Según la prensa occidental hasta el 28 de septiembre, los ataques de la aviación norteamericana contra el Estados Islámico en Siria –noticias de ataques que siempre se basaban en escuetos comunicados del Pentágono o de espurias ONGs y nunca acompañados de fotografías aéreas de los operativos, como lo demanda una bien concebida política de información oficial – eran la fórmula idónea para alcanzar el doble objetivo de debilitar al IS y propiciar la caída del gobierno del presidente Bashar El-Assad. Pero a raíz de la sorprendente ofensiva aérea rusa contra las fuerzas e instalaciones del IS, los medios occidentales y thinks tanks de todo origen y color haninsinuado que la complejidad del conflicto de Siria comenzó con la entrada de Rusia en e conflicto, que no sólo augura una humillación para Rusia sino que complicará aún más cualquier intento de buscar una salida negociada del conflicto.
Los gobiernos y los medios occidentales están obcecados en que la única solución al conflicto es la salida de Al-Assad, y aunque ahora admiten que la misma puede no ser necesariamente inmediata, de hecho plantean públicamente propuestas de rechazo automático destinadas no a favorecer una solución sino a cargar la responsabilidad del fracaso en la contraparte. Por lo demás, la mayoría de los analistas parecen reconocer a las múltiples facciones islamistas una independencia de material de guerra, financiera y por ende, política de la que en realidad carecen, toda vez que están integradas en su mayoría por mercenarios psicópatas no sirios que no están arriesgando su vida por la gloria del Islam – porque de otro modo los dirigentes serían los primeros en sacrificarse en atentados suicidas – sino por un jugoso estipendio en divisas y el botín de guerra, además de armas, entrenamiento y la posibilidad de ganar poder político –y más riqueza- en el futuro. Y éstas son promesas que obtienen de gobiernos regionales o extra-regionales con bolsillos profundos bien repletos que juegan a la geopolítica sin importarles el exterminio de cientos de miles de personas.
Como verán los lectores de México Internacional en los textos que siguen, ninguno de sus autores da la importancia que en realidad tienen en el conflicto a los gobiernos de Turquía, Arabia Saudita, Qatar, los Emirato Árabes Unidos, Kuwait y posiblemente Brunei – siempre dispuesto a financiar las aventuras intervencionistas de Estados Unidos- en la creación y mantenimiento del sangriento conflicto en Siria, ni se plantean las hipótesis de si el involucramiento de estos países es producto de un entendimiento previo con Estados Unidos o si éste se unció a una decisión de aquellos como reacción a la búsqueda de un acercamiento negociado con Irán. Recordemos que hace tres años, en los prolegómenos de las negociaciones con Irán, Estados Unidos dio claras muestras de disminuir su involucramiento en Siria, ante lo cual el embajador de Arabia Saudita en Londres, miembro de la realiza saudí, advirtió que Arabia Saudita actuaría en Siria con o sin el apoyo de Estados Unidos.
Los textos han sido tomados de diferentes publicaciones y se incluye el discurso de Vladimir Putin en la Asamblea General de la ONU.
(Actualización) El anuncio el 5 de octubre de una ofensiva norteamericana, estrechamente coordinada con Turquía, mediante el empleo de la fuerza aérea y de miles de llamados “milicianos árabes” o “rebeldes moderados”, ha delineado lo que parecen ser los objetivos de Rusia y Estados Unidos, pues mientras Rusia se ha concentrado en eliminar la presión militar sobre las áreas densamente pobladas del oeste y centro del país, como primer paso para retomar los yacimiento petroleros al este de Homs, la ofensiva norteamericana se anuncia en el noreste del país, con la ciudad kurda de Kobani y Raqqa como los objetivos principales. Esto parece apuntar a una división territorial muy cercana a tesis occidentales, alternativas a la salida de Al-Assad, sobre un fraccionamiento de Siria en dos o más estados: uno al norte que incluiría la provincia siria kurda bajo el control de Turquía y otro con centro en Raqaa que controlaría los ricos yacimientos petroleros cercanos al Éufrates, con un tercero con capital en Bagdad y Bashar Al-Assad como presidente y un área indeterminada de yacimientos petroleros en el centro del país. ¿ Y el Estado Islámico? ¿Y las pretensiones neo-coloniales de Francia y Gran Bretaña? ¿Y quién va a ayudar a Irak a combatir ISIS? ¿Y Jordania acogerá a libios y chechenos que entrenó y envió a través de la frontera con Siria?¿Y los Saudis soportarán el laicismo de Al-Assad y su alianza con Irán? ¿E Israel extenderá su ocupación en el Golán? ¿Y los soldados mexicanos históricamente se interpondrán entre un fortalecido Hezbolá y un vengativo Israel sediento de más territorio?
Retour de la Russie au Proche-Orient
Poutine sur le chemin de Damas
Aussitôt dit, aussitôt fait. Le président russe avait à peine obtenu, mercredi 30 septembre au matin, l’autorisation de la chambre haute du Parlement à Moscou de « recourir à un contingent des forces armées russes en dehors du territoire de la Russie », qu’il lançait ses premiers avions au-dessus de la Syrie, officiellement contre des cibles de l’Organisation de l’Etat islamique (OEI), dans les provinces de Homs et de Hama, à l’ouest du pays. Un préavis d’une heure avait été adressé à l’US Air Force, elle-même à la tête d’une coalition aérienne qui a procédé (sans grand succès) à des milliers de bombardements depuis un an. Cet acte fort, en pleine Assemblée générale des Nations unies, venant après d’intenses préparatifs militaires et une spectaculaire offensive diplomatique, signe le retour de la Russie dans le jeu proche-oriental. Mais il est sans doute aussi une ultime tentative pour sauver Damas, allié en perdition…
par Philippe Leymarie, 1er octobre 2015
Poutine sur le chemin de Damas
Pour Sergueï Ivanov, le chef de l’administration présidentielle, qui se félicitait de ce feu vert de la chambre haute du Parlement russe accordé à l’unanimité sur fond de « lutte contre le terrorisme », il s’agit de répondre à une demande d’aide militaire d’urgence formalisée ces derniers jours par le président syrien Bachar Al-Assad, dont le régime ne cesse de reculer face à l’offensive des rebelles islamistes de toutes obédiences — dont celle du califat irako-syrien Daech (l’OEI en arabe) — et dans une moindre mesure, face à ce qui reste de l’Armée syrienne libre (ASL). M. Ivanov affirme que l’initiative russe — limitée pour le moment à une action aérienne — est temporaire, et sera menée « conformément aux normes du droit international ».
