by Alexander Mercouris for Russia Insider
At the beginning of Russia’s intervention in Syria – in an interview for Radio Sputnik – I predicted the Russians would seek legal cover for their actions in the form of a Security Council mandate.
In the event, months of intense diplomatic activity have resulted in three separate but complimentary Security Council Resolutions, all passed in just a few weeks.
Taken together with reports of continued advances by the Syrian army, these Resolutions give Russia what is starting to look like a winning hand.
To understand this however requires looking at each of these Resolutions in detail, and then seeing how they all work together.
The first of these Resolutions is Resolution 2249 passed unanimously on 20th November 2015. Its full text can be found here.
Its key provision is paragraph 5 which reads as follows:
“5. (The Security Council) Calls upon Member States that have the capacity to do so to take all necessary measures, in compliance with international law, in particular with the United Nations Charter, as well as international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law, on the territory under the control of ISIL also known as Da’esh, in Syria and Iraq, to redouble and coordinate their efforts to prevent and suppress terrorist acts committed specifically by ISIL also known as Da’esh as well as ANF, and all other individuals, groups, undertakings, and entities associated with Al-Qaida, and other terrorist groups, as designated by the United Nations Security Council, and as may further be agreed by the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) and endorsed by the UN Security Council, pursuant to the statement of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) of 14 November, and to eradicate the safe haven they have established over significant parts of Iraq and Syria.”
I have discussed Resolution 2249 previously here.
Some readers on the thread of my earlier discussion pointed out that Resolution 2249 was actually proposed to the Security Council not by Russia but by France.
That however was simply an act of courtesy – undertaken for very practical reasons – extended by Russia to France in the immediate aftermath of the Paris attack.
The Russians had been working hard for weeks to get a Resolution like Resolution 2249 passed. They had even proposed two drafts. Until the Paris attack all these efforts had got nowhere because of opposition from the US.
Following the Paris attack the Russians negotiated directly with the French, and agreed that it would be the French who would propose the Resolution to the Security Council.
They did this both as an act of courtesy to the French, and in order to ensure the US would support the Resolution. The US could not oppose a Resolution proposed by its NATO ally France in the immediate aftermath of the Paris attack.
That this is what happened is clear not just from the events that led up to the passing of the Resolution, but from the text of the Resolution itself, which follows closely Russian thinking.
Resolution 2249 targets the various terrorist jihadi groups that have proliferated in Syria and Iraq since the start of the wars in those two countries. First and foremost these are the Islamic State, but also – in the Resolution’s words – “individuals, groups, undertakings, and entities associated with Al-Qaeda, and other terrorist groups”.
“Member States that have the capacity to do so to take all necessary measures, in compliance with international law, in particular with the United Nations Charter, as well as international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law, on the territory under the control of ISIL also known as Da’esh, in Syria and Iraq, to redouble and coordinate their efforts to prevent and suppress terrorist acts”.
In Britain this provision has been seized on by the British government to justify its bombing campaign in Syria.
It should be said clearly that it does no such thing.
The key point is that the “necessary measures….to prevent and suppress terrorist acts” authorised by the Resolution, must – as clearly set out in the Resolution – be “in compliance with international law, in particular with the United Nations Charter.”
International law does not permit a bombing campaign by one country of the territory of another country save (1) with the consent of the government of the country whose territory is being bombed; or (2) following a mandate from the Security Council under Chapter VII of the UN Charter (Chapter VII is the part of the UN Charter which empowers the Security Council to act where there is a threat to peace); or (3) as an act of self-defence under Article 51 of the UN Charter.
The British government has not obtained or sought to obtain the consent of the Syrian government to attack the Islamic State on Syrian territory.
Resolution 2249 does not authorise action under Chapter VII. In fact Resolution 2249 makes no reference to Chapter VII – the Russians were careful to make sure it did not.
The British government argues it is acting in self-defence under Article 51 in accordance with the so-called “pre-emption” principle, which allows a country to launch a pre-emptive attack on another country if it has good grounds to believe it is about to be attacked itself. The British government claims this principle gives it the right to bomb the Islamic State in Syria because the Islamic State poses an “immediate threat” to Britain, even if it is a threat that has not yet been realised.
This is a bogus argument, a fact accepted by the great majority of international lawyers, including British international lawyers.
Article 51 can only be used in this way where the Security Council is not acting or has not had time to act.
