Monday, 12 October 2015

How Putin outwitted the West

And most importantly, Putin stole the show at the United Nations General Assembly last month with an impassioned speech denouncing the whole US-backed project of democracy in the Middle East at its very root.  The Arab Spring has been a catastrophe, Putin argued, and the western countries who encouraged Arab democrats to rise against their corrupt old rulers opened a Pandora’s box of troubles. ‘Instead of the triumph of democracy and progress, we got violence, poverty and social disaster,’ he told assembled delegates, in remarks aimed squarely at the White House. ‘Nobody cares about human rights, including the right to life. I cannot help asking those who have forced this situation, do you realise what you have done?’ It was quite a sight: a Russian president taking the moral high ground against an American president — and getting away with it.  ......
But it’s precisely because Putin has been proved right about the dangers of intervention that his own adventure in Syria is likely to end badly. For one, it’s a myth that Assad is the main bulwark against Isis in Syria. According to figures from IHS Jane’s, only 6 per cent of the Syrian regime army’s 982 operations last year were actually directed against Isis. Most of Assad’s attacks — including with Scud missiles and the infamous barrel bombs dropped from helicopters on residential areas — targeted groups that opposed Isis, thereby helping pave the way for Isis to take over Raqqa and the oilfields of northern Syria.
 ......The Russian operation in Syria is minuscule compared to the vast bases like Camp Victory that Halliburton built for the US military in Iraq, which looked like major airports and boasted full-scale food courts, shopping malls and acres of air-conditioned accommodation. Reports so far show a shipshape but tiny Russian operation, complete with a field bakery, a portable laundry and a single squadron of aircraft as well as some combat helicopters."

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