Il fait ainsi allusion aux précautions que devraient prendre ses militaires pour éviter les zones habitées, les civils, etc. mais sans doute aussi au fait que les Etats-Unis et la France interviennent dans le ciel de Syrie sans l’avoir demandé aux autorités légales du pays, et sans mandat des Nations unies, au nom — pour ce qui est de la France — d’une invocation de« légitime défense » qui paraît juridiquement peu défendable, et même « à la limite du détournement de procédure », selon l’avocat Patrick Baudoin (Le Monde, 29 septembre 2015). Il n’y a pas de preuve, en effet, que les cibles des Rafale à l’est de la Syrie soient directement responsables d’attentats ou d’attaques sur le territoire national, ni même qu’elles aient visé des intérêts français où que ce soit, même si Daech a traité la France à plusieurs reprises ces dernières années de nouveau « Satan », et même si les responsables des derniers attentats en France ont parfois séjourné sur le territoire de l’OEI.
L’autodéfense à la française
Le président Poutine n’a pas manqué, en marge de l’Assemblée générale des Nations unies en début de semaine à New-York, de qualifier l’initiative de raids aériens français en Syrie « d’extermination du droit international »,raillant la nouvelle « conception (française) de l’autodéfense ». En oubliant qu’il lui arrive aussi de s’en écarter (confère l’annexion de la Crimée, ou le soutien aux séparatistes de l’Est ukrainien). En oubliant également que le régime syrien dont il défend la « légalité » ne contrôle plus qu’une faible partie de son territoire.
Il est vrai que Moscou n’a toujours pas digéré cet autre détournement, cette fois d’une résolution du Conseil de sécurité, en 2011, qui autorisait une zone d’exclusion aérienne pour la protection des populations en Libye, mais qui avait été « tordue » par les Français, les Britanniques et les Américains, au point de déboucher sur une guerre contre le régime libyen, et sur l’assassinat programmé de son chef, Mouammar Kadhafi.
Lire Jean Ping, « Fallait-il tuer Kadhafi », Le Monde diplomatique, août 2014.Le gouvernement russe, toujours par la voix de Sergueï Ivanov, invoque d’ailleurs à son tour une sorte de légitime défense préventive — façon George W. Bush en son temps, ou à l’exemple des Français aujourd’hui — lorsqu’il explique qu’il « ne s’agit pas de réaliser un quelconque objectif géopolitique ou d’assouvir une quelconque ambition, comme nous en accusent régulièrement nos partenaires occidentaux. Il s’agit des intérêts nationaux de la Russie ». Référence sans doute aux milliers de ressortissants russes ou d’ex-Républiques soviétiques, notamment des Tchétchènes, qui combattent sous les couleurs de Daech, et dont Moscou craint le retour (1) , comme l’a confirmé le président Poutine mercredi à la suite de ces premiers bombardements : il veut « prendre de vitesse les terroristes, en les frappant avant qu’ils n’arrivent chez nous ».
Sur tous les fronts
On sait que le président Poutine était à l’initiative depuis plusieurs mois, et d’abord sur un plan militaire (2) en réalisant une projection de troupes et de matériels en Méditerranée orientale inédite depuis les années 1970 :
- mouvements de navires de guerre vers les côtes syriennes, en provenance de la flotte de la mer Noire (où ils disposent, notamment depuis 1971, de facilités d’escale dans le port militaire de Tartous, seule ouverture russe sur la Méditerranée, et seule base russe hors de l’ex-URSS) ;
•envoi sur l’aéroport de Lattaquié de troupes (au moins 500 hommes), de chasseurs-bombardiers (près d’une trentaine), d’hélicoptères, et de véhicules blindés ;
• expédition de centaines de logements préfabriqués, d’un centre de contrôle aérien mobile, de systèmes de défense anti-aérienne, le tout afin d’aménager et de protéger cette nouvelle base aérienne ;
• déploiement discret à terre d’instructeurs, de « conseillers » et de spécialistes du renseignement de type « forces spéciales » ;
• livraison accélérée au régime syrien d’équipements (drones, transports de troupes blindés) et de munitions ;
• création d’un centre de renseignement régional basé à Bagdad.
Moscou a également été à l’initiative sur le front diplomatique, en s’efforçant, avec un certain succès, de se mettre au centre du jeu :
- dès le début du mois d’août, Sergueï Lavrov lance l’idée d’une coalition élargie, en espérant constituer un pôle d’intervention terrestre anti-Daech, en liaison avec l’armée syrienne (qui suscite alors l’intérêt de son homologue américain John Kerry) ;
•la présidence russe consulte tous azimuts, y compris les Irakiens, les Iraniens, et même les Israéliens (avec lesquels, suite à un passage du premier ministre Netanyahou à Moscou en août, un « mécanisme de coordination » a été mis au point (3) ), pour éviter toute confrontation ou incident dans le ciel syrien entre les deux pays) ;
• la reconnaissance, de plus en plus, chez les interlocuteurs de la Russie, de Daech comme ennemi principal, et du régime syrien — aussi détestable soit-il — comme acteur, voire comme allié incontournable dans la « guerre contre le terrorisme » ;
• une prestation enlevée à l’Assemblée générale de l’ONU, à New-York, où il ne s’était pas rendu depuis dix ans, appuyée par cette proposition d’une coalition élargie (aux Syriens de Bachar Al-Assad), qui a été loin de faire l’unanimité, mais a ébranlé une partie des partenaires de la coalition emmenée par Washington, eux-mêmes en difficulté sur le plan militaire ;
• et enfin, dans la foulée, très vite, ces premiers bombardements russes, plus politiques sans doute que militaires (comme l’avaient été les premiers raids offensifs français, dimanche dernier).
A l’actif de Moscou, aussi, une approche plus réaliste sur la scène internationale : même s’il n’était pas question ces derniers jours à New-York de s’aligner sur Vladimir Poutine, qui prône un soutien franc à Bachar Al-Assad au nom de la « guerre contre le terrorisme », il est admis désormais côté occidental, que le « ni-ni » (ni Assad ni Daech) a vécu : le califat est bien l’ennemi numéro un, comme en a convenu finalement le gouvernement français.
La question de l’avenir du régime syrien est passée au second plan, même si les Français, de concert avec les Américains, continuent d’insister sur la perspective d’une mise à l’écart d’Assad — qui « est à l’origine du problème, et ne peut donc faire partie de la solution », comme l’a martelé François Hollande à la tribune des Nations unies le lundi 28 septembre :« On ne peut faire travailler ensemble victimes et bourreaux ». Tandis que, pour John Kerry, « il ne sera pas possible de venir à bout de Daech tant que Bachar sera au pouvoir à Damas ».
Il sera en tout cas difficile, après cette entrée en scène de l’aviation russe, de ne pas prendre en compte le poids de Moscou dans le traitement de la crise irako-syrienne. Ces dernières semaines, la plupart des commentateurs ont pointé la faiblesse des postures « morales » à base de « bons sentiments », ou purement politiques (incarnées notamment par Paris et Washington), et convenu, au nom d’une real politik bien comprise, que la Russie n’aurait jamais dû être écartée du jeu.