In this case the Security Council has acted by passing Resolution 2249. There are no grounds to say Britain can bomb the Islamic State in Syria under Article 51 because the Security Council has not acted, when it has plainly done so.
The right of self-defence in Article 51 anyway only arises where there has been an attack – or where there is an imminent threat of an attack – by one sovereign state upon another.
The Islamic State is not a sovereign state. It is a rebel entity in control illegally of certain territories within the territories of the sovereign states of Iraq and Syria, with whose governments it is at war.
Article 51 does not authorise an attack on the Islamic State inside the territory of states with which it is at war unless the governments of those states agree to it, or the Security Council authorises it.
In the case of Britain – and the US and France and the other states of the US-led coalition – neither the permission of the Syrian government or of the Security Council has been sought or provided.
Resolution 2249 therefore authorises the military action Russia and Iran are taking in Syria with the consent of the Syrian government, but not the military action taken by anyone else without the Syrian government’s consent.
It specifically does not authorise the military action taken by the members of the US-led coalition. Military action in Syria by the countries that make up this coalition – the US, Britain, France and the rest – remains illegal.
What Resolution 2249 does is give the Russians and the Iranians – but no-one else – the Security Council’s authority to conduct military operations against jihadi terrorists in Syria, because they have the permission of the Syrian government to do this.
That is the purpose of Resolution 2249 and that is why the Russians worked so hard to get it passed.
Why did the Russians need Resolution 2249 when they already had the permission of the Syrian government?
The reason for that is that the Russians understand very well that the US and its allies dispute the legitimacy of the Syrian government.
That opens up the possibility that at some time in the future the US and its allies might argue that Russia is acting illegally in Syria because it is acting with the consent of a government that has supposedly “lost” its legitimacy, and which is therefore no longer the true government of Syria.
Resolution 2249 scotches that possibility by giving the Russians a Security Council mandate before that argument is ever made.
KERRY’S VISIT TO MOSCOW AND RESOLUTIONS 2253 AND 2254
These two Resolutions – Resolutions 2253 and 2254 – were voted through on successive days (17th and 18th December 2015) hot on the heels of US Secretary of State Kerry’s visit to Moscow.
Clearly they were the subject of prolonged negotiations between Russia and the US.
Kerry’s visit to Moscow was in order to seal the deal.
The result is that both Resolutions had the formal backing of the US.
The first Resolution – Resolution 2253 – was proposed by the US and Russia.
The second Resolution – Resolution 2254 – was proposed to the Security Council by the US. However, as was the case with Resolution 2249, this is a formality taken to ensure US support. As is clear from its text, Resolution 2254 – just like Resolutions 2249 and 2253 – reflects Russian not US thinking and is clearly the product of Russia’s diplomacy.
Of these two Resolutions, the more important is Resolution 2253.
Unlike Resolutions 2249 and 2254, this is a Chapter VII Resolution.
It imposes financial sanctions on the Islamic State, other jihadi groups and their supporters.
It is a gigantic Resolution, running to 28 pages, of a highly technical nature. Because it is so long and so technical its full implications have not been widely understood. Its full text can be found here.
Resolution 2253 imposes on the Islamic State and on various other jihadi groups the usual range of financial and other sanctions (asset freezes, travels bans etc) the Security Council is authorised to impose by Chapter VII of the UN Charter.
It also sets up the usual range of monitoring and enforcement mechanisms (sanctions’ committees etc) to enforce these sanctions. The greater part of the Resolution is taken up with these questions.
The key point to Resolution 2253 is however that it criminalises what the Russians say Turkey and some of the Gulf States have been doing by providing help to the Islamic State and to the various other jihadi groups that they support.
Since this is a very complex and technical Resolution, this point has generally been overlooked.
The best summary of the Resolution’s objectives is set out in its preamble:
“(the Security Council) Reaffirming its resolution 1373 (2001) and in particular its decisions that all States shall prevent and suppress the financing of terrorist acts and refrain from providing any form of support, active or passive, to entities or persons involved in terrorist acts, including by suppressing recruitment of members of terrorist groups and eliminating the supply of weapons to terrorists….”
The Resolution then sets out various detailed provisions to achieve this objective.
Paragraph 2(c) imposes a comprehensive arms embargo on the Islamic State and other jihadi groups.
Paragraph 13 prohibits providing the Islamic State and other jihadi groups with any form of economic assistance.
