In the Middle East Power Vacuum, Enter the Street-Sweeper, Vladimir Putin

Ray Starmann

Today, Russian aircraft are conducting airstrikes in Syria for the first time. Initial reports note that Syrian opposition groups near and inside the city of Homs have been struck. Reports also indicate that Russian aircraft have attacked multiple ISIS targets in Central Syria. (Note: the latter reports are coming from RT)

These airstrikes are the beginning of a Russian strategic campaign to destroy various groups fighting the Syrian Army, such as the Al-Nusra Front and Islamic radical factions like ISIS, while also ensuring that the regime of Bashar al-Assad remains in power.

The airstrikes follow a Russian military buildup along the Syrian coast for the last several weeks. Russian military hardware and trainers are pouring into the area. At the airport, south of Latakia, T-90 main battle tanks, aircraft such as the SU-30 Flanker, SU-25 Frogfoot and the SU-24 Fencer have been spotted, along with KA-52 helicopters. Over thirty Russian combat aircraft are on the ground and flights of Ilyushin IL-76 and Antonov AN-124 transport aircraft are now a mainstay at the busy airport hub.

Why has Vladimir Putin, decided to act now in Syria?

Russia and Syria have been long time allies, back to what Putin claims are the glory days of the USSR. Putin is the leader of the USSR ‘lost cause’ movement. Back in 1980, the USSR and Syria, which was led by Hafez al-Assad, signed an agreement where the USSR vowed to come to the aid of the Assad regime if it was threatened by internal or external forces. The USSR is long gone and so is old man Assad, but the agreement lives on in Putin’s KGB schooled mind. Back then the agreement solidified a green light for Soviet support in Syria, since their main ally, Egypt had signed a peace treaty with Israel and was no longer the leader of the anti-West coalition in the Middle East.

Putin also wants continued access for Russia to the Mediterranean port of Tartus, south of the city of Latakia. Access to Tartus gives the Russians a naval presence in the Mediterranean, which they have always been denied by simple geography, minus their Black Sea/Bosphorus route.

Assad’s army is exhausted and has lost large areas to the rebels, including a foothold in Idlib. The Al-Nusra Front, an Al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, has taken control of the main highway from Latakia to Idlib. They also control the Sahd al-Ghab plain south of Latakia. Russia wants to destroy the Al-Nusra Front and ISIS and protect its assets along the Syrian coastline. Russia is also bolstering the presence of its new BFF, Iran, which has Revolutionary Guard units stationed in Joureen, near Latakia.

Putin is flexing his muscle, for the main reason that he sees a power vacuum that has formed in the Middle East. He’s the street sweeper, the sheriff who is going to come in and clean up the town and then build himself an office down the street from the Long Branch Saloon.

Under the Obama Administration, Putin has witnessed one disastrous and weak US foreign policy decision and action after another. The Obama Administration model is speak softly and then speak softly again and then don’t speak at all. Obama abandoned Iraq and opened up a Pandora’s Box into hell. He brought down Khadaffi and then turned the country over to Islamic radicals. His Iran deal is probably the greatest foreign policy disaster for the West since Neville Chamberlain, declared “Peace in our time” in 1938. US prestige and respect across the world is almost non-existent under the Obama Administration. The man who strolled on to the stage in Berlin in 2008, acting like Julius Caesar crossing the Rubicon isn’t fit to empty Caesar’s chamber pot.

Putin has certainly been amused watching the inept, worthless US led air campaign against ISIS in Iraq and Syria that has no more destructive power than Five O’Clock Charlie on MASH. He must wonder how a nation that could launch 3,000 sorties a day against Iraq in 1991 doesn’t have the backbone to hit ISIS with more than half a dozen of airstrikes a day.

Putin, like all Russian leaders is a chess player, although Putin is playing chess with live ammo. His goals are many: keep Assad in power, destroy Islamic radicals in Syria, work with his new buddy, Iran to bolster their strength and destroy American hegemony in the Middle East.

What will Obama do in response to Russia’s latest actions? Besides hemming and hawing like Aunt Bee searching for a lost sewing needle, he’ll do NOTHING. He’ll do nothing because he doesn’t believe in American Exceptionalism. He doesn’t believe America is a force for good on the planet.

Obama is weaker than Carter and he lacks Carter’s joie de vivre and innate peacemaking abilities. Obama, is nothing but arrogant and a divider.

Sure, there will be the usual international condemnation in the United Nations. And, Josh Earnest and Admiral Kirby have already told the media how appalled we are that Putin would dare to defy us.

News flash, White House: Putin doesn’t care what you think. He’s busy pumping weights, drinking protein shakes and watching old Chuck Norris movies, while Obama sucks down a Capri Sun and goes back to his collection of Will and Grace DVD’s.

No doubt the Russians will continue to wield a heavy stick. Why would they stop? They are already warning the US to pull its planes out of Syrian airspace. This warning has caused John Kerry to get off his 21 speed Trek road bike and contemplate a suitable response, which means not saying anything, as usual.

Meanwhile, in the Middle East power vacuum, chaos is the order of the day.

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