Outre l’occasion ratée de 2013 (lorsque Paris proposait d’intervenir contre le pouvoir syrien, accusé d’avoir utilisé des armes chimiques, mais s’était heurté à un refus américain), domine aussi le sentiment d’avoir perdu une année, depuis le lancement des raids de la coalition, jugés peu efficaces (4)
L’entrée en lice de la Russie, voire un jour d’une « coalition bis », ne va pas forcément simplifier le tableau syrien, si l’on en juge par la controverse qui a accompagné dès le 30 septembre la première sortie de l’aviation russe : alors que le ministère de la défense, à Moscou, évoque une vingtaine de vols, et des frappes ponctuelles sur huit objectifs relevant de Daech dans les provinces de Homs et Hama, des sources au sein de l’opposition syrienne modérée affirment que ce sont leurs lignes qui ont été pilonnées par les Russes, dans des secteurs qui avaient été repris à Daech il y a un an… Les militaires russes reconnaissent de leur côté être intervenus sur des cibles désignées par l’armée syrienne, ce qui ne rassure guère la coalition.
Du coup, John Kerry affirme approuver les raids russes « s’ils visent réellement les positions de Daech », mais y être opposé « s’ils ne visent pas Daech et Al-Qaïda ». Voilà qui augure mal des nécessaires concertations que Russes et Américains devront se ménager, au moins sur un plan technique, dès aujourd’hui sans doute, pour ne pas se gêner mutuellement dans le ciel syrien, et ne pas risquer de « bavures », « tirs amis » ou « dommages collatéraux »…
L’état-major américain, échaudé par les exemples récents en Crimée et à l’est de l’Ukraine, craint par ailleurs une action clandestine au sol des forces spéciales russes, au titre du soutien à une armée syrienne en difficulté (5) , qui pourrait compliquer l’action des appareils de la coalition.
Plusieurs fers au feu
De son côté, impressionnée par ces mouvements et livraisons d’armes, l’OTAN a accusé les forces russes d’avoir créé une « bulle de protection »en Méditerranée orientale, notamment autour de la base Al-Assad de Lattaquié. Le général américain Philip Breedlove, commandant suprême des forces de l’OTAN en Europe (SACEUR) a déclaré le 28 septembre à Washington, devant le groupe de réflexion German Marshall Fund : « Je n’ai pas vu le groupe Etat islamique faire voler des avions justifiant le déploiement de missiles SA-15 ou SA-22 ou de “chasseurs sophistiqués”. (…) Ces équipements sophistiqués n’ont rien à voir avec le groupe Etat islamique », a-t-il insisté. « Très haut dans l’agenda de Poutine et des Russes en Syrie, il y a surtout le fait de protéger le régime d’Assad contre ses ennemis et tous ceux qui pourraient les aider », a poursuivi le général Breedlove. « Nous sommes un peu inquiets de voir à terme les Russes créer une “bulle A2AD” [Anti-Access Area-Denial] au nord-est de la Méditerranée, car cela est de nature à perturber les opérations aériennes dans la zone ».
En revanche, en ce qui concerne l’avenir politique de la Syrie, Vladimir Poutine pourrait avoir en fait plusieurs fers au feu, si l’on en croit le New York Times (cité par le correspondant du Figaro le 7 septembre) : « En étendant son influence militaire en Syrie, la Russie pourrait être dans une position plus forte pour modeler un futur accord, et encourager son allié à partager le pouvoir ». Mais c’est au conditionnel…
Vladimir Putin Plunges Into a Caldron in Syria: Saving Assad
By ANNE BARNARD and NEIL MacFARQUHAROCT. 1, 2015
BEIRUT, Lebanon — After two days of attacks directed exclusively against insurgents opposed to the Syrian government, there is little question thatRussia is determined to re-establish President Bashar al-Assad as Syria’s leader.
“Russia’s goal is to defend Assad; whoever is against him is a destabilizing factor,” said Aleksei Makarkin, the deputy head of the Center for Political Technologies, in Moscow. “Russia wants Assad to get engaged in a political settlement from a position of strength.”
Yet to restore Mr. Assad to full control of Syria or, for that matter, to stitch Syria back together without putting troops on the ground, PresidentVladimir V. Putin of Russia will have to accomplish what no other outside power has dared attempt.
Mr. Putin can achieve a number of short-term goals. By inserting Russian military forces directly into the Syrian battlefield he can seize the initiative from Mr. Assad’s opponents and severely limit the options of the United States and its allies, not to speak of embarrassing President Obama — always a consideration for Mr. Putin.
But the glow of early Russian successes will almost certainly fade, analysts and opposition commanders say, as the realities of Syria’s grim, four-year civil war slowly assert themselves. Mr. Assad’s forces are worn down and demoralized, and they are in control of only about 20 percent of Syria’s territory. Mr. Assad himself is vilified by many in the majority Sunni population as his forces use barrel bombs and other indiscriminate weapons against an insurgency that began with political protests.
This past summer the Syrian Army lost ground to the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL, in the east and to a rival insurgent coalition, the Army of Conquest, in the northwest. Mr. Assad even went on television to declare that the army was facing a manpower shortage. People from government-held areas and draft-age men were increasingly joining the accelerating flow of refugees heading for Europe and elsewhere.
In a country that is 80 percent Sunni, he was also relying increasingly on Shiite fighters from Iran and Hezbollah, the Lebanese militia group, injecting a sectarian edge into an already vicious conflict.
At the same time, as the Islamic State moved toward Homs and Damascus from the east, rival insurgents were putting new pressure on the Syrian coastal provinces, where Mr. Assad’s support is strongest. The fighters advancing on that front were not from the Islamic State but from the Army of Conquest, a group that includes an affiliate of Al Qaeda known as the Nusra Front and other Islamist groups, including several more secular groups that have been covertly armed and trained by the United States.
By striking at the territory of that group and others opposed to both Mr. Assad and the Islamic State, Russia takes pressure off Mr. Assad and Hezbollah and shifts the ebb and flow in the war’s stalemate back in their favor.
Lebanese news media even reported Thursday that Hezbollah could soon be participating in a major ground attack in northern Syria, suggesting there were plans for an assault to roll back some insurgent gains. There were also unconfirmed reports that new Iranian troops were entering Syria.
But history suggests that it will be hard for Russia to bring about a purely military resolution. The United States, with tens of thousands of troops and virtually unlimited firepower, could not subdue insurgents in Iraq or Afghanistan. And with airstrikes alone, the American-led coalition against the Islamic State has made little headway.
Russia remembers its own disastrous battle with Islamist insurgents — American-backed groups that over time spawned Al Qaeda — in the 1980s in Afghanistan.
And fears that the strikes would further radicalize people seemed to be coming true on Thursday as one previously independent Islamist brigade declared its allegiance to the Nusra Front, saying unity was necessary because America and Russia were allied against Muslims “to blur the light of truth.”
