Obama’s ‘indecisiveness’ allowing Putin, Assad and Shiites to advance, Illarionov says

Assad and Putin posters in Syria


Analysis & Opinion, Politics

“The indecisiveness of the US leadership has given the armed forces of the Russian Federation the chance not only to bomb Syrians” opposed to Assad “but to begin a land campaign jointly with Assad’s forces,” a development that weakens any effort to defeat ISIS, according to Andrey Illarionov.

Andrei Illarionov, Russian economist and former adviser to Putin (2000-2005), senior fellow in the Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity at the Cato Institute in Washington, DC

Andrei Illarionov, Russian economist and former adviser to Putin (2000-2005), senior fellow in the Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity at the Cato Institute in Washington, DC

The Russian analyst says that the “allied coalition” created by Moscow, Damascus and Tehran now has six participants: Iran, Russia, Syria’s Bashar Assad, the Shiite government of Iraq, Hezbollah, and also ISIS.

And in practical terms, “the only opponent of this coalition, which is now being subject to attack from the sides of almost all the participants o this coalition (except Iraq, but from the side of Russia, 55 strikes out of 57) are the subdivisions of the Syrian moderate and Islamic opposition who oppose Assad’s regime and have receive training and arms from the US.”

But, Illarionov continues, “the US president is playing a double (if not to say traitorous) role in relation to the Syrian opposition, refusing the latter any help, not acting against the Russian military operation in Syria, and as before repeating that he can cooperate with Putin and Iran and hopes for such cooperation.”

That in turn means, the Russian analyst says, that Barack Obama is now part of “the allied coalition” Moscow, Damascus and Tehran have assembled and are directing at the moderates who oppose Assad.

Illarionov traces the moves since the visit of Iranian General Kasem Suleymani to Moscow in July that have resulted in “a new Iranian-Russian alliance in support of Assad” and the meetings between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei subsequently.

Russian officials in September put out the word that Russia was getting involved in Syria and the campaign against ISIS as a way of ending Moscow’s international isolation over Ukraine, but it is clear, Illarionov says, that Moscow is not fighting ISIS but rather backing Assad against his opponents.

According to the Turkish prime minister, only two of the first 57 Russian air strikes were directed against ISIS. The other 55 – or more than 95 percent in all – were directed against groups opposed to Assad and his Shiite regime.

Initially, American officials were uncertain as to whether Moscow was deliberately targeting Assad’s opponents or whether Russian forces simply couldn’t distinguish between them and ISIS. “But now,” Illarionov says, “American officials are certain that since September 30, Russia is directly attacking rebels supported by the CIA who represent the greatest threat to Assad’s regime.”

They add that Moscow has two goals: strengthening Asad and sending a warning message to Washington not to interfere. Both work to the advantage of the Russian-Shiite alliance: if the moderate opposition to Assad is destroyed, the Americans will not “cooperate with more radical groups and will be forced to agree to Assad’s retention of power.”

Some American officials are telling journalists that “they are seeking ways to further support the opposition,” Illarionov continues. “But according to their words, Obama does not want to begin a proxy war with Russia or allow Moscow to divert the US from its struggle with ISIS.”

Unfortunately, he concludes, “as a result of Russia’s attacks, the White House will find it more difficult to control the situation” and prevent advanced weaponry from falling into the hands of groups that may act against American interests. But for the time being, “the Syrian government army has gone over to the attack” supported by Russian air power.

Edited by: A. N.

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  • OlenaG

    Let me enlighten the author. We Americans are not surprised at Obama’s lack of action. Why? Read on.

    Withdrew American forces from Iraq AGAINST all advice from both senior military and civilian leadership.

    Spent over $40 MILLION USD to fund Syrian opposition only to have them get killed off or turn themselves and their equipment over to ISIS.

    Was a U.S. Senator for only two of the six years he was elected for. Spent the first year voting ‘Present’ in the Senate and the second year running for President.

    Was a Community Organizer working with ACORN before running for Senator. ACORN was accused and proven to be involved in Voter Fraud.

    Lets Syrian Christians get slaughtered and will not offer them refugee status while just giving it away to Muslims leaving the mess Obama help create.

    There is more but you should get the point Obama is in over his head and Putin knows it.

    Anyone or nation that trusts Obama richly deserves the betrayal they will get.

  • Randolph Carter

    OlenaG – too add to your comments: Obama is a lame-duck president; he will never be elected again, so only needs to worry about his “legacy”. This means he has luxury of not giving a damn. Ukraine, ISIS, Syria, the mess in the USA with unemployment, offshoring jobs, bringing in cheap labor, etc. is no longer his problem. He can sit back, play golf and watch the clock. When time runs out, he’s out of the Oval Office and on the lecture circuit making $50K or more just to talk.

    Wait until you see the next batch of clowns we have to choose from: Rand Paul, who believes we should “let Ukraine fix its own problems”, Carly Fiorina, who laid off 30,000 workers at HP, Hilary Clinton who stole thousands of dollars of priceless antiques from the White House (we’ve only managed to get about 1/3 back). I weep for Ukraine, for it is on NONE of their radars. They’ll cater to Syria, the EU (who has Merkel and Hollande, neither of whom give a damn about Ukraine). Life in Ukraine will probably not change one iota.

  • Being

    Still? After years of RUS Vetos of anything to be solved.

    I am only surprised by these irresponsible political speculators talking about any kind of Values. As they miss very much of that meaning, they miss soul + brain And Responsibility.
    And hardly to say if EU listen to USA, or USA to EU or they all obey Russia.
    As Russia can do very much what they want to and nobody, Nobody will act really.
    So better all run away to EU, all 7bil of world people and the others can fight happyly on whole planet to see who is more right. Who is righter – has more rights. Men, most of men probably do not know anything better than that.
    Yet nature+animals all refuge to EU as well and seas and oceans, yes all and few responsible men too.

  • Yoshua Zefios

    The Arab Spring was all about hunger and poverty. The Middle East and North Africa are collapsing due to over-population (from 100 million in 1950 to 400 million today), ecosystem collapse, poverty and war. They estimate that some 20-35 million refugees will arrive to Europe in the coming years. If Europe decides to close its borders to refugees and the situation in MENA collapses into an all out war that stops the flow of oil, then the world would plunge into darkness, starvation and anarchy.

    The West is supporting the oil rich Sunni Gulf States who are supporting Sunni jihadists agains the Shia regime in Syria. Russia has now decided to take part in the war. Russia has allied it self with Shia Muslims in Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon against Sunni Muslim rebels and jihadists.

  • Niall Fraser Love

    You should of mentioned Iran more in this article the Baath Party is now really just a puppet of the Mullahs completely dependent on them, Mussolini’s dependence on the Germans in the later part of WW2. Russia is really doing 2 things 1) keep its navel port in Lataikia and 2) expand Iran’s (who is like the Russia very anti west but not hostile to them the way Daesh is) power. The more dependent the Baathists are on Iran the more their power grows.