After more than a year of demonising Russia as a threat to world peace, all of a sudden the United States changes tack and wants to hold talks with Moscow over Syria. US President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin are set to hold talks in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting. The leaders will meet on Monday, 28 September, authorities from both the countries have confirmed. What a change from Obama’s churlish tantrums towards the Russian president!
US Secretary of State John Kerry speaking in London last weekend seemed to be overcome with «shared goals» and objectives, seeking «common ground» with Russia to defeat the jihadist terror group, Islamic State (IS), in Syria.
But only the week before that, President Obama was condemning Russia for stepping up military support for its long-time ally, Syria. Obama had said the Russian military aid was «doomed to failure».
Suddenly, it seems, however, there is an American turnaround. The New York Times reported on how the Obama administration has now «reached out to Moscow» to coordinate actions in Syria «to avoid an accidental escalation».
Obama reportedly «instructed» his Defence Secretary Ashton Carter to open dialogue with Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu about «deconfliction» in Syria. It was the first time in more than a year that such high-level military talks between the US and Russia had taken place. Contact was previously broken off by Washington after the latter accused Russia of «annexing Crimea»in March 2014.
Three years ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin made a prescient comment about foreign policy, which is all too relevant to the more recent developments in Syria. Back then Putin said: «Everything we do will be based on our own interests and goals, not on decisions other countries impose on us. Russia is only treated with respect when it is strong and stands firm on its own two feet».
Indeed. For over four years, since March 2011, Russia has seen the US and its clients tear Syria apart with a covert war for regime change against President Bashar al-Assad. The Western narrative of supporting a «pro-democracy uprising» is an insult to common intelligence. Leaked secret cables from the US embassy in Damascus reveal that Washington was seeking regime change against the Russian and Iranian ally as far back as 2006.
Washington’s deliberate sponsoring of jihadist extremist groups like the head-choppers of Islamic State was instrumental in this criminal enterprise of toppling the Syrian government. That some 240,000 people have been killed and millions more displaced by the US-fuelled covert war in Syria is another abominable violation of international law committed by Washington in a litany of imperialist crimes across the Middle East.
Russia’s renewed support earlier this month for the Assad government in Syria certainly stunned Washington and its Western subordinates. It was a huge reality check. The US and its clients have spun themselves into ever-constricting contradictions over Syria – supposedly fighting terrorism, while using terrorism for regime change. When Russia asserted its own narrative – of aiding an ally in the actual fight against terrorism – then suddenly the West tripped over its own contradictions. This is affirmation of Putin’s earlier strategic precept: «Russia is only treated with respect when it is strong and stands firm on its own two feet».
Washington’s knee-jerk reaction was to protest the Russian move, but then it couldn’t level a credible objection because it’s supposed to be fighting terrorism too. And, besides, everything Russia is doing as a bilateral partner of the sovereign state of Syria is legal under international law.
When John Kerry talks about the US and Russia having «shared goals» in defeating terrorism in Syria the American diplomat’s unctuous words are utter, cynical nonsense.
What the US does want, however, is to inveigle Russia into a seeming partnership against terrorism, whose abiding goal is regime change in Syria. This is where the American and British practice of the dark arts of deception come into play.
Here’s how the BBC reported on Kerry’s agenda. «Speaking after talks in London [with British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond], he [Kerry] said what he described as Russia's new focus on fighting Islamic State militants could be an opportunity to push towards a political settlement».
By «political settlement» what is meant is a framework insinuated by Washington and its trusty British sidekick by which the objective of Bashar al-Assad’s removal from power is put on the negotiating table. But why should this outcome be even broached on the negotiating table? By what authority does the US and Britain insist on Assad being deposed – apart from their own conceited presumption of authority?
Kerry went on to say with seeming sincerity: «We’re prepared to negotiate. Is Assad prepared to negotiate, really negotiate? Is Russia prepared to bring him to the table?»
The arrogance of Kerry and his British counterpart Philip Hammond is astounding. «Is Russia prepared to bring Assad to the table?» – as if Russia can be treated like some kind of henchman to be deployed by the Western masters to deliver the Syrian president’s head on a platter.
Kerry and Hammond asserted that Assad must be removed, even though the Syrian people re-elected him as president in 2014 with a huge majority. The Anglo-American double act appeared to offer a magnanimous fig leaf for their regime-change scheme by saying that Assad’s removal «doesn't have to be on day one or month one… There is a process by which all the parties have to come together to reach an understanding of how this can best be achieved».
What process? Who says so? Who are the Americans and British to determine «a process by which all parties have to come together to reach an understanding»? Who needs a process when the objective is to defeat terrorism and, as Moscow has clearly stated, the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad is the primary force against such terrorism?
The bottom line is that the Americans and the British want regime change in Syria by hook or by crook. They haven’t succeeded so far with their covert criminal war, and now Washington and London see an «opportunity» of roping Russia into a «political process» under the guise of defeating terrorists – terrorists that the West and its regional clients unleashed on Syria in the first place.
A Pentagon spokesman told the Guardian that Ashton Carter emphasised to Sergei Shoigu in their talks that the putative fight against terrorism in Syria was to be conditioned with a wider political objective. «He [Carter] noted that defeating [terrorists] and ensuring a political transition are objectives that need to be pursued at the same time».
«Still,» adds the Guardian, «the White House cautioned Moscow against ‘doubling down on Assad’».
The New York Times helpfully, albeit inadvertently, draws out further the real purpose of Washington’s sudden desire to engage with Moscow over Syria.
«But while Mr Carter’s initial military-to-military talks were limited in scope, officials indicated that the larger goal was to draw the Russians into a political process that would ultimately replace Syria’s government of President Bashar al-Assad, a longtime ally of the Kremlin,» reported the Times.
Does Washington and London really think that Moscow is that stupid?
Ukraine and Syria are both part of a continuum of Western covert war to undermine, isolate and destabilise Russia. The West has destroyed Ukraine and Syria to get at Russia. And now, as Putin asserts Russian interests in Syria, the West suddenly discovers «diplomacy». But still the opportunistic West wants to engage with Russia in order to better achieve its agenda of undermining Russia in Syria by expediting regime change against Bashar al-Assad. Can you believe the monstrous arrogance of it?
Russia does not need approval, consultation or «partnership» with Washington and its Western minions. As Putin said, Russia must assert its own strategic interests with confidence and without the toxic mediation of Washington.
Let Washington engage if it wants. But it should be on Moscow’s terms.