Washington asks Moscow not to attack Al-Qaida

The Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, revealed on 4 June 2016 that the United States had asked Russia to not attack Al-Qaida in Syria.

In the Idleb region, armed groups described by Washington as being “moderate rebels” have become involved with Al-Nusra Front, the Syrian branch of Al-Qaida. The cease fire agreement, which came into force on 27 February, planned that armed groups supported by the US would disassociate themselves from armed groups, classified as terrorist groups by the UN.

Officially, Al-Qaida had planned and carried out the 11 September terrorist attacks which killed 2 977 people. The US went to war against the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and Iraq on the grounds that they had supported Al-Qaida (even though Washington has since admitted that Iraq was in fact not involved).

In recent years, Al-Qaida has financed the Turkish Justice and Development Party (AKP), helped NATO to overthrow the Gaddafi regime (Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya), and did “good work” in Syria, to quote Laurent Fabius, the former French foreign minister.

Since the publication of Thierry Meyssan’s book, 9/11: The Big Lie, most NATO member states regard any attempt to contest Al Qaida’s responsibility for the attacks as being “conspiracy theory”.

Translated from French

Source: Réseau Voltaire



Iran and the Chinese Silk Road – A Nightmare for the US

Entretien entre Xi Jinping et Ali Khamenei à Téhéran à Téhéran

What was the former Iranian president, Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsandjani, playing at when he recently posted the following message on his Twitter page: “Tomorrow’s world will be one of dialogue not missiles”

Of course, Iran has managed to free itself from the regime of international sanctions imposed by the UN. But everybody knows – everybody except Rafsandjani, that is – that today’s world and that of tomorrow will most likely not be all ‘peace and love’.

Predictably, the US is delaying the implementation of the Geneva nuclear agreement. The US government will continue to target Iran as long it does not conform, i.e. enter into the zone of American influence. Listening to the presidential candidates Trump and Clinton is enough to spark fear and see the need for weapons.

On the 30 March last year, Ali Khamenei, the current Supreme Leader, responded to Rafsandjani (though he did not directly refer to him), saying that “the world is a jungle”. As for missiles, the whole of the Middle East knows what to expect following the Tomahawk missile attacks, launched by the Americans during the last Gulf War, and the attacks on the ISIL stronghold in Rakka, made last October by the Russian navy. We can just imagine the number of fatalities and the devastation that the US fleet, currently cruising in the Gulf and the Arabian Sea, would cause if it were given the order to attack Iran.

It is not just Iranian missile trials that galvanise the US administration. There is also the news that China and Russia will participate in Iranian civil engineering projects. There is the scheme to construct a canal between the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf which would give Russian ships access to the ‘warm seas’. In particular, there is there is the ‘New Silk Road’ scheme, proposed by the Chinese president, Xi Jinping. The arrival of a Chinese freight train in Teheran could mark the beginning of a project to upgrade the railway line connecting the two countries, which passes through Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.

This strategic partnership between China, Russia and Iran, developed within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, is a geopolitical nightmare for Washington

On the 30 March, Ali Khamenei also said that the enemies of the Iranian Islamic revolution “use dialogue, trade, sanctions and military threats or any other means to achieve their objectives”. They constantly reinforce their “military and ballistic missile capacity; in this context, how can one say that the age of missiles is over?”

Referring to Rafsandjani’s Twitter message, though not referring to him in person, Ayatollah Khamenei stressed that: “If this was said in ignorance, this is problem, but if this was said on purpose, then its treason”. We couldn’t put it better.

Translated from French

The original author was Gilles Munier

Source : France-Irak Actualité


Russian Military Success in Syria

Russian and American military action assessed according to the criteria of “operational art”

Today the armed forces use “operational art”, a concept developed in the 1930s by the Alexandre Svechine. This Russian general, inspired by Clausewitz and Sigmund von Schlichting, had an illustrious career under both the Tsarist and Soviet regimes. He was executed under Stalin’s orders in 1938. Although it was only in 1970 that he was officially pardoned, he had influenced the victorious Russian generals of the Second World War.

Svechine’s achievement is to have understood and demonstrated that a military victory on the ground does not always allow the achievement of a political and strategic aim. We had the sad demonstration of this in Algeria.

Despite his brilliant victories at Austerlitz, Jena and Wagram, Napoleon did not fulfil his strategic objective: the destruction of England. He had badly chosen his course of action. The question today is: is it sufficient to pound Iraq and Syria with bombs in order eliminate the Islamic State (ISIL)?

“Operational art” allows military action on the ground to be tailored to the political and strategic aim. It aims to bridge a gap between these two levels of thought. It allows us to choose the plan of action best suited to the desired aims. When it produces no results, it should lead one to reconsider the political objectives.

The Americans discovered Alexander Svechin in the 1980s. They adopted the term “operational art” and based their military doctrine around his ideas. NATO’s Comprehensive Operations Planning Directive (COPD), the bible of our general staff and our military colleges, draws inspiration from his ideas. This in turn was adopted by the French armed forces in the form of the Methodological Guide to Operational Planning. If the term is new, the concept is not. Our military colleges and general staff have long practised operational art. They unintentionally practise operational art, much in the same way that Molière’s Mr Jourdain unwittingly wrote prose.

Marshal Foch’s question “What does this mean?” was the first step in a process of operational art.

What we termed “The Method” kept the following criteria to assess the effectiveness of military action:

Is it suitable?

