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    April 12, 2017

    Tillerson's Ultimatum and the New Cold War: Why Russia won't Surrender Syria

    April 12, 2017 - Fort Russ - 
    Colonel Cassad - translated by J. Arnoldski - 



    "We want to relieve the suffering of the Syrian people. We want to create a future for Syria that is stable and secure. And so Russia can be a part of that future and play an important role, or Russia can maintain its alliance with this group, which we believe is not going to serve Russia’s interest longer-term. But only Russia can answer that question… I think it is clear to all of us that the reign of the Assad family is coming to an end" - US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

    It is not difficult to notice that Russia, as before, is being offered a simple choice between continuing the Cold War and capitulating. This is exactly the same thing that Russia was offered in regards to Crimea and Donbass.

    The reason for this is quite trivial. Whether the Russian elite wants to integrate into the Western world or not, they will not be accepted there. In this respect, everything that has been happening since 2014 is a dragged-on disaster of Westernism in Russia. Standing up to pursue a subjective foreign policy that undermines the late Washington world order, Russia has found itself in a situation in which its subjectivity is challenged in wars in Ukraine and Syria. Depriving Russia of this subjectivity is one of the goals of the Cold War being waged by the US. Accordingly, Tillerson is proposing in respect to Syria what Obama proposed with regards to Ukraine. As before, American proposals involve choosing between surrender and war.

    It is quite clear that openly surrendering Assad, especially after all the sacrifices (today the defense ministry announced two more killed), resources spent, and diplomatic efforts, will look no different than capitulation. Withdrawing troops, ceasing military support, and terminating cooperation with Iran - all of this would immediately and decisively undermine Russia’s positions in the Middle East.

    We are not talking about unconditional or partial support for Assad. They are trying to tear Russia away from its 2015 position that Assad will be president until the end of the war and that his fate will be decided in elections after the war. Russia promoted this point of view at all venues and partially succeeded in that some players accepted it as a working position. Current attempts linked to the provocation in Khan Sheyhoun are designed to destroy this diplomatic groundwork and return to discussing Assad’s resignation before the war’s end, which first and foremost hurts Russia and Iran’s interests and is a US attempt to bring back onto the agenda the “Assad must go” thesis, which would bring us back to Obama's inertia. Simultaneously, attempts are being made through Israel to destroy Russia-Iran ties which seriously hinder US, Israeli, and Saudi Arabian plans in the Middle East.

    Both sides perfectly understand this, hence why it is extremely unlikely that this ultimatum will be accepted, especially since the Kremlin rejected similar ultimatums regarding Donbass and Crimea. In the case of Syria, even the question of sanctions is irrelevant, since the majority of sanctions have already been imposed over Donbass and Crimea and no one is going to lift them “before the fulfillment of the Minsk Agreements.” They’re more likely to impose new ones over Syria than lift the old ones. 


    The US has essentially nothing to offer besides promises of a “pat on the back” and new threats. Therefore, if the sides do not agree reach an agreement at the level of foreign ministries or at the mid-term meeting between Putin and Trump, then further escalation in US-Russian relations is possible in the coming months. This escalation would affect not only Syria, but other existing and future theaters of war. 




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