Nov 21 (2/5): The Dancing Bear

a.k.a. From Russia with Bullshit

So everyone in the world basically understands that Russia is winning. Nobody is completely sure what they’re doing because it’s 4-dimensional chess, but everyone is quite confident that, at least for the moment, they are winning.

In terms of trying to figure out what they’re up to, in the useful context of their statements suggesting they will determine the fate of Kobani, this way super totally way unquestionably independent Russian academia based think tank gave this story to RUDAW who, I think wisely, printed the raw data of the Q&A to avoid getting whatever bullshit might be involved on them by way of interpretation.

Irina Zvyagelskaya, head of Middle East Studies at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations says Kurds in Syria will not be satisfied with anything less than autonomy and believes President Bashar al-Assad considers himself the winner of Syrian conflict.

Zvyagelskaya adds that Moscow wants to have good relations with Kurds in Rojava and could assist in resolving internal issues.

Rudaw English spoke to Zvyagelskaya at the Middle East Peace and Security Forum in Duhok on Wednesday.

Russia has become a big power player in the region, in particular Syria. What kind of future does Moscow want for Syria?

We believe that actually this future should be discussed at official negotiations between the opposition and government parties. But, if you speak about Russia, what Russia really wants is a stabilized Syria where there will be no danger from terrorist groups like ISIS. Such a Syria would be a very important ally of Russia and we have economic interest, trade interests and political interests. But only a stabilized Syria can provide this.

Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) say their negotiations with the Syrian government with the help of Russia is not going well. How does Russia see the future of SDF in Syria given that it is the most well-organized force?

Well, I believe again that we should wait for the result of the negotiations. Russia, like the international community, can assist the SDF, but Russia cannot deliver the results of the negotiations

How does Russia want to resolve the Kurdish issue in Syria?

Well, Russia believes that Kurds should be given probably something, probably autonomy. But the question is will they again manage to negotiate with Assad. I know President Assad is not very favorable towards autonomy. He can speak about the sort of decentralization, just grant certain power for local authorities. Whether the Kurds will be satisfied with such arrangements, I do not know. I believe that Kurds will insist on a sort of autonomy. But autonomies are also very different. You know, some of them are fully autonomous, some of them more or less are limited. What Kurds will be able to get from Assad, I do not know.

In your view, why is autonomy difficult at this stage?

Well, I believe that Assad believes he is a winner. He does not want other parties to dictate to him what should he do. For him, a unified Syria is the best result of the war.

Is Russia of the opinion that in order to strengthen its position in the region, it should have good relations with all Kurds?

I believe that Russia is sure that it should have good relations not only with the Kurds, but with all states and non-state actors in the region. And how you can see we have good relations with Israel, Hamas, Saudi Arabia, Kurds and Iraq. It is really a very fundamental achievement of the Russian policy.

I don’t understand why US media can’t figure this out. If a government is feeding you bullshit, just emphasize in the reporting, “THIS IS WHAT THEY SAID,” without even taking a position on truth or falsity. Why is this so hard?

Anyway, Russia has been and now continues to signal hard that, while they’re not the ones who will determine the outcomes that must rest in negotiations, what they really want is a reconsolidation of territory in Syria, and they are open to a region for relative autonomy for “the Kurds” within this arrangement.

That’s obviously a big deal. Its also fun to watch Russia emphasize the negotiations and how they are just a facilitator, as though they don’t have final say as long as the US stays on the bench.

World coverage that looks at Syria is mainly focusing on the fact that it appears that Russia and friends basically think they can do fuck all in Syria, based on the substantial evidence that they are doing fuck all in Syria, and therefore they think they can. Q.E.D.

Don’t forget that Russia is the primary peacekeeper their now,  as exemplified in this hard hitting “What makes you so beautiful?” piece out of a DC think tank that looks pretty fraudulent but I can’t be bothered to look—it’s real or it’s propaganda which is pretty real because it’s what they want us to know anyway, so it almost doesn’t matter. Agent, Asset, whatever: It’s a pipeline from Russia and that’s what becomes important to know.