Paragraph 12 affirms that providing any form of prohibited assistance to the Islamic State and the other jihadi groups is a crime.
Arguably, since a Security Council Resolution says this, that make this crime an international crime, which may mean that individuals who commit it can be prosecuted in the courts of any country and not just their own country or the country where they live.
That this is indeed so is suggested by paragraph 20, in which the Security Council pointedly reminds UN member states that they have a legal duty to pass legislation to make this a crime under their domestic law.
That suggests that if member states fail to do this, or if they pass such legislation but fail to act on it, then other member states have a legal duty to execute the will of the Security Council by acting to bring people to justice in their place.
If so then Resolution 2253 has indeed made providing help to the Islamic State and to other jihadi groups in Syria an international crime.
The Russians have publicly accused Turkey of doing precisely the things – supplying arms and economic and financial assistance to the Islamic State and other jihadi groups – that Resolution 2253 expressly prohibits and says are a crime.
The Russians in recent weeks have also made very serious allegations concerning the illegal oil trade between Turkey and the Islamic State, which if true Resolution 2253 also says would be a crime.
There are also widespread concerns – expressed not just by the Russians – that the Islamic State and other jihadi groups are being financially supported by other governments and by wealthy individuals in some of the Gulf States.
At the G20 summit in Antaliya Putin famously showed the other G20 leaders evidence that this was indeed the case, and said publicly that some of the assistance the Islamic State and other jihadi groups are getting is coming from within certain G20 states.
If these various claims are true, then all those involved in carrying out these actions, in Turkey, the Gulf States and elsewhere, must now take into account the fact that the Security Council in a Resolution under Chapter VII has said that what they are doing is a crime, and probably an international crime, for which they can be tried in the courts of countries other than their own.
Here is what paragraph 13 of the Resolution says about what sort of activities are prohibited. Note the particular emphasis given to the illegal oil trade:
“13. (The Security Council) Reiterates Member States’ obligation to ensure that their nationals and persons in their territory not make available economic resources to ISIL, Al-Qaida, and associated individuals, groups, undertakings, and entities, recalls also that this obligation applies to the direct and indirect trade in oil and refined oil products, modular refineries, and related material including chemicals and lubricants, and other natural resources, and recalls further the importance of all Member States complying with their obligation to ensure that their nationals and persons within their territory do not make donations to individuals and entities designated by the Committee or those acting on behalf of or at the direction of designated individuals or entities”.
If Erdogan’s son and members of Erdogan’s family really are involved in the illegal oil trade with the Islamic State, and if some Saudi and Qatari individuals and even princes really are providing financial assistance to jihadi groups in Syria, then they are committing a crime, which is probably an international crime, for which they can now be tried in the courts of countries other than their own. One such country where they can now be tried is of course Russia.
That certain countries – Turkey and the Gulf States – are very unhappy and are probably very alarmed by this Resolution, is suggested by one small but interesting fact.
This is that no representative of any of these countries turned up to the Security Council to address the session where the Resolution was passed. Nor did any representative of the Saudi dominated Arab League. That no representative from any of these states attended the session is confirmed by the UN’s summary of the discussion that preceded the vote on the Resolution.
Only one Arab state – Jordan – is currently a member of the Security Council. Its ambassador did attend and speak at the session, and did support the Resolution.
Jordan has however in recent weeks distanced itself from the other members of the anti-Assad coalition – a fact that became clear during the Jordanian King’s recent visit to Moscow, which coincidentally happened on the same day that the Russian SU24 was shot down.
States that are not members of the Security Council can however ask to attend and speak at a session that is discussing an issue they consider important to themselves, and so can bodies like the Arab League. Syria and Ukraine do this often – as has the Arab League in the past – and their requests to do so are almost always granted.
It is interesting that neither Turkey nor any other Arab state apparently asked to address the Security Council on this occasion, even though their interest in the subject under discussion is obvious.
The third Resolution, Resolution 2254, was passed on the following day. Its text can be found here.
This Resolution provokes bitter feelings.
It sets out a road-map for a negotiated settlement of the Syrian conflict.
In doing so it revives the Annan peace plan that was agreed in Geneva in 2012.
That the Resolution revives the Annan peace plan is admitted by paragraph 1, which refers to the final communique of the 2012 Geneva conference where the Annan peace plan was agreed:
“1. (The Security Council) Reconfirms its endorsement of the Geneva Communiqué of 30 June 2012, endorses the “Vienna Statements” in pursuit of the full implementation of the Geneva Communiqué, as the basis for a Syrian-led and Syrian-owned political transition in order to end the conflict in Syria, and stresses that the Syrian people will decide the future of Syria”.
