Trump Following Netanyahu’s Footsteps in Syria: Russian Analyst
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – A Russian-based political analyst described the recent US attack on an airbase in Syria as an “illegal act of war”, noting that President Donald Trump is following Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s footsteps in attacking the Arab country.
“Trump's Tomahawk strike was an illegal act of war commenced on trumped-up pretexts (pun intended). The purpose behind the operation is to place the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) on the permanent defensive out of fear over when and where the next strike will come,” Andrew Korybko, a political analyst at the Moscow-based Geopolitika.Ru think tank, told the Tasnim News Agency.
He added, “However, what Trump did isn't unique, since "Israel" has been bombing Syria off and on ever since the war started, so it can be said that Trump is just following in his ally Netanyahu's footsteps.”
Following is the full text of the interview:
Tasnim: What is your reaction to recent US attack on Syria under President Donald Trump?
Korybko: Trump's Tomahawk strike was an illegal act of war commenced on trumped-up pretexts (pun intended). The purpose behind the operation is to place the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) on the permanent defensive out of fear over when and where the next strike will come.
However, what Trump did isn't unique, since "Israel" has been bombing Syria off and on ever since the war started, so it can be said that Trump is just following in his ally Netanyahu's footsteps.
Both the US and "Israel" launch strikes against the SAA whenever they sense that it would be an opportune strategic moment to change the tide of battle and give terrorists the advantage. These "surgical strikes" are calculated and not spontaneous.
Tasnim: What kind of message is Trump trying to convey, to Putin in particular, by having Chinese President Xi Jinping sitting next to him after ordering the Syria strike?
Korybko: This operation was pre-planned and timed to coincide with President Xi's visit in order to convey a few points.
The first is that Trump is absolutely ruthless and has no compunctions about ordering a military strike one minute, and then sitting down and sharing a steak with a world leader the next.
Along these lines, the message being delivered to President Xi is that Trump might even launch limited strikes against North Korea next, and it's no surprise that both leaders came out of their meeting with a supposedly new strategy for responding to Pyongyang.
The other point that Trump was conveying is that he is the "alpha male" not only over President Putin (whom he feels that he embarrassed by the strike), but also President Xi, who apparently seems to need Trump more than the reverse and therefore didn't walk away from the dinner in spite of Trump's aggression in Syria.
It's true that China needn't get directly involved in Mideast affairs nor take on the responsibility of being Syria's protector (a duty which it has no mandate or obligation to perform), but the optics surrounding the fact that President Xi dined with Trump after the latter ordered a military strike against the SAA are nonetheless uncomfortable and negative.
Had the tables been reversed and Trump was President Xi's guest at the time that the Chinese leader launched an attack against an American partner, he would definitely get up and walk out after giving him a tongue lashing first. In China's defense, however, that is not how its diplomacy works nor is it in line with multi-millennial Chinese traditions, so observers should not be too harsh in judging the People's Republic in this case.
Still, the US did hope that President Putin would take note of this and develop negative impressions of distrust and suspicion concerning China, though I personally doubt that this supplementary infowar tactic will succeed. Everyone knows that the US wants to drive a wedge between Russia and China, and there is no chance that Moscow's strategists and decision makers will interpret events through that prism.
However, that does not mean that the US and its allies will not try to promote this weaponized narrative indirectly through their media proxies and "expert communities".
Tasnim: Do you believe that the US and Russia are on road to a final collision? Do you think that the US is beating the drum for World War III?
Korybko: No, the two sides will not enter into a conventional war with one another, let alone over Syria, for the reasons which I thoroughly explained in my article for Geopolitika.Ru, "How The Neocons Are Tempting Trump On Syria".
I released it Thursday night before the attack took place and accurately forecast that Russia wouldn't militarily intervene to stop Trump because its mandate only covers anti-terrorist activities, not supporting President Assad, the SAA, or Syria's sovereignty.
The global perception, however, is that Russia has tacitly taken on these responsibilities, though this myth was painfully shattered the moment that Russia's state-of-the-art anti-air defense systems stood silent and weren't ordered to fire at the Tomahawks.
Having said that, however, the two sides are definitely engaged in a New Cold War which is being advanced through the US' Color Revolutions, Unconventional Wars, Hybrid Wars, and Conventional Wars in third-party states, all of which are examples of strategic warfare and represent a new era of proxy conflict.