MEI: Russia’s military police face their toughest challenge yet in north Syria

So yeah, it’s instructive to see what the non-participant media of the world thinks. And they think this is awful.

Japan Times: Turkey says U.S. and Russia have ‘not fulfilled’ Syria deals and thus it may have to attack Kurds again

Meanwhile, the US media seems dedicated to no learning anything and relying on offcial sources still up to and including uncritical acceptance of Turkish claims about the “YPG” they are fighting in the region.

Reuters: Turkey says talking with Russia over Kurdish YPG in northeast Syria

Akar said Turkey had determined that the YPG was still present in the Manbij region “wearing the clothes of the (Syrian government) regime elements”, and had asked Russia to address the issue. Talks with Russia on increasing patrols in Tel Rifat were ongoing, he said.

The Reuters people do manage to note that Russia and Syria have had… well, their cease fires in Syria have been problematic in the past.

The two countries agreed in 2018 to establish a de-escalation zone in Idlib region of northwest Syria. Idlib is the last remaining major rebel stronghold and is home to some three million Syrians, some of whom fled violence in other parts of the country.

Despite the agreement, fighting has continued in Idlib. An attack by Syrian government forces on Wednesday killed at least 15 at a displaced persons camp, rescue workers said. [nL8N2806E8

Akar said on Thursday that a permanent ceasefire could be established in Idlib when government forces withdraw behind the lines previously agreed with Russia.

So, I guess they discovered that this shit hasn’t worked out in the past in western Syrian. But the statement that Idlib is the last major rebel stronghold” makes implications that basically erase what’s happening everywhere east of there.

And this is fucking Reuters. I know they emphasize the empirical and verifiable, but all that is verifiable there is that Turkey said that stuff. Do they have internet at Reuters?

As a side note, Israeli media claiming Russia snitched on them. I don’t know what to make of this at all besides it being vaguely hysterical, so here it is:

Haaretz: Russia Outs Israel and Jordan in Syria-Iraq Border Strike
‘The intensity of Israel’s missile and bomb attacks increased sharply,’ Foreign Ministry says in a statement accusing Israel of violating Jordanian airspace

So let’s circle back to something that came up before that @absintheofmalaise brought up in another discussion about the fallout from US withdrawal in Syria:


Edit: If you want a dose of incompetence, [USER=37260]@Marciano490[/USER] , you can consider the security risk that some have expressed.

Specifically, the SDF has been working closely with US Special Forces for three years now. They’ve had an intimate look at US force capabilities, techniques, extent of intel, etc.

And we just forced them into a military alliance where they potentially may be working and fighting side by side with Syrians, Russians, and the odd Iranian here and there, all because we abandoned them.

So, this story is blowing up today.

Business Insider: Trump’s betrayal of the Kurds gifted military intelligence to Russia

Today, it’s blowing up. As opposed to Oct 21 when we were already talking about it here.

And when I say blowing up, I mean I’m being fucking spammed by it. I’ve gotten hit through Business Insider, Insider,, Apple News, Flip, etc.

I’ve never seen this before except from places like Russian media, but this clearly isn’t that.

You know what that means: Let’s google the author, Victor Madeira. Aaaaaaand… Yup. He’s a British spook.

Wikispooks: Victor Madeira

Anyway, specifically, he’s all about recreating parallel mirroring information ops to counter Russia’s program.

Now, keep in mind that one of the things we’ve learned from the Russian intervention in the 2016 elections is that what works best is not propaganda pumping up what they want people to like, but rather making fake reports saying good things about people or entities the target audience might be inclined to hate. For example, pro NRA articles targeted at right wingers would have little effect, but an article feigning being pro-Planned Parenthood and taking a strident approving tone might drive the audience to utter distraction.

So, I report, you decide: A British information ops spook has released an article into the world focusing on an old detail about how Trump let Russia punk our Special Forces by giving up their secrets.