The Annan peace plan called for a ceasefire, negotiations to set up a transitional government, further negotiations to agree the terms of a new constitution for a non-sectarian ie. non-Islamist Syrian state, and eventual UN supervised elections when all this had been done.
Paragraph 4 of Resolution 2254 says all the same things, though it adds a highly ambitious and probably over-optimistic timetable:
“4. (The Security Council) Expresses its support, in this regard, for a Syrian-led political process that is facilitated by the United Nations and, within a target of six months, establishes credible, inclusive and non-sectarian governance and sets a schedule and process for drafting a new constitution, and further expresses its support for free and fair elections, pursuant to the new constitution, to be held within 18 months and administered under supervision of the United Nations, to the satisfaction of the governance and to the highest international standards of transparency and accountability, with all Syrians, including members of the diaspora, eligible to participate, as set forth in the 14 November 2015 ISSG Statement”.
The most important provisions in paragraph 4 are those which say that the process must be “Syrian-led” and that the final outcome must be “credible, inclusive and non-sectarian (ie. non-Islamist) governance”.
This in essence is what the Russians have been calling for since 2011 when the Syrian conflict first started. Ever since then they have called for talks between the Syrian parties to settle the conflict peacefully.
Back in 2011 President Assad agreed to the same thing – just as he agreed in the autumn of that year to an Arab League peace plan that said essentially the same thing, and to the Annan peace plan that said the same thing the following year.
It could all have been set out in a Security Council Resolution at any time since then, and could certainly have been so after all the parties supposedly agreed to it in Geneva back in 2012.
The reason no Security Council Resolution like Resolution 2254 was passed in 2012 – or even sooner – is because the Syrian opposition backed by the US has always said they will not negotiate with the Syrian government whilst it is still led by President Assad, and the US has refused to support until now a Security Council Resolution that does not back this demand.
In other words the US and the Syrian opposition and the other Western states demanded President Assad’s removal – a possible outcome of the negotiations – as a precondition for the negotiations taking place.
That would have rendered the negotiations pointless since there would have been nothing serious to talk about except how to transfer power from President Assad to his opponents.
Three and a half years later, after Syria has been completely devastated by a terrible civil war, the US has – very grudgingly and only for the moment – dropped this demand.
It appears nowhere in Resolution 2254, and Secretary of State Kerry’s words show that the US has finally accepted the logic of Russian thinking on this issue, which is that demanding that President Assad goes as a precondition for talks taking place, simply guarantees that the talks will never take place, and that the war will continue.
Kerry now says that demanding President Assad goes as a precondition for the talks is “a non starting position, obviously”.
That of course is true. It is a tragedy that so many thousands of people have had to die before this truth was accepted.
It is because the US has finally dropped demand that President Assad goes which has made Resolution 2254 finally possible
The result is that three years late the Security Council has finally passed a Resolution that enshrines what is in effect Annan’s peace plan, giving it the authority of the Security Council and of international law.
Henceforth Syrian opposition groups – and the states which support them – which continue to insist on President Assad’s departure as a precondition for talks, are acting in defiance of the Security Council, making them legally responsible for any prolongation of the war that results from their stance.
This trio of Resolutions has to be treated as a major victory for Russian diplomacy – one that looked unthinkable just a few months ago.
In four years of conflict the Security Council has been deadlocked. Now, in quick succession, it has passed three Resolutions all of which follow Russian thinking.
They (1) give a Security Council mandate for Russia’s actions in Syria; (2) require Turkey, the Gulf States and others to cease their support for jihadi groups in Syria and for the Islamic State -with the threat of criminal prosecution if they don’t; and (3) endorse a peace plan for Syria in every respect identical to the one the Russians have always called for ever since the conflict began in 2011.
These Resolutions do not however mean that the Syrian conflict is near to being over, or that Russia – or Syria or Iran – have “won”.
The supporters of regime change – whether in Washington, Paris, London, Riyadh and Ankara – or in Syria itself – have not gone away or given up their plans.
They continue to insist that President Assad’s ouster is the only outcome they will accept.
This remains the objective of the US, and there is no evidence it has given up on it.