For now, though, Mr. Putin does not seem to be in a rush, particularly since state control of the news media allows him to mold public opinion, much as he did by backing rebel separatists in eastern Ukraine. His supporters say he is not looking for easy victories.
“He is playing a long game in strengthening the Russian position and showing that Russia is an independent, powerful player,” said Sergei Karaganov, an occasional Kremlin adviser on foreign policy as the honorary chairman of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy.
The Russian president may not even be looking for victory. “He wants to be engaged in a serious conversation that Russia is playing a role there that is good,” said Konstantin von Eggert, a political commentator on Kommersant FM radio. Until then, Mr. von Eggert said, “ attacks on the Islamic State can wait.”
With his forces on the ground, Mr. von Eggert said, Mr. Putin can now bide his time and wait for the United States to come around to joining him — if not under the Obama administration then the next one.
“You cannot disregard him, because he has a military presence there,” Mr. von Eggert said. “It is the reality you cannot ignore. It is real guys with real weaponry on the ground in Syria that the Americans do not have.”
It is not so much Mr. Assad himself that Mr. Putin wants to defend, he added, as the principle that leaders at home should be allowed to do what they want.
“By being in Latakia and Tartus they are defending Moscow,” Mr. von Eggert said. “They are defending the principle that any government can do what it wants with its own people.”
President Vladimir V. Putin seems determined to use his campaign of airstrikes to re-establish President Bashar al-Assad as Syria’s leader. CreditPool photo by Yuri Kochetkov
Defending Mr. Assad is also meant to show the world that Russia and America treat their friends differently. The United States might abandon leaders like President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, but Russia is a better ally. That makes all Assad opponents fair game.
Others doubt whether Mr. Putin’s lunge into Syria was all that well thought out. A senior Western diplomat who has been deeply involved in the Syria debate said Thursday that there was no evidence that Mr. Putin had a grand strategy in mind in beginning the bombing. Instead, the official said, his calculations seemed mostly tactical.
Other officials questioned whether the Russian leader had what they called an “exit strategy” if he found that he was getting sucked further and further into Syria’s civil war.
Several American officials, trying to put the best face on Mr. Putin’s direct challenge, have said in recent days they believe that the Russian leader will soon have to take responsibility for Mr. Assad’s attacks on his own people. “Putin owns this now, even if he doesn’t know that yet,” one administration official said. “If he’s there to save Assad, then he’s responsible for controlling him.”
Many analysts say that Mr. Putin’s best hope is to push all the parties to work more urgently toward a political resolution — albeit one that is more favorable to Russia and Mr. Assad.
But that may take some doing, at least as far as the Obama administration is concerned. The White House press secretary, Josh Earnest, suggested that Mr. Putin’s real motive is to protect Russia’s military base at Tartus, Russia’s last military outpost outside of the former Soviet Union.
“The fact is, Russia is responding to a situation inside the Middle East from a position of weakness. Their influence in that region of the world is waning,” Mr. Earnest said, adding that Russia is “trying to salvage what’s left of a deteriorating situation inside of Syria.”
Then again, as with the deal Mr. Putin engineered to rid Syria of its chemical weapons, he might manage to put together a peace deal that Mr. Obama finds he cannot refuse.
Mr. Putin’s task is made somewhat easier by the fact that he enjoys high ratings at home and does not have to worry much about public opinion when it comes to a distant war.
“Putin does not care about public opinion at home because any story can be sold internally via the television,” said Orkhan Dzhemal, a prominent journalist who specializes in the Middle East. “In addition, most Russians don’t care whom we are fighting against in Syria, ISIS or not ISIS.”
Why Outside Powers Can’t End the Destruction in Syria
ANTHONY H. CORDESMAN
Those trying to negotiate from the outside an end to the fighting in Syria behave as though some diplomatic elite or mix of power brokers could restore stability if onlyBashar al-Assad would leave and the U.S. and Russia could agree on how to approach negotiations. But Syria is being ravaged by four broad sets of fighters that have little reason to cooperate with any U.N.-led negotiating effort—or each other.
The problem is not simply Mr. Assad or Islamic State. ISIS occupies parts of Syria and Iraq and continues to systematically purge any religious and ideological dissent. Meanwhile, the governments in Damascus and Baghdad have shown no ability to gain support from a major portion of the Sunnis in ISIS-controlled areas. Nor have Syrian or Iraqi government forces had much military success against ISIS. U.S. claims that Iraq has regained some 35% of the territory it lost to ISIS are little more than spin. Such assertions are based on the maximum line of ISIS advance before Islamic State established any level of governance or control, and they include vast areas of uninhabited desert where no one controls anything.
The Syrian Kurds have gone from a partially disenfranchised minority to the equivalent of a mini-state in the north and east. They have been the only real success of U.S. military training and assistance. They have no reason to support Mr. Assad or his backers. But they, too, are divided; some have ties to Turkish Kurds, some to Iraqi Kurds, some to both, and some are independent. Syria’s Kurds have no clear economic viability as a state. They would need to grab a significant portion of Syria’s limited oil and gas resources in the east to be viable, and their water problems are growing.
There are no reliable unclassified estimates of the number, strength, and ideological character of the Sunni fighters battling for control in many of Syria’s most populated areas. There are more than 20 groups; some estimates go well over 30. Some, like the al Nusra Front—one of the most successful in military terms—are linked to al Qaeda. Others are less radical Islamist factions but are scarcely secular or moderate; they have no ties to the hollow outside efforts to create moderate governments in exile and are being backed by Arab states such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. The small groups being given limited U.S. weapons and Special Forces support are at best petty and uncertain players.
Many of the more than 4 million Syrians who have fled lived in areas where these factions’ battles against pro-Assad forces and barrel bombs, and the threat of poison gas, deliberate isolation, and efforts to starve rebel-held areas have created wastelands. Many of the more than 250,000 Syrian civilian dead, and at least 500,000 seriously wounded, are the product of this fighting. It is important to note that the U.N. ceased to be able to make meaningful casualty estimates more than half a year ago, and estimates of refugees and internally displaced persons (last reliably put at 7 million) have ceased to grow because there no longer is a basis for guesstimating the increase and many of those who remain are simply too poor to leave.
Then there are the fighters supporting Mr. Assad. This is not a unified group. The majority of the population—the CIA estimates it to be about 18 million–is Sunni and other non-Alawites. The Alawites are a gnostic religious group that may have political ties to Iran and Hezbollah but are not themselves Shiite.
Maps of Syria’s sectarian and ethnic divisions before the fighting show a series of small enclaves, many near the coast. The Alawites have no clear bloc or “region,” and it is unclear how many of the Sunnis in the regular Syrian forces, the real Shiites and other minorities in Syria, or the more secular Sunni businesspeople and civilians would support Mr. Assad or any mix of Alawites and other Assad supporters if they had a choice.
