As the flow of refugees fleeing Syria’s bloody civil war continues to drive a wedge between the EU, and as Brussels struggles to craft a coherent approach to handling the crisis in the face of vastly divergent views on what Europe’s response should be, we’ve made a concerted effort to remind the world that it was Western intervention in Syria that created this crisis in the first place.
This makes it all the more tragically ironic that Europe is now set to use the flow of asylum seekers (with the drowned body of a Syrian toddler as the mascot) as an excuse to drop still more bombs in Syria. All of this, in an ill-fated effort to destabilize a regime that the West feels doesn’t serve its interests and which is allied with the Kremlin, and by extension with Gazprom, which holds considerable sway over Europe thanks to Russia’s vast natural gas fields.
Now that Russia has boots on the ground around Latakia and has openly called on the US and its allies to form a real coalition to defeat ISIS, Washington has found itself in a tough position. People are very gradually beginning to wonder why it is that Russia has been able, in the space of just two weeks, to build a forward operating base and prepare to help Bashar al-Assad drive back ISIS and reclaim the country while the US - which, if you believe the rhetoric, is at the forefront of the global effort to eradicate Islamic militants in Syria - has managed to do virtually nothing to debilitate the group even as the campaign has been going on for the better part of a year.
The explanation, of course, is that the US is primarily interested in ousting Assad, and a sweeping, Russian-assisted mission to swiftly route Assad’s opposition doesn’t do anything at all to advance that aim and indeed, once the militants are gone, one imagines that convincing the Russians to butt out while the US orchestrates some farce of a “democratic” election that will not include Assad will be well nigh impossible. So here we are: there will be no real effort on the part of the US to defeat ISIS until Assad’s ouster is assured and the Russians just made that outcome far less likely by making it more difficult for ISIS and everyone else fighting for control of the country to win the battle against the regime. So the conflict will continue and so will the the flow of refugees to Europe.
As the world slowly begins to wake up to everything said above, Putin is keen to exploit the situation by...well, by telling the truth about the US’s strategy for bringing about regime change. Here’s what he said yesterday at a security summit of ex-Soviet countries in Dushanbe, Tajikistan:
Countries need to “put aside geopolitical ambitions” as well as “direct or indirect use of terrorist groups to achieve” goals that include regime change, in order to counter the threat of Islamic State, Putin said. “Elementary common sense responsibility for global and regional security demands the collective effort of the international community.”
Well don’t look now, but Assad himself is out with a similarly devastating indictment of the West’s role in creating the refugee crisis by using terrorist elements to destabilize his government. We present the following excerpts from an interview Assad gave to Russian media with no further comment. Via CNN:
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is blaming Western nations for fueling the refugee crisis by supporting opposition groups in his country's bloody civil war.
"If you are worried about them, stop supporting terrorists," he said in an interview with Russian news organizations. "That's what we think regarding the crisis. This is the core of the whole issue of refugees."
"Europe is responsible because it supported terrorism," he said in the interview at his home in Damascus, the capital.
The European Union in May 2013 ended an arms embargo on rebel groups fighting the Syrian government. The United States, meanwhile, has been offering limited support to moderate Syrian rebels in the fight against ISIS.
"Can you feel sad for a child's death in the sea and not for thousands of children who have been killed by the terrorists in Syria?" al-Assad said, referring to images of a dead Syrian boy that shocked the world. "And also for men, women, and the elderly? These European double standards are no longer acceptable."
Despite his bitter accusations, al-Assad said he was willing to shake hands with any leader who would join the fight against ISIS and hoped to cooperate with the West and Saudi Arabia in building a "real antiterrorist coalition," the Russian news agency Interfax reported.
He said his forces weren't communicating or cooperating tactically with the U.S.-led coalition that's carrying out airstrikes against ISIS positions in Syria and Iraq.
"They cannot accept the reality that we are the only power fighting ISIS on the ground," he said in reference to the United States. "For them, maybe if they cooperate with the Syrian Army, this is like a recognition or our effectiveness in fighting ISIS."
He accused the U.S. government of "willful blindness" on the matter.