Two interesting events have captured our attention last week: the Russian withdrawal from Syria (President Putin has announced they have reached their objectives) and the threat that President Abbas issued against key Israeli targets.
A week ago, Russia started withdrawing from Syria. Washington Post (WPost) describes the withdrawal and offers cogent reasons to why Russia decided to make such a move right now. On my part, I thought I should complement everybody else's analysis on the matter.
I – Currency Appreciation
Vladimir's announcement caused the rouble to appreciate (by +1%). Economic experts have offered their explanations of why this occurred and why it's not necessarily a bad thing for Russia; but very little was mentioned about the fact that the rouble may also have appreciated because of the increase in Russian exports, namely of military commodities.
Russia used the Syrian civil war for many reasons (to increase its influence in the Middle East, to show Washington that it had more influence in the region; to show that President Putin was a much stronger leader than President Obama; that Russia was more effective in the fight against ISIS; that the West-imposed sanctions [stemming from the Ukrainian crisis] had not entirely affected Russia, to eventually lead the West to drop them and remove the isolation blocks etc) but the main reason was to showcase the effectiveness of their new weapons, thus drawing more clients into its carnet.
For instance, ever since Russia got involved in the Syrian war, the demand for the S-400 missile defence system increased: China (6 batteries), India (5 batteries) and Iran (1 battery[?]). The demand for S300 has also gone up: Iran (unspecified number of batteries), Egypt (4 batteries), Lebanon (unspecified number) and Syria (some talk of 4 batteries). We are talking about deals that amount to billions of dollars – surely one of the results of the sanctions imposed on Russia that had far more reaching repercussions than the West anticipated.
II – Change of Tactics
Russia may also be withdrawing because it decided that it will use its special forces more (a trend in the military universe today). At the same time, it may have also decided that it will support Bashar al-Assad in a different front: by fighting Turkey. It should not be inferred from this statement that Russia will wage an all out war against the Turks, nay – what Russia might do is to go back to an ancient Soviet tactic of outsourcing terrorists to carry out attacks in Turkish soil in order to disrupt the country's economy and political fabric. For political expedience, Turkey insists on pointing the finger at the PKK every time it suffers terror attacks, however it's not realising that Russia has an interest in supporting the Kurdish Cause to increase even more its influence in the Middle East.
A sign that Russia is not entirely leaving Syria is the S400 missile defence system being left behind – as a warning to Turkey and perhaps the US-led coalition who may feel tempted to undertake a regime change “by accident”.
When it is seen that the political component will move forward successfully, and the Syrian army and police are capable of destroying hotbeds of terrorism in Syria on their own, then we will possibly think about the S-400 (and its removal) - Viktor Ozerov (chairman of the Defense and Security Committee of the Russian Upper House of Parliament)We should also be wondering whether the Russian decision isn't the result of intel gathered from the female terrorist that beheaded a 4 year-old child's head while babysitting her – it was reported the women was schizophrenic but what if she wasn't and, in fact, shared the plans ISIS had for Russia due to its direct involvement in the Syrian civil war?
President Abbas Points to Israeli Targets
President Mahmoud Abbas gave a comical, duplicitous and insidious interview to a Kuwaiti news outlet where he claimed to be determined to stop the violent struggle against Israel. He was very careful in selecting the right words for both Arab and Western consumption.
For the Arab audience he used vocabulary like “struggle” (as part of the usual Arab victimisation tactic, to evoke the so-called Nakba), “liberate Palestine” (i.e. the struggle against the so-called occupier) and “attack Palestinians” (to justify their aggression against Israel as the Quran says a Submitter must not be an aggressor since All'ah doesn't like aggressors, but if suffering aggression then the Submitter can respond in kind).
For the Western audience he used words like “determined to stop the violent struggle” (he does not want violence, though he incites it and he's committed to peace – so pass the dollars, please), “2000-2005...violent struggle” (instead of Second Intifada), "be able to liberate Palestine eventually if the state is built gradually, brick after brick." (war of attrition against Israel - i.e. Third intifada albeit in a different fashion), “peaceful popular uprising” and “massive protests and demonstrations against the occupation” (i.e. killing Jews almost on a daily basis with knives and Car ramming attacks since October).
But what was really striking about Pres. Abbas' insidiousness was a veiled threat in a cryptic message:
We are now engaging in a popular uprising that includes massive protests and demonstrations against the occupation. I am interested in starting direct negotiations with any Israeli figure – be it an Israeli MK, Ashkenazi Jew or Sephardic Jew.Interesting structure, isn't it? “Popular Uprising” (intifada), “massive” (calling upon all Arabs in Palestine), “occupation” (enemy), “I'm interested” (I'm ordering), “direct negotiations” (direct attack), “with” (against), “any Israeli figure: be it an Israeli MK, Ashkenazi Jew or Sephardic Jew” (either a Jewish Member of the Knesset, or the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi or the Sephardic Chief Rabbi – take a pick and attack). We wonder what prompted the selection of such targets? Why does the PLO want to silence Rabbis, at whose behest and in exchange for how much?
הֵילִילוּ, כִּי קָרוֹב יוֹם יְהוָה; כְּשֹׁד, מִשַּׁדַּי יָבוֹא
"Howl ye, for the day of the Lord is at hand; as the destruction from the Almighty shall it come." - Isaiah 13:6
(Image: Before a Captured Russian Trench - László Mednyánszky)