US/Nato lack of strategy being shown up by the Russians

The US started its regime change efforts in Syria 4 years ago, in 2011,  with the financing, training and encouragement of selected “moderate rebels”. They have no doubt weakened Assad but have also been instrumental in creating ISIS.

The US and Nato have been taking great pains to avoid providing any support to Assad’s regime, and only providing support to their favoured “moderate rebel” groups. Even though it has always been the fanatic groups who have muscled the “moderate rebels” out of the way whenever they have achieved any gains. US and Nato have had no clear strategy. They have attempted regime change with no idea of what is to come afterwards. They have not been able to even contemplate any plausible end-game scenario, because the “moderate rebels” they support are too fractured and diverse in themselves to form any clear alternative to the regime.

By contrast, the Russians have an end-game in view though it is not clear if that can be achieved. But it does at least provide a clear direction and a focus which is lacking in the US/Nato approach.

  1. rendering ISIS and al-Nusra and Al Qaida and other fanatics impotent, even if it means supporting Assad,
  2. a managed withdrawal of Assad, with the regime still in place but without leaving any power vacuum
  3. a political settlement between the regime (sans Assad) and the other “moderate rebels”

Needless to say, the US and NATO are not amused, though they have no alternatives to suggest when they criticise the Russian cruise-missile strikes from the Caspian Sea. These missiles flew over Iran and Iraq and the strikes were clearly coordinated with them.

4 Russian warships launch 26 missiles against ISIS from Caspian Sea

4 Russian warships launch 26 missiles against ISIS from Caspian Sea

RT:

“Four missile ships launched 26 cruise missiles at 11 targets. According to objective control data, all the targets were destroyed. No civilian objects sustained damage.”

Frigate Dagestan image shipspotting.com

The missiles flew some 1,500 km before reaching their targets. …. Four warships of the Caspian fleet were involved in the missile attacks, the Gepard-class frigate Dagestan and the Buyan-M-class corvettes Grad Sviyazhsk, Uglich and Veliky Ustyug. They fired cruise missiles from the Kalibr NK (Klub) VLS launchers. The missiles used are capable of hitting a target within 3 meters at a range of up to 2,500 km.

Nato countries and the US are highly indignant at these attacks and the Russian violations of Turkish air space, which I suspect, were deliberate and were meant to test limits even if they had no hostile intent.

Nato defence ministers are promising to support Turkey and the Baltic States as if they were directly being threatened by Russia. But that, I think, is because they have no strategy of their own. The US also does not like the Russian strategy but has none of its own.

BBC:

A US-led coalition has been carrying out air strikes against IS in both Syria and Iraq for months. But Western countries support rebels who have been fighting to oust Mr Assad since 2011. ….

But US Defence Secretary Ash Carter said coalition forces fighting IS in Syria would not co-operate with Russia. “We believe Russia has the wrong strategy,” he said. “They continue to hit targets that are not IS.”

Protesting too much, I think.

The problem for the US is that the boots on the ground to defeat ISIS are not going to come from their pet “moderate rebels”. They can only come from the Assad regime, Hezbollah, Iran and Iraq (along with a thousand or two Russian “advisors”).

 

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