Russia has bombed U.S. and U.K. support bases and facilities in Syria, on June 16 and July 12, 2016.
One of the most significant aspects of these events, perhaps, is that the administration of Barack Obama hid these facts from the American people for over a month.
Another is the fact that in a deal struck by John Kerry with Sergey Lavrov and Valadimir Putin in Moscow, the U.S. agreed to relax Russia’s international isolation, in exchange for Russia’s “cooperation” in Syria.
Read: Push for a weakening of international sanctions against Russia for its invasions of the Crimea and the eastern Ukraine, in flagrant and continuing violation of international law and the U.N. Charter.
The agreement also serves Vladimir Putin’s purposes, as it undermines European efforts to maintain unanimity for future renewals of EU sanctions against Russia. While third-stage sectoral sanctions have just been extended until January, 2017, various countries including Italy in particular have been maneuvering to soften or lift the sanctions within the next year.
Even in its terms on Syria, the agreement is a highly dubious piece of statecraft. Five years on, with a half a million people dead, it seems like only a fool could trust the Russians on anything related to Syria.
Nonetheless, Obama continues to double down on his policies towards Syria and the Russians. Instead of standing up to Russian aggression and military provocations, the President remains determined to “work with the Russians”.
Syria is and will remain as the emblem of the deeply flawed–and failed–foreign policy of the Obama administration. 500,000 dead, Al-Assad still in power committing war crimes and crimes against humanity, military confrontations with Russia, the growth of ISIS, and no end in sight.
Everyone seems to understand this failure but Obama himself, and his sycophants. With his overweening pride, it is not likely that he will ever grasp the point.
A key question for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is what he or she would do in relation to Syria, the Russians, and the economic sanctions against Russia–adopted by the EU, the U.S., and others in response to Russian military aggression against the Ukraine, if he or she were president now.
(1) “Russia Bombed Base in Syria Used by U.S.; An outpost near the Jordanian border that is used by U.S. and British special forces was hit by the airstrikes last month,” Wall Street Journal (updated July 21, 2016 7:34 p.m. ET).
A provisional agreement reached by Secretary of State John Kerry in Moscow last week—over Pentagon and CIA objections—calls for the former Cold War adversaries to join forces in strikes against the Nusra Front, Syria’s al Qaeda affiliate. In exchange for the U.S. easing Moscow’s international isolation, Russia would halt airstrikes on the U.S.-backed rebels and restrain the Syrian air force.
(2) Willis Robinson, “Russia ‘DELIBERATELY bombed secret military base in Syria used by elite American and British forces’
*Vladimir Putin’s warplanes allegedly struck a remote garrison at At-Tanf
*Troops were still inside the base just 24 hours before the June 16 attack
*US jets were also believed to have been scrambled in a bid to stop the raid
*Was allegedly a move by the Kremlin to push for further cooperation
*It led to a pact being signed between Russia and the US last week,” The Daily Mail, July 22, 2016 (18:06 EST (updatd July, 22, at 2016 22:23 EST).
(T)the attack pushed both the US and UK into a compromise with Russia.
The U.S. and Russia agreed to a pact last week to target airstrikes against the Al Qaeda affiliate in the region – Nusra Front.
They reportedly went ahead with the plan despite objections from the Pentagon and CIA.
But the White House and the State Department, seeking to avoid a military escalation, decided to pursue a compromise, it said.
Last week, US Secretary of State John Kerry reached a provisional agreement with the Russians to join forces in strikes on Al-Nusra, the Al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria.
Under the agreement, the Russians would halt air strikes against US-backed rebels and restrain the Syrian air force in return for Washington easing Moscow’s international isolation, the Journal said
According to Businss Insider, there can be no doubt that Kerry was following the instructions of Presdient Obama, despite sharp disagreements with the administration.
This incident “brings out something that was already evident to almost everyone who has spoken to US foreign policy officials recently,” Mark Kramer, Program Director for the Project on Cold War Studies at Harvard’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, told Business Insider on Saturday.
“Namely, that the Obama administration is deeply divided over how to respond to Russia’s inflammatory actions in Syria and elsewhere.”
Many on the NSC [National Security Council] staff, as well as in the Defense Department and CIA, worry that Obama’s timidity and inaction are simply encouraging the Russians to step up their dangerous and provocative actions…The State Department is highlighted in the WSJ article as the defender of a timid approach in the face of Kremlin aggression, and there is certainly a good deal of truth in that. But the real problem is Obama himself, who seems to have no desire to take a firm stand against Russian actions.”
‘The president has authorized and ordered this track’
“The president of the United States has authorized and ordered this track,” Kerry told reporters on Friday. “It is the president’s desire to test whether or not the Russians are prepared to do what they said during our negotiations in Moscow that they will do.”
–Natasha Bertrand, “It looks like Russia purposefully bombed a base used by the US to force Washington’s hand in Syria,” Business Insider, July 23,2016 (10:00 a.m.).
“Easing Moscow’s international isolation” can mean only one thing: lifting some of the sanctions agains Russia imposed following Russia’s military invasion, seizure and annexation of the Crimea, and Russia’s invasion of the eastern Ukraine with both regular and irregular forces in August, 2014. Russian forces continue to occupy the Ukrainian territory of the Crimea and Sevastopol, and continue to occupy the eastern Ukraine, in defiant violation of international law and Article 2(4) of the U.N. Charter.
Obama’s and Kerry’s “deal” with the Russians would throw international law to the wind and represents yet another capitulation to Russia in the face of the threat or use of military force.
The Trenchant Observer