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Justice, Security and Rule of Law: The Pakistani-India Conflict

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Introduction

On July 17, 2014 China and Russia issued a joint statement stating their intention of creating a new world order. That same statement supported India’s long-standing bid to replace one of the United Nations Security Council’s five permanent members. July 17th is historically relevant as it is the same day the U.S. joined the European Union in imposing sanctions on Russia for its illegal annexation of Crimea, a mere hours later Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 was downed by Russian mercenaries over Ukraine, followed by the announcement of the inception of the New Development Bank or The BRICS, named for its founders – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. While the intention of creating a new world, one radically different from that envisioned when the United Nations was created in 1948, appears to be well underway, India, which is busy defending its Kashmir region, has been left behind as Russia and China court the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, a long-term and strategically-positioned ally of the United States.

The Pakistani Government

Pakistan is essential to curbing terrorist activities by the Taliban, the Haqqani network and other designated terrorist groups operating in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Pakistan’s military and its notoriously violent intelligence service, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), have been training and funding several terrorist groups operating in Afghanistan and India. The ISI aids these organisations by harboring terrorists, eradicating perceived enemies or those opposed to their cause, including India, Israel, the U.S., the United Kingdom and other NATO members. Pakistan harbors terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Omar, Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed and Sipah-e-Sahaba.

These groups interfere with NATO operations in Afghanistan; with Operation Inherent Resolve in Syria by providing training, weapons and fighters; and they have engaged in unconventional warfare along the border of India’s Kashmir state. These groups are responsible for the decades long terrorism campaign in Kashmir and the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks.

Human Rights Watch has determined the ISI and Pakistani army actively aid the Taliban by “…soliciting funding for the Taliban, bankrolling Taliban operations, providing diplomatic support as the Taliban’s virtual emissaries abroad, arranging training for Taliban fighters, recruiting skilled and unskilled manpower to serve in Taliban armies, planning and directing offensives, providing and facilitating shipments of ammunition and fuel, and on several occasions apparently directly providing combat support.”

ISI orchestrates its proxies to exert its influence in Pakistan, as well as in neighboring Afghanistan, Syria and India. The ISI also protected Osama bin-Laden, who lived a mere 100 kilometers outside of the Pakistani capital of Islamabad for years, before being assassinated by U.S. Naval Special Forces on May 2, 2011.

FBI Satellite imagery evidences the existence of several terrorist camps in Pakistan, some of which are jihadist madrasa schools.

The disconnect is that the civilian Pakistani government operates without control over the ISI, and its army.

“[T]he civilian government there [Pakistan] doesn’t control military policy, strategic policy… but the army and the intelligence service do…. and they have denied the obvious, postponed this reckoning for years with so many terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda,” confirmed Chris Alexander, Canadian Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, and former Canadian ambassador to Afghanistan.

Given the opportunity, the Pakistani Taliban would overthrow the Pakistani government and introduce a radical Islamist regime. Pakistani authorities fear that the Afghan Taliban could join forces with the Pakistani Taliban.

The Fragile U.S.-Pakistani Relationship

Following 9.11 Pakistan became a critical partner in the U.S.’s counterattack on al-Qaeda and al-Qaeda’s ally, the Afghan Taliban. The relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan has been a difficult one, at best, owing to the fact that the civilian government exerts little or no control over the ISI and the Pakistani army. Since 2001, the U.S. has provided extensive funding, now subject to conditions, to facilitate a stronger civilian Pakistani government empowered to take measures towards eradicating terrorism and the support of terrorism within its borders. Between September 11, 2001 and the end of 2008 the U.S. provided Pakistan with $11 billion in assistance.

In return, the civilian Pakistani government permits the U.S. to use its airspace; allows overland access to Afghanistan; and, to the extent possible, employs its police and paramilitary organizations to capture al-Qaeda activists.

Nonetheless, as of 2008 Pakistan was “…with the possible exception of Iran, perhaps the world’s most active sponsor of terrorist groups… aiding groups that pose a direct threat to the U.S… Pakistan is probably today’s most active sponsor of terrorism,” opined Daniel Byman, in an analysis published by the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution.

Due to a poor return on investment, as well as concerns about differing goals, nuclear proliferation, political instability, and Pakistan’s role as sanctuary for al Qaeda and Afghan insurgents, the U.S. has been modified its aid policy.

Thus, the 2009 Kerry-Lugar legislation tripled nonmilitary aid to $1.5 billion per year as a long-term pledge to the people of Pakistan, it delinked military from nonmilitary aid, and conditioned military aid on certification that Pakistani security forces are (1) working to prevent al Qaeda and associated terrorist groups from operating on Pakistani territory; (2) working to deny the Afghan Taliban sanctuary in Pakistan; and (3) refraining from interfering in Pakistan’s political and judicial processes.

At a September 2011 hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Admiral Mike Mullen, then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, asserted that, “Pakistani duplicity puts in jeopardy not only the frayed U.S.-Pakistani partnership against terrorism but also the outcome to the decade-old war in Afghanistan.”

In July 2016 Sen. John McCain, Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, met with former Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari. They agreed that it is in the interest of peace and stability that Pakistan continue playing its role in the fight against the global threat of terrorism. Mr. Zardari insisted that Pakistan is a victim of terrorism itself and would never support it, while Mr. McCain acknowledged the Pakistani government’s sacrifices in the fight against terrorism.

Afterwards, Sen. McCain wrote in a July 26th article that, “By taking on all terrorist groups operating in its territory, Pakistan will find that the U.S. remains willing and able to assist in this fight and develop an enduring strategic partnership. The sooner the U.S., Pakistan and Afghanistan get down to the business of fighting their common terrorist enemies together, no matter where they hide, the better off the nations, the region and the world will be.”

On August 29th the U.S. communicated its refusal to subsidize Pakistan’s purchase of 16 used F-16 fighter jets.

Building upon the U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue, on September 19th U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Pakistani Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif to discuss the countries’ strong and long-term bilateral partnership. Mr. Kerry reiterated the need for Pakistan to prevent any terrorist from using Pakistani territory as a safe haven. Mr. Kerry stressed the need for restraint in nuclear weapons programs.

Mr. Kerry commended Mr. Sharif on recent efforts by Pakistani security forces to counter violent extremism, for 40 years of hosting Afghan refugees, for restoring macroeconomic stability, and for cooperating on climate change priorities.

On October 7th the White House rejected a demand from several legislators that the U.S. Secretary of State designate Pakistan a “terrorist state”.

Competing Claims in the Kashmir Region

As for the Muslim-majority region of Kashmir, India, Pakistan, and China have competing claims. While China has never engaged in overt action over the dispute, Pakistan and India have engaged in escalating violence in the Kashmir region along the Pakistani and Indian border. Most recently, in September, India blamed Pakistan-based militant groups for an attack in Indian-controlled Kashmir that killed 18 soldiers, the deadliest assault there in years. India retaliated with cross-border “surgical strikes” against suspected militants in Pakistan killing two people.

One of Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s diplomats warned that Pakistan would look to China and Russia if the U.S. fails to reconsider its position on the escalating Pak-India Kashmir conflict.

At a September 19th meeting, Pakistani Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Zardari and Mr. Kerry expressed concern as to the recent violence in Kashmir, and the need for both sides to diplomatically reduce tensions. Mr. Zardari stated that Pakistan wants to resolve the Kashmir issue through dialogue.

The next day U.S. State Department spokesperson, John Kirby, issued a statement that the U.S. will not intervene in the Kashmir dispute and asked both the Indian and Pakistan governments resolve it through ‘meaningful dialogue’.

India and China

India could look to neighboring China for support. China will outwardly try to remain neutral. While China and India share a fear of expanding terrorist networks, Pakistan is critical to China’s $46 billion “One Belt, One Road” trade route running from Pakistan’s Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea to China’s landlocked Xinjiang Province. This initiative, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was designed to expand China’s Asian economic and political outreach, as well as providing it with access to a sea route for trade.

“The conventional wisdom is that China will intensify support to Islamabad amid rising India-Pakistan tension. China will want to reiterate its commitment to Pakistan and express its strong support, particularly if Beijing starts to worry that India’s more muscular approach towards Pakistan could entail efforts to undercut or even sabotage the China-funded China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project,” stated Michael Kugelman, senior associate for South and Southeast Asia at the Woodrow Wilson Centre.

India has worked to deepen its military cooperation with the U.S. In June the U.S. granted India “major defence partner” status, potentially paving the way for a transfer of U.S. military “dual-use” technologies, used to develop strategic weapons, such as ballistic missiles. The arms deal has a price tag of $9 billion. The deal was not totally one-sided. On August 30th the two countries signed a logistics sharing pact under which their militaries can use each other’s military bases.

Sino-Pakistani Relations 

China has significantly increased defence cooperation with Pakistan. While China already is Pakistan’s primary source of weapons, and responsible for building Pakistan’s nuclear reactors, only recently has China resumed sharing strategic weapons technology; a practice that ceased in the 1990s under U.S. pressure.

On March 9, 2015, Pakistan tested its Shaheen-3 intermediate-range, land-based surface-to-surface ballistic missile. Capable of delivering a conventional or nuclear warhead, the Shaheen-3 has a range of 2750 km- 1700 miles, and a circular error probable of less 40 meters, making it the most accurate ballistic missile of its class in the world.

The transport erector launcher used to launch the missile is believed to have been sourced by China as it bore similarity to a launcher transferred in 2011 by China to North Korea.

The Shaheen-3 was developed in response to India’s Agni-III. Capable of delivering a conventional or nuclear warhead, the Agni-III has a range of 3,500 km- 5,000 km, and a circular error probable of 40 meters. Since then India has tested two more advanced variants of intercontinental ballistic missiles, the Agni-V and Agni-VI. Using multiple independent re-entry vehicles, the AGNI-VI can simultaneously deliver multiple nuclear warheads reaching targets as far 6,000 km away.

In 2015, China introduced 10 MIRV variants of its DF-5 ICBM, which are similar in capability to the Agni-V and Agni-Vi. It is believed that China has shared this technology with Pakistan.

Seeking to match India’s development of second-strike capabilities through land, air and sea-based delivery systems, in 2015, Pakistan’s acquired eight Type 041 diesel-electric attack submarines from China that can be armed with nuclear-capable Babur cruise missiles.

Pakistan and Russia

In 2007 Pakistan and Russia reestablished diplomat ties. While the raison d’être was ostensibly a joint interest in defeating the Taliban, recent events evidence the rationale as being multi-faceted.

In 2014 Moscow lifted a longstanding ban on arms sales to Pakistan. In 2015 the two countries signed a defence deal, including a sale to Pakistan of four Russian Mil Mi-35M attack helicopters to replace Pakistan’s aging U.S.-made AH-1 Cobras.

In 2015 Russian agreed to invest $2 billion to construct a North-South gas pipeline to transfer liquefied natural gas from Pakistani port city Karachi to Lahore, in the Punjab Province. Having an energy shortage, the pipeline could supply 30 percent of the Pakistani population with energy. The first phase is expected to be finished by December 2017.

After an August 8th blast killed at least 70 people at a hospital in Quetta, a city located near the Afghanistan border, Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin stated, “We decisively condemn this cynical, inhumane crime… I’d like to reiterate that the Russian side is ready to bolster cooperation with Pakistani partners in the fight against terrorism.”

In September, the Russian and Pakistani armies conducted “mutual special drills in mountainous terrain” in the eastern Punjab province, a neighboring province to Kashmir region.

“Moscow and Islamabad are interested in deepening military-to-military relations,” stated Qazi Khalilullah, Pakistan’s ambassador to Moscow.

Russia further invited Pakistan to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and Russia has expressed a desire in joining CPEC.

The India-Russo Relationship

In 2010, Mr. Putin stated that “Russia is not maintaining military cooperation with Pakistan as it takes into account the concerns of Indian partners.”

Following an October 23, 2013 meeting between India’s then Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, and Mr. Putin concerning Pakistan, Mr. Putin issued a strongly-worded statement that “states that provide aid, abetment and shelter for such terrorist activities are themselves as guilty as the actual perpetrators of terrorism”.

But, over the last two years things have radically changed. As Russia now considers Pakistan a partner on just about every level, Russo-Indian relations have experienced a downward trend. In 2015, under a pre-existing agreement Russia was to build and finance 12 nuclear power plants in India, Russia unilaterally doubled the number of plants to be built all at a significantly higher cost.

Now, Mr. Putin has grown angry over India’s augmenting its Russian-Indian defense agreement with assistance from the U.S. and other Western nations. That angry was made manifest after Russia announced a three-fold cost increase and a five-year delay in procuring for India’s fourth aircraft carrier, and delays in fulfilling a multibillion-dollar agreement to provide an India with a fifth generation fighter jet.

“By engaging with Pakistan, Russia leaves New Delhi with a hard choice: to honor its strategic commitment to Russia and make concessions or to observe Russian-Pakistani rapprochement, which could potentially erode India’s military advantage,” observed Moscow-based political analyst Dmitriy Frolovskiy.

Nuclear Proliferation

Advances in China, Pakistan and India’s strategic weapons programmes have significantly elevated the danger of nuclear conflict because they threaten “to blur nuclear thresholds and elevate the risk of inadvertent nuclear escalation due to misperception”, according to a June study by the U.S. Strategic Studies Institute.

“Pakistan has rapidly expanded its nuclear arsenal and reportedly developed new tactical nuclear weapons. Not to be outdone, India continues to modernise its nuclear triad,” confirmed Sen. McCain.

In the 2013 Stockholm International Peace Research Institute Yearbook, India and Pakistan were the only two unrecognised nuclear powers that are currently expanding their arsenals and delivery systems.

“The nuclear arms race in South Asia has its own logic but China’s growing military sophistication has pushed India and the U.S. closer, which has further cemented the China-Pakistan alliance. This has implications for the nuclear dynamic as well,” observed Harsh V. Pant, professor of international relations at King’s College London.

There are two doctrines which have governed nuclear armament. The oldest is the Doctrine of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) whereby neither country engages in direct military confrontation with the other. Rather, aggressions are taken out in proxy wars staged in other less powerful countries. The second and newer doctrine is that of Mutual Assured Security (MAS), a condition in which neither party has the intention or capability to exercise a unilateral advantage over the other. Neither Pakistan nor India play by these rules as reflected in a 2014 paper released by the Australian Institute of International Affairs:

“The largely-accepted and comforting notion that Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) permits stability at higher levels of conflict (even as it facilitates instability at lower levels) does not apply in the India-Pakistan dynamic. The validity of the Stability-Instability Paradox (SIP) rests on a number of assumptions which existed during the Cold War, but are not present in the Indo-Pakistani security environment. The preconditions required in order for the SIP to hold are:

• That the sides involved are rational actors;

• That the side which threatens first-use has unambiguous red lines to prevent the accidental tripping of nuclear thresholds; and

• That there are minimum levels of communication and mutual understanding between the actors so as to minimise chances of miscommunication and misinterpretation.”

The study concluded, “With tactical nuclear weapons and anti-ballistic missile defence technology entering the equation, the nuclear ladder is getting ever-shorter and the region is fast becoming a tinderbox.”

Consider the statement made by Air Marshal Shahid Latif, a retired senior commander in the Pakistan Air Force, which confirmed that “Now, India doesn’t have its safe heavens anymore. It’s all a reaction to India, which has now gone even for tests of extra-regional missiles. It sends a [very] loud message: If you hurt us, we are going to hurt you back!”

Conclusion

This growing tensions in the Kashmir region are fueling further regional destabilization and polarization. The U.S. has thus far stated that mutual dialogue is the only viable solution. As for China, its interest in Pakistan and India is pecuniary. While Russia does not share the same interest in Kashmir as it is not a border country, the key to Russian restraint in Pakistan may lie in Russia’s lucrative financial relationships with China, India and Pakistan.

With The BRICS Summit taking place this weekend in India, it is doubtful that the group will do little more than reiterate its position against terrorism. Through diplomatic channels, however, as Beijing has no desire for bordering Kashmir to fall in the hands of Islamic extremists, China may hold the key to pushing both countries to reduce tensions.

A second logical solution would be for India and Pakistan to present their territorial dispute to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, to which both countries are member states.

About the Author

Cynthia M. Lardner is an American journalist living in The Hague focusing on geopolitics. Ms. Lardner is a contributing editor for Tuck Magazine and E – The Magazine for Today’s Executive Female Executive, and her blogs are read in over 37 countries. As a thought leader in the area of foreign policy, her philosophy is to collectively influence conscious global thinking. Ms. Lardner holds degrees in journalism, law, and counseling psychology.

Sources

Dobbins, James, and Khalilzad, Zalmay, “Pakistan Holds the Key to Peace in Afghanistan”, January 11, 2016, Rand Corp, as found on the www at http://www.rand.org/blog/2016/01/pakistan-holds-the-key-to-peace-in-afghanistan.html.