The strongly negative attitude to the Russian diplomatic breakthrough of the Western regime change community is shown by one curious fact. This is that Samantha Power, the US’s UN ambassador and regime change crusader in chief, has somehow contrived to avoid casting the US’s vote for a single one of the three Resolutions that have just passed. On each occasion that the Security Council voted for one of these Resolutions the US’s vote was wielded by someone else.
Nor will Turkey any of the Gulf states that want regime change in Syria cease to support their clients in Syria, even if it is now a criminal act for them to do so.
On the contrary a struggle is already underway over which groups fighting in Syria should be listed as terrorist groups or not, with regime change supporters in the West, in Turkey and in the Gulf all pressing to have groups they support labelled “non-terrorist” so they can continue to support them.
Nonetheless the Resolutions do matter and have made a difference.
Russia’s approach to Syria has now received vindication from the UN and has the full weight of international law behind it.
The Russians can henceforth insist that their point of view on any subject pertaining to the Syrian conflict – whether it concerns the closing of the Turkish border, the ending of the illegal oil trade, or the shape of the eventual Syrian settlement – is the only one that has the full weight of international law and of the international community behind it, since it is the one that the Security Council has determined.
The Russians are also now in a far stronger position to press their claim that those who are act in a contrary way – President Erdogan first and foremost – are acting illegally, in defiance of the Security Council and of the international community, and should be held to account for it.
As to how the Russians have achieved such a victory, that is a complex question, but the shift in the military balance in Syria caused by the Russian military intervention, and the revulsion amongst the Western public against the Islamic State and jihadi terrorism generally stirred up by the attack on Paris, have obviously been the decisive factors.
In every conflict, particularly one as complex and as finely balanced as the Syrian conflict, it is the side which over time manages to accumulates the most advantages that in the end wins.
As the Syrian army continues its offensive, the trio of Security Council Resolutions Russian diplomacy has secured, together with the shift in the military balance on the ground, are starting to give the Russians what looks like a winning hand.
The big question over the next few weeks is to what extent the Russians – and their Syrian and Iranian allies – will be able to capitalise on this, and how they will press the advantage they have now secured.
Resolutions are all good, but US is building an air base in the north and preparing Kurdistan a-la-kosovo. I see this all but inevitable. I see the whole operation as a failure to stop the west, if Kurdistan emerges with a west puppet on helm.
How do you possibly deal with US airbase there? I cannot begin to think of a solution, even one with low chances of success.
Furthermore, looking at the map, if they CHOP a big enough piece of Syria, the pipe project may be a GO after all! I see only a small turn to the north, but it really looks like a trivial go-around.
When that happens and Europe is connected to Arab energy, Russia will be hung to dry.
Did you see Nord Stream 2 is getting ready to be cancelled?
West-run Kurdistan seems all but inevitable now, and the whole benefit for Russia from the whole thing would be a nice military test and lifting the status projection of Russian military abroad. While this is not unimportant and will help with arms sales, i really can’t describe the entire mission as ‘winning hand’
Just saw a headline saying they are ready to declare a kurd state in Iraq once Turkey gives the okay…
Turkey just attacked another kurdish town on the syrian border using tanks..
Maybe the plan is to keep the Kurds unbalanced.
That’s part of the Oded Yinon plan…a Zionist dream come true.
All Zionist dreams turn out to be perfect nightmares, for all of humanity, including the Jews.
Reminds me of the old Hebrew saying, “when Jews plan, God laughs.”
Thank you Alexander. The Saker community is very fortunate to have you as a regular writer.
This saga looks more like a combined game of chess and GO conducted on a GO board. I am not sure that Russia will be able to capitalize on the specific victories, but the end result will be the cumulative effect of the small gains and the resulting changes of circumstances.
Time works in favor of Russia, while the USA looses some flexibility day after day. The Russian strategy is based on universally accepted principles and consensus. The US strategy supports selfish goals and increases division and conflicts. It is therefore maladaptive and unsustainable.
you rightfully call it a “saga”, I call it a fairy tale. With my special tools as astrologer I consider the recent
events in Paris and NY as revelations of a very rare kind of synchronicities.
Here a glimpse of a futurous kind of recording:
When you say “capitalise”, you miss the point. The goal isn’t to gain finacially. Rather, to get a better position, and that has already been achieved.
It would be really nice if pieces like this could be published with an executive summary.
Page down to the ‘conclusion’ and see pretty much that there — and then add the unspoken implication :’Lavrov rules!’.