The World Bank rated the Assad regime as having some of the world’s worst governance before the uprising began in 2011. Transparency International rated Syria as the 159th most corrupt country of 175 in 2014. Arab and U.N. development reports warned that Bashar Assad was no better at moving the country toward real economic development than his father.
Syria’s GDP per capita was, at best, around $5,100 in 2011 and ranked a dismal 165th in the world. It now may average half that level. Some 33% of the population is 14 or younger; 14% is 15 to 24, and more than 500,000 young Syrians now reach job age each year in a country where direct unemployment is estimated to be 33% to 35%.
The first step in solving a problem is to honestly assess it. The failure of U.S. policyand military efforts, Russian and Iranian support of Mr. Assad, major Russian military intervention, and the conflicting ways in which other states intervene will all make things worse. The impact of religious warfare and extremism, and failed Syrian secularism, are serious problems.
It is time to stop focusing on either ISIS or Mr. Assad, pretending that Syrian “moderates” are strong enough to affect the security situation or negotiate for Syria’s real fighters, and acting as if a shattered nation could be united by some top-down negotiation between groups that hate each other and are not competent to deal with Syria’s economic, social, and governance challenges.
Anthony H. Cordesman holds the Arleigh A. Burke chair in strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. This piece was adapted from his work “The Long War in Syria: The Trees, the Forest, and All the King’s Men.”
Parsing Putin on Syria
RICHARD SOKOLSKY, PERRY CAMMACK
Op-Ed October 2, 2015 Arab Weekly
It is difficult to see how Washington and Moscow can arrive at a solution on Syria but it is nearly impossible to imagine a solution without such cooperation.
The war of words between US President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin leaves little optimism that the United States and Russia can soon cooperate to de-escalate the horrendous civil war in Syria. Their differences on the causes and nature of the conflict are profound, as are their prescriptions for resolving it.
Neither country has the answer to Syria’s misery but if a solution to Syria is ultimately to be found, they are doomed to eventually work together.
Speculation has run wild about Putin’s motives in deploying additional weapons and military personnel to Syria. Was he throwing a life jacket to the drowning Syrian President Bashar Assad? Trying to back foot the United States? Changing the subject from Ukraine? Shoring up his domestic standing? On a multiple-choice quiz, the correct answer would be “all of the above”.
We can dispense with the more alarmist explanations for Putin’s motives. The notion that Russia is establishing a new regional dominance is nonsense. Russia’s moves in Syria are less a sign of Putin’s strength than of Assad’s weakness. The vast majority of the region’s inhabitants despise Assad; if hegemony is Putin’s game, he’s playing it in a curious way.
A massive US military footprint covers the region. Russia’s regional military presence is confined to a tiny parcel of land on Syria’s western coast. This may be prime real estate for protecting Russia’s small naval facility at Tartus and Assad’s ancestral homeland but it is not a platform for regional force projection, certainly not with the military assets the Russians have so far deployed.
Putin’s immediate goal is clearly preventing the collapse of the Assad regime. Russia’s escalatory moves can also be seen as a strategic hedge, creating what the Soviets called a “correlation of forces” allowing Russia to adjust to a variety of military and political circumstances. Recent Russian military moves might therefore be explained as a way to shape a more favourable outcome for Russian interests for whatever diplomatic process eventually gets going.
The problem with this logic is that the extremism of the Assad regime and the Islamic State (ISIS) feed on each other. Indeed, neither would survive long without the other. Assad has too much blood on his hands to be rehabilitated. If Putin is determined to prop up a “dead man walking” in Damascus at all costs, there is little basis for a diplomatic solution in Syria.
This scenario would prolong the disaster for the Syrian people but it’s hardly a slam dunk for Russia, either. Russian air power, while it can certainly extend the life of the Assad regime, cannot ultimately save it. And the introduction of Russian ground forces into the fight risks an Afghanistan-like quagmire. In short, there is no unilateral solution that Russia can impose to end the conflict.
Some Russian diplomats have hinted that Putin will ultimately be more concerned with preventing ISIS from further infecting the Caucases and Central Asia than in saving Assad. To this end, Washington should work to persuade Moscow that its equities in Syria would take a haircut if it continues to cling to Assad. This means continuing to work to contain Iran’s role inside Syria, highlighting Russia’s increasingly direct role in facilitating Assad’s indiscriminate killings of his own civilian population and increasing the tempo of coalition air strikes against ISIS.
If Putin does eventually see the need to show a degree of flexibility, it then becomes possible to imagine the contours of an eventual agreement, although getting there will be devilishly difficult: The United States would compromise on the timing of Assad’s departure and his ultimate disposition so long as he is no longer ruling Syria after a short transition, while Russia would agree to an outcome that removes Assad from power through a Syrian-led political process rather than by military force.
But while Assad’s disposition is certainly critical to Syria’s future, the conflict has become much bigger than one man. It is time for both the United States and Russia to admit that the more urgent need is to initiate a regional process aimed at de-escalating and containing the violence in Syria. For all their differences, the West, the Arab states, Turkey, Russia and Iran have a common interest in defeating ISIS, maintaining Syria’s territorial integrity, reducing the flow of refugees and preventing a regional conflagration.
At the United Nations, both presidents seemed to agree on the need for a transition to a new governing structure in Syria to avoid chaos. Obama spoke of negotiating a “managed transition” to a post- Assad government. US Secretary of State John Kerry has reasserted that Assad must go but suggested flexibility on the timing of his departure while this transition is being negotiated.
But if a great power moment is needed to open the door to the next round of international diplomacy on Syria, it did not happen in New York. This highlights the conundrum: It is difficult to see how Washington and Moscow can arrive at a solution on Syria but it is nearly impossible to imagine a solution without such cooperation. A negotiated outcome would give neither Russia nor the United States everything it wants but it would give the Syrian people and their neighbours a light at the end of the tunnel that they so desperately need.
This article was originally published in the Arab Weekly.
The Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS) has wrecked havoc in both Syria and Iraq with their merciless terrorist attacks, massacres against minority groups (ethnic and religious), depravation of social liberties, and unmitigated corruption; it is not a far cry to label them a plague that spread through the whirlwind of political upheaval in the Arab world.
However, this terrorist group was relatively unknown until they took the world by storm in the Summer of 2013, capturing the provincial capital of the Nineveh Governorate with very little resistance from the 10,000 Iraqi Army soldiers that were assigned to protect the city of Mosul.
Suddenly, ISIS became a household name that was synonymous with terrorism and radicalism; but, this was not the world’s problem, it was an issue for the Iraqis and Syrians.
Following a number of battlefield victories in 2014, ISIS was finally declared a threat to the world by the United States government (U.S.), who began a series of airstrikes above the terrorist group’s positions in the latter part of 2014.