Frolovskiy, Dmitriy, “What’s Behind Russia’s Rapprochement With Pakistan?”, May 14, 2016, The Diplomat, as found on the www at http://thediplomat.com/2016/05/whats-behind-russias-rapprochement-with-pakistan/.

Jose, Khemta Hannah, “MAD IN SOUTH ASIA: INDIA-PAKISTAN RIVALRY”, February 6, 2014, Australian Institute of International Affairs, as found on the www at http://www.internationalaffairs.org.au/australian_outlook/mad-in-south-asia-india-pakistan-rivalry/.

McCain, John, “America ignores Pakistan at its peril, 2016, July 26 Financial Times, as found on the www at https://www.ft.com/content/d97ccbe8-527e-11e6-9664-e0bdc13c3bef.

“NATO and Afghanistan”, June 14, 2016, NATO, as found on the www at http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/topics_8189.htm.

“Secretary Kerry’s Meeting With Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif”, September 20, 2016, Office of the Spokesperson, U.S. State Department, as found on the www at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2016/09/262159.htm.

Williams, Christine, “Pakistan: State Sponsor of Terrorism”, April 7, 2014, Gatestone Institute, as found on the www at https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/4250/pakistan-sponsor-terrorism.

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Justice, Security and Rule of Law: How the United Nations Security Council Has Failed You

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By:  Cynthia M. Lardner

In today’s turbulent world “…three core themes come to the fore: justice, security, and rule of law,” stated Dr. Abi Williams, President of The Hague Institute for Global Justice, who has previously served under United Nations Secretary Generals Kofi Annan and Ban Ki-moon.

When it comes to global justice, security and Rule of Law, the United Nations (U.N.) is the international organization that the world relies upon.  The U.N. was created in 1945 to restore world order after World War II and to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war”.  On July 12, 2016 an issue arose challenging the U.N.’s ability to fulfill its essential purpose.

On July 12, 2016 the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague issued an opinion in a territorial dispute between People’s Republic of China and the Philippines, commonly referred to as the South China Sea (SCS) Dispute. The sweeping opinion found in favor of the Philippines ruling that China, which had boycotted the proceedings calling them illegal, violated the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS); an agreement about territorial seas and exclusive economic zones (EEZ), in claiming sovereignty over the 80% of the SCS, known as the “nine-dash line”, encompassing almost 80% of the SCS. China has militarized the region rich in natural gas deposits.

The PCA held that:

Having found that certain areas are within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines, the Tribunal found that China had violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights in its exclusive economic zone by (a) interfering with Philippine fishing and petroleum exploration, (b) constructing artificial islands and (c) failing to prevent Chinese fishermen from fishing in the zone. The Tribunal also held that fishermen from the Philippines (like those from China) had traditional fishing rights at Scarborough Shoal and that China had interfered with these rights in restricting access. The Tribunal further held that Chinese law enforcement vessels had unlawfully created a serious risk of collision when they physically obstructed Philippine vessels.

In advance of the decision, China stated that it would not honor the PCA decision; a tribunal to which it is a member nation. As the PCA has no enforcement authority, enforcement falls on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

The conundrum is that China is also a permanent member of the UNSC, which can veto UNSC enforcement of PCA decisions.  Rather that upholding its obligation as a permanent member of the UNSC to honor international law, China, in advance of the opinion, stated it will go to war to protect the “nine-dash line” region, leaving enforcement to the smaller nations in the region and their allies.

This calls into question whether China can ethically maintain its position on the UNSC.

This paper analyzes whether not only China but, also the Russian Federation should be permitted the ongoing privilege of sitting as an UNSC permanent member. As Sir Winston Churchill said, “Where there is great power there is great responsibility.”  Russia and China have failed in their responsibility to the other 191 member nations of the U.N.

United Nations Security Council’s Permanent Five

Created by the Rome Statute, to which all 193 U.N. member nations are signatories, the U.N.’s mission, as articulated in its Charter is:

“To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace.”

The U.N. General Assembly, via the U.N. Charter, delegated the sole responsibility for maintaining international peace and security to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

The UNSC is comprised of five permanent member nations, and ten rotating member nations elected by the five permanent members to staggered two-year terms.  At the time of its creation, the world’s five greatest superpowers were afforded the privilege of serving as permanent UNSC members:  the United States, the United Kingdom, France, the Russia and China (P5).  There is no provision in the U.N. Charter requiring that designation as a UNSC permanent member ever be reviewed or revisited.

The UNSC is responsible for authorizing U.N. peacekeeping operations.  Chapter VII of U.N. Charter authorizes the UNSC to deploy U.N. peacekeeping operations, including joint operations with allied forces and NATO, into volatile post-conflict settings where the state is unable to maintain security and public order.  Invocation of Chapter VII denotes a legal basis for taking action, and “…is viewed as a statement of firm political resolve reminding the parties to a conflict and the wider U.N. membership of their obligation to honor UNSC decisions.”  Security Council Resolution 1674, adopted on 28 April 2006, requires the UNSC to proactively protect civilians in an armed conflict, including taking action against genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity

The UNSC is also imbued with the singular responsibility for voting on U.N. member state applications, selecting the Secretary-General, and the creation and oversight of hybrid criminal courts.

The P5 have de facto control over the UNSC by virtue of their exclusive veto power over exercised when any permanent member casts a “negative” vote on not only “substantive” draft resolutions but as to what constitutes a substantive issue.

The veto power extends to the discretionary enforcement of decisions rendered by the U.N.’s International Court of Justice, which issues legal advisory opinions and hears cases involving crimes against humanity and war crimes, and the PCA.

China and Russia’s Abuses of P5 Power

The P5 has come under a great deal of criticism for failing to deliver justice, provide security, and adhere to Rule of Law, including its responsibility to protect (R2P) from statespersons, such Kofi Annan, the seventh U.N. Secretary-General and Nobel Laureate, former United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and former Canadian Foreign Minister Dr. Lloyd Axworthy, calling into question whether the U.N. Charter needs to be amended.

The South China Sea Dispute

Along with the matter decided by the PCA, China has also been engaged in similar territorial SCS disputes with Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, Taiwan, and Indonesia.

It is incomprehensible that China, a P5 member, can flagrantly ignore not only the PCA’s decision, which is final and binding upon the parties, but also UNCLOS, the treaty governing territorial rights.  Rather, than adhere to international law, China is prepared to go to war with the U.S. and other countries over the SCS. Complicating the matter is the joint military build-up by China and Russia in the South China Sea.

An Article VII draft resolution as to the enforcement of the PCA opinion or peacekeeping operations in the SCS would be vetoed by China and Russia.  Given that NATO has already stated it will not become involved in the SCS Dispute, if armed conflict erupts, defense against China and, likely Russia, military superpowers, will be the responsibility of the smaller nations in the region, the United States, France and their allies.

“Only when everyone plays by the same rules can we avoid the mistakes of the past, like when countries challenged one another in contests of strength and will, with disastrous consequences for the region,” stated U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter.

Russia, Ukraine and the Crimean Peninsula

Russia’s relationship with NATO, its member nations, allies and partners deteriorated following Russia’s illegal annexation of the Crimean Peninsula and military aggressions in Ukraine.  On July 15, 2015, rather than abstain, Russia vetoed a resolution as to its illegal annexation of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine, shielding itself from accountability under international law.  Russia President Vladimir Putin recently stated that there will never be any diplomatic discussion of the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula.

Russia’s aggressions in Ukraine were to have been resolved by the September 5, 2014 Minsk Protocol, confirming Ukraine’s sovereignty, which was signed by Ukraine, Russia, the Donetsk People’s Republic, and the Lugansk People’s Republic.  Despite being called upon by the international community to implement the Minsk Protocol, including the G20 in April 2016, and at the February 2016 Munich Security Conference, Russia has refused.  As a P5 member, there will never be Article VII action to protect the Ukraine people from ongoing aggressions, including genocide, a war crime.

It is noteworthy that Russia, a P5 member, is not a member nation of the International Criminal Court under the Rome Statute, which prosecutes state actors for crimes against humanity, including genocide.

The Birth of Responsibility to Protect

Dr. Lloyd Axworthy, former Foreign Minister of Canada, cited the UNSC’s 1999 failure to act under Section VII in Kosovo based on Russia’s veto of U.N. peacekeeping troops to force the withdrawal of Yugoslav forces from Kosovo.  Dr. Axworthy stated that he and then U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright were emotionally and morally sickened by the mass genocide in Kosovo.  Dr. Axworthy stated that he and then Secretary Albright asked themselves, “Could we stand by and let people be murdered?”

NATO intervened in what came to be known as “Madeleine’s War”.

As then President Bill Clinton stated, “”It’s to our advantage to have a Europe that is peaceful and prosperous. And there is the compelling humanitarian case: if the U.S. walks away from an atrocity like this where we can have an impact, then these types of situations will spread. The world is full of ethnic struggles, from Ireland to the Middle East to the Balkans. If we can convince people to bridge these tensions, we’ve served our interests as well as our values.”

LlyodAxworthy

Dr. Lloyd Axworthy speaking at The Hague Institute for Global Justice on July 12, 2016

This Kosovo incident gave rise to the concept of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) under which “We [humanity] must be prepared to stop mass atrocities” and where sovereignty is “…not a divine right but an obligation to protect your people,” stated Dr. Axworthy during a July 12, 2016 talk on “Pursuing Justice in a Globalized World:  Reflections on the Commitment of Madeleine K. Albright”.

Since the war, Kosovo has been unable to secure U.N. member state status based on Russia’s veto.

Responsibility to Protect

R2P was later adopted by the U.N. obligating the international community, including the UNSC to prevent and protect individuals from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing. Yet, both China and Russia have and are engaged in genocide and ethnic cleansing; with Russia focused on Jewish populations and China on Tibet.

Russia and China’s Recent P5 Vetoes

At a time when Dr. Axworthy noted that “…human rights in a position of limbo,” Rule of Law has been increasing ignored by the UNSC.

There have been many instances of Russia and China misusing their UNSC veto power in contravention of international law:

  • On June 15, 2009, Russia vetoed action concerning its 2008 Georgian invasion, which culminated in a March 18, 200 treaty on alliance and integration signed between the South Ossetia region of Georgia and Russia on 18 March. This so-called treaty is yet another move by the Russian Federation that hampers ongoing efforts by the international community to strengthen security and stability in the region.  It violates Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and blatantly contradicts the principles of international law;
  • Between 2012 and 2014, Russia and China have double vetoed four draft U.N. resolution concerning the crisis in Syria, including a referral to the International Criminal Court and the imposition of U.N. sanctions;
  • On July 8, 2015, Russia vetoed taking action with respect to the genocide that occurred in Bosnia and Herzegovina in clear contravention of Security Council Resolution 1674; and
  • Russia vetoed a referral to the International Criminal Court to hold those state actors accountable for having shot down Malaysian Airlines Flight No. MH17 on July 17, 2014.

The U.S. has also used its UNSC veto power in the past, primarily to block resolutions concerning Israel.  However, this is unlikely to reoccur as during 2015 the Obama Administration’s foreign policy position as Israel and Palestine underwent a drastic shift away from favoring Israel.  The U.K. and France have never used their veto power.

“A security council that is fractured into special national interests, abusing the right of the veto; warlords and dictators who kill with impunity to advance their greed for riches or power; and the weakening of resolve in North America and Europe to act in a collective manner, and thus far a confused set of objectives by the emerging states. As Kofi Annan clearly concludes, our level of governance is not up to the task posed by world realities,” stated Dr. Axworthy.

No nation should be allowed to sit on the United Nations Security Council, let alone be afforded permanent status, if it fails to adhere to Rule of Law, minimally, international law.

Selection of the Next Secretary-General

With Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s second term set to expire, the selection process by the UNSC has also been sharply criticized. “The selection of the Secretary-General has previously been a process shrouded in secrecy, and, ultimately, decision-making lies under the almost complete control of the five permanent members” stated Tom Brookes, Programme Office at The Elders Foundation.  While the current selection process has involved an open debate between ten of the 12 individuals under consideration, it has no impact on the selection process.

Hybrid Courts

The UNSC has failed to convene, offer oversight and provide funding of hybrid criminal courts, i.e. courts created to address war crimes or crimes against humanity in any given country. By way of example, according to Ambassador David John Scheffer, the UNSC has not funded The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, commonly known as the Cambodia Tribunal or Khmer Rouge Tribunal, which is relegated to raising funds to cover its annual $3 million operating budget, with funding coming primarily from the U.S.

By the Numbers

In addition to flagrant misuse of their P5 veto power, there are three indices three global indices measuring positive and negative peace, corruption and adherence to Rule of Law which statistically support the restructuring UNSC.

First is the 2016 Global Peace Index, issued by Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), which empirically ranked 175 independent states and territories based on their levels of peacefulness.  Peacefulness is measured based on two primary components: positive peace or resilience, and negative peace, defined as the presence of violence or fear of violence.  Overall scores are normed on the basis of one to five.

GPI.1

Camilla Schippa speaking on June 24, 2016 at The Hague Institute for Global Justice on the GPI

“We see peace as a measure of conflicts.  And the Global Peace Index found an overall increase in conflict with a widening gap between the most and least peaceful countries,” stated Camilla Schippa, IEP Director of Operations.

The cost to humanity is mindboggling.  Violence costs 13.3% of the world’s GDP or $13.6 trillion dollars.  This breaks down to $1,876 annually or $5.00 per person every single day.

Second, Transparency International’s 2015 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) measures perceived levels of public sector corruption in 167 countries.  The four areas measured are bribery, corruption, whistleblowing, and Rule of Law.  The CPI defines Rule of Law as the, “Legal and political systems, structures and practices that condition a government’s actions to protect citizens’ rights and liberties, maintain law and order, and encourage the effective functioning of the country.”

CPI.2015

“The 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index clearly shows that corruption remains a blight around the world.” stated José Ugaz, Chair of Transparency International.

Third is the World Justice Project’s (WJP) 2015 Rule of Law Index® (RLI). According to the WJP, “The rule of law is the foundation for communities of peace, opportunity, and equity—underpinning development, accountable government, and respect for fundamental rights.”  The RLI provides original, impartial data on how the Rule of Law is experienced by the general public in 102 countries. The RLI measures nine variables — constraints on government powers, absence of corruption, open government, fundamental rights, order and security, regulatory enforcement, civil and criminal justice, informal justice – generating an overall score ranging from .35 to .87.

Russian Federation

Russia’s overall GPI Score was the lowest of the P5: 3.079/5, ranking it 151 out of 163, or in the bottom 10 percent of the countries evaluated. Russia also performed the worst out of the P5 on the CPI, ranking a meager 29 or 119/168.  Thus, it is no surprise that Russia also had the worst P5 score on the RLI:  .47 overall, placing it near the bottom quartile, or 75th out of the 102 nations.

People’s Republic of China

On the GPI, China ranked 120 out of 163, with an overall GPI of 2.288/5.  China also performed poorly on the CPI, ranking 37 or 83/168.  China also fared poorly on the RLI, having a composite score of .48, ranking it 71.

The United States

On the GPI, the U.S. ranked 103 out of 163 nations, with a composite score of 2.154/5.  According to Ms. Schippa, the U.S.’s score was negatively impacted by the number of incarcerated individuals and access to firearms, required, to date, by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  The U.S. ranked 76 or 16/168 on the CPI, with its score having steadily improved over the last four years. On the RLI, the U.S.’s composite score was .73 ranking it 13th out of the 102 countries measured.

United Kingdom

On the GPI, the U.K. ranked 47 out of 163, having generated a composite score of 1.830/5.  The U.K.’s CPI was 81 or 10/168.  Great Britain fared well on the RLI, with an overall score of .78 ranking it 12th.

France

France ranked 46 out of the 163 nations measured by the GPI, with an overall score of 1.829/5. On the CPI, France ranked 70 or 23/168.  On the RLI, France’s overall score was .74, placing it 18 out of 102 countries.

The Call for Reform

Kofi Annan astutely reflected that:

Where we collectively realize that we do not live in a zero-sum world where someone’s gain automatically comes at another’s expense. I envision a world where these values are supported by an international architecture, a modernized United Nations that reflects the changing balance of global power brought about by the rise of China, Brazil, India, South Africa, and other emerging countries.

But above all, of a United Nations that serves not only states but foremost peoples — and becomes the forum where governments are held accountable for their behavior toward their own citizens. A forum where the shared values of pluralism, tolerance, solidarity, democracy and dialogue triumph over unilateralism, ultra-nationalism, and over the politics of identity…

You may argue that this is a pipe-dream, that around the world, personal liberty, human rights, and democracy are being eroded — even in countries that have embraced democratic ideals. Let us renew and strengthen this international system. From epidemics to climate change, we need to set our narrow self-interests aside and realize that we are in this world together, for better or for worse. Hitting each other on the head has not done us much good in the past. It is time to move beyond that, to embrace our common humanity and resume our journey towards a fairer, more peaceful world.

