Does anybody understand ISIL/ISIS/IS and what’s going on in Syria? Because I certainly don’t. Potted summaries will be more than welcome.
Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad seems to be the latest Middle Eastern ruler to have a civil war break out, as his own people tried to overthrow him. Shades of Gaddafi and the ‘Arab Spring’.
As far as I can make out, ISIL/ISIS/IS is or was part of the opposition to Assad, but has now become a utter monster, chopping people’s heads off, raping women, banning smoking (which I think won them plaudits from a few antismokers in the UK, if I remember rightly), and trying to carve out a whole new state.
ISIL/ISIS/IS look far, far worse to me than Assad, who is a British-educated ophthalmologist with an Anglo-Syrian wife.
The US (i.e. Obama) seems to be sitting on its hands, doing nothing. And now Putin, an Assad supporter, seems to have stepped into the vacuum, launching air strikes against ISIL/ISIS/IS (and also against other Assad opposition groups, according to some sources). There are repeated reports that he’s about to put boots on the ground as well. For example:
Vladimir Putin is preparing to send 150,000 troops to Syria in a bid to wipe out the evil Islamic State once and for all.
The Russian leader is reportedly mounting an enormous military mission to take control of the terror group’s stronghold of Raqqa.
The city is the self-declared capital of ISIS in Syria and is patrolled by as many as 5,000 jihadi members.
Putin is set to mobilise 150,000 reservists who he conscripted into the military earlier this week.
An insider revealed: “It is very clear that Russia wants to sweep up the west of the country, taking Raqqa and all the oil and gas resources around Palmyra.
Putin was saying recently that ISIL/ISIS/IS were mercenaries, and they’d fight for whoever paid them the most. He didn’t say who was paying them, but the implication seemed to be that it was the USA and the West.
I’m wondering whether what happens is that a decision is made in the West to overthrow some unpopular dictator (like Gaddafi), and disparate opposition groups are encouraged, funded, supplied with weapons, and maybe even given air support, in order to get the job done. The dictator (Gaddafi) then gets overthrown, and complete chaos reigns (in Libya) as the disparate opposition groups start fighting each other, Is this what’s happening in Syria as well, but the dictator there (Assad) has powerful allies that Gaddafi never had, and so is managing to hang onto power? If so, it’s a complete mess. No wonder people are trying to escape to Europe.
Anyway, Putin seems to me to making the West look weak and ineffectual, and to have grabbed the moral high ground by launching a determined assault on ISIL/ISIS/IS. And maybe he’ll even win himself a few oilfields in the process.
In fact, Putin seems to have been thoroughly turning the tables on the West. He’s even got God on his side now:
“In the new war of beliefs, Putin is saying, it is Russia that is on God’s side. The West is Gomorrah.” Putin said:
“Many Euro-Atlantic countries have moved away from their roots, including Christian values. Policies are being pursued that place on the same level a multi-child family and a same-sex partnership, a faith in God and a belief in Satan. This is the path to degradation.”
“In his state of the nation address, Mr. Putin also portrayed Russia as a staunch defender of ‘traditional values’ against what he depicted as the morally bankrupt West. Social and religious conservatism, the former KGB officer insisted, is the only way to prevent the world from slipping into ‘chaotic darkness.’
Okay, now you tell me where I lost the plot in there. Wasn’t it all the other way round a few decades ago?