With the rise of ISIS paranoia spreading around the world, the U.S. went on the public offensive; this meant the formation of an “Anti-ISIS Coalition” of countries that the Obama Regime could parade around as the legitimate force combatting the terrorist group in Syria and Iraq.
One problem: the Anti-ISIS Coalition did not forestall the terrorist group’s progress; instead, they forced the terrorist group to concentrate their fighters elsewhere in Syria.
ISIS Roams Free in Northern Syria:
The U.S. and their allies were bombing ISIS during the battle for Kobane in northern Aleppo; however, the terrorist group was traveling untouched around the vast desert highways in northern Syria.
ISIS could not attack any of the rebel or Kurdish forces without interference from the Anti-ISIS Coalition, but they could freely travel from Al-Raqqa to Deir Ezzor without fear of any airstrikes from the U.S. and their allies.
According to a military source from the Syrian Air Defense: on numerous occasions, ISIS would send reinforcements to Syrian Army controlled areas without a single Anti-ISIS Coalition aircraft attacking their convoys or notifying the Syrian Air Force of the looming ISIS threat.
Countries like Jordan – who still maintain some diplomatic relations with the Syrian Government – remained silent about the intelligence reports they received regarding ISIS’ movements around Syria; it became more and more evident that the Anti-ISIS Coalition was not concerned with the ISIS threat in Syria, but rather, the threat they posed to their allies in the country.
Rebels and ISIS Launch Simultaneous Offensives:
In April of 2015, a coalition of Al-Qaeda militias dubbed “Jaysh Al-Fateh” (Army of Conquest) launched a large-scale offensive at the provincial capital of the Idlib Governorate – within a week, the Islamist rebels captured Idlib City from the Syrian Armed Forces.
Tasked with protecting the provinces of Idlib, Hama, and east Homs, the 11th and 18th Tank Divisions were redeployed – alongside the Tiger Force, who were on the offensive in east Homs – to the Idlib City front to help safeguard the remaining territory under their control.
As soon as the Tiger Forces and the 11th Tank Division were redeployed Idlib, ISIS sent a large wave of reinforcements to east Homs and Deir Ezzor in order to prepare for a large-scale offensive.
The Syrian Armed Forces were initially successful in recapturing some territory in Idlib; however, the troubling reports from the east Homs front left the SAA’s Central Command flustered – they had to commit their troops that were designated for offensives (i.e. Tiger Forces) to these fronts.
ISIS would capture the large gas fields in east Homs before they took complete control of the ancient city of Palmyra; this prompted the SAA’s Central Command to redeploy the 18th Tank Division back to Homs.
In a matter of two months, the Syrian Armed Forces lost all but two towns in the Idlib Governorate; the city of Busra Al-Sham and Nassib border-crossing in the Dara’a Governorate; and most the Homs Governorate’s eastern countryside.
Then, just when things appeared to be slowing down, ISIS launched a large-scale offensive inside the provincial capital of Al-Hasakah; this was followed by Jaysh Al-Fateh’s large-scale offensive in the Al-Ghaab Plains of Hama.
The Anti-ISIS Coalition managed to miss the thousands of ISIS combatants heading to Hasakah City from Al-Raqqa and east Aleppo.
The Syrian Armed Forces committed many soldiers to protect their districts inside Hasakah City, while their men in the Al-Ghaab Plains surrendered the remaining villages under their control.
Finally, there were the recent offensives in the Dara’a, Al-Sweida, and Deir Ezzor Governorates; the FSA launched a large-scale assault on Dara’a City and the western countryside of Al-Sweida, while the terrorist group attempted to capture the Deir Ezzor Military Airport – both Islamist forces were unsuccessful.
Russia Enters the War:
With the U.S. led Anti-ISIS Coalition failing destroy the terrorist group in both Syria and Iraq, the Russians decided to intervene in this war and rectify where their predecessors went wrong.
Now, the Anti-ISIS Coalition cannot get away with their selective airstrikes; it is the Russians ruling the skies above Syria and if the coalition wants to attack ISIS outside of rebel and YPG controlled areas, they will have to consult the Russian Air Force.
Russia’s entrance in this war will be a game changer, but not likely enough to recapture the country.
The Syrian Arab Army will receive a major boost from the Russian Air Force patrolling the vast Syrian and Iraqi deserts – ISIS will no longer go untouched from Al-Raqqa to Deir Ezzor.
Artículo publicado en Al-Masdar News
Who is Behind Syrian Observatory for Human Rights?
By Nimrod Kamer
October 02, 2015 “Information Clearing House” – “RT“- The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has been the prime source for MSM-aired news from the Syrian battlefield. But how much does one truly know about this UK-based organization and its director? Journalist and prankster Nimrod Kamer went to find out.
The organization has been one of the sources for the mainstream media to build their reports on Syria since the start of the civil war four years ago. The organization claims to have a wide network of contacts in the region who feed their information to the head office, where it is processed and later posted on the website, Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Since the start of the Moscow anti-ISIS campaign Russia has started featuring in its reports as well – and it was quickly picked up by major Western media outlets. One of the latest wires from the Observatory that “Russian warplanes [killed] 30 civilians in Homs including women and children” quickly made it into major news sources.
“To the degree people choose to believe social media, they can be my guest. But quite contrary to what [US Secretary of State John Kerry] has said, it is a notoriously unreliable tool upon which to base judgments,” former CIA officer, Ray McGovern told RT.
I am not a media organization’ – Rami Abdel Rahman
RT decided to investigate who the man behind the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights is and why the media outlet is so popular with MSM. Well-known journalist and prankster Nimrod Kamer took up the job.
The two-bedroom Coventry home of Syrian immigrant Rami Abdel Rahman has been the organization’s base and the source of information for major mainstream media on anything Syria-related from the past four years, including the death toll.
Nobody quite knows who Abdel Rahman has on the ground in Syria, but information just keeps flowing on and on, usually in a dramatic fashion and with little detail.
Kamer walked around the English city of Coventry, approaching people with questions on Abdel Rahman and how he could be located. No one seemed to have a clue they had the prime source of news from the Syrian frontline living right there in their quaint British neighborhood.
Kamer had no luck catching the director at home. Calling him on the phone, he found out Abdel Rahman went out to a shop. The journalist went about explaining that he had hoped to catch the organization’s director to quiz him on his “media organization” – but that term was met with hostility on the part of Abdel Rahman.
“I am not a media organization. I work from my home, my private home.”
The director of the Observatory seemed very distressed, talking about the dangers of meeting up for daytime interviews because “they are trying to kill me.” It was difficult to identify who “they” were, but Abdel Rahman clearly wasn’t in the mood. He asked Kamer to send him his name and details, which Abdel Rahman would then send to the police.
“When you run a media organization you should expect journalists to come and ask questions, especially if it’s such a shady and unsourced media organization… I had a great time.”