A decisive advantage in what sense? To destabilize Turkey? That may be what the Anglo-Americans want. To create a Kurdish state? That, too, may be what the enemy wants.
At the end of the day, UN resolutions may actually be a weapon in the hands of the Americans. Russia will jump through hoops and make compromises to get them, and then the US can simply say that the US is the supreme authority, and above UN resolutions. Then Russian strategy will have led to losing time and energy on something that doesn’t matter. It probably isn’t bad to have UN support, but to think that the US has been outplayed is questionable. Where the US was outplayed was on the battlegrounds of Syria. And the same story is likely in the Ukraine: Russia may have outplayed the US in the Crimea and Donbass, but it wasn’t so much in Minsk as on the battlefield.
You are exactly right there.
Destabilizing Turkey is surely part of the empire/nato agenda. There are now two Turkey’s. Turkey the nation and Nato occupied Turkey.
As for the Kurds. They are better named the little Israeli puppets. Kurdistan and Israel perfect allies together.
I also do not entirely agree with your assessments as far as the empire is concerned. You seem to believe Russia and its leadership are a group of naive amatuers. I wouldn’t believe all that you read. The Russians are well aware, much more so than ever before, of empires techniques and shenanigans. Me thinks you give empire far too much cred.
So Paul II – what would you suggest Russia do ?
In one hand I see diplomatic resolutions,with zero power to enforce them. No UNSC resolution provides any “penalty” on the parties doing those things. Nor will they as long as the West holds vetos in the UNSC. On the other hand I see the West and their Gulf stooges,as well as Turkey. Supplying funds and arms to their favorite terrorists as long as they want to. So which hand would really,be the winning hand so far. There is only one single way to “win” this war. And that is quite simply to “win” it. You crush,kill,conquer (and any other strong words I could think of) the terrorist forces in Syria.That is how you win that war. If you were dealing with nation states. With a fear of “international law”, diplomacy might work. But you are dealing with terrorist gangs,whose biggest supporters are the ones who “say” what is or isn’t international law. And whose main motto is “international law,we don’t obey no stinkin international law”.
On another diplomatic note. Why has the Syrian government not protested to the UNSC the US building an airbase on the sovereign territory of Syria without their permission. Now “that” is a “for certain” violation of international law ,without even a question. I suspect it is because the UNSC would not hear it,or just laugh at them. But still,that “more than obvious” violation of international law should be protested by Syria,Iran,Russia,and China. Since as those countries “should be aware”. Once a precedent is set it can be repeated. And “maybe” against them someday.
Thank you so much Alexander for summarising these important documents for us. Most of us simply do not have time or the background to sift through all this documentation.
The position achieved in these resolutions seems like a good place to be.
There is already a change of heart in the White house (20 Dec):
“As expected, then, a UN Security Council Resolution was agreed today providing the framework for continued meetings, starting in January, for working out which opposition forces would be acceptable as part of a future political order and which ones must be classified as “terrorist” organizations and thus barred from the process. It was agreed that Syrian president Assad would be allowed to remain in power as this process began, and language on whether he might be left in power after democratic elections was left purposely vague.
So according to Kerry, and implicitly enshrined in the UN Security Council resolution today, Assad can stay.
But then President Obama opened his mouth at his end-of-year press conference this afternoon and hung his Secretary of State and entire foreign policy apparatus out to dry.
No, Obama decided this afternoon, Assad cannot stay. Assad must go.”
Obama’s press conference video is included. So the air of caution in the article is justified. In a recent interview with Dr. Paul Craig Roberts he mentions the power the neocons wield behind the scene in the government and that the president can’t necessarily change the momentum of the current policy direction. I wonder if this is now happening.
The Shadow of truth interviewed him. It is a 3 part audio podcast.
Also, this Abby Martin video interview adds to the understanding of the “Deep State”
“This ship is sinking,” retired U.S. Army Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson tells Abby Martin, adding that “today the purpose of US foreign policy is to support the complex that we have created in the national security state that is fueled, funded, and powered by interminable war.”
The former national security advisor to the Reagan administration, who spent years as an assistant to Secretary of State Colin Powell during both Bush administrations reflects on the sad but honest reflection on what America has become as he exposes the unfixable corruption inside the establishment and the corporate interests driving foreign policy.
“It’s never been about altruism, it’s about sheer power.”
