Trump-Putin Chess Board: Another Putin Gimmick Of Troop Withdrawal From Syria? – OpEd


If one has to believe what Russian president Putin and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu say Russia has already begun withdrawing some of its troops from Syria and that would yet another partial withdrawal. However, whether or not Russia intends to send more troops a little later is not clear from what they say.

It seems to be a Kremlin’s interim strategy against USA as it looks like the superpowers USA and Russia are playing a chess game as usual in other countries.

Since USA-Israeli fascist twins want to destabilize destroy entire Arab world, a defiant Bashar al- Assad’s reluctance to quit or leave the county – USA does not want to target and simply murder him – it has apparently got Russia and other nations to send their militaries to target Syrians and Syria. Genocides and destructions are the perpetual trends in Arab world.

The USA can achieve maximum causalities and devastations only if Assad remains defiant. The Russian president was met by al-Assad at the Russian Hmeimim airbase near Latakia. Putin said: “I order the defence minister and the chief of the general staff to start withdrawing the Russian group of troops to their permanent bases,” according to the Russian RIA Novosti news agency. “I have taken a decision: a significant part of the Russian troop contingent located in Syria is returning home to Russia,” he added.

Reports say President Vladimir Putin ordered the US type “partial withdrawal” during an unannounced visit to Syria on Monday. Russian support has been crucial in turning the tide of Syria’s civil war in favour of government forces, led by president Assad. Putin made a similar withdrawal announcement last year, but Russian military operations continued. When asked how long it would take for Russia to withdraw its military contingent, Shoigu said that this would “depend on the situation” in Syria.

Last week, President Putin announced the “total rout” of jihadist militants from so-called Islamic State (IS) along the Euphrates river valley in eastern Syria. Russia launched an air campaign in Syria in September 2015 with the aim of “stabilizing” Assad’s government after a series of defeats. Officials in Moscow stressed that it would target only “terrorists”, but activists said its strikes mainly hit mainstream rebel fighters and civilians. The campaign has allowed pro-government forces to break the deadlock on several key battlefronts, most notably in Aleppo.

Meanwhile, Russia’s supposed victory in Syria- former fort of USA – is seen as a major victory of Russian power against USA and embolden Vladimir Putin to seek another term as president in next year’s election. He made the announcement in a speech to workers at a car factory in the Volga city of Nizhny Novgorod. “I will put forward my candidacy for the post of president of the Russian federation,” he said. Putin has been in power since 2000, either as president or prime minister. If he wins the March election he will be eligible to serve until 2024.

Less than a week after announcing he will stand for re-election, Vladimir Putin flies to Syria and declares victory. The Russians have succeeded in keeping a key ally, President Assad, in power. In the process, Russia has been guaranteed a long-term military presence in Syria, with its two bases Hmeimim and Tartus. Moscow has also raised its profile across the Middle East. Signaling the end of Russia’s military operation in Syria will go down well with Russian voters. Electoral concerns apart, Moscow views its two-year campaign in Syria as a success – and not only in terms of fighting international terrorism.

Then there’s the global stage. The operation in Syria prevented Moscow’s international isolation. Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 had sparked Western sanctions and earned the country, in the eyes of some Western governments, the label “pariah state”.

The Syria operation forced Western leaders to sit down and negotiate with Russia’s leadership. Putin said that if “terrorists raise their heads again”, Russia would “carry out such strikes on them which they have never seen”. “We will never forget the victims and losses suffered in the fight against terror both here in Syria and also in Russia,” he said.

He told President Assad that Russia wanted to work with Iran, the government’s other key ally, and Turkey, which backs the opposition, to help bring peace to Syria.

The Syrian and Russian air forces carried out daily air strikes on the rebel-held east of the city before it fell in December 2016, killing hundreds of people and destroying hospitals, schools and markets, according to UN human rights investigators.

Moscow has consistently denied that its air strikes have caused any civilian deaths.

However, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported on Sunday that Russian air strikes had killed 6,328 civilians, including 1,537 children. The UK-based monitoring group has documented the deaths of 346,612 people in total since the start of the uprising against Mr Assad in 2011.

Vladimir Putin is popular with many Russians, who see him as a strong leader who has restored Russia’s global standing with a decisive military intervention in the Syrian civil war and Russia’s annexation of former Russian region Crimea from Ukraine. But his critics accuse him of facilitating corruption and illegally annexing Crimea, which has led to international condemnation.

Russia’s main opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, has been formally barred from standing because he was found guilty of embezzlement – a charge he claims was politically motivated. Russian TV journalist Ksenia Sobchak has already said she will stand in the election but opinion polls suggest strongman Putin will win easily. Putin studied law and joined KGB in the erstwhile USSR after university, he served as a spy in communist East Germany – some ex-KGB comrades later get top state posts in Putin era. In the 1990s he became top aide to St Petersburg mayor Anatoly Sobchak, who had previously taught him law and later entered President Boris Yeltsin’s Kremlin in 1997, made chief of Federal Security Service (the FSB – main successor of the KGB), then prime minister. New Year’s Eve, 1999 – Yeltsin quit and named him acting president. He easily won presidential election in March 2000 following his capacity to finish off the Chechens stock and barrel. He won a second term in 2004 and a third presidential term in 2012. In between Putin was barred from running for a third successive term by the Russian constitution, so became prime minister in swap and made his ally the president for a term.

Both the USA and Russia play chess constantly, using their foreign incursions media manipulations as plus points to promote their essentially totalitarian regimes. These presidents survive on simple logic of developing a strong personality cult.

Dr. Abdul Ruff

Dr. Abdul Ruff is a columnist contributing articles to many newspapers and journals on world politics. He is an expert on Mideast affairs, as well as a chronicler of foreign occupations and freedom movements (Palestine, Kashmir, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Xinjiang, Chechnya, etc.). Dr. Ruff is a specialist on state terrorism, the Chancellor-Founder of Center for International Affairs (CIA), commentator on world affairs and sport fixings, and a former university teacher. He is the author of various eBooks/books and editor for INTERNATIONAL OPINION and editor for FOREIGN POLICY ISSUES; Palestine Times.

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