Tag Archives: provokatsiya

Russia is No Partner Against the Islamic State

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on February 12, 2016

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This morning, Russia ostensibly agreed to help the U.S. impose a ceasefire in Syria within a week—on the way to a negotiated settlement. This could not work right now, even if Russia intended it to. But Russia does not. Russia’s role since intervening in Syria in late September 2015 has been to bolster the regime of Bashar al-Assad and a primary tactic in that overarching strategic aim has been the attempt to destroy all opposition to Assad that the international community could possibly deal with, and to create a binary situation where there is only the regime and jihadi-Salafist terrorists, primarily the Islamic State (IS), and secondarily—in areas where they do not threaten key regime interests—Jabhat an-Nusra (al-Qaeda). Moscow will eventually turn on IS, but in the short-term Russia has engaged in indirect coordination with IS to weaken the rebels and push them out of key strategic areas, notably in eastern Aleppo where Russia bombed rebels out of the way who had been holding IS out for years. On Tuesday, Foreign Policy reported on another aspect of this Russia-IS collaboration that aims to empower the takfiris in the short-term as part of the long-term plan, also supported by Iran, to secure the Assad regime in power. Continue reading

Russia Teams Up With Islamic State Against Syria’s Rebels

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on October 11, 2015

Devastation of the Ibrahim al-Khalil mosque in Tareeq al Bab after Assad's barrel bombs, Aleppo, April 2015 (source)

Devastation of the Ibrahim al-Khalil mosque in Tareeq al Bab after Assad’s barrel bombs, Aleppo, April 2015 (source)

The main intention of Russia’s intervention in Syria is to prop up the dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad and to do that Russia is seeking to ensure that the Islamic State (I.S.) is the only alternative to Assad’s regime. If the conflict becomes binary—Assad or I.S.—nobody can support I.S., and by default it will be accepted that Assad has to stay; even if international help is not given to put down the insurgency at that point, tacit support and political legitimacy will be extended to Russia’s effort to keep its client regime alive. In service of this mission, Moscow has consistently targeted the moderate rebels and even some non-moderate rebels, while avoiding I.S., in the conscious hope that the rebel positions it destroys will be replaced by I.S. fighters. In northern Syria in the last few days, Russia got its wish in a major way. Continue reading

In Syria, Russia and Iran Reap the Harvest of Obama’s Failed Foreign Policy

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) and James Snell on October 1, 2015

Published at National Review.

Aftermath of a Russian airstrike against U.S.-supported moderate rebels in Talbiseh, Homs (AP)

Aftermath of a Russian airstrike against U.S.-supported moderate rebels in Talbiseh, Homs (AP)

The situation in Syria could hardly get more desperate. With more than half the population displaced and 300,000 people dead, the civil war in Syria is the greatest humanitarian disaster of our time. But Syria is also a profound challenge to the American-underwritten geopolitical order that aspires toward free institutions and representative rule. As a direct consequence of policies pursued by the Obama administration, Iran and Russia, two enemies of this order, have taken their chance to assert their dominance. Continue reading

Iran’s Partnership with al-Qaeda and Unanswered Questions

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on September 19, 2015

Imad Mughniyeh and Osama bin Laden

Imad Mughniyeh and Osama bin Laden

The Islamic Republic of Iran released five senior al-Qaeda terrorists in March, ostensibly as part of a prisoner exchange for an Iranian diplomat kidnapped in Yemen by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). But the murky circumstances in which al-Qaeda’s leaders were “held” in Iran and other inconsistencies cast some doubt on this version of events, and draw attention to some old questions about Iran’s support for al-Qaeda and its affiliates and offshoots. Continue reading

Is Le Pouvoir Losing Its Grip on Algeria?

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on September 15, 2015

A rare picture of DRS chief Mohamed Mediène (a.k.a. Toufik)

A rare picture of DRS chief Mohamed Mediène (a.k.a. Toufik)

Yesterday, Algeria’s elderly president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, removed from office Mohamed Mediène (a.k.a. Toufik), the head of DRS (Le Département du Renseignement et de la Sécurité), the spy agency that is the real power behind the throne in Algeria. There is some suggestion this is Bouteflika trying to prepare the way for a civilian government as his time in office—and on the planet—draws to a close. There is little reason to believe, however, that Algeria’s government will be much reformed by Toufik’s departure.
Continue reading

Britain’s New Syria Policy Concedes to Iran and Russia—and Keeps Assad in Power

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on September 11, 2015

Published at Left Foot Forward

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On 9 September the British government announced a new plan for dealing with Syria and the Islamic State (ISIS):

  1. Airstrikes when necessary into Syria to destroy the leadership of ISIS;
  1. Buttressing the Iraqi government in its fight with ISIS;
  1. Dropping the demand that Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad step aside immediately and instead allowing Assad to lead a transition, in order that Russia and Iran will agree to Assad going at all.

All three parts of this plan push in a pro-Iran direction, and strengthen Assad. Continue reading

How Russia Manipulates Islamic Terrorism

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on September 8, 2015

Shamil Basayev and Murad Margoshvili (a.k.a. Muslem al-Shishani)

Shamil Basayev and Murad Margoshvili (a.k.a. Muslem a-Shishani)

Last year I wrote about the murky role Russia was playing in the Syrian war, bolstering the Assad tyranny while facilitating the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS) and other Salafi-jihadists as a means of dividing and discrediting the Syrian opposition. Moscow’s action were in line with the strategy it had used to defeat the separatist movement in Chechnya, infiltrating the insurgency, driving it into extremism, and facilitating the arrival of al-Qaeda jihadists who displaced the Chechen nationalists. In Syria, Russia’s actions accord with the strategy adopted by the regime and its Iranian masters to present Assad as the last line of defence against a terrorist takeover of Syria and a genocide against the minorities. New evidence has emerged to underline these points. Continue reading