When Syrian President Bashar al-Assad elected to bomb noncombatants and combat then moderate revolutionary forces like the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in preference to eliminating at the outset the al-Qaeda-type organizations (like al-Nusra), Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi could not have known his own enterprise, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) was being groomed to first blackmail the western powers (political theatrical: “Assad Or The Terrorists”) and would later (about now: “Assad vs The Terrorists”) become exposed to Moscow’s most advanced, devastating, and lethal conventional firepower.

 When in 1964, the Soviet KGB established Yassir Arafat and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), the refugees of 1948, first caught between armies and then abandoned between states, could not have known of the Soviet mechanics behind what they would perceive as their own deeply anti-Semitic and violent “Palestinian” liberation movement, nor could they have known then that another 52 years of wasting enslavement to the Middle East Conflict, which they themselves have been made to sustain, would lay ahead of them.

The hidden hand in the more dramatic and recent history of despotism turns out that of a dark “privileged of the Party” (the Soviet State then) or “new nobility” (Putin’s state now) intent on producing conflict that it may then claim to control.

Between them, Moscow and Tehran appear to advise, fund, or otherwise influence Hamas and Hezbollah, whose leaders have done well for themselves — Ismael Haniyeh and Khaled Mashaal have developed reputations as billionaires — while those they purport to represent continue to suffer their constraints and their plundering.

In the medieval mode, power may be expected to be capricious and self-aggrandizing.

In reference, the reader will find a BBC Radio piece by Alex Last telling of the Soviet urging Somali militia in the 1970s into war with Ethiopia, then an American client state, over possession of the Ogaden.  While doing that, Moscow was developing influence in Ethiopia, and as it succeeded in that purpose, it chose to betray Somalia, which troops had by then effectively conquered 90 percent of the contested space.  Backing Ethiopia, its new client state, Moscow then produced for it a greater and more powerful army, one including thousands of Cuban troops and all the hardware necessary to push Somalia’s military out of the Ogaden.


Arms sales?

The pleasure of having displaced American influence in Ethiopia (for a while)?

For the pleasure of feeling in control?

While Moscow today may claim to be more concerned with Syria than with Jerusalem, Gaza, and Ramallah, one may ask to what extent Moscow appears concerned with the suite of UN-acknowledged human rights and values, for in Syria and just as with the “Palestinian Liberation Struggle” (and in the 1970s, Somali justice in the Ogaden), Moscow’s genuine concern seems very small for those whose interests it claims to have taken to heart.

Related on BackChannels

“Cold War? –> Cold Struggle.”  May 15, 2016.

“Quote — Manipulation — About the PLO Leader — Pacepa and Rychlak (2013).”  December 2, 2014.

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

General Reference

Last, Alex.  “The Ogaden War.” Interview with General Mohamed Nur Galal.  BBC Radio, April 7, 2016.

Strokan, Sergei and Vladimir Mikheev.  “Why Moscow is in no hurry to mediate Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”  Russia Beyond the Headlines, October 29, 2015.

Westcott, Lucy.  “U.S. Accuses Assad of Aiding ISIS Through Airstrikes.”  Newsweek, June 2, 2015.

Wikipedia.  “Palestine Liberation Organization”.