Mr. Annan concluded that, “A United Nations for the twenty-first century would have to create new partnerships, respond to the needs of the individuals and stand for the principle that national sovereignty could never be used as a shield for genocide or a gross violation of human rights.”

“Yet the Security Council, which has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, acting on behalf of all the member states, is still dominated by the same five permanent members that were designated all those years ago, being the five great powers that had just won the war. The governments of those five powers have become so used to their exalted status, which is protected by their ability to veto any change in the Charter, that they think of it almost as their natural right, sometimes forgetting that it is above all a responsibility. They assume that the world will continue to respect their authority, and fail to notice that, year by year, that authority is eroding,” stated a release issued by The Elders, a group of former statespersons who comprise a nonpartisan peacekeeping group.

As a result of the criticisms from around the globe, they have been numerous statespersons, commissions and entities calling for reform of the U.N., particularly the UNSC.  For instance, the 14-member Commission on Global Security, Justice, and Governance Commission convened by The Hague Center for Global Justice consisting of numerous ex-foreign ministers adamantly called for U.N. reform citing a “crisis in global governance.”

The Commission’s findings, “Confronting the Crisis of Global Governance”, was launched at the Peace Palace in The Hague on 16 June 2016. Commission Co-Chairs Secretary Albright and Ibrahim Gambari, former Nigerian Foreign Minister and UN Under-Secretary-General.  The Commission called for “…an expansion in Security Council membership and better engagement with nontraditional actors. Specifically, it seeks to create more opportunities for countries, regional organizations, local authorities, and business and civil society groups to contribute to peacemaking, peacekeeping, and peace-building while, at the same time, increasing the council’s representative legitimacy and restraint in the use of the veto, particularly when a state fails in its responsibility to protect its own citizens.”

Secretary Albright warned that continuing failures within the U.N. “risks prolonging and deepening” global crises.

At the launch of the ‘Strengthening the U.N.’ initiative at the 2015 Munich Security Conference, The Elders proposed a model for expanding the UNSC, that the P5 agree a code of conduct on veto restraint, and argued that the UNSC provide greater opportunity for civil society groups to be heard through greater use of informal “Arria formula” meetings.  Arria formula meetings are informal, confidential gatherings which enabling the UNSC to have a frank and private exchange of views, within a flexible procedural framework, with individuals, groups or nations outside of the UNSC.

Another group, Uniting for Consensus (UfC), comprised of 111 of the U.N.’s 193 member states, mission is to increase the number of non-permanent UNSC members, from the existing ten rotating seats, to a composition and number reflecting greater regional representation.  In a March 26, 2015 press release the UfC stated:

[W]e could support a UNSC of up to 26 members in total – a Council that is more representative of the international community as a whole while preserving the principles of democracy and accountability to Member States. The legitimacy of the Council depends not only – or even primarily – on its composition, but on its transparency, accountability and effectiveness. It is not just about who takes decisions, but most importantly the inclusive and democratic nature of decision-making.

In 2014, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon established a 17-member independent panel on U.N. Peace Operations to comprehensively assess the state of current and emerging UN peace operations.  The panel issued 104 page report, containing detailed and voluminous recommendations for change:

At the heart of …peace operations is the message that the United Nations must unite its strengths — of politics, of partnership and of people — to meet those challenges. This means that, where deployed, United Nations peace operations must be mandated and empowered to support the political resolution of threats to international peace and security. To succeed, United Nations peace operations must find a way to strengthen partnership at all levels, namely with regional organizations, with host Governments and with the local population, to overcome deep-rooted conflicts. United Nations peace operations must answer to “We the peoples”, the ultimate beneficiaries of peace and the survivors of conflict. Their perceptions and their assessments, particularly those of women and youth, are the critical barometer of the success, or failure, of United Nations peace operations.

The panel concluded that the U.N. requires “modernized approaches and structures to enable flexible and better United Nations system responses.”  However, the panel failed to state the structures and approaches to which it was referring.  As all substantive action of the U.N. requires UNSC approval, it can only be assumed that the panel was indirectly criticizing the UNSC.

Changes Supported by Sustainable Development Goal 16

On September 25, 2015, the U.N. General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which include 17 Global Goals.  Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hailed the move as a universal, integrated and transformative vision for a better world.  The new agenda is a promise by U.N. leaders to all people everywhere.

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16, “Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions”, adopted to “Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and to build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.”

SDG 16 has been broken down to eleven measurable targets. SDG 16.3 is promote Rule of Law at the national and international levels and ensure equal access to justice for all.  SDG 16.6 requires the development of “effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels.” This includes, under SDG 16.7, an increase in decision-making at all levels which is responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative, which is tied to SDG 16.8, which seeks to broaden and strengthen participation by developing countries in global governance.  Also relevant is SDG 16.10, which is promote fundamental freedoms in accordance with national legislation and international agreements.

In 2004, then Secretary-General Kofi Annan stressed that for the U.N. Rule of Law is “a principle of governance in which all persons, institutions and entities, public and private, including the State itself, are accountable to laws that are publicly promulgated, equally enforced and independently adjudicated, and which are consistent with international human rights norms and standards. It requires as well measures to ensure adherence to the principles of supremacy of the law, equality before the law, accountability to the law, fairness in the application of the law, separation of powers, participation in decision-making, legal certainty, avoidance of arbitrariness, and procedural and legal transparency”.

SDG 16 cannot be achieved without amending the U.N. Charter to change the powers vested in the UNSC, and the increasing the number of UNSC members, to insure greater regional representation, or even eliminate the P5 or the UNSC in its entirety.

Amending the U.N. Charter

“A true United Nations would rise above the interests of individual countries. It would place the good of the planet and its people above the good of governments. The organization now based in New York cannot do this. Perhaps no world body ever will,” stated Stephen Kinzer, senior fellow at the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University.

The path to a true U.N., involves amending the U.N. Charter.  Following a conference, this requires a majority vote by the General Assembly and a vote by any seven UNSC members.  Despite all of the criticism, there has yet to be a call for a conference to amend the U.N. Charter. There has never been a better time than now for the General Assembly to come together and act to amend the U.N. Charter to insure justice, security, and rule of law for generations to come.

About the Author

Cynthia M. Lardner is a journalist focusing on geopolitics.  Ms. Lardner is a contributing editor for Tuck Magazine and E – The Magazine for Today’s Executive Female Executive, and her blogs are read in over 37 countries.  As a thought leader in the area of foreign policy, her philosophy is to collectively influence conscious global thinking. Ms. Lardner holds degrees in journalism, law, and counseling psychology.

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Axworthy, Lloyd, “Kofi Annan’s Advice to the United Nations”, February 21, 2013, Huffington Post Canada, as found on the www at http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/lloyd-axworthy/kofi-annan-united-nations_b_2733531.html.

Brookes, Tom, “Observing change at the United Nations”, June 16, 2016, TheElders.org., as found on the www at http://theelders.org/article/observing-change-united-nations.

“Corruption Perception Index 2015”, Transparency International, as found on the www at http://www.transparency.org/cpi2015.

Global Peace Index 2016”, Vision of Humanity, Institute for Economics and Peace as found on the www at http://www.visionofhumanity.org/#/page/indexes/global-peace-index.

“Identical letters dated 17 June 2015 from the Secretary-General addressed to the President of the General Assembly and the President of the Security Council”, June 17, 2015, General Assembly Security Council, UN Doc, as found on the www at http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/2015/446.

Kinzer, Steven, “There is no United Nations”, October 15, 2015, Boston Globe, as found on the www at https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2015/10/15/there-united-nations/ReCzzbHtpQXzK04B6Psw4I/story.html.

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Lee, Michael, R., “On UNSC Reform, New UfC Paper Calls for Transparency, No New Permanent Seats”, March 25, 2015, Inner City Press, as found on the www at http://www.innercitypress.com/unscreform1ufc032515.html;  Swart, L., and Pace, Cile, “Changing the Composition of the Security Council: Is There a Viable Solution?”, March 1, 2015, Center for U.N. Reform, as found on the www at http://www.centerforunreform.org/?q=node/629.

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“Rule of Law Index 2015,” World Justice Project, as found on the www at http://data.worldjusticeproject.org/.

“THE SOUTH CHINA SEA ARBITRATION (THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES V. THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA)”, July 12, 2016, Permanent Court of Arbitration, UN Doc., as found on the www at https://pca-cpa.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/175/2016/07/PH-CN-20160712-Press-Release-No-11-English.pdf.

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In Deep Waters with China and Russia

The Threat to Global Stability and Security

Geopolitical tensions have risen to a level where another major war or even world war is no longer outside the realm of possibilities.  There has been a military build-up by the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China in the South China Sea (SCS), and by Russia in the Baltic and Western European regions.

China’s SCS Dispute with Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, Taiwan, Indonesia, and the Philippines over oil rich territory rich is most troubling.  Both China and Russia have increased their military presence in the northern Pacific Ocean where they have been engaging in joint military exercises.  An eruption of armed conflict involving China, may result in both responding.

There are also the ongoing concerns regarding erratic North Korea, which has restarted plutonium fuel production.

Russia’s relationship with NATO, its member nations, allies and partners deteriorated following Russia’s illegal annexation of the Crimean Peninsula and its unlawful aggressions in Ukraine.  This precipitated a sharp shift in Western foreign policy toward Russia.  The West has moved away from the Doctrine of Mutual Assured Stability and beyond a policy of containment to a position of deterrence.  Knowing that NATO will respond, it is unlikely that Moscow will engage in armed conflict on European soil.

Less likely would be a scenario where armed conflict develops in the Atlantic and Pacific theatres as it is questionable whether the U.S., the European Union, NATO and their allies could adequately respond.

 The South China Sea – A Deepening Rift

While China and Russia are embroiled in territorial disputes in the Pacific Ocean, it is China’s SCS Dispute that is particularly troublesome.  The expansionist goal of the two countries is that they gain control the maritime activities in the region, impeding routine missions patrolling the area and impeding the territorial rights of other nations, and allowing them to exploit the region’s rich oil reserves.  In the SCS there are 11 million estimated barrels of oil, 190 trillion cubic square feet of natural gas, and $5.3 trillion in annual trade passing through the region.

Competing South China Sea Claims

China’s sweeping claims of sovereignty over the SCS have antagonized Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, Taiwan, Indonesia, and the Philippines, each of which has competing territorial and jurisdictional claims in the SCS.  China has grown increasingly more assertive in advancing its position in these disputes, known as the South China Sea Dispute, by substantially modernizing its maritime paramilitary forces and increasing its naval capabilities.  In recent months, tensions in the South China Sea have steadily grown, amid global concerns over China’s constructions of artificial islands in the Spratly Islands and its continuing militarization in the Paracel Islands.

There is one pending case before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague between China and the Philippines concerning lawful sovereignty over an area rich in natural gas deposits. The matter was brought by the Philippines as to the legality of China’s “nine-dash line”.  China has never clarified the parameters of the “nine-dash line”, which encompasses approximately 80% of the SCS. The Philippines claims that China violated the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS); an agreement about territorial seas and exclusive economic zones (EEZ).

China’s motivation is not the preservation of ancestral waters or historical fishing sites, protected by the UNCLOS; rather China seeks to complete a “strategic triangle” in the SCS to monitor and control regional maritime activities, to bolster its naval position, and to gain access to much-needed natural resources. To further its interests, China has built man-made islands and artificial harbors on reefs creating more than 3,200 acres, and increasing its EEZs by 200 nautical miles or 370 km, and its territorial seas by 12 nautical miles or 22 km, on which it has installed airfields and surveillance systems, and a radar tower.  China now plans on installing an Air Defense Identification Zone, or ADIZ, covering the SCS. An ADIZ demarcates a zone outside a country’s national airspace where planes must identify themselves for security reasons and follow the country’s military instructions.

Newly constructed radar dome on Chinese-controlled Subi Reef

The Pentagon has accused China of using “coercive tactics short of armed conflict.”

The Philippines is expected to prevail in proceedings boycotted by China.  China called the PCA arbitration illegal and stated that it would ignore the PCA’s decision, even though China is one of five permanent United Nations Security Council members.  As the PCA has no enforcement authority, enforcement will fall upon other nations both in and outside of the SCS region.

“Only when everyone plays by the same rules can we avoid the mistakes of the past, like when countries challenged one another in contests of strength and will, with disastrous consequences for the region,” stated U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter on June 3, 2016.

The U.S. could also be drawn into this conflict based on 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty between the U.S. and the Philippines. The Treaty states, “Each Party recognizes that an armed attack in the Pacific Area on either of the Parties would be dangerous to its own peace and safety and declares that it would act to meet the common dangers in accordance with its constitutional processes.”  If the U.S. failed to respond, it could damper its relationship with other nations in Asia.

Also relevant is the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties (DOC) in the South China Sea, in which ASEAN and China agreed upon multilateral risk-reduction and confidence-building measures.  DOC requires that territorial and jurisdictional disputes be resolved without resorting to the threat or use of force.

Chinese and Russian Joint Military Buildup

In advance of the G7 Summit, China warned Japan not to involve the G7 in the SCS Dispute.  Russian Prime Minister Sergei Lavrov, on April 14, also issued a statement that, while international law ought to be respected, Russia disapproved of internationalization of the dispute, stating, “Our position is determined by the wish, natural for any normal country, to see disputes resolved directly between the countries involved in a peaceful political and diplomatic manner, without any interference from third parties or any attempts to internationalize these disputes.”

The Chinese Foreign Ministry reacted “by heralding the two countries’ converging position on the South China Sea.”

Ignoring the Chinese and Russian warnings, but without mentioning China, the G7, from which Russia has been excluded since annexing Crimea, expressed concern over Chinese aggression in the SCS.

A Fact Sheet released by the White House sumarized the April 7, 2016 G7 Summit:

“G-7 leaders reiterated their commitment to a rules-based order at sea, peaceful dispute settlement, and respect for freedom of navigation and overflight.  G-7 leaders also reaffirmed the importance of states’ making and clarifying their claims based on international law [including the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea]; refraining from unilateral actions; not using force or coercion; and seeking to settle disputes by peaceful means including through juridical procedures.’”

On April 29, 2016 Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held a joint press conference in Beijing declaring shared opposition to “interference from third parties” and “attempts to internationalize” the dispute.  Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi stated that China and Russia should join together to oppose “internationalising” the disputes.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu stated on May 23, 2015 that, “Russia would deploy top-of-the-line Bal and Bastion coastal defense systems — with ranges of up to 450 kilometers — as well as Russia’s new Aeleron-3 drones. The apparent goal is to create an area-denial zone around the Kuril Island chain similar to those recently fielded in Crimea and Syria.”

The purpose of the Bastion-P is to engage various surface ships, as well as carrier battle groups, convoys or landing craft. In some cases missiles fired from this system can strike surface targets.  The Bastion-P launcher carries two P-800 Oniks/Yakhont and SS-N-26 Strobile anti-ship cruise missiles, having a range of 300 km, with hi-low flight trajectory and 120 km with low-low flight trajectory. The warhead, weighing 200-250 kg., can carry nuclear or conventional warheads.

At first, Mr. Shoigu alleged Russia’s Red Pacific Fleet was sending six of its warships carrying 200 troops, launched in April, to conduct a three-month “expedition” to the Kuril Islands.  The real mission is to establish a Russian military base on Matua Island, one of the Kuril Islands involved in its dispute with Japan.  The Matua Island base will hold 87 contract troops, 700 units of military equipment and weaponry, 60 new aircraft and helicopters, three vessels and over 20 drones. Based on a photograph released by Russian controlled state media, the warships were accompanied by nuclear-powered submarines.

Large landing ships “Admiral Nevelskoi,” foreground, “Nikolai Vilkov” and Varshavyanka-class diesel-electric submarine © Vitaliy Anko / Sputnik

Days prior to the May 30-31, 2016 “Russia and China: Taking on New Quality of Bilateral Relations international Conference”, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated, “[W]e closely cooperate on the international arena, where our cooperation serves as a very important stabilizing factor. We will continue to jointly with the Chinese friends advance the necessary steps in order to ensure that our cooperation reaches new levels.”

 Lavrov added that proposals for all directions of cooperation were being drawn up “with the goal to further deepen cooperation in politics, economy and humanitarian area.”

“Russia and China are priority diplomatic partners for each other within the framework of their strategic coordination. Our countries implement close interaction in the international arena. Russian-Chinese relations are an important factor in the world peace and stability. During Vladimir Putin’s visit to China, the two leaders will exchange views on the development of bilateral relations and on international issues,” stated Hua Chunying, Deputy Director of Foreign Ministry Information Department of the People’s Republic of China.

At the conference, Western economic sanctions against Russia were deemed moot by Russia as it is looking to the East for economic growth and stability with China and Russia agreeing to increase trade from $90 billion in 2016 to $200 billion within four years.

