RUSSIA IN SYRIA… BUT WHAT’S THE GAME?
Mr. C.S. shared this article, and it made the "finals" cut this week because of the peculiarity of its implications and fertile ground for high octane speculation. To cut right to the chase, according to Zero Hedge, the Russians, it would appear, have arrived on the ground and in the skies over Syria:
One first of all has to admit that reading certain sections of this article, those containing Washington's statements, are gag-inducing for their very hypocrisy. Take, for example, these:
Then earlier today we got the closest thing to a confirmation from the White House itself which confirmed that "it was closely monitoring reports that Russia is carrying out military operations in Syria, warning such actions, if confirmed, would be "destabilising and counter-productive."
Obama spokesman Joshn Earnest essentially confirmed Russia was already operating in Syria when he said that "we are aware of reports that Russia may have deployed military personnel and aircraft to Syria, and we are monitoring those reports quite closely."
"Any military support to the Assad regime for any purpose, whether it's in the form of military personnel, aircraft supplies, weapons, or funding, is both destabilising and counterproductive."
Of course, Washington's presence in the Middle East, from Libya, to Iraq, Egypt, Afghanistan, has been nothing but "productive" and "stablizing" of course, and let's not leave out "humanitarian." Think only of how remarkably well the international opium trade was stabilized by the American military presence in Afghanistan.
Needless to say, Zero Hedge doesn't hedge, and zeroes in on what the real issue in Syria really is: energy:
Of course, what is left unsaid is that since Russia is there under the humanitarian pretext of fighting the evil ISIS, the same pretext that the US, Turkey, and the Saudis are all also there for, when in reality everyone is fighting for land rights to the most important gas pipeline in decades, the US is limited in its diplomatic recoil.
Indeed as we sarcastically said last week: "See: the red herring that is ISIS can be used just as effectively for defensive purposes as for offensive ones. And since the US can't possibly admit the whole situation is one made up farce, it is quite possible that the world will witness its first regional war when everyone is fighting a dummy, proxy enemy which doesn't really exist, when in reality everyone is fighting everyone else!"
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Which now effectively ends the second "foreplay" phase of the Syrian proxy war (the first one took place in the summer of 2013 when in a repeat situation, Russia was supporting Assad only the escalations took place in the naval theater with both Russian and US cruisers within kilometers of each other off the Syrian coast), which means the violent escalation phase is next. It also means that Assad was within days of losing control fighting a multi-front war with enemies supported by the US, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, and Putin had no choice but to intervene or else risk losing Gazprom's influence over Europe to the infamous Qatari gas pipeline which is what this whole 3 years war is all about.
Finally, it means that the European refugee crisis, which is a direct consequence of the ISIS-facilitated destabilization of the Syrian state (as a reminder, ISIS is a US creation meant to depose of the Syrian president as leaked Pentagon documents have definitively revealed) is about to get much worse as 2013's fabricated "chemical gas" YouTube clip will be this years "Refugee crisis." It will be, and already has been, blamed on Syria's president Assad in order to drum up media support for what is now an inevitable western intervention in Syria.
The problem, however, has emerged: Russia is already on the ground, and will hardly bend over to any invading force.
Finally, while we have no way of knowing how the upcoming armed conflict will progress, now may be a safe time to take profits on that oil short we recommended back in October, as the geopolitical chess game just shifted dramatically, and with most hedge funds aggressively short, any realization that the middle east is suddenly a far more violent powderkeg - one which may promptly include the Saudis in any confrontation - could result in an epic short squeeze.
So where's the high octane speculation here? isn't it all fairly obvious what's going on?
Well, I suspect it's a bit subtler, and probably far more devious, than even Zero Hedge's astute analysis. There are, so to speak, ramifications within ramifications. And I suspect - strongly in fact - that this is as much about Saudi Arabia as it is about Syria. That "kingdom" is a conjuries of royal factions, and has just been through a bit of a succession crisis, and further domestic problems are looming. Despite its projections of strength and unity, it is a fragile regime, dependent on oil for its power and wealth, and offering little else of any value to the world. THus, one has to ask: is it to Russia's benefit to see the area stabilize, and allow Assad's regime to collapse, and for the region, in turn, to stabilize around the Middle East's oil supplies once again? Russia has been doing a land office business in energy contracts not in spite of but because of the instability. And, if one thinks about it, the American fracking and shale oil boom was aided and abbetted by Middle Eastern instablity.
And finally, we have the Iran nuclear deal hovering in the background...
So what does all of it possibly add up to?
Well, crawl on out to the end of the twig of high octane speculation with me, where the weight of the twig(the evidence) is not capable of bearing the huge load put on it, but nonetheless, the possibility has to be mentioned: the Saudis might be on the long-term menu. But to do that, one has to get all the players and pieces in order and assembled all the ingredients for the recipe (hence, perhaps, the deal with Iran, an only slightly less loathsome regime). After all, the Saudis want to buy arms from Russia, they've been through a succession crisis, and one wonders, again, why Russia? Are they not happy with their American airplanes and German tanks? My bet is, there's been a sea change, and Riyadh is feeling some huge pressure, and knows there has been a sea change, and I strongly suspect the signal of that sea change was the "apprehension" and (umpteenth) "death" of Osama Bin Laden; the turn to Russia, while quietly executed, was perhaps a desperation move; it was clearly a major departure for the country's rulers. Would Iran object to "regime change" in Riyadh? Certainly not. Would Russia? Probably not, though that depends on the circumstances. Would the USA? Well, again, that depends on the faction one is talking about. But the bottom line is, everyone wants that oil, but no one - except Tel Aviv perhaps - would miss the kingdom. Without the oil, it is merely a mediaeval barbarism. The problem for the west is the huge Saudi entanglement in the Western financial system. So, if this high octane speculation is true, one can watch for two long term developments: (1) Saudi "diversification", meaning a curtailing of investments in the West, and an new openness to "the East," presaged, perhaps, by its recent decisions to seek arms from Russia; and (2) growing open mainstream media examinations of that country in the West, and growing pressures to disentangle Saudi influence in its finances.
In short, Syria isn't really about Syria, or Assad, or even ultimately oil(though that remains a principal motivation). It's about Iran, and Saudi Arabia.
See you on the flip side...
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