Russia!

Undeniable Facts

Long story short, the indisputable facts are that President Putin has met with Netanyahu more times over the past four years (13) than with any other leader, thus forming a deep personal bond with him that’s since become fraternal and could explain why he had Russia do so many favors for “Israel” over the past couple of years. As acknowledged by Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov in September following the midair accident that President Putin famously chalked up to a so-called “chain of tragic circumstances“, these favors included ‘passively facilitating’ over 200 of “Israel’s” anti-Iranian and anti-Hezbollah strikes in Syria over the preceding 18 months alone, carving out a 140-kilometer anti-Iranian buffer zone from the occupied Golan Heights (where President Putin reportedly vacationed with his family in the 1990s), “preserving Jewish sacred places and graves in the city of Aleppo”, and risking the lives of Russian servicemen by having them dig up “IDF” remains in the middle of an SAA-ISIS firefight.

Furthermore, President Putin refused to blame “Israel” for last September’s incident, and not once did he order his military to suspend the so-called “deconfliction mechanism” that he agreed to create with Netanyahu three years prior just before the commencement of the anti-terrorist intervention. Russia’s highly-publicized dispatch of S-300s to Syria was nothing more than smoke and mirrors because the SAA still doesn’t have full and independent operational control of these systems, thus strategically neutralizing them and ensuring that they don’t pose a threat to “Israel” whenever the self-professed “Jewish State” coordinates with Moscow to bomb suspected Iranian and Hezbollah positions in the Arab Republic. Speaking of which, President Putin confirmed after his February meeting with Netanyahu that Russia and “Israel” are forming a so-called “working party” to accelerate the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Syria, implying that Iran’s will also have to leave too. And finally, last week’s “corpse diplomacy” was an unprecedented sign of solidarity between Russia to “Israel”.

The Yinon-Putin Plan

All of this begs the obvious question of what President Putin expects to receive in return for his unshakeable loyalty to Netanyahu, but the answer certainly isn’t what the misguided Alt-Media masses were brainwashed into believing. The Russian leader isn’t playing the much-mocked game of “5D chess” and “just waiting to backstab Bibi” at the “perfect moment”, but is hoping that “Israel” will allow his country to play an important role in what he has evidently concluded is the “inevitable” partial success of the Yinon Plan. In exchange for “passively facilitating” “Israel’s” plans in Syria (though importantly after having stopped their full success through the 2015 anti-terrorist intervention there), Russia expects to receive generous “Israeli” foreign direct investment once Tel Aviv formally joins the Eurasian Union that Moscow also amazingly convinced its sworn Iranian enemy to become a member of as well.

Should Russia succeed in getting Syria to agree to the “draft constitution” that Moscow wrote for it and Damascus ends up surrendering its legal claim to the Golan Heights like the document strongly implies (and by innuendo “recognizing” “Israel”), then Moscow could “legally” connect the country’s gas supplies under its control to Tel Aviv’s Eastern Mediterranean Gas Pipeline and therefore “co-opt” this megaproject that could otherwise compete with its energy exports to Europe. In addition, Russia and “Israel” could jointly use their influence over the region’s Kurds to more confidently assert themselves by proxy in the Mideast’s central pivot space in accordance with the Yinon Plan’s pertinent precepts for managing this strategically positioned transnational demographic. Given the game-changing geostrategic impact that the Russian-“Israeli” alliance is poised to have in the region, it’s therefore more accurate to describe the Yinon Plan as the Yinon-Putin Plan instead.

Russia: Rhetoric vs. Reality

The reality that was just described is at total odds with the rhetoric coming out of Russia, but that’s all by design because Moscow oftentimes says what the global public wants to hear but ends up doing whatever is best for its own interests irrespective of whether the international audience approves of it or not. For example, Russia used to occasionally condemn “Israel’s” anti-Iranian and anti-Hezbollah strikes in Syria despite it now being acknowledged by its own admission last September that it was coordinating them with Tel Aviv this entire time through the so-called “deconfliction mechanism”. Ditto Russia’s reaction to Trump’s “recognition” of “Israel’s” annexation of the Golan Heights, which was actually facilitated by the anti-Iranian buffer zone that Moscow carved out last summer after pushing the self-professed “Jewish State’s” enemies 140 kilometers away from the occupied region at Tel Aviv’s behest.

The established pattern is that Russia rhetorically says whatever is in line with international law in order to increase its appeal among the region’s majority-Arab population but always ends up accepting “Israel’s” unilateral actions out of pragmatic “realpolitik” considerations and a lack of political will to impose unacceptable costs on Tel Aviv to change its behavior. This modus operandi strongly suggests that Russia might actually not be as opposed to Trump’s so-called “Deal of the Century” as it officially claims to be, especially when considering that Netanyahu is speculated to have informally functioned as a mediator between the American and Russian leaders. As such, it’s possible that Russia might even secretly encourage the “Deal of the Century” if it believes that it’s “inevitable” and not “incompatible” with the Yinon-Putin Plan, especially if it has “Israel’s” “trusted reassurances” of this.

Concluding Thoughts

As incredible as it might have initially sounded to readers who have been brainwashed for years by their Alt-Media mental overlords into believing that President Putin is an “anti-Zionist crusader”, the argument has strongly been put forth in this analysis that he’s actually the opposite of what many people thought he was. Far from being “anti-Israeli”, the Russian leader is probably one of the most pro-“Israeli” people on this planet after committing his country to ensuring the self-professed “Jewish State’s” security in the face of Iran and its ally Hezbollah’s threats to destroy it. His brotherly ties with Netanyahu have led to similarly fraternal relations developing between Russia and “Israel” as they proceed along the path of “two states, one nation” and gradually merge into a single strategic force, ergo the era of “Putinyahu’s Rusrael” that’s impossible at this point for anyone to credibly deny.

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