Calling the SCS Dispute a man-made problem “forged by the United States… both Chinese and Russian leadership understand that we are better together and we are not so worried about America and its attitude to this issue,” stated Boris Titov, co-chairman of the Russian-Chinese Friendship committee and Russia’s ombudsman.

Moreover, Russia and China have been engaging in joint naval exercises in SCS.  According to the Russian press service, Russia and China commenced their first joint computer anti-missile defense exercises Aerospace-Security-2016.  Russia and China will use the results to formulate proposals on Russian-Chinese military cooperation in the field of anti-missile defense.

China’s “waves -2″ submarine-launched ballistic missile launched from underwater

“My sense is that each country will try and oppose the U.S. where it feels that its national interests require it, and that in a number of instances their national interests converge,” stated former Dutch Diplomat Joost Dirzwager.

The U.S. and France have bolstered their presence in the SCS.  The Pentagon sent a guided-missile destroyer to maintain maritime rights. This was the third time in under a year that the U.S. has conducted freedom of navigation operations in the SCS.

U.S. Freedom of Navigation (FON) Program, created in 1983 “…provides that the United States will exercise and assert its navigation and overflight rights and freedoms on a worldwide basis in a manner that is consistent with the balance of interests reflected in the Law of the Sea (LOS) Convention. The United States will not, however, acquiesce in unilateral acts of other states designed to restrict the rights and freedoms of the international community in navigation and overflight and other related high seas uses.”

According to DoD spokeswoman Lieutenant Colonel Michelle Baldanza, on May 17, 2016, when the U.S. sent an unarmed U.S. military aircraft on routine patrol over the SCS, China responded with two fighter jets carrying out an interception at less than 50 feet forcing the U.S. plane to rapidly descent, which the Pentagon deemed unsafe.

China insists that reconnaissance activities undertaken without prior notification and without permission of the coastal state violate Chinese domestic law and international law. The U.S. responded by stating that the UNCLOS does not negates the right of military forces of all nations to conduct military activities in EEZs without coastal state notice or consent.

Days after Russia requested Vietnam permit it naval access, U.S. President Barack Obama visited Vietnam at which time a 50 year arms embargo was lifted, enabling Vietnam to obtain U.S. sourced radars and sensors, surveillance planes and drones to monitor and deter Chinese forces.  The U.S. Navy has requested access to Cam Ranh Bay, the most coveted deep water harbor in the western SCS.  If permitted, it would complement U.S. naval facilities in the Philippines on the SCS’ eastern edge.

Japan and Russia’s Kuril Islands Dispute

Japan has been embroiled in a long-standing dispute with Russia over a portion of the Kuril Islands, an archipelago stretching 1,300 km or 810 mi, from northern Japan to Russia’s Kamchatka peninsula, separating the Sea of Okhotsk from the North Pacific Ocean.  As part of its territory, Japan claims the four ancestral islands; two southernmost and large Kuril Islands, Iturup and Kunashir, as well as the Shikotan and the Habomai Islets.

On February 7, 1855, Japan and Russia signed the Treaty of Commerce, Navigation and Delimitation, which established boundaries in the Northern Territories.  Japan lost control of several of its islands at the end of World War II, when they were claimed by Russia.  Japan has rejected Russian sovereignty over the islands in a dispute that has come to be known as the Northern Territories Dispute.  Japan does not dispute Russian sovereignty over the other Kuril Islands.

As recent as this past April, Japan has engaged Russia in frequent but, unsuccessful dialogue in an effort to diplomatically resolve the conflict, going so far as to state that it would not displace Russians occupying the islands as Joseph Stalin did to the Japanese people.

The U.S. supports Japan’s claim in the Northern Territories Dispute.

“A conflict involving China over the East and South Seas was more likely than a Russo-Japanese conflict over the Kuril Islands/Northern territories,” stated Steven Pifer, Senior Fellow Brookings Institute Fellow, and former U.S. Department of State Foreign Service Officer.

The Kuril Islands are salient based on Russia’s military build-up there.  While Russia and Japan are not predicted to engage in armed conflict over the Northern Territories Dispute, the military build-up is nonetheless significant as it relates to the SCS Dispute.

Insecurity in the European Union

Russia’s Methodology

“Russia’s interest in breaking up Europe is clear and it uses a variety of means, anything it can possibly do, to achieve its breakup,” stated Russian scholar and analyst Anne Applebaum.

Russia’s toolbox of hybrid warfare i.e. that without physical aggression, includes weaponising information; intelligence gathering; and cyber, political, psychological, and energy warfare.

Russia has been accused of cyber warfare in Estonia, the German parliament and in Bulgaria.  Russia has backed the far right front in France, the Hungarian Jobbik, and the German AFD, and has secured the support of Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

Ukraine and Crimea

Recent geopolitical tensions between the West and Russian can be traced to Russia’s annexation of Crimean Peninsula, which the West deems illegal, and its military aggression in Ukraine, which the West stands firm in stating that in so doing Russia failed to implement the pre-existing Minsk Agreement.  Statements have recently issued from both sides.

“The path NATO has chosen is one of strong deterrence combined with meaningful dialogue. There cannot be any return to business as usual until Russia comes back into compliance with international law,” stated NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow.

Mr. Vershbow noted that ‘the first step toward that end should be the full implementation of the Minsk agreements – ending the Russian-backed insurgency in Eastern Ukraine, implementing a real ceasefire, withdrawing Russian forces and heavy weapons, and creating conditions for free and fair elections under Ukrainian and OSCE supervision aimed at re-integrating the occupied portions of Donbas into Ukraine.’

At the May 2016 G7 Summit, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United States and the European Union condemned Russia’s “illegal annexation” of the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine. In a formal declaration the G7 threatened “further restrictive measures” but indicated sanctions could be scaled back if Russia implemented the Minsk Agreement to respecting Ukraine’s sovereignty.

Mr. Putin responded by stating that, “As far as Crimea is concerned, we consider this question is closed forever. Russia will not conduct any discussions with anyone on this subject.”

The Baltic States, Poland and Romania

On April 1, 2014 following the annexation of Crimea, NATO member nations unanimously voted to suspend all cooperation with Russia save essential diplomatic dialogue.  Since then, Russia has conducted military exercises involving 30,000-80,000 troops in close proximity to the Baltic region.

“To the east and north we face a resurgent and aggressive Russia, and as we have continued to witness these last two years, Russia continues to seek to extend its influence on its periphery and beyond. We are prepared to fight and win if we have to … our focus will expand from assurance to deterrence, including measures that vastly improve our overall readiness,” stated NATO Supreme Commander General Phillip Breedlove on March 31, 2016, just days after the conclusion of the Munich Security Conference.

NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow said NATO is strengthening its deterrence and defence posture by implementing the Readiness Action Plan (RAP), which includes a 5000-strong Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, in response to a more assertive and aggressive Russia.

Russia’s interest in the Baltic States is multi-faceted. First and foremost, Russian President has stated over and over again that it is his responsibility to protect Russians, regardless of where they now live in the European Union.  Russia, having allowed its Baltic Sea port of Kaliningrad to deteriorate has, until recently, relied upon Baltic States’ modern and ice-free ports to transport its oil throughout Europe.

The deployment of Iskander-M missile complexes in Kaliningrad will “fundamentally change the balance of security in Europe,” stated NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

NATO responded by bolstering its position in many countries flanking the Russian border. NATO is deploying 4,000 additional troops to the Baltic countries and to Poland.  Another 4,200 troops are set to be deployed in early 2017.  NATO has also just committed to sending four rotating groups of combat battalions to Poland.

Despite NATO having voted to suspend cooperation with Russia, NATO members are complying with the May 27, 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security between NATO and the Russian Federation (Founding Act), even though some NATO members believe it to have been violated by Russia.  Under the Founding Act, significant numbers of troops cannot be permanently stationed in Eastern Europe.  The Founding Act does not define “significant”.  By rotating troops in the Baltic States or the East, Russia is deprived of the pretext of a Founding Act violation to engage in armed conflict.

The “Visegrad Four” – the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia – have proposed to NATO that they create a common “rotational” force to bolster defence in the Baltics starting in 2017.  Also in 2017, the U.S. military plans on an increased rotational presence in the East of up to 5,000 troops, including in both Romania and Bulgaria. A number of other countries have committed to or are considering sending troops to the Baltic Region and Poland; with the issue to be discussed at the July NATO Summit in Warsaw, Poland.

A 2015 Rand study suggested the need for seven brigades, including three heavy armored brigade, to have a chance of stopping a major Russian offensive. This exceeds NATO’s present capacity. Moreover, such a force would appear overly provocative to Moscow, posing a potent ground offensive less than 400 kilometers from St. Petersburg, Russia’s second largest city.

Also bypassing the Founding Act, the air forces of 16 different NATO member states have been actively securing the Baltic air space.  There have been many incidents of these peacekeeping flyovers being improperly threatened by Russian fighter jets.

“There should be no gaps. Deterrence must be the new normal,” stated Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas.

If the rotational troops and increased air surveillance caused Russian ire, the U.S.’s recent activation of a land-based SM-3 missile defence interceptor or shield at its base in southern Romania, with a second defence system to be operational by 2018 in Warsaw, has only amplified the situation.  The radar, similar to that on U.S. Navy warships, detects and identifies incoming missiles, then launches interceptor missiles destroying the incoming missile in space.

“To put it simply, our new missile defense architecture in Europe will provide stronger, smarter, and swifter defenses of American forces and America’s Allies. It is more comprehensive than the previous program; it deploys capabilities that are proven and cost-effective; and it sustains and builds upon our commitment to protect the U.S. homeland against long-range ballistic missile threats; and it ensures and enhances the protection of all our NATO Allies,” stated U.S. President Barack Obama.

Mr. Putin stated that Russia will respond to the U.S. installation of missile defence shields in Romania and Poland as they directly threaten Russian security.

“We are convinced unconditionally that the deployment of an antimissile defense system does indeed pose a threat to the security of the Russian Federation,” stated Russian Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov.

Analysis

Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger advised that, “To play a responsible role in the evolution of twenty-first century world order [each country] must be prepared to answer a number of questions for itself:

  • What do we seek to prevent, no matter how it happens, and if necessary alone? The answer defines the minimum condition of the survival of society.
  • What do we seek to achieve, even if not supported by any multilateral effort? These goals define the minimum objectives of the national strategy.
  • What do we seek to achieve, or prevent, only if supported by an alliance? This defines the outer limits of the country’s strategic aspirations as part of a global system.
  • What should we not engage in, even if urged by a multilateral group or an alliance? This defines the limiting condition [of a country’s] participation in world order.
  • Above all, what is the nature of the values that we seek to advance? What applications depend in part on circumstances?”

The West seeks to prevent the denigration or disregard of Rule or Law.  It has done so through NATO, it member nations and their alliances and partners.  This is and has been the driving principle for all actions it has undertaken in the Baltic Region, Western Europe, Ukraine, Crimea and the SCS.  With the exception of Crimea, the West has unequivocally indicated it will go to war if provoked by Russia.

As to what Russia seeks to achieve, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has stated, that Russia wants to be treated as an equal partner in foreign affairs, especially in Europe, but that the European Union has failed attribute to Russia the credence that it feels due and justified.  The reality is that Russia will never gain the acceptance of the European Union or the U.S. until it demonstrates adherence to Rule of Law.  This tests the outer limits of Russia’s foreign policy initiatives.

Nonetheless, given the powerful statements from the Kremlin, the European Union may yet be able to positively engage Moscow. After all, a Cold War is nothing more than failed diplomacy.  The European Union must consider the truth; if conditions deteriorate in either the East or the West, the West, in its current state, is not equipped to engage in deterrence let alone defence. In addition to the ongoing fight against terrorism and the distressing presidential elections in the United States, there is a lack of cohesion among European Union members impeding cooperative efforts with NATO and its other partners and alliances.  These are the limiting conditions that the West cannot ignore.

An alternate and more plausible explanation is that Russia, expert at psychological warfare and the use of propaganda, has used the ruse of an attack on the Baltic States, Poland or Romania to deflect public attention away from the South China Sea Dispute.

As for China, “There are a number of political and economic factors which militate against a military conflict, though the probability is not zero,” stated Mr. Pifer.

China seeks to achieve a leadership role in global financial stability.  It has strengthened its global financial position through the creation of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the New Development Bank, known as The BRICS, to which many foreign powers, save the United States, have acceded to one or both.  China’s limiting condition is jeopardizing the many trade relationships it has built, not only with Western countries, such as Great Britain and the U.S., but with countries around the world.  The reality for China it that if SCS aggressions continue, especially in tandem with Russia, it may destroy positive relationships.

A second reality, based on Mr. Kissinger’s decision-making tree, is that China continues its military build-up in the SCS, with or without Russia, and that those countries adhering to Rule of Law are forced by treaty to respond.

As to joint Chinese and Russian military cooperation, while China and Russia have been bound to some degree by a shared ideology, it has thus far never extended to joint military cooperation or to an expansionist philosophy based on the use of force.  In this scenario, diplomatic relations with China might produce a positive result, not just in the SCS, but China may influence Russian interactions elsewhere in the world.

“The United States will make it clear that we are looking for a peaceful resolution to …  the disputes of the South China Sea. Let’s not resolve this by unilateral action; let’s resolve this through rule of law, through diplomacy, through negotiation. And we urge all nations to find a diplomatic solution, rooted in international standards and rule of law,” stated U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry during Sangri-La talks held on June 7, 2016 in Beijing.

US Secretary of State John Kerry attends the US – China High Level Consultation on People to People Exchange at the National Museum in Beijing, June 7, 2016. (Photo credit SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian urging other European Union members to undertake “regular and visible” SCS patrols, stated, “If we want to contain the risk of conflict, we must defend this right, and defend it ourselves.”

Previously, the G7 members signed on G7 statements on maritime security and freedom of navigation.

India’s Prime Minister Narenda, following a visit to the White House, stated that it had no comment on the SCS Dispute.  India struggles to meet the energy demands of its citizens.

The necessary diplomacy might transpire at the G20 Summit – comprised of 19 individual countries—Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States—along with the European Union (EU) – to be hosted by September 4 to 6.  While less than 100 days away, it provides ample time for all parties to re-evaluate the current diplomatic posture.

About the Author

Cynthia M. Lardner is a journalist focusing on geopolitics.  Ms. Lardner is a contributing editor for Tuck Magazine and E – The Magazine for Today’s Executive Female Executive, and her blogs are read in over 37 countries.  As a thought leader in the area of foreign policy, her philosophy is to collectively influence conscious global thinking. Ms. Lardner holds degrees in journalism, law, and counseling psychology.

Cover Photo Courtesy of Xinhua.

Sources available upon request.

Inside the Mind of Vladimir Putin

Putin.CoverBy:  Cynthia M. Lardner

Introduction

The Russian Federation, when examined as the antagonist, views itself as having been left disconnected from post-World War Two Europe. Russia believes itself to be irrevocably tied to Europe dating back to the Byzantine Era.  When the Cold War ended Russia expected to be accepted by the West. This never fully materialized, leaving Russian President Vladimir Putin feeling dismembered. With heightening geopolitical tensions, especially in the European Union, it is critical to understand Mr. Putin’s long term strategy. When events over the last three years are examined together, not only does there exists a threat of conflict on European soil and cyberwar but, there also exists a very real threat to the Western world of another new genre of warfare:  economic warfare.

The Lavrov Statement

Understanding what Mr. Putin was and is thinking can now be best understood in the context of a March 3, 2016 statement by Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs:

“While the rapidly developing Moscow state naturally played an increasing role in European affairs, the European countries had apprehensions about the nascent giant in the East and tried to isolate it whenever possible and prevent it from taking part in Europe’s most important affairs.

During at least the past two centuries any attempts to unite Europe without Russia and against it have inevitably led to grim tragedies, the consequences of which were always overcome with the decisive participation of our country (Emphasis Added).”

Emphasizing Russia’s growing relationship with China and its other partners, including the BRICS, Lavrov stated that globalisation has led to the United States and the European Union’s demise as the leading global economic powers and political influencers, and to the emergence of “new and large centres of power”.

This was followed by the assertion that, “A reliable solution to the problems of the modern world can only be achieved through serious and honest cooperation between the leading states and their associations in order to address common challenges.”

Lavrov concluded that, “[W]e are not seeking confrontation with the United States, or the European Union, or NATO. On the contrary, Russia is open to the widest possible cooperation with its Western partners. We continue to believe that the best way to ensure the interests of the peoples living in Europe is to form a common economic and humanitarian space from the Atlantic to the Pacific, so that the newly formed Eurasian Economic Union could be an integrating link between Europe and Asia Pacific.”

Sino-Russian Partnership

Perhaps then it is ultimately not just what Mr. Putin is thinking but, also what the aspirations are of Chinese President Xi Jinping, with respect, not as to the Middle East, but as to Europe.  When events are read together, the two countries share expansionist and extremist policies, each with their own set of alliances, under which both countries aspire to wield greater global leadership.

