By Joshua Tartakovsky, December 17
US Secretary of State John Kerry and Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Victoria Nuland, visited Moscow yesterday.
After a charm offensive which included strolling along Arbat street and being greeted by locals warmly, Kerry met with Putin. Kerry’s strolling in the streets of Moscow was received with great enthusiasm by Russia’s pro-Western liberals. There is nothing Russian liberals like more than having a smiling American leader nearby who gives them a feeling they are part of the West and are loved by Uncle Sam. One may say that for them this was a religious experience.
In his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Kerry said that US is no longer interested in removing Assad. Kery also said that the “United States and our partners are not seeking so-called regime change.”
Kerry’s announcement was greeted as big news. The US, apparently, finally admitted that removing Assad is both impossible and undesirable.
However, it is precisely at times like these that one should use his reason first, and his emotions later.
For one, while Kerry generally has very good relations with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, and the former has taken a very rational line on many issues, he does not always call the shots. At least once, and probably more, Nuland disagreed with him and was not rebuked for it. Kerry may be a well-wisher but he does not have as much power as one may think.
In addition, the claim that US allies are no longer interested in regime change in Syria is simply not true. Turkey continues to actively support ISIS and buys its oil. Saudi Arabia, which has been supporting ISIS for years, now announced a “new anti-terror coalition” whose goal will probably be to “fight ISIS” by in fact may be supporting and training fighters to fight the Syrian Arab Army. (Saudi Arabia also said that Pakistan was part of the coalition, without even consulting the country). These rebels may replace ISIS in given areas and fragment the Syrian state, taking over large swaths of land. Kery’s statement on US allies no longer seeking a “regime change” is simply more than questionable.
Furthermore, just a few days ago, US planes attacked bases of the Syrian Army, in the supposed war against ISIS. The US said that Russian planes attacked the Syrian Army’s base, not American planes. But surely Russia know where Syrian Army bases are located. The US also attacked water pumps and electricity grids in the past, harming the civilian sector. The US policy on the ground has therefore been “fighting ISIS” by bombing civilian infrastructure and the Syrian Army. We can be justified in expecting more attacks by US or US-allies against the Syrian Army and state, followed by denials and with the mainstream media taking their side, while the US may even to remove Russia Today (as attempts already indicate) and Press TV from being accessible in Europe and the United States. Even if Syria is overly left alone, Donbass may be attacked by the US-supported Kiev junta.
The US may be changing its tactics for now. It may be seeking to soothe Russian concerns and buy the support of the Russian people, while making it more difficult for others to accuse them in the future of trying to undermine the Syrian State after attacks by US proxies do precisely that. The White House may have been pressured to change tactics due to growing conerns regarding complaints from law-makers that President Obama has been aiding ISIS indirectly. The charm offensive in Moscow may indicate US may try to gain the Russian public to its side and will increase its activities within Russia while presenting Putin as an irrational mindmonger who seeks war while they seek peace. It is also possible that we will see a relative calm until election year and then a new onslaught led by Hillary. After all, efforts to topple Assad have so far failed. But either way, one should be very skeptical about taking Kerry’s statements seriously. Especially as his statement that US allies are no longer interested in Assad’s removal is patently untrue.
The West’s war plans against Syria did not change. As Tobias Nase wrote, the German Tornado planes which are planned to fight ISIS in Syria, were equipped with air-to-air missiles even though ISIS has no airforce. Their goal would be then to attack either Syrian or Russian planes, not fight ISIS. Dan Glazebrook wrote that the UK’s goal in the authoriation for attacks in Syria is “to co-ordinate the various death squads – including the Islamic State group – into a more effective fighting force for the destruction of the Syrian state. One group is to be given overt support – to be funded, trained, equipped and given air cover by the Royal Air Force.” Therefore, the US may claim removing Assad is no longer on the table, but in fact it and its allies have been working endlessly to fragment and destroy the Syrian state as they falsely claim to be fighting terrorism.
The US may be pursuing a honey trap now and a charm offensive, but anyone who views the facts on the ground should be skeptical and critical. As Mao Tse Tung wrote, causing trouble and then supposedly appeasing, has been a tried and true method of imperialists everywhere. “Make trouble, fail, make trouble again, fail again… until their doom – that is the logic of the imperialists… they will never go against this logic.” He said: “when we say “imperialism is ferocious,” we mean that its nature will never change, that the imperialists will never lay down their butcher knives, that they will never become Buddhas, till their doom” (“Cast Away Illusions, Prepare for Struggle” (August 14, 1949), Selected Works, Vol. IV, p. 428).