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Posted to YouTube 2/8/2014

Posted to YouTube 1/1/2015

While Bashar al-Assad in Damascus must take responsibility for the casualties of 2014 and the shaping of the war to that date, it would seem Vladimir Putin in Moscow — or in Sochi — during that same winter has only sustained in that season the legacy of the Soviet alignment.

Posted to YouTube 5/7/2016

Posted to YouTube 5/6/2016

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Ellis, Ralph and Holly Yan.  “Airstrike at Syrian refugee camp kills at least 28.”  CNN, May 6, 2016:

At least 28 people were killed when warplanes struck a refugee camp Thursday in Syria, the monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported, with many of the dead women and children.

Rami Abdul Rahman, director of the London-based group, told CNN it was not immediately clear whether Syrian or Russian planes conducted the airstrike.


BackChannels — and so BackChannels feels — has been wrong about cozy relationships between dictators, perhaps, but probably right about their colluding in their own practical interests as regards sustaining feudal absolute power.

Kleptocrats, apparently (this inspired by the pieces in the reference section) need not be in love but only realistic about their mutual dependencies.

By incubating the al-Qaeda types in Syria, especially ISIS, by selecting other targets for bombing earlier in the Syrian Tragedy (see in reference BackChannels 2015), Assad and Putin may have developed an unrealistic plan for both blackmailing and goading the west, which appears to be taking refugees, filtering criminals (over time), and fighting ISIS separately.  With “Assad vs The Terrorists” backfiring, the two, Assad and Putin, are stuck with one another and Assad needs Putin to get to an endgame that makes sense.

Frederic C. Hof, whose essay for the Atlantic Council has appeared in Newsweek winds through an excellent and most clinical analysis of the options at hand.  Here’s a little part of that:

Secretary of State John Kerry nevertheless seeks common ground with Russia on political transition involving a non-Assad, negotiated Syrian consensus.

Is common ground achievable when Moscow sees Assad as personifying a state to save, while Washington sees him as a war criminal and ISIS’s top recruiting asset in the region?

Read Hof — for the boys who made the mess, who produced “Assad vs The Terrorists”, there may be no good exits yet in sight.

The slogan “Assad or We Burn It” has won the day, for now much of Syria has been burned, and Assad has only more to answer for and much, much less to claim.

For Mr. Putin’s part in the Syrian Tragedy, the Russian President may not have been able to direct Assad as regards so many “barrel bombs”, but he has control of Russian air power in the space, and perhaps he should use it to spare noncombatants from assaults, Syrian and Russian, that have built antipathy worldwide for the post-Soviet Moscow-to-Tehran arc of power.

Additional, Cited, and Related Reference

AFP.  “Chief Syria opposition negotiator quits over failed peace talks.”  ABC News, May 30, 2016.

BackChannels.  “Syria — “Assad vs The Terrorists” — How ISIS Defends Assad.”  October 2, 2015.

Hof, Frederic C.  “We Must Reject Putin’s Shabby Deal to Work with Assad.”  Newsweek, May 30, 2016.

Miller, James.  “Putin’s Attack Helicopters and Mercenaries Are Winning the War for Assad.”  Foreign Policy, March 30, 2016.

Petrou, Michael.  “For Canada, standing up to Russia means standing up for a united EU.”  Open Canada, May 31, 2016.

Snyder, Timothy.  “The Wars of Vladimir Putin.”  Three book reviews.  The New York Review of Books, June 9, 2016:

When Pieniążek arrived in Kiev in November 2013 as a young man of twenty-four, he was observing the latest, and perhaps the last, attempt to mobilize the idea of “Europe” in order to reform a state. Ukrainians had been led to expect that their government would sign an association agreement with the European Union. Frustrated by endemic corruption, many Ukrainians saw the accord as an instrument to strengthen the rule of law. Moscow, meanwhile, was demanding that Ukraine not sign the agreement with the EU but instead become a part of its new “Eurasian” trade zone of authoritarian regimes.

At the last moment, Russian President Vladimir Putin dissuaded the Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych, from signing the EU association agreement.

Tilghman, Andrew.  “No U.S. combat advisers for Fallujah invasion.”  Military Times, May 23, 2016.

Trofimov, Yaroslav.  “Russia’s Long Road to the Middle East.”  Wall Street Journal, May 27, 2016:

“The Middle East is a way to showcase that the period of Russia’s absence from the international scene as a first-rate state has ended,” said Fyodor Lukyanov, the head of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy in Moscow, which advises the Kremlin and other government institutions.

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