A contemporary starting place for analyzing the Sino-Russian relationship is July 17, 2014, when a number of seemingly unrelated events occurred.  The day prior, the European Union imposed economic sanctions against the Russia Federation for its annexation of Crimea in violation of international law and the 1994 Budapest Agreement, followed by President Barack Obama announcing that the United States was also imposing sanctions; ultimately toppling the ruble.  Hours later, a Malaysian plane was shot down over the Ukraine by Russian mercenaries. This was quickly followed by a statement released by China, Russia, India, Brazil and South Africa, representing 40% of the world’s population, that they were implementing the New Development Bank or The BRICS, to provide funding to those countries previously unable to secure financing for essential sustainable infrastructures from the World Bank (WB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Six months later, on February 2, 2015, obscured by an international community divided over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, China struck a potentially deadly blow to global financial stability when it announced that it was not only moving ahead in launching its Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) but that it was expanding to welcome founding members from the West, of which all 28 NATO members, save the United States, joined within months.  There are now 56 AIIB member nations and another 30 countries awaiting approval.

“The founding and opening of the AIIB also means a great deal to the reform of the global economic governance system,” stated Mr. Jinping at the January 16, 2016 AIIB inauguration.

The AIIB and its ‘junior partner’, The BRICS, were set up to compete with the WB and IMF, intending to ultimately issue its own currency to devalue the Euro and the dollar.

“The BRICS is expected to usher in a pair of institutions, a development bank and a currency reserve fund, that they hope will diminish Western control of the global financial system,” stated Stewart M. Patrick, director of CFR’s International Institutions and Global Governance Program.

“The AIIB is a challenge to the existing global economic order,” stated Robert Kahn, Steven A. Tananbaum Senior Fellow for International Economics.

Such would be the case if China and its partners called in their portion of the United States National Debt; $17.6 trillion dollars or 15.9%.

In addition, China and Russia, two of the five permanent United Nations Security Council (UNSC) members, along with India, issued a statement supporting India’s bid for one of the five permanent UNSC seats.

The statement declared that the three nations, with China at the helm, would “build a more just, fair and stable international political and economic order” and a ““multi-polar” world”.   Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi proclaimed, “We advocate the principle of partnership rather than alliance.”

In late 2015 Mr. Jinping made a state visit to Great Britain. India Prime Minister Naranda Modi made state visits to 28 countries.  In Great Britain and beyond, China and India secured many private and public sector contracts.  India’s state visits were partially motivated by its previous lack of cordial diplomatic relations with North African and the Middle East; regions India needs to to support its claim that it is a global leader meriting a permanent UNSC seat.

Inception of The BRICS and AIIB has raised global concerns.  The Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights is investigating whether projected project financing by The BRICS and the AIIB would include safeguards to preclude human rights violations, such as slave or child labor, underpayment of wages, forced evictions, and detentions.  Further concern exists over a lack of articulated environmental and anticorruption standards.  These concerns were manifest in previous projects funded by the Chinese government.

Syria

As time went on, the events of 2014 and 2015 fell off the front pages, replaced by news story about the Syrian War and the related terrorist attacks in California, Paris and Brussels.

Russia’s September 2015 entry into the Syrian War was reported to insure that Mr. Putin’s ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, remained in power.  It is questionable whether Mr. Putin’s move was a smokescreen allowing him to achieve another objective:  destabilizing the European Union.

Russian bombing in Syria was targeted in and around Aleppo, near the Turkish border.  NATO and other leaders asserted that Russia had weaponized Syrians; escalating the number of refugee seekers. The refugee crisis has created widespread dissension within Europe, which has been struggling to cope with the staggering numbers of refugees.  There are 4,883,643 Syrian refugees registered by the United Nations; making it the largest humanitarian crisis the world has faced since World War II.

Munich Security Conference

At the February 12-14, 2016 Munich Security Conference (MSC), Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s echoed Lavrov’s statements; calling the state of diplomacy between Russia and the West a new Cold War.  NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander General Philip Breedlove disagreed.

A Syrian ceasefire was negotiated at the MSC to allow participants time to reconvene in March to further discuss a nonmilitary resolution, and so that humanitarian aid could be delivered to Syria.

At the MSC conference, the issue of Russia’s failure to honor the Minsk Protocol, intended to resolve the Russian-Ukrainian conflict was raised.

On March 14, 2016, as the parties reconvened in Geneva, Russia only announced that it was pulling out of Syria at the same time Russian-backed separatists staged one their biggest Ukrainian offenses, fueling speculation as to Mr. Putin’s long range motives.

Europe and the United States

Mr. Putin’s goal is to undermine the European Union by causing destabilization as the European Union represents democracy, is based on Rule of Law, and is ideologically different from Russia, stated Anne Applebaum, Pulitzer Prize Russian Scholar, Director of the Transitions Forum at the Legatum Institute, and an adjunct fellow of the Center for European Policy Analysis.

European and United States’ domestic and foreign policy has caused dissension within and between nations.  Natalie Nougayrède, a foreign affairs commentator for The Guardian, explained:

This year is one that arguably offers Russia an unprecedented window of opportunity to push that demand. The refugee crisis threatens key EU institutions, a referendum looms on the UK’s relationship to Europe, the Franco-German couple is in dire straits, Angela Merkel is politically weakened, Ukraine is unstable, populist movements are spreading throughout the continent, the Balkans are experiencing new tensions, and the US is busy with an election campaign imbued with isolationism.

“Europe when united is a problem for them [the Russians]. It doesn’t work when the whole of Europe joins together,” stated Applebaum.

“Closer cooperation between the EU and its eastern European partners – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine – is a key element in EU foreign relations,” states the European Union’s website.

Meanwhile, Russia has strengthened its relationships with Western Europe and Germany.  In 2014 Mr. Putin stated, “I expect that the citizens of Germany will also support the aspiration of the Russians, of historical Russia, to restore unity.”  Presently, an estimated 10-15% of all Germans support Mr. Putin.

Mr. Putin’s authoritarian leadership is also admired by Czech Republic President Miloš Zeman, Hungary Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, and Serbian Prime Minister Alexander Vucic.

Then there is Poland; with Russia and Ukraine on its east and Germany and the Baltics on its west, it is a natural target for Russia.  The United States is building a missile defense shield in Poland due to be operational in 2018; stating it was to protect against Iranian aggressions.  Russia objected, stating that the shield is being built to protect the West from an attack by Russia.

Russia, having the world’s largest nuclear arsenal supported by a sprawling military and civilian nuclear industry, boycotted the March 31-April 1 Nuclear Security Summit, sparking concern as to whether Russia has or might sell nuclear weapons or weapon making materials to a terrorist organization.

Igor Ivanov, former Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, stated that, “The risk of confrontation with the use of nuclear weapons in Europe is higher than in the 1980s.”

Ukraine and the European Union

The conflict between Rule of Law and the Russian plutocracy is playing out in Ukraine and the Baltic region.

In 2012 Ukraine requested member state status in the European Union.  While there is no indication that Ukraine will be accepted as a European Union member, as part of the association agreement between Ukraine and the European Union, the European Union is removing trade barriers with Ukraine.

“Ukraine has tied into mainstream European culture and life,” stated Applebaum.

“We can express our identity in the framework of the European Union,” reflected Rabbi Yaakov Dov Bleich, Chief Rabbi of Ukraine.

Mr. Putin disagreed, stating, “Our concerns are understandable because we are not simply close neighbours but, as I have said many times already, we are one people… Millions of Russians and Russian-speaking people live in Ukraine and will continue to do so. Russia will always defend their interests using political, diplomatic and legal means.”

Rebutting Mr. Putin’s assertion, Rabbi Bleich stated that 60% of Ukraine’s fighters are native Russian speakers.

Mr. Putin additionally stated that, “Russia has its legitimate concerns in the framework of trilateral negotiations initiated by Russia, EU and Ukraine on gas issues and trade and economic implications of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement implementation” as Ukraine is the trade route by which oil is exported by Russia to Western Europe.

“We should recognize that the Ukraine is within the Russian sphere of influence,” stated Vaidotas Verba, the Lithuanian Ambassador to the Netherlands.

Russia, Ukraine, the Baltic States and NATO

Since 1994 Ukraine has been a NATO alliance partner.  In 2010 Ukraine unsuccessfully sought to accede to NATO.  The request was denied due to the Ukrainian government’s failure to adhere to Rule of Law.

Olena Sotnyk, a newly elected Ukrainian Parliament member and Head of the Subcommittee on the Approximation of Ukrainian legislation to EU Law, stated “… that new parliament is striving to adhere to Rule of Law via implementation of a good number of legislative initiatives in the fields of human rights protection and anti-corruption, initiatives that only two years ago seemed unrealistic in the Ukrainian realities.”

In 2014, following a change in governance, Ukraine renewed its request to accede to NATO.  While Ukraine has not been invited to participate in accession talks, it is a partner nation of NATO.  In addition, of the 21 other countries belonging to NATO’s Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, several have also expressed interest in acceding to NATO member nation status.  Presently, only Montenegro has been invited by NATO to participate in accession talks.

Every country has the right “to belong or not to belong to international organizations, to be or not to be a party to bilateral or multilateral treaties including the right to be or not to be a party to treaties of alliance,” according to Article I of the Helsinki Final Act, which established the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).  All the OSCE member states, including Russia, have sworn to uphold this principle.

Since 2015 NATO has increased its presence in Ukraine and throughout the Baltic States; Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia.

“The reason why NATO is adapting its military posture, especially in the eastern part of the Alliance, is Russia’s military buildup over several years… In the Barents Sea, the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea and now also in the Mediterranean. That’s one of the reasons why we are adapting both by increasing the readiness of our forces but also by increasing our presence in the Eastern part of our Alliance,” stated Stoltenberg.

Russia interpreted NATO’s eastern expansion as a sign of open hostility and warned that it will retaliate.

“We believe that NATO’s policy towards Russia remains unfriendly and generally obdurate,” stated Medvedev at the MSC.

Medvedev’s statement conflicts with Stoltenberg’s contemporaneous statement that, “This illustrates there are some challenges in the relationship between NATO and Russia. It is exactly these challenges that make it important to keep channels of political dialogue with Russia. They are open, we meet in different formats, on different levels, we meet at the ambassadors’ level in Brussels, and the NATO Russia Council meeting we are exploring to convene is at the ambassadors’ level. I met several times with Minister Lavrov. So we meet and we discuss. But so far we have not been able to agree on how to convene a NRC [the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission] meeting.”

“I’m afraid that Putin will create a really big crisis, like pick a fight with NATO,” stated Applebaum.

Such a crisis could include offensive action in the Baltic States, where there is a heavy concentration of ethnic Russians.  Ethnic Russians represent 14.3% of the Lithuanian population; 27.6% of Latvia’s population; and 24% of Estonia’s population.  Mr. Putin has previously stated that Russia has the right to intervene to protect the rights of ethnic Russians in neighbouring countries.

The United States is preparing for a Russian invasion in Ukraine or elsewhere in the Baltic region, as evidenced by a Pentagon statement that the United States was deploying an armored brigade to the Baltic region, with two more brigades to follow in 2017.

Considering such potentialities, NATO and Russia have agreed to meet.

“[T]here will be no return to business as usual until Russia again respects international law,” stated Stoltenberg.

The Game of Thrones

Irrespective of ideological differences, after the Cold War Era, Russia and the West shifted from the Doctrine of Mutual Assured Destruction to that of Mutual Assured Security (MAS); where neither party has the intention or capability to exercise a unilateral advantage over the other.  It is now uncertain whether Russia intends to abide by MAS.

Conditions never favored full adaptation of MAS.  Celeste A. Wallander, an associate professor in the American University School of International Service, a fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia/Ukraine/Eurasia, explained:

The problem with the U.S. position is that Russia is not confident that conditions for strategic stability are met, and therefore they are not. Since strategic stability is a condition in which both parties are confident that each retains a secure retaliatory capability, if either is not confident, the equation is at risk. To put it another way, it does not help in a crisis.  If the United States is confident that no military strike could put Russia’s ability to retaliate at risk if Russia believes that it would have to preempt for survival.  Because Russian analysts take this seriously, U.S. policy needs to take this seriously.

“What we are dealing with is a conflict between a western philosophy in which international relations should be based on the Rule of Law, and the Russian one which tends to think in terms of power and zones of influence.  The view that the world order should be based on the rule of law, is very much the view of a militarily impotent Europe and more in particular that of small countries dependent on international trade such as the Netherlands.  The realistic school of American foreign policy on the other hand entertains no such illusions and views diplomacy as the application of power by nonmilitary means,” stated Joost Dirkzwager, a retired Kingdom of the Netherlands career diplomat.

That same analysis as to “zones of influence” can be applied to China, and to a lesser degree, India.  Although Russian and Chinese foreign and military policies differ radically, they operate under a similar ideology. While China is a superpower, Russia, due to its economic decline, is not.  Yet, the two countries are working together, with Beijing wielding the greater influence.

When read as a whole, not only does there exist the threat of conflict on European or even on United States soil and cyberwar with China and Russia but, there also exists a very real threat to the West of a new genre of warfare:  economic warfare.

About the Author

Cynthia M. Lardner is a journalist, holding degrees in journalism, law, and counseling psychology. Her blogs are read in over 37 countries.  As a thought leader in the area of foreign policy, her philosophy is to collectively influence conscious global thinking. Living in Den Hague or The Hague, she is currently looking for a challenging position in foreign policy, journalism, or social justice.

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“Sergey Lavrov’s article “Russia’s Foreign Policy: Historical Background” for “Russia in Global Affairs” magazine, March 3, 2016, MFR Russia, as found on the www at http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/-/asset_publisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/content/id/2124391.

Spaulding, Hugo, “Russian Military Activity:  OCTOBER 27-NOVEMBER 3, 2015”, Institute for the Study of War, as found on the www at http://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-military-activity-october-27-november-3-2015.

 

Stanton, Jenny, “Putin hopes to destabilise Germany by fuelling tensions over migrants, intelligence chiefs claim.” March 11, Daily Mail, as found on the www at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3487603/Putin-hopes-destabilise-Germany-fuelling-tensions-migrants-intelligence-chiefs-claim.html#ixzz43WbWoexA.

 

“Statement to the media by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg after his meeting with Foreign Minister Lavrov of Russia,” February 12, 2016, NATO, as found on the www at http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/opinions_128071.htm.

 

Stewart, Patrick, “The BRICS: Three Things to Know”, July 7, 2015, Council on Foreign Affairs, as found on the www at http://www.cfr.org/international-organizations-and-alliances/brics-three-things-know/p36759.

 

“Transcript: Putin says Russia will protect the rights of Russians abroad,” March 18, 2014, Washington Post, as found on the www at https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/transcript-putin-says-russia-will-protect-the-rights-of-russians-abroad/2014/03/18/432a1e60-ae99-11e3-a49e-76adc9210f19_story.html.

 

Wallander, Celeste, “Mutually Assured Stability: Establishing US-Russia Security Relations for a New Century”, July 29, 2013, Atlantic Council, as found on the www at http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/publications/issue-briefs/mutually-assured-stability-establishing-us-russia-security-relations-for-a-new-century, citing, http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/images/publications/Mutually_Assured_Stability.pdf.

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Let’s Talk Türkiye

“…probably Allah alone knows why they did it.  And evidently Allah decided to punish the ruling clique in Turkey, by depriving it of any reason or logic.”

TU,erdogan

By:       Cynthia M. Lardner

Introduction

Buried in the media is the dirty little secret that Türkiye’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan proclaimed himself to be the next Caliphate.  A Caliphate is a prophet sent by Allah or God to rule over all of Islam, including providing just governance.

This is an intriguing concept considering that, by all accounts, President Erdoğan has been backing, not fighting the radicalized terrorists[i] in Syria, and has been bombing the Kurds in Syria, who, in concert with American led coalition forces, are actively fighting the radicalized terrorists.  This minimally presents an ethical conundrum, if not a treaty violation, as the coalition forces are backed by NATO, of which Türkiye is a member.

The issue becomes even sexier when also considering that President Erdoğan has engaged in the ethnic cleansing and genocide of the Kurds, both in and outside of Türkiye.  Ethnic cleansing and genocide, collectively known as Scientific Racism, is a crime against humanity.  This presents a compelling reason why Türkiye has chosen not to submit an International Court of Justice jurisdiction declaration and is non-party state to the International Criminal Court, both of which try crimes against humanity[ii].

Then, Russian President Vladimir Putin, at the November 15-16, 2015 G20 summit in held in Türkiye, indirectly accused Türkiye of financing the radicalized terrorists.  A week later, a Russian fighter jet was shot down by the Turkish Air Force without provocation or compliance with required military protocols.

This sparked supported allegations by Mr. Putin that Türkiye was transporting and selling oil on behalf of the radicalized terrorists; the very group it was allegedly fighting in concert with coalition forces.  Mr. Putin responded by making the same allegations against Moscow.

