The Strategist

Russian Jets Started Bombing Syria; Meanwhile, the US is Still Hesitating

09/30/2015 - 16:23

Jets of Russian Aerospace Forces started striking Syria on Wednesday. It was first reported by the US media, adding that the bombing is delivered at targets near the cities of Homs and Hama. Then the information about the beginning of Russia's military operation in Syria was confirmed by the official representative of the Defense Ministry, Major-General Igor Konashenkov, noting that the strikes are being made on the positions of the terrorist organization "Islamic State" in Syria.

Denniss via flickr
Denniss via flickr
According to him, the Russian air forces are striking at military applications, communication centers, vehicles, depots of arms, ammunition, fuel and lubricants, belonging to terrorists. Russian President Vladimir Putin called “acting on anticipation, not waiting for them to come to our house” the only true way to combat the terrorists, noting that the operation in the Middle Eastern country will be temporary.

For an attentive observer, the entry of Russian troops in Syria should not be a surprise. Prerequisites for this have already been observed previously.

One of them is the announcement on creation of information center of Russia, Iraq, Iran and Syria in Baghdad, which tasks will include collection and processing of intelligence information on the activities of "Islamic State". The statement was made on the eve of the speech of Mr. Putin at the 70th UN General Assembly session in New York. In his speech, the Russian leader explained in detail the meaning of Moscow's proposals on the establishment of a broad international coalition against terrorism, being actively discussed in recent weeks. According to Vladimir Putin, Russia today is "providing military and technical assistance to Iraq, Syria and other countries in the region that are fighting terrorist groups."

As the President's press secretary Dmitry Peskov said, the US military were also invited to attend the first meeting of the Information Center in Baghdad, but this invitation was not accepted. Mr. Peskov also noted that the Baghdad center "is not a closed institution, but a union opened to everyone."

The first deputy head of the Pentagon Robert Work, speaking yesterday in Congress, acknowledged that the decision of the Russian Federation, Syria, Iran and Iraq to share intelligence to combat the IG was a surprise for the United States. "We were taken by surprise by this communication," - he said, adding that the United States is not going to "share intelligence information with them." At the same time, US President Barack Obama in his speech at the UN General Assembly cautiously admitted the possibility of cooperation of Washington, Moscow and Tehran in the fight against the IG. In addition, US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter gave the order "to open a direct line of communication" with Russia in order to avoid conflicts in the region. "Contacts with the Russian side will be maintained in order to avoid errors and incorrect assessments of the situation in Syria and ensure the safety of the antiterrorist coalition forces," - said Pentagon.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, also taking part in the 70th session of the UN General Assembly, in his televised address on the eve of departure to New York, admitted that the decision to open a focal point of the four states’ power structures in Baghdad was taken by the Iraqi side in response to the Russian initiative to create a broad front in the fight against "Islamic state." According to the Iraqi prime minister, Baghdad is not refusing to cooperate with the other coalition to combat "Islamic state" led by the US, which is already causing air strikes against “Islamic State” targets in Iraq and Syria.

Washington made it clear that the US position is only being generated. "We're just trying to understand what the purpose of Russians in Syria and Iraq, and determine whether we can move forward to the mutual benefit of the parties. We are still having long conversations on this subject," - said the representative of the American administration after the meeting of US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. The situation around Syria became one of the main topics of talks in New York between Putin and Obama, which, according to the parties, was frank and constructive, despite the remaining differences.

Meanwhile, Baghdad's readiness to accede to Moscow, Tehran and Damascus became a confirmation that the Russian side begins to take the initiative after numerous setbacks in the region. Experiencing growing frustration in cooperation with the US, Iraq is ready to reconsider its foreign policy priorities.

For example, to the evident displeasure of the US, Iraqi leadership, composed of Shiites, opened the door to Iranian militias in the fight against the IG on the Iraqi territory, not coordinating their actions with the US military. Iranian weapons have already been delivered to Damascus through the territory of Iraq. At the same time, despite the objections of the United States, Iraq has opened its airspace to Russian military transport planes delivering weapons to Syria. Within the rapidly developing military-technical cooperation between Russia and Iraq in the past year, Moscow supplied Baghdad with nine Su-25 to attack the IG. This happened after target date of F-16 fighters’ delivery to Baghdad, promised by the US, were revised.