Artículo publicado por The Informtion Clearing House
Discurso del Presidente de Rusia en la 70a Asamblea General de la ONU
President of Russia Vladimir Putin:
Mr. Secretary General,
Distinguished heads of state and government,
Ladies and gentlemen,
The 70th anniversary of the United Nations is a good occasion to both take stock of history and talk about our common future. In 1945, the countries that defeated Nazism joined their efforts to lay a solid foundation for the postwar world order. Let me remind you that key decisions on the principles defining interaction between states, as well as the decision to establish the UN, were made in our country, at the Yalta Conference of the leaders of the anti-Hitler coalition.
The Yalta system was truly born in travail. It was born at the cost of tens of millions of lives and two world wars that swept through the planet in the 20th century. Let’s be fair: it helped humankind pass through turbulent, and at times dramatic, events of the last seven decades. It saved the world from large-scale upheavals.
The United Nations is unique in terms of legitimacy, representation and universality. True, the UN has been criticized lately for being inefficient or for the fact that decision-making on fundamental issues stalls due to insurmountable differences, especially among Security Council members.
However, I’d like to point out that there have always been differences in the UN throughout the 70 years of its history, and that the veto right has been regularly used by the United States, the United Kingdom, France, China and the Soviet Union, and later Russia. It is only natural for such a diverse and representative organization. When the UN was first established, nobody expected that there would always be unanimity. The mission of the organization is to seek and reach compromises, and its strength comes from taking different views and opinions into consideration. The decisions debated within the UN are either taken in the form of resolutions or not. As diplomats say, they either pass or they don’t. Any action taken by circumventing this procedure is illegitimate and constitutes a violation of the UN Charter and contemporary international law.
We all know that after the end of the Cold War the world was left with one center of dominance, and those who found themselves at the top of the pyramid were tempted to think that, since they are so powerful and exceptional, they know best what needs to be done and thus they don’t need to reckon with the UN, which, instead of rubber-stamping the decisions they need, often stands in their way.
70th session of the UN General Assembly.
That’s why they say that the UN has run its course and is now obsolete and outdated. Of course, the world changes, and the UN should also undergo natural transformation. Russia is ready to work together with its partners to develop the UN further on the basis of a broad consensus, but we consider any attempts to undermine the legitimacy of the United Nations as extremely dangerous. They may result in the collapse of the entire architecture of international relations, and then indeed there will be no rules left except for the rule of force. The world will be dominated by selfishness rather than collective effort, by dictate rather than equality and liberty, and instead of truly independent states we will have protectorates controlled from outside.
What is the meaning of state sovereignty, the term which has been mentioned by our colleagues here? It basically means freedom, every person and every state being free to choose their future.
By the way, this brings us to the issue of the so-called legitimacy of state authorities. You shouldn’t play with words and manipulate them. In international law, international affairs, every term has to be clearly defined, transparent and interpreted the same way by one and all.
We are all different, and we should respect that. Nations shouldn’t be forced to all conform to the same development model that somebody has declared the only appropriate one.
We should all remember the lessons of the past. For example, we remember examples from our Soviet past, when the Soviet Union exported social experiments, pushing for changes in other countries for ideological reasons, and this often led to tragic consequences and caused degradation instead of progress.
It seems, however, that instead of learning from other people’s mistakes, some prefer to repeat them and continue to export revolutions, only now these are “democratic” revolutions. Just look at the situation in the Middle East and Northern Africa already mentioned by the previous speaker. Of course, political and social problems have been piling up for a long time in this region, and people there wanted change. But what was the actual outcome? Instead of bringing about reforms, aggressive intervention rashly destroyed government institutions and the local way of life. Instead of democracy and progress, there is now violence, poverty, social disasters and total disregard for human rights, including even the right to life.
I’m urged to ask those who created this situation: do you at least realize now what you’ve done? But I’m afraid that this question will remain unanswered, because they have never abandoned their policy, which is based on arrogance, exceptionalism and impunity.
Power vacuum in some countries in the Middle East and Northern Africa obviously resulted in the emergence of areas of anarchy, which were quickly filled with extremists and terrorists. The so-called Islamic State has tens of thousands of militants fighting for it, including former Iraqi soldiers who were left on the street after the 2003 invasion. Many recruits come from Libya whose statehood was destroyed as a result of a gross violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1973. And now radical groups are joined by members of the so-called “moderate” Syrian opposition backed by the West. They get weapons and training, and then they defect and join the so-called Islamic State.
In fact, the Islamic State itself did not come out of nowhere. It was initially developed as a weapon against undesirable secular regimes. Having established control over parts of Syria and Iraq, Islamic State now aggressively expands into other regions. It seeks dominance in the Muslim world and beyond. Their plans go further.
70th session of the UN General Assembly.
The situation is extremely dangerous. In these circumstances, it is hypocritical and irresponsible to make declarations about the threat of terrorism and at the same time turn a blind eye to the channels used to finance and support terrorists, including revenues from drug trafficking, the illegal oil trade and the arms trade.
It is equally irresponsible to manipulate extremist groups and use them to achieve your political goals, hoping that later you’ll find a way to get rid of them or somehow eliminate them.
I’d like to tell those who engage in this: Gentlemen, the people you are dealing with are cruel but they are not dumb. They are as smart as you are. So, it’s a big question: who’s playing who here? The recent incident where the most “moderate” opposition group handed over their weapons to terrorists is a vivid example of that.
We consider that any attempts to flirt with terrorists, let alone arm them, are short-sighted and extremely dangerous. This may make the global terrorist threat much worse, spreading it to new regions around the globe, especially since there are fighters from many different countries, including European ones, gaining combat experience with Islamic State. Unfortunately, Russia is no exception.
Now that those thugs have tasted blood, we can’t allow them to return home and continue with their criminal activities. Nobody wants that, right?
Russia has consistently opposed terrorism in all its forms. Today, we provide military-technical assistance to Iraq, Syria and other regional countries fighting terrorist groups. We think it’s a big mistake to refuse to cooperate with the Syrian authorities and government forces who valiantly fight terrorists on the ground.
We should finally admit that President Assad’s government forces and the Kurdish militia are the only forces really fighting terrorists in Syria. Yes, we are aware of all the problems and conflicts in the region, but we definitely have to consider the actual situation on the ground.
Dear colleagues, I must note that such an honest and frank approach on Russia’s part has been recently used as a pretext for accusing it of its growing ambitions — as if those who say that have no ambitions at all. However, it is not about Russia’s ambitions, dear colleagues, but about the recognition of the fact that we can no longer tolerate the current state of affairs in the world.
What we actually propose is to be guided by common values and common interests rather than by ambitions. Relying on international law, we must join efforts to address the problems that all of us are facing, and create a genuinely broad international coalition against terrorism. Similar to the anti-Hitler coalition, it could unite a broad range of parties willing to stand firm against those who, just like the Nazis, sow evil and hatred of humankind. And of course, Muslim nations should play a key role in such a coalition, since Islamic State not only poses a direct threat to them, but also tarnishes one of the greatest world religions with its atrocities. The ideologues of these extremists make a mockery of Islam and subvert its true humanist values.