This paper explores these concepts, as well as Türkiye’s relationship with Russia, the European Union, and the radicalized terrorists, and its interest in oil exports and imports.

Governance

‘“[S]ecularization of Türkiye started in the society during the last years of Ottoman Empire “the caliphate—the supreme politico-religious office of Islam, and symbol of the sultan’s claim to world leadership of all Muslims—was abolished [iii].””

The Prophet Muhammad “…institutionalized the “doctrine of “One Ruler, One Authority, One Mosque[iv]”, giving rise to the title of “Caliphate”.   The Prophet Muhammad taught that the Caliphate is a God’s heaven sent Prophet to lead of all of Islam under a just system of governance.

Rejecting both a Caliphate and Sharia law, in 1921, Türkiye became a secular state, specifically a republican parliamentary democracy[v].  In 1982, Türkiye updated its governing document, the Constitution of the Republic of Türkiye.  A constitution is a contract between the people and its government.  The foundation of Türkiye’s constitution is laïcité, under which there is social and legal equality, democratic governance, religious freedom, and freedom of both thought and expression.

Türkiye passed enabling laws criminalizing hate crimes.  Over the years, these laws have been decreasingly enforced[vi], especially as to its Kurdish and Jewish[vii] populations.  Its historical Ottoman Anti-Semitic prejudices crossed international borders[viii], including the Jewish-Israeli population[ix].

Erdoğan’s Caliphate Claim

In late October 2014, President Erdoğan[x] stated it was his “grand design to recreate the Ottoman caliphate with the help of the Sunni jihadist army[xi]”.

“Erdoğan used the image of the caliphate and traditional Islamic values to gain popularity in the Middle East, expecting to gain it all over the world,” observed Ali Vyacheslav Polosin, Deputy Director of the Fund for Support of Islamic Culture, Science and Education[xii].

Mr. Polosin further elaborated:

“After Erdoğan became president he started positioning himself in image ads not only as the president of the Turkish Republic, but as a reader of the Quran, as though he radiates some nur, light. It is more an image of a caliph, a ruler of true believers, than the president of a republic, especially considering that Türkiye has very great experience in this aspect[xiii].”

Before the November 14, 2015 referendum election, in which President Erdoğan was narrowly re-elected, one commentator noted:

“His supporters see him as a caliph, who stands against the forces of disorder and anarchy, the leader able to usher in a neo-Ottoman era for Turkey… Pro-AKP newspaper columnist Abdurrahman Dilipak this week said the Turkish President could become “caliph” of all Sunni Muslims in the world, if only Erdoğan could manage to fulfill his often-stated aim of shifting Turkey to a presidential system of governance.

His enemies also see him as the man who would be caliph, one who rides roughshod over secularism and modernity and would further erode the order established by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the secular founder of the Republic of Turkey[xiv].”

President Erdoğan has been further accused of manipulating Türkiye into a ‘parallel state’:

““Parallel state”, “deep state”, and “parallel structure” are terms all too familiar to the Turkish public. This dual state structure was developed after the 1960 coup and further strengthened by the 1982 constitution. The division is composed of two components: The first is the elected, accountable, visible and civilian government; while the second, an unelected, unaccountable and invisible structure embedded in high bureaucracy with affiliates in media and big business[xv].”

President Erdoğan may find regional success. “In Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, other countries, the persona of Erdogan is popular among Muslims and even ruling elites. That is why Türkiye has its own game here[xvi].”   But, like all other countries, regional support neither creates the global relationships needed to sustain peace nor the international commerce and financial support needed to sustain its diverse and divided people, especially the Kurds.

The Kurds

The Kurds or کورد‎ are a Middle Eastern ethnic group, numbering 40 million worldwide; a majority of whom inhabit a contiguous area that includes parts of Iran, Southeastern Türkiye and Northern Syria, with the later known as Western Kurdistan or Rojava. Regardless of existing state boundaries, the Kurds, like the Palestinians, want to form their own state[xvii].

Kurds are overwhelmingly Muslim with the majority of Sunni descent[xviii].

The Kurds are so closely related to Iranian culture and linguistics that they themselves call themselves Iranian.  “The classification of the Kurds among the Iranian nations is based mainly on linguistic and historical data and does not prejudice the fact there is a complexity of ethnical elements incorporated in them[xix].”

As of 2008, Türkiye was 70-75% Turkish, 19% Kurdish, and 7-12% minorities.  Kurds in Türkiye number 10-20 million[xx].  Kurds are concentrated in the Southeast; “[a] strategic location controlling the Turkish Straits (Bosporus, Sea of Marmara, Dardanelles) that link the Black and Aegean Seas; Mount Ararat, the legendary landing place of Noah’s ark, is in the far eastern portion of the country[xxi].”

“Since the creation of the Turkish state in 1923, the Kurdish people have suffered egregious human rights abuses from Ankara [the Turkish capital] – from massacres to the denial of their very existence as a race[xxii].”

In more recent times, “A separatist insurgency begun in 1984 by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) – now known as the Kurdistan People’s Congress or Kongra-Gel (KGK) – dominated the Turkish military’s attention and claimed more than 30,000 lives. After the capture of the group’s leader in 1999, the insurgents largely withdrew from Turkey…[xxiii]”.  Many retreated to northern Iraq, while others made their way to Syria.

Photo Courtesy of the Central Intelligence Agency

The Turkish Kurds

Kurds remaining in Türkiye have not improved their position[xxiv].  Right after President Erdoğan’s November reelection, three neighborhoods in the Kurdish town of Silvan in the Southeastern Diyarbakir Province were first placed under military curfew – with telephone lines, water, and electricity cut-off – and then attacked for almost two straight weeks.

“If Kurds left their homes, they would be shot. If they stayed in their homes, they would be bombed.  In 1990s, the Turkish military used to burn down Kurdish villages; today they burn down Kurdish towns[xxv].”

As soon as the rampage abated, an influential pro-Kurdish lawyer, Tahir Elci, was assassinated while speaking at a news conference at a historic mosque in Diyarbakir about the damage to historic buildings.

Elci had just told reporters, “We don’t want guns, clashes and operations in this historical area, which has been a cradle to many civilizations[xxvi].”

“Elci’s killing will harden political battle lines in Turkey at a moment when the country’s southeast is in turmoil, with the government intensifying a campaign against Kurdish militants and the war in Syria raging just across the border[xxvii].”

The radicalized terrorists were linked to this attack[xxviii].

Exodus to Syria

Exodus to neighboring Syria has occurred at several junctures in Turkish history.  The earliest to settle in Syria came after the failed March 1925 revolution of Sheikh Said when thousands of Kurds fled Southeastern Turkey to Syria.  They were granted Syrian citizenship by the then French authorities[xxix].

Following the 1962 Census, the government claimed they were illegal Turks and Iraqis residing in Syria. Over 120 000 Kurds or 40% of the Syrian Kurd population were stripped of their Syrian citizenship, and the Kurdish language and other cultural expressions banned[xxx]. Stripped of their nationality, deprived of passports to leave, these now stateless Kurds were still subjected to conscription in the military for a government they no longer supported.

Fast-Forwarding:  Today’s Kurd’s in Syria

Fast-forwarding, the “Kurds have a different agenda in Syria. The Democratic Union Party, PYD, the Syrian affiliate of the militant Kurdistan Workers Party, PKK, has been pursuing its own interests in the region during the last decade[xxxi].”

“Turkey has been watching the growing strength of the Kurdish rebels’ armed offshoot, the YPG, across the border in Syria. The YPG has taken the lead in the fight against the Islamic State, driving its fighters from a number of border areas. In the process, it has captured territory next to Turkey’s southern border, creating a semiautonomous region[xxxii].”  This has heightened insecurity within the Mr. Erdoğan’s administration.

The West’s Response

Türkiye was and is accused of being the main passageway for radicalized terrorists traveling between Europe and Syria[xxxiii].

The Turkish-ISIS relationship was described by a 2014 Turkish ISIS escapee who had been conscripted to work as an ISIS communications expert:

“ISIS and Türkiye cooperate together on the ground on the basis that they have a common enemy to destroy, the Kurds…ISIS saw the Turkish army as its ally especially when it came to attacking the Kurds in Syria. The Kurds were the common enemy for both ISIS and Türkiye. Also, ISIS had to be a Turkish ally because only through Türkiye they were able to deploy ISIS fighters to northern parts of the Kurdish cities and towns in Syria[xxxiv].”

Polat Can, a Kurdish[xxxv]  People’s Protection Units spokesman, elaborated, “[T]he Turkish army gives ISIS terrorists weapons, ammunitions and allows… border crossings in order for ISIS terrorists to initiate inhumane attacks against the Kurdish people in Rojava[xxxvi].”

Mr. Erdoğan’s “dealings with the ISIS are unacceptable[xxxvii]. I could not believe that Türkiye harbors an ISIS militant camp in Istanbul.  Türkiye has also allowed weapons to be transported into Syria through its borders. Also that the ISIS has been able to sell its oil via Türkiye is extraordinary,” stated Claudia Roth, Germany’s Deputy Speaker[xxxviii].

She concluded that, “President Erdoğan’s government is “pursuing a “murky” policy in Syria”, and NATO must force Türkiye, a NATO member to cease its support of ISIS and shift its policy toward the Kurdistan Workers’ Party”[xxxix].

This precipitated a December 10, 2014 European Union visit with the objective of convincing Türkiye to fight with the Kurds against and no longer align with the radicalized terrorists[xl].

After having described the radicalized terrorists as “a threat to the whole region”, Iraqi Prime Haider al-Abadi made a similar request during a December 25, 2014 visit to Türkiye[xli].  The talks were reported positive as to cooperative joint counterterrorism efforts against the radicalized terrorists.

By January 2015, Türkiye’s relationship with the radicalized terrorists appeared strained[xlii].  Nonetheless, “…ISIS has garnered significant domestic support, as proven by reports of jihadi cells and hospitals operating in Türkiye… and the thousands of Turkish foreign fighters in Syria[xliii].”

Türkiye’s Syrian Target

Under pressure from coalition member nations, many of with which it engages in significant trade, Türkiye joined the American led coalition forces on July 24, 2015[xliv] and purported to begin an active military campaign against the radicalized terrorists.

To be fair, on the surface, Turkey’s president is fully involved in the fight against ISIS. In October he allowed U.S. jets to use Turkey’s Incirlik air base for operations against ISIS, pledging that his forces, too, would join the fight.

The trouble is that Erdogan, who has spent years ruthlessly concentrating power into his own hands, considers the Kurds an even greater threat to his nation than ISIS [xlv].

Srdja Trifkovic, a foreign affairs editor, was quoted as stating that “Over 80 percent of the tonnage of their [the Turkish Air Force] bombs would drop on the Kurds fighting ISIS in Northern Syria and North Western Iraq. Turkey has been consistent in pursuing its own agenda which is to pretend to be fighting ISIS while settling scores with the two parties that are actually capable of fighting ISIS on the ground.  It is perfectly consistent with Turkish behavior since it ostensibly joined the anti-ISIS campaign…[xlvi]

This same view has been espoused by others:

The fact is that ISIS could rapidly be destroyed if Kurdish forces in Syria and Iraq — along with Kurdish guerillas in Turkey — were fully unleashed. They have proved extraordinarily militarily effective and oppose every aspect of Isis’s devilish ideology.

Yet this does not happen because PKK forces in Syria and Kurds in northern Iraq are under continual bombardment by the Turkish air force. No, the fact is that while Turkey may be a member of NATO — and of the alliance taking on the jihadists — Erdogan seems to be doing almost everything he can to cripple the forces actually fighting ISIS.

But then Erdogan has always been utterly ruthless when it comes to protecting his own interests [xlvii].

This is inconsistent with Türkiye’s obligations as a NATO member nation[xlviii].  Türkiye is “…is not only opportunistically attacking a political foe instead of a bona fide terrorist threat, but is actually helping to fund them[xlix](Emphasis Added).”

Mr. Erdoğan’s actions are also wholly inconsistent with his claim of being a Prophet sent by God to serve as the next Caliphate.  No Caliphate would engage in senseless and systemic Scientific Racism against the Sunni Kurds.  A Caliphate would offer the Kurds just governance.

Enter Russia

The following timeline highlights the rapidly devolving relationship between Türkiye and Russia:

September 30, 2015  Russia entered the Syrian War. Having not aligned with coalition forces, Russia quickly came under intense criticism by the coalition forces that it was striking targets inconsistent with and impeding concerted military objectives.

November 15-16, 2015  At the G20 Summit held in Antalya, Türkiye, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that the radicalized terrorists are being funded by businessmen from over 40 countries, including some from G20 member states.   At the time, ‘”This earth-shattering news barely registered a blip on the Western mainstream media radar[l].”

November 24, 2015  Türkiye shot down the Russian fighter jet, which was not engaging in provocation and was not given the warnings or escorted out of the area as required by the treaties governing military engagement[li].

Given that the Russian fighter plane was only in Turkish airspace for 17 seconds, during which time it traversed less than 35 miles at a speed of 983 mph, it is impossible that there were ten warnings, as alleged by the Turkish government, or that, if warnings were received, that the pilot would have had adequate response time[lii].

November 25, 2015  NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called upon Russia and Türkiye to reduce the tensions between them[liii].

November 26, 2015  A report questioned whether Mr. Putin’s statement at the G20 Summit was a precipitating event in Türkiye shooting down the Russian fighter jet[liv].

November 27, 2015   Türkiye denied knowledge that it knew the plane was Russian before it was shot down.  Mr. Erdoğan stated that had Türkiye known the plane was Russian “maybe we would have warned it differently[lv]“.  This calls into question the language in which warnings, if any, were given.

November 27, 2015  Russia responded by strengthening its Syrian anti-aircraft defences; it moved a cruiser into coastal waters and deployed new missiles at its Syrian air base.

Russia also announced that it planned on introducing a wide range of economic sanctions against Türkiye, and that it was suspending visa-free travel between the two countries, [lvi].

November 28, 2015  Mr. Erdoğan warned Mr. Putin not to “play with fire”[lvii].

December 1, 2015  “We have every reason to think that the decision to shoot down our plane was dictated by the desire to protect the oil supply lines…,” stated Mr. Putin[lviii].

December 1, 2015  Despite outside evidence to the contrary[lix], Türkiye challenged Russia to prove its claim that it shot down a Russian plane in order to protect its oil trade with the radicalized terrorists, with Mr. Erdoğan promising to step down as President if the allegations proved true[lx].

Not only does Türkiye’s protected airspace allow for the safe passage of radicalized terrorists but, it also protects its oil supply lines and transportation system from scrutiny.

December 1, 2015  “Russia is not part of the US-led coalition bombing ISIL positions. However, after the Paris terror attacks on November 13 which killed 130 people, the EU and other countries are seeking a worldwide anti-ISIL coalition including Moscow after a UN resolution called for “all necessary measures” to tackle the Islamic extremist threat[lxi].”

December 3, 2015  Russia’s Sergei Lavrov summarized the first diplomatic meeting with Türkiye since the fighter jet was shot down:  “We met with the head of the Turkish Foreign Ministry on his insistent request, we heard nothing new[lxii].”

December 3, 2015  Russia suspended talks with Türkiye as to a Black Sea gas pipeline project[lxiii].

December 3, 2015  Mr. Putin, in a statement that strikes at the heart of Mr. Erdoğan’s Caliphate claim, stated, “…probably Allah alone knows why they did it.  And evidently Allah decided to punish the ruling clique in Turkey, by depriving it of any reason or logic[lxiv](Emphasis Added).”

Mr. Putin specifically distinguished between the Turkish leadership and Russia’s “many longstanding and reliable friends in Turkey[lxv]“.

December 4, 2015  Türkiye accused Russia of profiting from oil obtained from the radicalized terrorists.[lxvi].

December 5, 2015  Moscow releases video footage of oil tanker convoys traversing through-out Türkiye.

December 5, 2015  Several hundred Turkish troops, accompanied by 20 armoured vehicles, were deployed to ostensibly provide training for Iraqi troops in an area near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, which is under Islamic State control, to train Kurdish Peshmerga fighters. Although Türkiye views the Syrian Kurdish as hostile to its interests, it has maintained relations with the Kurds in the autonomous zone of northern Iraq[lxvii].

The Iraqi government, citing the move as unauthorized, demanded the immediate removal of Turkish troops.

December 5, 2015  Russia adopted a law allowing it to overrule judgements from the European Court of Human Rights[lxviii].

Conclusion

The evidence is replete that Mr. Erdoğan’s well-calculated public statements and the conduct of not only the Turkish government but of the parallel state Mr. Erdoğan has obviously created, with himself being its self-proclaimed Caliphate, are inconsistent and self-serving.

The overwhelming evidence is that Türkiye has and is supporting the radicalized terrorists on many levels and, that under the guise of being a member of the coalition led forces, including NATO, that it has been bombing the Kurds, the one group that has made headway in the ground war against the radicalized terrorists.

