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    2015: The Year Russia Stood Up to the US in the Middle East & Said 'Enough'

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    Year in Review: Highlights of 2015 (28)
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    2015 ended up becoming the year that Russia stopped standing back and patiently watching as Washington and its allies provoked crisis after crisis in the Middle East, taking the helm in the fight against terror by launching its own military and diplomatic effort to resolve the crisis in Syria, writes American journalist Robert Bridge.

    In his op-ed, published on the site of Russian television network RT, Bridge recalled that "since 2003, Moscow has watched with infinite patience as US-led forces have steadily steamrolled a path of chaos and carnage across a large swath of Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa."

    "This year," the analyst writes, "Vladimir Putin drew a line in Syria."

    Informing their US partners of their intention to start a campaign of airstrikes in support of the Syrian government, "just hours later," Bridge recalled, "the Russian military –with the full support of Damascus – stunned the world by opening a powerful aerial assault against Islamic State [Daesh] forces in Syria, where they were stubbornly entrenched not only as a viable fighting force, but as the owners and operators of a profitable oil-producing enterprise, no less."

    "This Russian demonstration of shock-and-awe provided an exclamation point to comments delivered by President Vladimir Putin, who just one day earlier had berated Western powers in the UN General Assembly for the massive mess they have created in the region."

    In his speech, Bridge recounted, Putin made headlines when he rhetorically asked Western leaders "do you at least realize now what you've done?" With this, he underscored that the US and its allies should be ashamed of their role in the Middle East, as it was their actions which ended up causing the existing chaos.

    The journalist also evoked the Russian president's comments that Daesh (ISIL/ISIS) could not have "come out of nowhere," and that it was "developed as a weapon against undesirable secular regimes." 

    "Putin is by no means alone in this belief," Bridge emphasized. "In May of this year, Judicial Watch, in response to Freedom of Information Act requests and lawsuits, became privy to some highly explosive Pentagon documents that were compiled about a year before Islamic State appeared on the global stage in their Toyota trucks and US-made weapons."

    Russian Aerospace Defense Forces' Su-30SM fighter escorts a Tu-160 bomber which fired cruise missiles at ISIS targets in Syria
    © Sputnik / Russian Defence Ministry
    The document, quoted by Bridge, states that "the Salafist [Islamic State], the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI [Al-Qaeda in Iraq] are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria. The West, Gulf countries and Turkey support the operation; while Russia, China, and Iran support the regime."

    "If the situation unravels," the document continues, "there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in Eastern Syria…and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition [i.e. the West, Gulf countries and Turkey] want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran)."

    The document, Bridge notes, proves "what so many opponents of the Syrian intervention have been saying for five years: [that] there is no 'moderate opposition' in Syria."

    "It is no wonder," the analyst continues, "that US policies seem to have created far more terrorists than they've eliminated – essentially because it is part and parcel of the strategy from the beginning to use these terrorists as proxy armies to take out undesirable governments."

    "Russia," for its part, "came to the realization that not doing anything about Islamic State was a far riskier alternative than allowing this group of savages to continue to flourish practically unmolested in Syria in dangerous proximity to the Russian border, not to mention Russia's naval base at Tartus."

    "Yet somehow, Russia's rather predictable move caught the West completely off-guard," Bridge noted, citing hawkish US Senator John McCain, who offered a "guarantee" in the run-up to the intervention that Russia "will not act."

    For its part, "NATO-member Turkey, who has been accused of purchasing oil from Islamic State, was also caught unawares by Russia's lightning move in Syria…In fact, Ankara, oddly enraged over Russia's determined efforts to destroy not only Islamic State's command center, but its oil business as well, took the world to the brink of World War III when it shot down a Russian fighter jet that it says crossed into Turkish territory."

    Ultimately, Bridge notes, "Putin's decision to enter the Syrian conflict was a risky one, yet it appears [that this is so] for all the wrong reasons. Incredibly, Moscow seems to be having less of a problem handling Islamic State than [it does] those Western states that had proclaimed their dedication to wiping out the terrorist organization in the first place."

    "Russia's military operation in Syria has uncovered a hornet's nest of illicit activity, much of it only indirectly connected to Islamic State. Where such disturbing revelations will lead us in 2016, it is too early to say, but the prospects of peace in Syria anytime soon do not look very likely," the journalist concludes.

    Topic:
    Year in Review: Highlights of 2015 (28)

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    US hegemony, opinion piece, op-ed, analysis, Daesh, Robert Bridge, Bashar al-Assad, Vladimir Putin, Turkey, Syria, United States, Russia
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