Mr Mercouris, I hope you’re right, but like others, I am sceptical that there are any strategic trump cards that Russia now holds with UN resolutions 2249, 2253 and 2254.
Just before reading your article I finished reading an article in New Eastern Outlook by F William Engdahl, published today, First appeared: http://journal-neo.org/2015/12/22/erdogan-salman-and-the-coming-sunni-war-for-oil/ that asserts the opposite and contains these excerpts in the concluding section titled,
Deceptive US Peace Offer in UN
“Washington at this point appears to have organized a near-perfect deceptive maneuver to set the stage for the imminent Saudi-Turk oil wars and subsequent debacle in Syria and Iraq. Using the efforts of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) whose members are the Arab League, China, Egypt, the EU, France, Germany, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United Nations, and the United States, Washington Secretary of State John Kerry has just secured Russian and Chinese UN Security Council agreement to what sounds on the surface like a positive final process to end the Syrian war in the coming six months.
Meeting in New York on December 18, the UN Security Council, including Russia and China, unanimously adopted Resolution 2254 (2015), “Endorsing Road Map for Peace Process in Syria, Setting Timetable for Talks.” The UNSC resolution 2254 is a devilish document. It calls for an immediate ceasefire beginning January 2016, in Syria by all signatories. That ceasefire excludes Saudi and Turkey-backed DAESH, and the Al Qaeda affiliate, Al Nusra Front. At the same time, it calls for an immediate, simultaneous start of a “political transition” which means completely contradictory things for the United States, Germany, France and the UK as it does for Syria, Iran, and Russia.”
“The reality is that the agreed UN ceasefire and simultaneous political transition to Washington’s “moderate Syrian opposition” will force Russia, the Assad Syrian government, Hezbollah and Iran military actions to halt, while Saudi-Turkish-Qatari DAESH and Al Qaeda Al Nusra Front and allied terror bands will have free reign to grab the oil riches of Syria and then of northern Iraq.
At that point, the trap will have been set and Washington will no doubt spring it, with Russia, Iran and Assad at that point able to do little to prevent it.”
Mr Mercouris, how do Russia and Syria avoid the trap Engdahl describes in his article today? How do they play their cards at least to legal/political advantage, if in the very act of participating in this legalistic game of cards, they give up the initiative gained in the air and on the ground thus far since Sept 30??? Given who is at this poker table and what concealed weapons they are carrying, I am not sure that a royal flush would count in the end, when the concealed weapons come out. But a ceasefire by Russia and Syria releasing pressure on Deash and Al Nusrah? How are those cards any good?
Resolution 2249 defines the terrorist groups (ISIL/Daesh, ANF, and other groups fighting against legal forces), and says these groups are outside the law and have to be eliminated. The process outlined in 2254 does not imply ceasing law enforcement activities, so the military will continue with air strikes and ground campaign against insurgents. I’m not seeing your concern.
I read the same article by Engdahl. I’d agree more with his assessment. If anyone thinks that the Anglo-Zionists are going to go along with Russia they’re drinking their bathwater. While it’s all well and good to be acting under international law, the Empire’s actions have shown that they believe they are above it. There has never been a single treaty or agreement that the Anglo-Americans have not reneged on, and this won’t be the first. Russia should just keep doing what they’ve been doing, rolling up IS and the other jihadists. If Russia goes along with this ceasefire, all their accomplishments will be for naught.
ANALYSIS: WILL RUSSIA GO TO WAR?
In both Syria and Ukraine Russia has created a similar legal situation: UN Security Council demands that the pro-US party negotiates with the pro-Russian party to reach a political settlement. In both cases the pro-US party is unwilling and incapable of negotiating, This is direct result from the fact that both pro-US parties are dominated by political extremists that have been created by the US to wage a proxy war against Russia. By demanding negotiations the UN SC is calling the US bluff and exposing the extremist proxies for what they are.
I have said from the very beginning of the Ukrainian crisis that Russia’s military actions will be limited by international law. That Russia is waging war in Syria and not waging it in ex-Ukraine is because war in Syria is legal but war in Ukraine might not be.
This determent to war is fast eroding. In every diplomatic step Russia has carved out a mandate for military action. So far Russia has respected Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, but Minsk 2 makes this respect conditional on the fulfillment of the agreement, specifically the negotiated autonomy and special status for Donbass. I believe that once the deadline expires on December 31, 2015 Russia will feel legally free to act in ex-Ukraine, militarily if needed. Possible steps include 1) recognition of the independence of the People’s Republics. 2) stationing troops of “peacekeepers” in Donbass.
