Could this be the worst nightmare for Washington neoconservatives? The Chinese military is now moving into Syria in order to come to the assistance of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad defeat the U.S.- and Israeli-made radical Islamic terror group known as the Islamic State (ISIS).
By Richard Walker
For some time, China has been quietly backing Russia’s war against radical terrorist groups in Syria by sending teams of military advisors to assist Russian specialists running Moscow’s air, ground, and Special Forces campaign against ISIS and its affiliates.
From China’s perspective, the war against ISIS has to be won in Syria if China, Russia, and the West are to escape terrorists filtering out of the Middle East into territories bordering China, Russia, and Europe.
The Chinese military support will increase in the coming months, and contrary to some denials, Washington has been aware of China’s unpublicized military contribution to Moscow’s alliance with the government of Bashar al-Assad.
In 2015, China’s foreign ministry was unambiguous in voicing public backing for Russian air strikes, which it said were aimed at ensuring “international security.” China is also helping with the targeting of the al-Nusra Front, al Qaeda, and other extreme Islamic groups, some of which are being trained and armed by Washington and Israel.
One of the absurd elements of the mass media reporting of recent events in Syria was the widely reported claim that Russia’s use of the Hamedan airbase in Iran to launch an attack against ISIS in Syria happened without the West being notified.
Major news outlets insisted that the Obama administration and its surrogates in the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill were taken unawares by the Russian decision to use the base in Iran. This is untrue. Washington and Beijing were both informed well in advance by Moscow. Sources this writer spoke with in Eastern Europe acknowledged that it was never a closely guarded secret, just as China’s military role in Syria has not been hidden from Washington.
One wonders how the mass media will react if, as is possible, Turkey, which has reset its relations with Moscow, encourages Russia to fly joint sorties into Syria from its Incirlik base, which is presently used by the U.S.
Several people with direct knowledge of Turkey-U.S. relations told AFP that Washington was nervous about the prospect of Russia being given access to the base where NATO nukes are stored. One source claimed the Pentagon has been pleading with the Turks to deny Russia access. Meanwhile, Beijing’s leaders are as puzzled as Russia’s by Washington’s continued fixation with regime change in Syria and its willingness to be linked to extreme Islamic fighters tied to ISIS.
From a Chinese perspective, Washington’s policy is not only furthering the growth of ISIS, but is destabilizing the region.
A diplomat who asked to remain anonymous put it to AFP succinctly: “Washington says it wants to talk to Russia about joint operations, but only on condition that Russia agrees to pull its support from Assad and at some point leave him in the wind. The problem with that hair-brained policy is that if Assad falls, the way will be cleared for ISIS and its fellow travelers to add Syria to its caliphate.”
A Russian source was much blunter: “Had it been left to powerbrokers in Washington, Assad would be in his grave like [Libyan leader Muammar] Qadaffi and Saddam Hussein, and [ISIS] would be running the show in Syria. We believe the CIA convinced the White House and powerful figures in Congress that if they got rid of Assad Turkey would partner with the Saudis to run Syria for the West by controlling ISIS and its associates.
That is a mad scheme. Turkey has learned you cannot do business with terrorists. It is time for the CIA to disengage from the extreme elements it is tied to in the Middle East.”
The diplomat’s point about Turkey was recently reinforced by Turkey’s plea to Moscow to let it join the Russian military in targeting ISIS.
The Turkish turnaround exposes not only weaknesses in the NATO alliance, but Washington’s confused policy in the region.
Some NATO allies in Europe are privately voicing concerns about Washington’s growing antagonism toward Russia and in particular its willingness to continue to pursue the neocon agenda of regime change in Syria.
Minds are unlikely to change in the U.S. Attitudes towards Russia will likely harden should Hillary Clinton win the White House race.
In Europe, where immigration and Syria are daily topics in the media and at dinner tables, there are also serious worries that Cold War policies will drag the continent back into a militaristic past. While many have eyes on Ukraine, others see a potential conflict between Russia and NATO in the Arctic.
In related news, reports are now surfacing that Turkey is secretly planning a ground force to go into northern Syria to attack the Kurds. That would place Turkey in confrontation with its NATO ally, the U.S., which has Special Forces teams in that part of Syria training Kurds and “others.”
Recently, Washington accused the Syrian and Russian air forces of targeting U.S. teams operating with the Kurds and warned of possible retaliation.
This would be a major escalation of the conflict and would force NATO to question whether Turkey should continue to be a member of NATO.