A gap in evidence exists as to whether the Turkish-Russian oil pipeline that has been derailed would have been used to transport oil obtained from the radicalized terrorists and whether Russia was already involved in the purpose of this oil.  While Russian involvement has been alleged by Mr. Erdoğan, the allegations are not corroborated.

About the Author

Cynthia M. Lardner holds a journalism degree, she is an attorney, and has trained as a clinical (school and agency) therapist. As a thought leader, her philosophy is to collectively influence conscious global thinking understanding that everything and everyone is subject to change given the right circumstances; Standard Theory or Theory of Everything.

Having just relocated to Den Hague or The Hague, she is currently looking for a challenging position that will fully utilize her collective skill set.  She is particularly interested in foreign policy and social justice.

Endnotes

[i] Out of respect for the millions of peaceful Muslims, this paper will not use the acronyms IS, ISIS or ISIL as they stigmatize the innocent and because the ongoing terrorism has absolutely nothing to do with Islam.  Terrorism is a business that uses fear and the commission of war crimes and crimes against to humanity to line its coffers.  The radicalized terrorists’ use of Islam in any of the titles it has given itself is blasphemy, as is recognized by many religions, including Islam, as being the most heinous of sins.  For purposes of this paper, the term “radicalized terrorists” is being adopted as it seems more appropriate.

[ii] Turkey, The World Fact Book, Central Intelligence Agency, as found on the www at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/tu.html.

[iii] Konda, Research and Consultancy, “Religion, Secularism and the Veil in daily life”, September 8, 2007, Milliyet, as found on the www athttp://www.angelfire.com/az/rescon/ALEVI.html.

[iv] Crooke, A., “You Can’t Understand ISIS If You Don’t Know the History of Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia,” August 27, 2014, The Huffington Post, as found on the www at http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/5717157.

See also “What’s the appeal of a caliphate?”, October 24, 2014, BBC News Magazine, as found on the www at http://m.bbc.com/news/magazine-29761018; Cordal, S., “How ISIS Governs Its Caliphate:, December 2, 2014, Newsweek, as found on the www at http://www.newsweek.com/2014/12/12/how-isis-governs-its-caliphate-288517.html.

[v] Turkey, The World Fact Book, Infra Endnote ii.

[vi] Gardner, D., “Turkey: slipping into the vortex?” January 9, 2015, FT Magazine, as found on the www at http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/cdc5c064-96c0-11e4-922f-00144feabdc0.html (“Erdogan finally secured the opening of EU membership talks in 2005. His government was prodigal in packages of constitutional and regulatory reform….Turkey that year had more cases (159) taken to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg than Vladimir Putin’s Russia (121). At the time it had 104 journalists in jail, 69 of them from the Kurdish minority, but more than Iran (42) and China (27) combined.”).

[vii] Bekdel, B., “Heading for a Jew-Free Turkey”, December 23 2014, Middle East Forum, as found on the www at http://www.meforum.org/4938/heading-for-a-jew-free-turkey (“At the beginning of the 20th century, there were about 200,000 Jews in Turkish lands – when the entire population was barely 10 million. Today, the Turkish population has reached 77 million – and there are fewer than 17,000 Jews.”) (Mahcupyan, has published more than 15 books and has written regular columns in Turkey’s leading liberal newspapers.).

See also International Religious Freedom Report 2004, United States Department of State, BUREAU OF DEMOCRACY, HUMAN RIGHTS, AND LABOR, as found on the www at http://m.state.gov/md35489.html  (The total area in Turkey is 301,383 square miles, and its population is approximately 67.8 million. Approximately 99 percent of the population is officially Muslim, of whom 75% are Sunni.  There are also 65,000 Armenian Orthodox Christians, 25,000 Jews, and less than 3,000 Greek Orthodox Christians, who under the 1923 Lausanne Treaty are granted special legal minority status.).

[viii] Bekdel, Infra Endnote iii (“[T]here is Israel… As long as the psychology of the Israel issue continues to influence politics in Türkiye and relations between the two countries do not normalize….,” stated Turkish-Armenian author, Etyen Mahcupyan.  The line Mahcupyan shyly did not finish probably would have gone on like this: “Türkiye’s Jews will keep on paying the price.”).

[ix] In December 2014, newly-elected Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stated Türkiye was backing the Hamas.  He terminated Türkiye’s Israeli diplomatic relationship.

[x] Gardner, Infra Endnote ii.  “President Erdogan, a known admirer of Vladimir Putin, has had 10 straight victories at the polls since 2002: one by-election; three general elections; three local elections; two referendums on constitutional changes; and last summer’s apotheosis from premier to president. For more than a decade, he has been lord of all he surveys.”

[xi] Maloof, F., “Turkish President Gathers Power to Fulfill Islamic ‘Caliphate’ Vision: Angling for constitutional change to maintain authority,” October 29, 2014, Wind, as found on the www at http://mobile.wnd.com/2014/10/turkish-president-gathers-power-to-fulfill-islamic-caliphate-vision/#58S3yxsjy4AtHvHu.9. This could have only created tension with the leader of the radicalized terrorists, Abu Bakr.

[xii] Kavkaza, V., “How Erdogan uses idea of caliphate,” December 9, 2014, Vestnik, as found on the www athttp://vestnikkavkaza.net/articles/kl;politics/63155.html.

[xiii] Id.

[xiv] Dettmer, Jamie, “Critics, Even Supporters Say: Erdoğan is the Man Who Would Be Caliph”, October 27, 2015, Voice of America, as found on the www athttp://m.voanews.com/a/3024375.html.

[xv] Dalay, G., “Turkey’s parallel state strikes back”, January 6, 2015, Al Jazeera, as found on the www athttp://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2014/01/turkey-parallel-state-strikes-back-20141545517864901.html.

[xvi] Kavkaza, V., Infra Endnote xii.

[xvii] Marcus, Aliza, and Apostolou, Andrew, “Why It’s Time For A Free Kurdistan”, November 27, 2015, Daily Beast, as found on the www athttp://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/11/27/the-kurds-already-have-independence.html (“It’s time to stop debating whether or not the Kurds deserve an independent state. There are around 40 million Kurds across Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria—the largest ethnic group without self-determination. Kurds have long sought independence, but the states in which they live have always opposed it. The U.S. and its Western allies oppose Kurdish independence because of fears it could destabilize the already volatile Middle East.

The question now is whether the U.S. and others can accept Kurdish self-rule. That question is more urgent given the importance of the Kurds in Iraq and Syria for the fight against the so-called Islamic State widely known as ISIS. As importantly, can the Kurds learn to accept their own divisions and not constantly meddle in each other’s affairs?);  “Double dealing tyrant who’s sabotaging the West’s battle to crush ISIS: Turkey’s Erdogan seems to be doing almost everything he can to cripple the forces actually fighting ISIS, writes MICHAEL BURLEIGH”, November 27, 2015, Daily Mail, as found on the www athttp://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3335819/Double-dealing-tyrant-s-sabotaging-West-s-battle-crush-ISIS-Turkey-s-Erdogan-doing-cripple-forces-actually-fighting-ISIS-writes-MICHAEL-BURLEIGH.html (“A fifth of Turkey’s 75 million people are Kurds who, along with fellow Kurds in Syria, Iran and Iraq, want to form their own country, with a population of some 40 million. Erdogan sees this plan for a Kurdish nation as a mortal threat to Turkey and will take any opportunity to attack those behind it.”).

[xviii] Besheer, Mohamed, “Who are the Iraqi Kurds?”, Pew Research Center, as found on the www at http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/08/20/who-are-the-iraqi-kurds/.

[xix] Bois, T.; Minorsky, V.; MacKenzie, D. N., “Kurds, Kurdistan” (2009) (The Kurds, an Iranian people of the Near East, live at the junction of more or less laicised Turkey”. …We thus find that about the period of the Arab conquest a single ethnic term Kurd (plur. Akrād) was beginning to be applied to an amalgamation of Iranian or iranicised tribes).

[xx] Turkey, The World Fact Book, Infra Endnote ii.

[xxi] Id.

[xxii] Bridge, Robert, “NATO-member Turkey defending Islamic State while killing Kurds”, November 26, 2015, Reuters News Agency, as found on the www at https://www.rt.com/op-edge/323539-nato-turkey-kurds-russia/.

[xxiii] Turkey, The World Fact Book, Infra Endnote ii.

[xxiv] Bridge, Robert, Infra Endnote xxiii (“From the Zilan massacre (1930) to the Dersim massacre (1937), the Kurds have witnessed endless violence against their people. In fact, until 1991 the Turkish government categorized Kurds as “Mountain Turks” in an effort to deny these people their very existence as a separate race.”).

[xxv] Bulut, Uzay, “Turkey Destroys Kurdistan, World Silent”, November 19, 2015, Gatestone Institute, as found on the www athttp://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/6922/turkey-destroys-kurdistan (Ziya Pir, a deputy of HDP, said that an official from the Ministry of Interior told him that “they will erase these three neighborhoods in Silvan from the map… Special operations teams open fire at everything they see as alive.”).

[xxvi] “The Killing of a Kurdish Lawyer Means Dark Days for Turkey”, November 29, 2015, Time Magazine, as found on the www athttp://time.com/4128696/tahir-elci-kurdish-lawyer-assassination-turkey/ (“Elci was killed with one shot, in what Human Rights Watch has called an “assassination.” His killer has not been identified.”).

See also Cakan, Seyhmus, “Top Kurdish lawyer shot dead in southeast Turkey”, November 28, 2015, Reuters News, as found on the www athttp://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSKBN0TH07N20151128 (“an incident likely to fuel further unrest in Turkey’s mostly Kurdish southeast”).

[xxvii] Id.

This author has refrained from personal commentary but, during two recent layovers at the Atatürk Airport in Yeşilköy, Bakırköy, Istanbul, she made three observations. First, in the Mediterranean Sea, the gateway from the West to the East without having to circle under the Cape of South Africa, military vessels dotted a landscape largely devoid of commercial shipping vessels.  Second, with scant exception, the sole aircraft observed at the Istanbul airport were from Turkish Airlines, a ‘flag carrier’ airline, i.e. one that is owned by the government or lacking in privatization.  Türkiye’s airspace is protected airspace.  Third, discussions at the airport with professionals ranging from engineers to the captains of both Russian and Romanian vessels were robust but conducted in hushed voices lest they have been overheard.

[xxviii] Paled, Daniella, Supra Endnote xli.

[xxix] Robert W. Olson, The Emergence of Kurdish Nationalism and the Sheikh Said Rebellion, 1880–1925”, p. 107, 1989, University of Texas Press, ISBN 978-0-292-77619-7.

[xxx] Chatty, Dawn, 2010. Displacement and Dispossession in the Modern Middle East. Cambridge University Press. pp. 230-231; Short, Martin, and McDermott, Anthony, “The Kurds, 1981, p. 13

[xxxi] Genc, Kaya, “Syria Should Not Cost Turkey Its Peace With the Kurds”, November 30, 2015, Huffington Post, as found on the www athttp://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/8678844.

[xxxii] Detmer, Jamie, Infra Endnote xiv.

[xxxiii] Id.

[xxxiv] Guiton, B., ‘ISIS Sees Turkey as Its Ally’: Former Islamic State Member Reveals Turkish Army Cooperation, November 7, 2014, Newsweek, as found on the www at http://www.newsweek.com/isis-and-turkey-cooperate-destroy-kurds-former-isis-member-reveals-turkish-282920.

[xxxv] Christie-Miller, A., “Kurds Accuse Turkish Government of Supporting ISIS,” October 22, 2014, Newsweek, as found on the www athttp://www.newsweek.com/2014/10/31/kurds-accuse-turkish-government-supporting-isis-278776.html (“An ethnic and linguistic group of some 30 million divided between Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey, the Kurds were among the great losers of the carve up of the Ottoman Empire following the First World War. While the United States’ 2003 Iraq invasion led to the emergence of Kurdish self-rule there, the other Kurdish populations have had mixed fortunes.

In Turkey, the Islamist-rooted government has initiated a peace process that has loosened restrictions on Kurdish cultural freedom, allowing limited Kurdish language education, and offering the prospect of greater autonomy for the country’s 15 million Kurds.

In Syria, home to some two million Kurds, they remained under strict oppression by the Assad government, with many denied basic citizenship.”).

[xxxvi] Id.

[xxxvii] “Report: Erdogan Trying to Hide Evidence of Supporting ISIS“, January 6, 2015, The Tower, as found on the www at http://www.thetower.org/1493-erdogan-trying-to-hide-evidence-of-involvement-in-supporting-terrorism/. Following a January 2015 announcement that the West intended to investigate Turkish terrorist support including having providing safe passage to Syria, President Erdoğan promptly denied all accusations.  He reportedly destroyed evidence of any involvement by either himself or other Turkish leaders.  This announcement came on the heels of the U.N. stating Palestine would be granted ICC member nation status to investigate the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

[xxxviii] Id.; “German deputy speaker: NATO must stop Turkey support for ISIS”, December 10, 2014, Rudaw, as found on the www athttp://rudaw.net/english/middleeast/12102014.

[xxxix] Rudaw, Infra Endote vii.

[xl] Id. The EU contingency was comprised of EU Chief Diplomat, Federica Mogherini, European Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy, Johannes Hahn, and European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides.

[xli] “Iraq, Turkey talk military cooperation in battling ISIS,” December 26, 2014, The New York Daily News, as found on the www athttp://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/iraq-turkey-talk-military-cooperation-battling-isis-article-1.2056990.

[xlii] “One Turkish soldier kidnapped in Syria, sources confirm,” January 3 2015, The Turkish Weekly, as found on the www athttp://www.turkishweekly.net/news/178060/one-turkish-soldier-kidnapped-in-syria-sources-confirm.html (A Turkish officer was kidnapped while crossing into to Syria. “The security forces have focused on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants and the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which has been fighting against the ISIL jihadists in Syria, as possible actors.”); “Turkish soldier kidnapped by jihadists in Syria freed”, January 5, 2015, The Global Post, as found on the www at http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/xinhua-news-agency/150105/turkish-soldier-kidnapped-jihadists-syria-freed-pm (kidnapping confirmed an ISIS operation following successful rescue operation by Turkish intelligence and armed forces).

[xliii] Williams, L, “ISIS has polarized Turkey domestically”, January 5, 2015, The Daily Star Lebanon, as found on the www at  http://www.dailystar.com.lb/Opinion/Commentary/2015/Jan-05/283032-isis-has-polarized-turkey-domestically.ashx#sthash.MYIVP946.dpuf.

[xliv] Paled, Daniella, “ISIS in Turkey: Erdogan’s two-front battle with ISIS and the Kurds”, November 24, 2015, Haaretz, as found on the www athttp://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/isis/isis-in-turkey/1.688056 (An agreement between Washington and Ankara, signed in August 2015, integrated Turkey into the U.S.-led air campaign against the Islamic State.).

See also Turkey, The World Fact Book, Infra Endnote ii (“Turkey joined the UN in 1945 and in 1952 it became a member of NATO. In 1963, Turkey became an associate member of the European Community; it began accession membership talks with the EU in 2005. Over the past decade, economic reforms have contributed to a quickly growing economy.”)

Economically, even though over 13,000 E.U. companies, backed by foreign investment, operate in Türkiye , it was denied E.U. member state status after formally seeking membership in 2005. “European countries such as France and Germany kept raising barriers to E.U. entry — insisting that Türkiye was too big, too poor and, above all, too Muslim to qualify .”  This history is akin having imposed economic sanctions.  See Williams, L, “ISIS has polarized Turkey domestically”, January 5, 2015, The Daily Star Lebanon, as found on the www athttp://www.dailystar.com.lb/Opinion/Commentary/2015/Jan-05/283032-isis-has-polarized-turkey-domestically.ashx#sthash.MYIVP946.dpuf; January 6, 2015, Bloomberg, as found on the www athttp://www.bloomberg.com/video/turkey-eu-politics-top-eurasia-groups-2015-risks-list-WUSV3U6eSRC9ZCu0y~pU3g.html (Turkey one of the EU’s “biggest geopolitical risks in 2015”); and Gardner, Infra Endnote x.

[xlv] “Double dealing, Infra Endnote xvii.

[xlvi] Bridges, Robert, Infra Endnote xxii.

See also See also Miller, Anna, “Turkish president ignores ISIS, stokes civil war with Kurds”, November 10, 2015, The Intercept, as found on the www athttps://theintercept.com/2015/11/10/turkish-president-ignores-isis-stokes-civil-war-with-kurds/ (Since joining the U.S. led coalition, Türkiye’s “…military actions have struck far more Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) targets than ISIS targets, leading many to suspect that the government is using ISIS as an excuse to reignite the civil war against the PKK and intimidate the Kurdish population.).

[xlvii] “Double dealing tyrant, Infra Endnote xvii.