I don’t fully know what to make of this, but I may enjoy watching this one develop.

Meanwhile, the old guard GOP/foreign policy community types continue to lose their minds. This guy from AEI looks like he might cry.

I hope someone’s keeping an eye on Brett McGurk right now. Based on his Twitter feed, he should be among friends right now.

barbed wire Bob

This might help you figure out what Russia is doing.

On 18 January 2017, Russia and Syria signed an agreement, effective forthwith, whereunder Russia would be allowed to expand and use the naval facility at Tartus for 49 years on a free-of-charge basis and enjoy sovereign jurisdiction over the base.[5][6][7] The treaty allows Russia to keep 11 warships at Tartus, including nuclear vessels;[8] it stipulates privileges and full immunity from Syria′s jurisdiction for Russia′s personnel and materiel at the facility.[9]

Wkiedia: Russian naval facility in Tartus

That‘s all they really care about. Of course they get the added benefit of spitting in the U.S’s soup and boosting their prestige in the world. The proposed autonomy for the Kurds is interesting because, in a way, it’s a giant F.U. to the Turks but they may believe that is the price to pay to assure the Assad regime survives. More likely it’s just lip service to make themselves look good and paint the US as bad since nobody in the region wants to see a Kurdish autonomous state (except for the Kurds).

my 2 cents


Oh fersure —Tom Clancy used to hammer the whole naval base that doesn’t freeze over angle to everything Russia does. And that’s a really good point to bring up here.

When I say what are they gonna do, I mean, like, they have it arranged such that they’re going to punk somebody to get what they want. It’s just not yet clear who or how.

Whatever they do, it certainly won’t be out of a feeling of friendship; beyond normal real politic, I think Russia disdains pretty much everyone in Syria that isn’t wearing a Russia military patch.

But yeah, it’d be nuts to bet against Russia keeping their naval (and, less importantly , air bases) in the region. But what shape Assad controlled Syria takes remains to be seen. Russia appears to want something close to a reestablishment of the pre-civil war boundaries, but whether or not they will get everything they want and/or it is acceptable to the other parties (or if Russia will tell them what is acceptable) isn’t yet clear, I don’t think.

And I also agree with your point that dangling autonomy for the Kurds is a big fuck you to Turkey and a side swipe at Assad. And it definitely is an assertion of leverage.

It’s also a credible threat because while they don’t support Rojava, a weak state that happens to be great at fighting ISIS isn’t the worst thing to have hanging around here. Plus it increases their ability to put pressure on Iran independent of working through Assad with respect to Iran’s northern corridor of influence.

Speaking of corridors of influence and naval bases, here’s Dani Ellis’s two cents:

Ya’ nailed it.

I can’t believe NATO tweeted that out today. Jerks.

barbed wire Bob

What I can’t figure out is what Erdogan thinks he will get out of this accommodation with Russia? Historically the Russian have coveted Turkish territory up to and including Istanbul itself and Turkey should remember that. The last thing Turkey needs is a major Russian base south of them. At the same time, their actions are basically alienating the allies they need to help keep Russia in check. The only thing I can think of is that he is so fixated on the Kurds that nothing else matters. Erdogan is starting to remind me of Conrad von Hotzendorf and the Russian moves remind me of this painting.




That sounds like the Navy’s recruiting motto for 6 year olds.

There’s a bit of tension in trumpeting how you’re growing and restoring the military while also claiming you need to pull forces back or out, no? At best, it’s saying you’re going to be spending more money on fewer places, but how will those places be determined? It’s almost like Trump’s using the US military to develop a protection racket with him as the bag man.


Almost like? He has said it using different words.


I personally think the East India Company thing was on point.

It’s as much rueful as funny.

barbed wire Bob

I said it earlier but Trump isn’t Clive. He’s more like this guy.

die hard white knight


I must have missed 60 Minutes. What are you saying?








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