After Aleppo, Russians prepare to defy Trump re: their Iran Alliance

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

the left-leaning Lebanese newspaper al-Safir [Ambassador] reports that the armed resistance to the regime of Bashar al-Assad in the East Aleppo pocket is finished. Reports from Wednesday morning say that the ceasefire that Russia and the regime signed onto in hopes that the few hundred hold-outs among the guerrillas would leave has now broken down amid heavy fire. Civilians also continue to flee the areas under rebel control, though the humanitarian corridors promised by Russia appear never to have materialized. The plan had been to allow some rebels to flee to Idlib, where the rebels led by al-Qaeda have a perch. Nevertheless, hundreds of rebels attempted to flee East Aleppo, as did noncombatants.

The Russian victory in Syria against fundamentalist Sunni Arab militias was made possible in part by Iran. Russian fighter jets simply bombing from on high would have been useless. It was Iran that directed the Lebanese Hizbullah and the Iraqi Shiite militias to join the fight, backing up the some 35,000 to 50,000 Syrian soldiers who remain and have not defected. The Russians gave these forces air support, bombing rebel positions until the Shiite militias and the remnants of the Syrian Arab Army could over-run them.

BBC Monitoring translated a Russian television discussion among experts, broadcast on Dec. 12, on a show called “Majority,” on the Gazprom-owned NTV channel. (How refreshing that in Russia, the natural gas industry has its own television channel; sort of like the future US State Department under Trump).

In the course of the discussion, a member of the Russian parliament’s defense and security committee, Andrei Kondratyev, boasted of Russia’s increasing influence in Asia, where Moscow allows Iran and Pakistan no longer to be “treated as pariah states.” He said that after the speaker of the Russian parliament, Valentina Matviyenko, visited Iran, a number of Russian investment projects were agreed upon. He also praised Iran for reducing the terrorist threat in Central Asia, including Afghanistan.

(Iran as a Shiite state opposes al-Qaeda, ISIL and the Taliban. Central Asia is largely Sunni, and Afghanistan is probably 78% Sunni. Likewise, most Russian Muslims, who comprise as much as 15 percent of the population, are Sunnis, and it is to them that radicals attempt to appeal. Kondratyev is appreciating Iran for fighting radical Sunni Chechens in Syria, fighting Daesh/ISIL in Iraq, and for opposing Sunni radicalism in Afghanistan and the Central Asian ‘stans.’ This stance of Iran in opposing Sunni radicals, he is implying, makes it a natural ally of the Russian Federation.)

Veronika Krasheninnikova, a journalist who works for Zvezda TV (which is owned by the Russian Ministry of Defense!), argued that the US and NATO were likely to zero in on Iran as enemy number 1. They would do this, she said, because Iran is Russia’s ally in defeating terrorism in Syria. She thought it likely that NATO will demand that Russia abandon its Iran alliance.

Clearly, these Russian commentators are unwilling to let the Islamic Republic of Iran go as Russia’s most important strategic partner against al-Qaeda and ISIL, as the Syria campaign showed. it remains to be seen if the Iran hawks in the new administration of Donald Trump can over-rule their boss, who has said he wanted less US military intervention in the Middle East.


Related video

AP Raw: Syrian Troops Poised to Take Eastern Aleppo

12 Responses

  1. The Russian intelligence services are so far ahead of American technology, that they have somehow figured out how to promulgate new “languages” onto the inter-tubes, languages that are recognized by Google Analytics as languages (when obviously they are some sort of access portal/algorithm that is tricking Google). In addition to the “secret google do.t com You are invited… Vote for Trump” language that I reported in a previous comment, which clearly appeared connected to Russia by the behavior of Users/Sessions reported by Google, now there are two more new languages, both using “google” in their names, connected to users from Russia with unusual session behavior. Both use a name that adds extra zeros to the good old free American telephone code of 800 and digs at google, using google’s name.

    I’ve got screenshots of all this for whoever’s interested, I’ll be sending this to progressive new-sites, can we please get some explanations from Google ?? (And in a recent call to them because they’re too stupid to make one of their business sites functional, I did report and give them permission to investigate all these occurrences on my site).

    Are they really recognizing new languages, and on what evidence? Can they see they’re being tricked by some Russian hack? Do they mind Russian intelligence officers using their name on new “languages” ?? So many questions, so few answers.

    They say that with a sociopathic narcissist, one should mind the behavior, not the words, since the words never “mean’ anything in the normal sense. Watching the Donald’s behavior, isn’t it clear that he acts exactly like a hypothetical businessman political-faux-populist who has long ago been “turned” by his Russian connections, would act ???

  2. If one were possible, the benefits of an alliance with the United States in the ME would far surpass anything Putin might gain from his alliance with Iran. I recall that in one of the debates or in one of his speeches Trump alluded to some kind of alliance of the United States with Russia and Israel — yes, Israel — that would dominate the ME. No one seems to be talking about the implications of that. Maybe I just imagined Trump said it.

