Looks back using publicly available source material at what Putin articulated as far back as October 2015 in the context of the agreed details of the publicly available ceasefire agreement and the interesting worry among Western elites that the US/Russia/UN backed ceasefire gives UNSC legitimacy to the Syrian Government going after UNSC-agreed terrorists.
February 23, 2016
The US-Russia sponsored Syrian ceasefire details were hammered out over the weekend on February 21st by John Kerry and Sergei Lavrov and signed off by Presidents Obama and Putin. The details of the agreement can be found on the US State Department site with an identical version on the Russian Foreign Ministry site. Putin spoke to the nation about it: see English subtitled video and transcript. The White House simply released a low key readout leaving the Press Secretary Josh Earnest to discuss it in a press briefing.
Within 24 hours, the Syrian Government announced via its state media SANA that it had agreed to the terms as defined in the US-Russia agreement.
The part that media and analysts are focusing on is the US-Russian agreement that the ceasefire does not apply to ISIS, al-Nusra or “and other terrorist organizations designated by the United Nations Security Council” and the territories where these groups operate.
What Putin Said As Of October 2015
In mid-October after reading over 10 speeches, interviews and comments on Syria Putin made over a prior few weeks, I summarized his stated position over 20 propositions.
Note that these 20 propositions were not about whether Putin meant what he said, or had hidden motives etc. It’s a straightforward Cliffs Notes of what he said.
A screenshot is provided below of the relevant statements for this blog.
1. the US Government should work with Russia in clearly delineating who else besides ISIS was a legitimate target in Syria and where they were, absent of which all Jihadis were going to be attacked.
2. Following International Law, the UN and the legitimate Syrian Government needed to be parties to any agreement. (And not some half-cocked Coalition of the Willing posse yee-hawing their way through Syria.)
Current Situation (Feb 23, 2016)
Putin got EXACTLY what he stated his goals were. Anyone spending time actually reading the official statements in the Prologue and the Cliff Notes propositions can objectively see that.
Why Western Analysts/Media are Crestfallen
Mainstream Western media and analysts are worried about the ceasefire for a couple of reasons.
One is that they realize that since the so-called Coalition-backed moderate opposition is in bed – one might say having an orgy – with the various Jihadis groups that may be put on the UNSC list, this would give Russia and the Syrian Government UN sanction to go after them regardless of the ceasefire. In other words, unless the rebels dissociate themselves from UNSC-labelled terrorists, they invite sanctioned bombing.
It is telling that instead of calling for the so-called moderate Opposition to dissociate itself from al-Qaeda, Western analysts call the situation “worrying” – because it may give an “excuse” for Russia to go after them as well. (The irony in this may be appreciated because the ostensible reason the Taliban was bombed and invaded out of power in 2001 – despite them having nothing to do with 9/11 and condemning the attack on the US homeland – was because Al-Qaeda resided within their borders and the Taliban refused to act against them without proof of their involvement. Recall the “You are with us or against us” rhetoric that these same analysts and media amplified in calling the still on-going Afghanistan war justified.)
A second reason is of course the gnashing of teeth that “Putin is winning” . This of course is irrelevant to what should be the larger goal of stabilizing Syria. But it is deeply worrying to Western geopolitical strategists who had assumed Regime Change in Syria as a given and now see the Russians standing up against the hitherto unchallenged regime change chaos that was sown over the past few years (that even US intelligence officials testifying before Congress recently admitted made things worse – see Appendix below.)
Reading the various articles and Twitter feeds of prominent Western analysts and media personnel, it’s obvious that
1. Most journalists (who hate Assad and Putin personally with a white hot passion) don’t seem to have the ability to do independent research, logical analysis or remember or read history, instead relying on specific “Analysts” and “Experts” to do so.
2. These “Analysts” and “Experts” are invariably from various interventionist establishment factions (see here for a high level summary of US Interventionist factions) and the same geniuses who supported regime changes across the Middle East with no negative consequence to their own personal security, wealth or even reputation when their sunny predictions of rainbows and unicorns instead caused death, despair and destruction.
Indeed it’s painfully obvious Western Punditry and Journalism are two jobs where unlike others, getting it wrong not only doesn’t get you fired, but leads to more fame and fortune. So not only are there no negative reinforcements for being biased or incompetent but there are positive ones for being so.
Here’s what the US National Intelligence honcho James Clapper had to say before Congress on February 9, 2016 (two weeks ago).