I would also like to address Muslim spiritual leaders: Your authority and your guidance are of great importance right now. It is essential to prevent people targeted for recruitment by extremists from making hasty decisions, and those who have already been deceived and, due to various circumstances, found themselves among terrorists, must be assisted in finding a way back to normal life, laying down arms and putting an end to fratricide.
70th session of the UN General Assembly.
In the days to come, Russia, as the current President of the UN Security Council, will convene a ministerial meeting to carry out a comprehensive analysis of the threats in the Middle East. First of all, we propose exploring opportunities for adopting a resolution that would serve to coordinate the efforts of all parties that oppose Islamic State and other terrorist groups. Once again, such coordination should be based upon the principles of the UN Charter.
We hope that the international community will be able to develop a comprehensive strategy of political stabilization, as well as social and economic recovery in the Middle East. Then, dear friends, there would be no need for setting up more refugee camps. Today, the flow of people forced to leave their native land has literally engulfed, first, the neighbouring countries, and then Europe. There are hundreds of thousands of them now, and before long, there might be millions. It is, essentially, a new, tragic Migration Period, and a harsh lesson for all of us, including Europe.
I would like to stress that refugees undoubtedly need our compassion and support. However, the only way to solve this problem for good is to restore statehood where it has been destroyed, to strengthen government institutions where they still exist, or are being re-established, to provide comprehensive military, economic and material assistance to countries in a difficult situation, and certainly to people who, despite all their ordeals, did not abandon their homes. Of course, any assistance to sovereign nations can, and should, be offered rather than imposed, in strict compliance with the UN Charter. In other words, our Organisation should support any measures that have been, or will be, taken in this regard in accordance with international law, and reject any actions that are in breach of the UN Charter. Above all, I believe it is of utmost importance to help restore government institutions in Libya, support the new government of Iraq, and provide comprehensive assistance to the legitimate government of Syria.
Dear colleagues, ensuring peace and global and regional stability remains a key task for the international community guided by the United Nations. We believe this means creating an equal and indivisible security environment that would not serve a privileged few, but everyone. Indeed, it is a challenging, complicated and time-consuming task, but there is simply no alternative.
Sadly, some of our counterparts are still dominated by their Cold War-era bloc mentality and the ambition to conquer new geopolitical areas. First, they continued their policy of expanding NATO – one should wonder why, considering that the Warsaw Pact had ceased to exist and the Soviet Union had disintegrated.
Nevertheless, NATO has kept on expanding, together with its military infrastructure. Next, the post-Soviet states were forced to face a false choice between joining the West and carrying on with the East. Sooner or later, this logic of confrontation was bound to spark off a major geopolitical crisis. And that is exactly what happened in Ukraine, where the people’s widespread frustration with the government was used for instigating a coup d’état from abroad. This has triggered a civil war. We are convinced that the only way out of this dead end lies through comprehensive and diligent implementation of the Minsk agreements of February 12th, 2015. Ukraine’s territorial integrity cannot be secured through the use of threats or military force, but it must be secured. The people of Donbas should have their rights and interests genuinely considered, and their choice respected; they should be engaged in devising the key elements of the country’s political system, in line with the provisions of the Minsk agreements. Such steps would guarantee that Ukraine will develop as a civilized state, and a vital link in creating a common space of security and economic cooperation, both in Europe and in Eurasia.
Ladies and gentlemen, I have deliberately mentioned a common space for economic cooperation. Until quite recently, it seemed that we would learn to do without dividing lines in the area of the economy with its objective market laws, and act based on transparent and jointly formulated rules, including the WTO principles, which embrace free trade and investment and fair competition. However, unilaterally imposed sanctions circumventing the UN Charter have all but become commonplace today. They not only serve political objectives, but are also used for eliminating market competition.
70th session of the UN General Assembly
I would like to note one more sign of rising economic selfishness. A number of nations have chosen to create exclusive economic associations, with their establishment being negotiated behind closed doors, secretly from those very nations’ own public and business communities, as well as from the rest of the world. Other states, whose interests may be affected, have not been informed of anything, either. It seems that someone would like to impose upon us some new game rules, deliberately tailored to accommodate the interests of a privileged few, with the WTO having no say in it. This is fraught with utterly unbalancing global trade and splitting up the global economic space.
These issues affect the interests of all nations and influence the future of the entire global economy. That is why we propose discussing those issues within the framework of the United Nations, the WTO and the G20. Contrary to the policy of exclusion, Russia advocates harmonizing regional economic projects. I am referring to the so-called ”integration of integrations“ based on the universal and transparent rules of international trade. As an example, I would like to cite our plans to interconnect the Eurasian Economic Union with China’s initiative for creating a Silk Road economic belt. We continue to see great promise in harmonizing the integration vehicles between the Eurasian Economic Union and the European Union.
Ladies and gentlemen, one more issue that shall affect the future of the entire humankind is climate change. It is in our interest to ensure that the coming UN Climate Change Conference that will take place in Paris in December this year should deliver some feasible results. As part of our national contribution, we plan to limit greenhouse gas emissions to 70–75 percent of the 1990 levels by the year 2030.
However, I suggest that we take a broader look at the issue. Admittedly, we may be able to defuse it for a while by introducing emission quotas and using other tactical measures, but we certainly will not solve it for good that way. What we need is an essentially different approach, one that would involve introducing new, groundbreaking, nature-like technologies that would not damage the environment, but rather work in harmony with it, enabling us to restore the balance between the biosphere and technology upset by human activities.
It is indeed a challenge of global proportions. And I am confident that humanity does have the necessary intellectual capacity to respond to it. We need to join our efforts, primarily engaging countries that possess strong research and development capabilities, and have made significant advances in fundamental research. We propose convening a special forum under the auspices of the UN to comprehensively address issues related to the depletion of natural resources, habitat destruction, and climate change. Russia is willing to co-sponsor such a forum.
Ladies and gentlemen, dear colleagues. On January 10th, 1946, the UN General Assembly convened for its first meeting in London. Chairman of the Preparatory Commission Dr. Zuleta Angel, a Colombian diplomat, opened the session by offering what I see as a very concise definition of the principles that the United Nations should be based upon, which are good will, disdain for scheming and trickery, and a spirit of cooperation. Today, his words sound like guidance for all of us.
Russia is confident of the United Nations’ enormous potential, which should help us avoid a new confrontation and embrace a strategy of cooperation. Hand in hand with other nations, we will consistently work to strengthen the UN’s central, coordinating role. I am convinced that by working together, we will make the world stable and safe, and provide an enabling environment for the development of all nations and peoples.
Reproducido de la página Presidencia de Rusia.