Now that all eyes are focused on Syria it is easy to overlook the bigger picture. The resolutions call for the criminalization of terrorist organizations and of support for them. The presence of such organizations and support from for them expose Ukraine (and Turkey) to the same sanctions as in Syria or Iraq. Any actions against Russia are susceptible to be met by “all necessary measures”, sanctioned by international law!
Very comprehensive analysis – thanks AM.
The British ‘logic’ should result in a bombing campaign in France too.
After all, Islamic State are clearly operating in France as well as Syria.
The notion of individual culpability where state actors are extensively involved should ring alarm bells: do they realise what they have agreed to? Or do they think only the Sadams and Milosevics face consequences?
The notion of corporate ‘personhood’ could have unforeseen consequences too for the companies complicit in the illegal oil trade, as well as the financing and arming of prohibited groups.
‘Do you realise what you have done?’
Maybe not just yet – but they will.
I think it’s a mistake to see the resolutions as solutions to the conflicts/terrorism.
They are the legal framework for prosecution – of military action (ongoing) and eventually, when the evidence is sufficiently comprehensive, of establishing culpability. They compliment, not substitute Russia’s military strategy.
And do you really think the Russians don’t know about the US airbase, or the Kurdistan project’s co-option by the oil cartels? There are no guarantees they can use the base effectively or that Kurds – across three states are capable of forming a viable state themselves. Anything but.
In fact the latest attempt at ‘nation-building’ is the notion of a Kurd-led (Barzani) ‘Sunnistan’ instead of a Kurd *and* Sunnistan. It would never work, and shows how the original plans are being drastically revised precisely because Russia’s operation has thrown a spanner in the works. Strategy should not need revision if its been accurately gamed. So these are tactical decisions and symptomic of strategic failure.
The notion of individuals being brought to book where they typically operate through state and corporate structures is a UN first: will it break the cycle?
We shall see.
Thanks for the interesting article. The one obvious weakness is that it seems to assume that the US (and its allies) give a damn about international law. And there has been considerable evidence over the last 15 years that the US (and its allies) only use international law when its convenient to their aims, and that they are quite happy to ignore international law or even to openly flout international law when it suits their purposes. They also act as it they believe that they can spin anything using the media arms of their Wall Street allies, including open violations of international law. The current US, NATO and Israeli air-strikes in Syrian territory, and the associated spin, seems to prove both points.
Some understand the importance of specifying who – no hiding behind nation-state rhetoric:
Excellent analysis and summary…
As people above have stated, William Engdahl has a very different take on Russia’s supposed diplomatic triumphs, particulalry in terms of UN Resolution 2254.
Engdahl states that the resolution will allow America to manipulate the situation and call for a one-sided ceasefire favoring the America-backed Islamic terrorists and impose its regime change agenda on Syria.
Erdoğan, Salman and the Coming ‘Sunni’ War for Oil
Any legal resolution that America or its terrorist allies like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, etc. agree to is worth less than soiled toilet paper.
Indeed, America specializes in manipulating “international law” to rationalize and push through its criminal agendas.
This can always be counted on.
Great, very detailed article, with sources, well explained with conclusion. Rarely on many blogs.
William Engdahl article is less detailed and does not sound too convincing, although he ‘s formidable agronomist/economist and writer.
I do not think Russia is so stupid to accept unilateral cease-fire.
1. FW Engdahl: http://journal-neo.org/2015/12/22/erdogan-salman-and-the-coming-sunni-war-for-oil/
Ofcourse, the AIPAC controlled US foreign policy, does not care about International Law.
The Russians have to station Iskander nucleair missiles near Damascus, that may threaten Jeruzalem and Tel aviv.
That will silence AIPAC/Jewish lobby.
That is a great article, well reasoned with good references. Well done! Hope that Russia and its allies will achieve tge uktimate goal; a multi polar world
Great analysis about the situation in Syria. The Russians have outflanked the NATO diplomatically and militarily. In particularly, the United States (CIA) has stoked the uprising against Assad Regime thereby causing destruction of Syria, in hopes to attain a temporary security for the Israel, inter alia. You, the C.F.R. you have lost! And said loss will take a further effect on future US foreign policy around the world. Period! Putin and Lavrov, both deserve a Nobel price in diplomacy.