  3. The suffering of these poor people, the loss of lives and limb, and the little children who had to pay the price for these war games by ruthless war criminals, who think nothing of precious lives and the number of casualties. People have fled by the thousands, homes lost, lives changed forever, but the war mongers kept playing their proxy wars, blaming the other side.

    • The suffering of these poor people, …

      We will all do well to remember who helped to start this tragedy: “How The New Yorker Mis-Reports Syria April 20, 2016 – Exclusive: The New Yorker and editor David Remnick were catastrophically wrong about the Iraq War, but they continue publishing the same one-sided propaganda on the Syrian conflict, as Jonathan Marshall describes.” – link to

      • Marshall doesn’t make a compelling case. He seems more interested in whitewashing Assad’s harsh domestic repression than in examining the assumptions underpinning the “family business,” which is the Assad’s family domination of Syria’s government since the early 1970s. No, the New Yorker hasn’t misreported Syria. In fact, their journalism has been extensive, nuanced and fair-minded.

  4. The problem with the policies of most Western governments is not only that they are inconsistent but that sometimes they are diametrically opposed to each other. Most Western governments allegedly were against Muslim militants, yet they funded the groups that are allied with al-Qaeda and ISIS. They say that they want to get rid of ISIS, yet for the past five years they have allowed that group to freely move through various “allied” countries in the region, to arm itself and to fight against President Bashar Assad’s secular government. The reason for Russia’s success, which Western leaders and media resent so much, is that President Putin knew what he wanted, had a clear strategy to achieve it and pushed that strategy to its logical conclusion.

    Judging by the people that President-elect Trump has chosen as the members of his team, it seems that the same contradictory policies will continue. He has said that he is not in favor of foreign wars and regime change, yet his lieutenants, especially John Bolton and Lt.-General Flynn and presumably General Mattis, have regime change in Iran at the top of their list. Trump has said that he wants to give priority to stability in the Middle East, yet they are intent on weakening Iran’s political allies in Iraq and Syria who are fighting against ISIS. They want closer relations with Russia, but they want to cut Russia’s alliance with Iran and if they can to weaken the alliance between Russia and China. They are in favor of non-proliferation, yet they want to weaken the JCPOA and are one hundred per cent behind Israel’s illegal nuclear program.

    When in office, they will find that they will not be able to square those circles and indeed if they implement those policies they will destroy the region and will weaken America’s standing in the world. They are really in need of some radical thinking and devising a coherent and practical strategy.

    • Russia’s consistency has indeed been the principle characteristic of itssuccess. Consistency does not appear to be recognised by the West, rather each Russian move is viewed as a response to a Western position and in consequence to have a motive which demands study and interpretation, as if the Russians are playing a game with the West rather than simply doing what they clearly stated to be their purpose. The media have the same blind spot with consistency, their experts analysing this and that Russian action as if it had a hidden purpose they need coax into the light. From a Russian perspective the West has been no help whatsoever, indeed it must sometimes seem like having the boss’s terriers yapping at your heels. One might say, the West has been consistent in its own way, that is to topple Assad above all else, but consistency needs to respect fluctuating priorities or it’s like persisting on a picnic while a storm has broken out, the ground floor is flooded and the car won’t start. If you have the patience, just look at the first exchange in yesterday’s DOS press briefing. link to It puts me in mind of a bit of Dante, no idea where from: Viva la sua morte e muoia la sua vita/ Flourish our death and perish our life. Or maybe Richard II’s renunciation: Now mark me how I will undo myself…

  5. “Russians prepare to defy Trump”
    What? You too have drunk the kool aid of US government propaganda. The US is not in charge of anything except the US. Russia is not a poodle and does not need permission of the US to do anything. The sooner more countries realize that the US is not omnipotent the better.

  6. Do not forget that Wall Street is insatiable! It wants all of Russia’s oil, gas, and arable land. Both US parties are full of Wall Street puppets, eager to deploy the US military to get that prize. Except the US military cannot take Iraq. Cannot take Syria. Cannot take Lybia. etc. ad nauseum.

  7. Now that’s odd, Juan, that you gloss over our very own GE NBC.. And since RT has several programs daily in English, we don’t need another state owned media outlet telling us what they said, when we an hear it ourselves (which is what our leaders cannot abide). It is sickening to me as an American of 65 years old watching the outright lies, the incessant propaganda of American media now. And the pace of this madness is accelerating daily. But hey, as long as they can blame the Russians for every thing on earth we have systematically brought about ourselves, then we the masses will accept the stupid wars that our leaders seem to want so badly.Strike first, destroy our enemies, and never have to repay our debts. End stage capitalism at its best.

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