Is it feasible?

Is it satisfactory?

We again find the same terms in the NATO COPD, but the Americans have made the procedure more complicated, perhaps to the detriment of reaction times in the command chain:

“Suitable”, that is to say does it allow the achievement of the goals fixed by the mission?

“Feasible”, that is to say compatible with available means, external support and the restrictions of time and space

“Satisfactory”, that is to say are the results acceptable when compared to the desired results?

The answer to these questions allows us to verify that the objective and the proposed action are coherent. We thought it was an interesting idea to ask these questions in order to assess Russian and American military action in Syria.

Of course, this is purely an academic exercise. While we know something about their tactics by observing what’s happening on the ground, we do not know the real political objectives. By confining ourselves to just these three questions, we are making only partial use of the operational art method.

The American course of action

The Americans, along with the French who are supporting them, clearly state their desire to destroy the Islamic State.

They claim to be engaged in a “battle of annihilation” (Clausewtiz’s Niederwerfung) against the Islamic State.

The first stage of their course of action consists of a small number of air strikes, using high-tech weapons. These air strikes are made from remote air-bases or from carriers and target military targets only. The second stage consists of the use of allied ground troops.

Is this action suitable ?

It would seem not because, even if this leads to heavy losses for the Islamic State, it has failed to stop their advance in Syria and Iraq. It doesn’t put their existence in any doubt. Rather it corresponds to a war of attrition (Clausewitz’s Ermattung).

In a conventional conflict, an army considers that a unit, having lost a quarter of its soldiers, is no longer viable. The same reasoning doesn’t apply to the Islamic State’s fanatical troops, who will continue jihad regardless of the losses inflicted by the air-strikes.

The Euphrates Valley, an essential route for the Islamic State’s economic survival and the central pillar for the group, has not been cut-off, despites the air –strikes on Racca.

The United States claims to be waging a total war against the Islamic State. But are they really? Given their course of action, we are entitled to have doubts.

The systematic destruction of oil facilities, cotton fields and the main roads would be an task for the American and allied air forces. This would deprive the Islamic State of its economic resources. The closure of the Turkish border would deprive the group of its lifeblood but this has not been done. The telecommunications networks are not being attacked.

The American course of action and the associated French course of action are not suitable.

Is this course of action feasible?

Yes, for the first phase of action, it would appear so: the bombs regularly hit their targets.

On the other hand, the second phase of the action plan is not feasible. Diplomatic efforts will not convince the so-called allies to deploy ground troops. The ideological symapthy between the Islamic State and the Saudis, as well as with President Erdogan of Turkey, runs too deep. Saudi Arabia is what the Islamic State would look like if it succeeded. Only the Kurds are playing the game, but they do not need to be convinced.

Is the American course of action satisfactory ?

The American army is rich. Nonetheless, the cost of air-strikes against the Islamic State seems to be high when compared to the results. If we add to the hourly flight cost the price of weapons, the logistic costs incurred by the deployment of units, we come to a staggering total: hundreds of thousands of dollars for each air-strike. Not far from a million, perhaps. It is too high to be published. The course of action is not satisfactory for the US, and even less so for France.

The Russian course of action

The Russians threw themselves into action in Syria with intermediate objectives which were precise and limited. As a first step, they want to restore the sovereignty to the part of the state that still functions, secure their naval base in Tartous in order to then be able to destroy the Islamic State group in Syria.

Is the Russian course of action suitable ?

Their action plan, like that of the Americans, is based on air-strikes and military action, carried out on the ground by their allies.

But the tempo of their attacks is more intense. The chief of the Russian armed forces, general Valeri Guerassimov, announced in early November that ever since the Russian military campaign in Syria was launched, the airforce has carried out 2,300 operations and destroyed 4,100 targets. Approximately 70 missions per day, often in support of Syrian government forces in order to allow them to gradually recover their national territory.

The Russian plan of military action is therefore suitable.

Is the Russian course of action feasible ?

Yes, each day the Russian course of action is proved to be feasible ex-post. The main road linking Damascus, Hama and Aleppo has been secured; pressure is increasing on the jihadi soldiers occupying the Al-Bab province; in the eastern region of the country loyalist forces are tightening their grip on Palmyra, and are preparing to end the closure of the main road from Damascus to Deir-Ez-Zor; in the north of the country, the Syrian army has lifted the siege of the Kuweires airbase, which was occupied for 35 months.

Is the Russian course of action satisfactory ?

It is difficult to precisely estimate the cost of Russian military operations. But we can see that: the Russians use old military equipment, paid for long ago, such as the Sukhoi 24, which dates from the 1970s; that they use low-tech munitions, of which they have a large stock; and that their airbase is located in Latakia, which reduces flight times as it is close to their targets.

It is best we do not know the difference in cost between a mission completed by a Rafale, taking off from the carrier Charles de Gaulle, and a mission carried out by a Russian Sukhoi 24, flying from the airbase in Latakia!

Suitable, feasible, satisfactory ?

It would seem that the Russians have better understood “operational art” than the Americans and the French.

Translated from French

The original author was Jean du Verdier, a general officer in the French air-force and author.

Source : ASAF – Association de Soutien à l’Armée Française


See also: Xavier Moreau, a geopolitical analyst at Stratpol (www.stratpol.com), explains how the Russian military intervention in Syria has been a success. We have provided English subtitles for this video.