Reprinted from Asia Times
As a compact Greatest Hits on comparative foreign policy and military strategy, this already qualifies as required reading in political science courses everywhere. Putin's full speech, plus a crucial Q&A, is here. The speech on video is here.
Let's go straight to some of the unmissable highlights.
On "moderate rebels" in Syria: "We shouldn't play with words here and divide the terrorists into moderate and non-moderate ... The difference, according to the 'specialists' (Team Obama), seems to be that 'moderate' bandits behead people softly ... Success in fighting terrorists cannot be reached if using some of them as a battering ram to overthrow disliked regimes (because) it's just an illusion that they can be dealt with (later), removed from power and somehow negotiated with."
On the partition of Syria: "The territorial division of Syria is unacceptable. It is not going to resolve the conflict. The conflict will acquire a permanent character. Nothing good will come out of this ... Just imagine that in case of taking Damascus or Baghdad, terrorist bands might have received, practically, the status of the official government. The bridgehead for global expansion could have been created. Does anyone think about that?"
On Russia's air campaign in Syria: "I'd like to stress once again that is completely legitimate, and its only aim is to aid in establishing peace." Putin makes a clear distinction between Washington's target -- "Assad must go" -- and Moscow's: to fight all brands of Salafi-jihadi terror before they come to Russia.
On the Iranian nuclear dossier: "The hypothetical nuclear threat from Iran is a myth. The US was just trying to destroy the strategic balance, not to just dominate, but be able to dictate its will to everyone -- not only geopolitical opponents, but also allies."
On nuclear weapons: "We had the right to expect that work on development of US missile defense system would stop. But nothing like it happened, and it continues. This is a very dangerous scenario, harmful for all, including the United States itself. The deterrent of nuclear weapons has started to lose its value, and some have even got the illusion that a real victory of one of the sides can be achieved in a global conflict, without irreversible consequences for the winner itself -- if there is a winner at all."
In a sound world, this would be greeted as sound realpolitik. And yet we live under the shadow of Empire of Chaos newspeak and neocon/neoliberalcon hysteria. A world where Iraq had weapons of mass destruction; Iran was making a nuclear bomb; "kill lists" are legitimate; al-Qaeda in Syria are "moderate rebels"; Russia, China and Iran are "threats" for the Pentagon worse than ISIS/ISIL/Daesh; and the Pentagon believes it can win a war against all those "threats" -- Russia, China, Iran -- with no consequences. A world where peace is war.
Those Saudi "thinkers"
Now for the facts on the ground. It's wishful thinking to expect Washington, Ankara, Riyadh and Doha will simply let Syria "go" after all those years of supporting, training and weaponizing a mostly Salafi-jihadi galaxy bent on regime change. At the same time Putin and the Kremlin know these actors cannot directly weaponize the "moderate rebels" anymore, because their agenda is now fully exposed in front of global public opinion.
They can't? Oh, no, they can.
On the ground across the Sykes-Picot-in-ruins "Syraq," what's going on now essentially pits the "4+1" -- Russia-Iran-Syria-Iraq plus Hezbollah, including their joint intel center in Baghdad -- against the NATOGCC compound, as in Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. An elaborate proxy war is a go -- and all manner of red alerts come to mind.
Trouble, trouble everywhere. Let's start with the GCC minions. The House of Saud is apoplectic with Iran's imminent political, diplomatic and trade resurgence; not to mention that Tehran is winning on both the Iraq and Syria fronts.
In parallel, those barbarian fanatics that pass for imams in Saudi Arabia have called for a jihad against ... Russia. Saudi "thinkers" (?) want Riyadh to lead a coalition against the "remnants" of the Syrian Arab Army, Hezbollah and Iranian advisers to speed up regime change in Damascus.
It's useful to remember that the Saudis are already part of what I call the Coalition of Dodgy Opportunists (CDO), led from behind by Washington. Lost on these Saudi "thinkers" is the fact this new "coalition" would have to go head-to-head against the Russian Air Force.