I extensively wrote about this in my 2015 book published by the Institute of Strategic Research and Forecasts at the People's Friendship University of Russia titled "Hybrid Wars: The Indirect Adaptive Approach To Regime Change", which is available for free in PDF at Oriental Review (www.orientalreview.org), and which I recommend any interested readers review if they'd like to know more about the US' new war-fighting capabilities, including those that are expected to be used against Iran.
Tasnim: Turkey and certain Arab states have welcomed the US military campaign in Syria in the wake of the chemical attack in the Arab country’s northwestern province of Idlib. What is your take on the role of Turkey and the Arab states?
Korybko: Erdogan, as the consumer opportunist loyal only to his own immediate interests, expectedly sided with his NATO ally, which is also what I forecast in my Geopolitika.Ru article. The US and Turkey are likely deliberating over some sort of a deal whereby Ankara would acquire post-Daesh influence over Idlib in exchange for Washington doing the same with the Kurds in a "federalized" (internally partitioned) Syria.
At the same time, however, Turkey is a member of the Mideast Great Power Tripartite alongside Russia and Iran, and Moscow previously bombed Daesh together with Ankara during a joint operation around Al-Bab as part of Turkey's "Euphrates Shield" campaign. Moreover, the three counties collectively broker and preside over the Astana talks, so the situation is not as clear-cut as it might initially seem.
Turkey is trying to "balance" between East and West, but its latest moves aren't by any means "non-partisan" and are directly counter to Russian, Iranian, and most importantly, Syrian interests. If Erdogan continues along this newfound (but not unexpected) opportunistic trajectory, then he will inevitably sabotage Astana and dissolve the Tripartite, which would serve the strategic interests of the US and "Israel".
As for the Arab states, they always side with the US because their governments are aligned with Washington and most of their populations are fiercely sectarian nowadays. Given the weaponized Mainstream Media narrative that the War of Terror on Syria is supposedly due to "oppressed Sunnis rising up against an Alawite (conflated with Shiite) dictatorship", they think that the US is "doing the right thing" and wholeheartedly welcome Trump's cruise missile strikes and wish that he would do even more.
In spite of how contradictory the Russian and Saudi approaches are to Syria, however, the Saudi Ambassador to Russia said the following as reported by Sputnik earlier this week and a day after Trump's cruise missile strike:
"The relations between the countries are evolving according to the strategic plans, within the institutional framework. Yes, it's happening slowly, but it does not stop, we keep moving forward … We will see qualitative changes in the near future and the positive results of these efforts."
There were also reports published by Sputnik last month which cited Rostec CEO Sergey Chemezov as saying that:
"Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, they show great interest in our tanks and we are discussing the possibility of acquisition by these countries."
Russia has, therefore, signaled that it won't let the differing approaches between itself and the pro-US Arab monarchies hinder the development of pragmatic and positive relations in other spheres, including the high-level military-strategic and also energy ones (the latter evidenced by the historic OPEC deal from last year).
In closing, its best to reference what India refers to as its policy of "multi-alignment" in attempting to "justify" its game-changing partnerships with the US and "Israel", as this principle is applicable to describing Russian and Turkish relations in the context of the War on Syria and global politics more generally.
Both parties fluidly and flexibly engage in what they believe to be the most advantageous policy at any given time, whether it's one predicated on immediate short-term interests or far-reaching long-term ones, as per a strategic paradigm that I've previously described as the "19th-Century Great Power Chessboard".
This sees Russia and other Great Powers prioritizing engagement with their similarity sized peers at the perceived (key word) expense of their small- and medium-sized partners such as Syria in order to advance what they believe to be the "greater good", which in Russia's case is the development of Multipolarity, particularly in the Afro-Eurasian mega-continent of the Eastern Hemisphere.
In the pursuit of this grand objective, Russia will work just as equally with Turkey and Saudi Arabia as it will with Iran, representing the epitome of the Neorealist theory of International Relations. The wisdom of this approach is debatable, but all indications suggest that Russia is in fact actively applying it at the moment and will likely continue to do so as needed until it's satisfied with the results.
That being the case, I'm not necessarily condoning nor condemning Russia's decisions, but am simply drawing attention to my empirical observations about Moscow's behavior and attempting to formulate a workable model for cohesively explaining and forecasting its actions, and I hope that my insight can be useful to every reader.
DISCLAIMER: The author writes for this publication in a private capacity which is unrepresentative of anyone or any organization except for his own personal views. Nothing written by the author should ever be conflated with the editorial views or official positions of any other media outlet or institution.