Tags: Middle East | Russia | Syria

Russian Attacks US-Backed Rebels

Russian Attacks US-Backed Rebels
 Russia Syria Base (AP)

By Monday, 26 October 2015 04:14 PM Current | Bio | Archive

For several successive days Russian planes have targeted Syrian rebel troops backed by the Central Intelligence Agency.

Even the recalcitrant Obama administration had to admit this is an intentional campaign to degrade U.S. efforts at deposing President Assad.

According to official reports the Obama administration is “angry.”

Clearly Obama doesn’t want to get sucked into a proxy war in Syria, but at the same time he cannot (should not?) abandon CIA-backed rebels who have put their lives on the line to oppose Assad’s army.

There is little doubt in any quarter that Russian attacks on U.S. allies are a direct challenge to Obama’s policy of partial intervention.

Russian officials contend the air campaign in Syria is designed to fight ISIL and other terrorists. However, targeting tells a different story. There is also a report that a Russian aircraft destroyed a U.S. surveillance drone.

Rebel spokesman in Syria argue that Russian planes struck Ezzeh Gathering in Hama province catching fighters off guard.

Seventeen more strikes followed over a three day campaign injuring 25 rebel fighters.

Obama administration officials considered asking Russian forces to avoid certain areas in Syria, but came to the conclusion that the Russians could use this information to even more directly target U.S. allies.

Clearly the U.S. is not only on the defensive, it does not have a strategy to protect its allies.

When several rebel forces gained a foothold in northern Syria, Assad lost confidence in his ability to protect coastal areas including Latakia province.

That condition was most likely the catalyst for Russian advancement in the area and the desire to build a major military facility there.

Weakening moderate rebel forces is central to Russian ambitions. Putin is attempting to put Obama in the position of having to accept Assad, despite all the claims about deposition.

Should that happen, the U.S. will have lost face with its former Middle East allies; Russia will have demonstrated its hegemony in the region; Assad will have been “rewarded” for killing 250,000 of his own people and using poison gas and American alliances will be called into question around the globe.

Rebel forces are understandably disheartened. They were trained by the CIA and offered American support. Now they have been left to dangle. When asked about future support, several officers said, “There is nothing specific.”

Here too is another graphic sign of American weakness.

Without deploying a force of our own in the region — which President Obama justifiably wants to avoid — there could still be a demand for “safe areas” and “no fly zones” which U.S. aircraft could defend.

It is morally unconscionable to train rebel troops we place in the battlefield, only to see them open to Russian air strikes.

Russia’s goal is clear: Protect President Assad. Assertions about the war on terror are a pretense.

According to reports, there has been one bombing mission directed at ISIL and al Nusra, the Syrian al Qaida operation; all of the others are directed at rebel troops.

The stakes in this conflict go well beyond Syria. They involve the geography in the Middle East, Russian influence in the Ukraine and even the waves of immigrants floating to European shores.

A “what me worry” president either doesn’t fathom the consequences of inaction or it is part of his scheme for withdrawal and retreat.

Either way, the U.S. is backed into a corner from which recovery will not be easy.

Herbert London is president emeritus of Hudson Institute and author of the books "The Transformational Decade" (University Press of America) and "Decline and Revival in Higher Education" (Transaction Books). Read more reports from Herbert London — Click Here Now.


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The stakes in this conflict go well beyond Syria. They involve the geography in the Middle East, Russian influence in the Ukraine and even the waves of immigrants floating to European shores. The U.S. is backed into a corner. Recovery will not be easy.
Middle East, Russia, Syria
Monday, 26 October 2015 04:14 PM
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