[xlviii] Id. (“The willingness of Turkish government to take advantage of its NATO membership to inflict damage on a marginalized national group shows the depths the government of President Recep Erdoğan will go to fulfill his own agenda. It also shows how dangerous military blocs – like NATO – can be when unpredictable states gain affiliation in them.

So while the United States had long sought Turkey’s assistance in Syria, using the Incirlik Air Base to launch attacks against (allegedly) Islamic State, the events since the agreement show a dangerous divergence of interests in the region.”).

[xlix] Id.

[l] Russia entered the Syrian War on September 30, 2015 under intense criticism by the coalition forces that it was striking targets inconsistent with and impeding concerted military objectives.

[li] Bridge, Robert, Infra Endnote xxii.

[lii] Mortimer, Colleen, “Turkey shoots down Russian plane: Physicists say both official accounts are scientifically impossible”, December 3, 2015, as found on the www at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/turkey-shoots-down-russian-plane-astrophysicists-say-both-official-accounts-are-partially-a6752741.html (“Two Belgian astrophysicists have questioned both the official accounts of how a Russian military plane was shot down by Turkey on Tuesday. Writing a blogpost for their university, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Dr Tom van Doorsslaere and Dr Giovanni Lapenta, said the plane could not have gone down the way either country said it had. Turkey said the plane was in their airspace for 17 seconds but the physicists concluded that when travelling at a speed of 980 km/h (609 m/h) the plane would have crossed over in just seven seconds. From this they said it was extremely unlikely they issued ten warnings in five minutes because the plane travelling at that speed could cross 80km (50m) in 80 seconds.  Russia has claimed the plane made a 90 degree turn after it was hit and it was actively trying to avoid Turkish airspace. They explained that at that speed:  “A change of course of 90 degrees can only be achieved with an object that’s many times heavier or faster than the jet.”).

[liii] “Russia: “significant consequences” over jet downing”, November 25, 2015, as found on the www at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-34918055.

[liv] Bridge, Robert, Infra Endnote ii.

[lv] “Putin: Turkey ‘knew downed fighter jet was Russian'”, November 27, 2015, BBC News, as found on the www at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-34940109.

[lvi] “Turkey-Russia jet downing: Moscow beefs up defences in Syria”, November 28, 2015, BBC News, as found on the www at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-34950355.

See also Tomkiw, Lynn, “Russia-Turkey Relations Update: Ukraine Offers To Step In After Fruit And Vegetable Ban”, November 20, 2015, IB Times, as found on the www at http://www.ibtimes.com/russia-turkey-relations-update-ukraine-offers-step-after-fruit-vegetable-ban-2203844 (“If Turkey’s traditional partners impose sanctions, that is, they will suspend to supply their grain, Ukraine is ready to at least double its exports of grain, corn and sunflower oil,” Ukrainian Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food Oleksiy Pavlenko said in a statement posted on social media, local media reported. “Turkey is our long-lasting and reliable partner; we are ready to act as a guarantor of food security for Turkey.”).

[lvii] “Erdogan warns Russia not to ‘play with fire’ over downed jet”, November 28, 2015, as found on the www at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-34949731.

[lviii] “Turkey challenges Russia over IS oil trade claim”, December 1, 2015, BBC News, as found on the www at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-34971506.

[lix] Bridge, Robert, Infra Endnote ii (Paul Nuttall, UKIP Deputy Leader, stated that, “There is evidence that Ankara is purchasing oil off ISIS,” Nuttall told RT. “If you remember, the Turkish did absolutely nothing in the siege of Kobani. It seems that if Turkey is more worried about the threat of the Kurdish population than it is about IS.”

His statement is backed by that of retired US General Wesley Clark, who in a recent interview with CNN, stated, “Someone’s buying that oil that ISIS is selling, it’s going through somewhere, it looks to me like it’s probably going through Turkey.”).

[lx] “Turkey challenges Russia over IS oil trade claim”, December 1, 2015, BBC News, as found on the www at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-34971506.

[lxi] Akkoc, Raziye, “Ankara’s decision to shoot down Russian plane was wrong, says leading Turkish politician”, December 1, 2015, as found on the www athttp://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/turkey/12025662/Ankaras-decision-to-shoot-down-Russian-plane-was-wrong-says-leading-Turkish-politician.html (“It was not right for Turkey to shoot down the plane because it escalated [tension] in a fragile situation and increased the risk of deaths among the anti-Isil set of countries. “There is a [group] against Isil and Turkey shot down one part of this. Russia is a part of the fight against Isil,” stated Ms Yuksekdag”.).

[lxii] Turkey, Russia hold first high-level bilateral talks since plane crisis, December 3, 2015, Deutsche Welle, as found on the www athttp://www.dw.com/en/turkey-russia-hold-first-high-level-bilateral-talks-since-plane-crisis/a-18893379.

[lxiii] “Russia halts Turkey gas project talks amid Syria row”, December 3, 2015, BBC News, as found on the www at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-34995472.

[lxiv] Putin: Turkey ‘will regret’ downing Russian bomber in Syria, December 3, 2015, BBC News, as found on www at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-zone.

[lxv] Id.

[lxvi] “Turkey hits back after Russian allegations about Islamic State oil”, December 4, 2015, The Week, as found on the www athttp://www.theweek.co.uk/syria/65094/turkey-hits-back-after-russian-allegations-about-islamic-state-oil (“”Who buys oil from [IS]? Let me say it: George Haswani, holder of a Russian passport and a Syrian national, is one of the biggest merchants in this business,” said President Recep Tayyip ErdoganHis comments come just one day after the Russian defence ministry levelled the same accusation at the Turkish president, insisting they had proof to implicate him and his family in the illegal trade.”).

[lxvii] Pamuk, Humeyra and Coskun, Orhan , “Turkish soldiers training Iraqi troops near Mosul – sources”, December 5, 2015, Reuters News, as found on the www at http://in.mobile.reuters.com/article/idINKBN0TN2F620151205?irpc=932.

[lxviii] “Russia passes law to overrule European human rights court”, December 5, 2015, as found on the www at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-35007059 (“..Russia has often taken issue with rulings against it, including one by the ECHR last year ordering Moscow to pay more than $2bn (£1.3bn; €1.8bn) in compensation to shareholders in the defunct Russian oil firm, Yukos.”).

The Case for a Syrian Coalition Government

Syria1

Introduction

Syria belongs to the Syrian people.  That is the most basic of truths.  Syria must be returned to its people.

Historically, Syria goes back to the ‘era of the Levant’ and, in fact, Syria translates to Levant[i].  Levant is significant to the ideology and public relations campaign undertake by the IS, also referred to as ISIS and ISIL. So significant is Syria to IS, especially its oil rich fields, that IS established a second capital in the once modern Syrian city of Raqqa.

Syria’s capital of Damascus, an area yet to be devastated by IS, is one of mankind’s longest continuously inhabited cities. Damascus was also the seat of the Umayyad Caliphate and of an Egyptian sultanate.  The concept of the Caliphate is central to IS’ current recruitment strategies.

Modern day Syria emerged after World War I.  Under its October 24, 1945 Constitution, it was formed as a democratized parliamentary republic, with a full range of constitutional protections, and it was accepted as a United Nations member nation.

Following several military coups, under a December 1, 1961 constitutional referendum, Syria formally became the Arab Republic of Syria.

In 1963, the Ba’ath Party staged a coup d’etat, placing it into power, a position it has held ever since.  From 1963 through 2011, Syria suspended the constitutional protections granted its citizens.  Since 1963, it has not been considered a democratized nation.

From 1973 to 2000, as a Ba’ath party member, Hafez al-Assad was President.  He was succeeded by his son, Bashar al-Assad, also a Ba’ath party member, who remains Syria’s current President al-Assad was re-elected in a June 2014 referendum election under circumspect polling conditions[ii].

The Onset of Civil War

Protests in Syria started on January 26, 2011. Protesters called for political reforms and the re-instatement of their civil rights, as well as an end to the state of emergency, suspending their constitutional rights, which had been in place since 1963.  Civil war broke out on March 25, 2011[iii].

After the inception of Syria’s civil war, the United States, the European Union, Canada and the majority of the Arab League[iv] all called for President al-Assad to resign his presidency[v].  Widespread economic sanctions and travel restrictions were rapidly imposed by the West.

As of late 2013, the best known of the over 100 factions operating in Syria were:

Amid mounting humanitarian crises [the best known being the refugee crises in the European Union [vi]], on-going terrorist attacks in Syria are minimally attributable to at least five groups:

  • ISIS;
  • Non-Sunni Muslim extremists;
  • The al-Nursa Front led by Ayman al-Zawahiri, involved in the September 11, 2001 World Trade Center attack and Osama bin Laden’ successor. It has been reported that al-Zawahiri and Bakr are at odds with one another;
  • Sunni Muslims, constituting the majority of the its population, who oppose existing the government; and
  • The Syrian government.

 All are involved at some level with the ISIS, which is and has been playing a leading role in Syria (Emphasis added) [vii].

The damage and methods by which it was so brutally inflicted was recently summarized as follows:

TOTAL CASUALTIES (MINIMUM ESTIMATES)

Estimates range from 100,000 to 150,000 killed (as of March 2014)

9 Million displaced

Human rights abuses that have been confirmed include but are not limited to:

Chemical Weapons attacks on civilian areas

Barrel bombing civilian areas

Widespread use of rape as a weapon of war

Summary executions of prisoners, including children

Mutilation and display of corpses, including crucifixion

Torture, including of children [viii]

As one commentator wrote this week:

By releasing dozens of al-Qaeda prisoners in mid-2011, Assad helped give birth to a thriving Islamist insurgency, including an al-Qaeda affiliate. By then adopting a deliberate policy of not targeting IS, Assad directly facilitated that group’s recovery and explosion into the transnational “Caliphate” movement it claims to be today.

Meanwhile, the Assad regime has conducted a consistent policy of intentional mass killing of civilians – first with air strikes and ballistic missiles, then with barrel bombs and widely alleged use of chemical weapons.

Bashar al-Assad has professionalised and industrialised the use of detention and torture to “cleanse” his own population, while imposing dozens of medieval-style sieges on vulnerable populations. He has consistently flouted UN Security Council resolutions and according to some sources, has been responsible for 95% of all 111,000 civilian deaths since 2011 [ix].

President al-Assad has been cited by the United Nations as having committed war crimes but the International Criminal Court has yet to take jurisdiction[x].  “Asked if he believed Mr Assad should face prosecution at the International Criminal Court, Mr Cameron said: “People who break international law should be subject to international law[xi].””

The Scattered Pieces of the Syrian Front

Over the last few months, President al-Assad’s position in Syria has become increasingly detrimentally impacted.  First, it was released that President al-Assad had lost control over the government’s last oil field[xii].

Second, amidst a mounting refugee crisis in the European Union and beyond, it was released that the Syrian government was facilitating the issuance of passports for citizens both in and outside of Syria[xiii].   Historically, passports were all but impossible to obtain.  It’s as if Syria government has no interest in seeing its people return home[xiv].  This is form of Scientific Racism known as ethnic cleansing.  Like genocide, ethnic cleansing is a war crime.  Like the Palestinian people, the Syrian people want the right to return to their homelands as it existed prior to conflict erupting.

Third, and most significantly, is Russia’s military build-up in Syria[xv].  Russia, whose economy was decimated in 2014 as a result of economic sanctions imposed by the European Union and the United States[xvi], was left with two primary assets[xvii]. Military support, including the sale of weapons and the training of troops, and energy, both its natural resources and its willingness to build nuclear power plants.  In the sale of armaments, Russia is second only to the United States.  Russia has long been known as the primary purveyor of weapons to ISIS, also referred to as IS and ISIL.

What was concerning was a BBC News commentator who, in early September announced that given Russia’s relationship with President al-Assad, Russian President Vladimir Putin could be a reliable bridge to the Syrian peace process whereas every other news report reflected growing international concern about Russia’s increasing military presence in Syria[xviii].

As early as September 5, 2015, “US Secretary of State John Kerry expressed concern to his Russian counterpart over reports of “an imminent enhanced Russian military build-up” in Syria[xix].” The day prior The New York Times reported “that US officials believed Russia had sent a military advance team to Syria[xx].”  Another report stated that Russian troops were actively engaging in combat alongside President Assad’s troops[xxi].

What we know for sure is that:

In the space of three weeks, Moscow has deployed at least 28 fighter jets, 14 helicopters, dozens of tanks, anti-aircraft missile systems and 2,000 troops into north-western Syria.

Russia’s claim that its forces are there only to target Islamic State should be taken with a large grain of salt [xxii].

“President Vladimir Putin has been coy on the subject, saying Russia is weighing various options, a statement that has fueled suspicions about the Kremlin’s intentions[xxiii].

That same news report opined as to President Putin’s intentions:

By playing with the possibility of joining the anti-IS coalition, Putin may hope to win a few key concessions. His main goal: the lifting of Western sanctions and the normalization of relations with the United States and the European Union, which have sunk to their lowest point since the Cold War amid the Ukrainian crisis. In addition, the Russian leader may be angling to make the West more receptive to Moscow’s involvement in Ukraine, while retaining influence in Syria [xxiv].

The Pentagon has been a bit more outspoken:

The U.S. intelligence community now thinks Russia may have embarked on its military buildup in Syria because Moscow believes Syrian President Bashar al-Assad may not be able to hang onto power and it wants to position itself to back a proxy if the regime were to collapse. It is a view shared by the Pentagon, Defense officials told CNN [xxv].

The Future of Syria

            There are no commentators or governments of the belief that President al-Assad can hold on to his presidency without concerted international support.  While the West has called for President al-Assad’s removal since 2011, the question has recently arisen as to whether President al-Assad should play some role in a transitional government, with that question only having arisen as way to pacify President Putin.

The United States intelligence community has raised key questions about Syria’s future:

U.S. intelligence still sees al-Assad’s collapse as likely to be several months away, though he has been considerably weakened over this year after losing of significant territory and directing an army that is increasingly demoralized.

The United States is trying to assess whether figures in Syria still exist who might be able to step in should al-Assad fall, a senior U.S. official told CNN, but for now doesn’t see a clear leader or dissident who could garner enough support inside Syria to take power.

The United States is concerned about the preservation of basic social structures and services that still exist in Damascus should al-Assad fall, since the regime’s implosion could open the door to a humanitarian disaster if ISIS or al Qaeda-affiliated militias were to move in [xxvi].

The Case for a Coalition Government       

This paper started out with the premise that Syria belongs to the Syrian people to whom it must be returned.  However, with its constitution supplanted since the early 1960s and over 100 Syrian factions all competing for at least local, if not regional control[xxvii], it lacks the infrastructure necessary to conduct fair elections, let along implement national governance.

“”There has always been the idea that there will be a political transition and there are differing views between members of the international community… what the steps are in the process. That is where there is more discussion ongoing,” a senior British official said.”

            The Syrian crisis presents an opportunity for the international community to come together and devise an interim coalition government.  The composition of a coalition government has not yet been explored, or at least not publicly so.  Should such a concept be entertained, there must regional representation from within Syria, a mechanism by which the voice of its refugees can be heard, and a lack of involvement by the United Nations Security Council.

This author has excluded the United Nations Security Council as two of its permanent members – Russia and China – have failed to join collective or coalition peacekeeping efforts in Syria.  Rather, any vote representing the position of the United Nations member nations must come from its General Assembly.  This raises the ancillary question of whether the United Nations Charter must be amended[xxviii].

As the United Nations has been criticized for failing to give a greater regional voice to those most affected by its decisions, the Arab League may be the effective at offering its collective vote, regional expertise and other assistance to a coalition government.

In addition, NATO, and other coalition forces[xxix] should remain ‘stakeholders’ in Syria until such time as the Syrian people have the infrastructure necessary for self-governance and until it is rendered safe for those displaced Syrian people wanting to return to their homeland.  We can all learn from Afghanistan from which peacekeeping troops withdrew before the country was properly stabilized and prepared for independent self-governance, including safeguarding its citizens’ human rights.

This begets the question as to what role Russia would play in resolving the Syrian crisis[xxx] and, more particularly, what role, if any, it would play in a transitional, coalition government[xxxi].  The one factor the international community has weighed most heavily against Russian involvement is that Russia is still backing President al-Assad[xxxii].

__________________

References

[i] Lardner, Cynthia, “ISIS Gone Corporate”, Game of Thrones Meets House of Cards,  June 19, 2015, as found on the www athttps://www.linkedin.com/pulse/isis-gone-corporate-cynthia-lardner-deverouxcleary-1?trk=mp-reader-card

[ii] The 2000 and 2007 referenda elections were devoid of any opposing candidate “Bashar al-Assad wins re-election in Syria as uprising against him rages on”, June 4, 2014, The Guardian, as found on the www athttp://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/04/bashar-al-assad-winds-reelection-in-landslide-victory (“Assad captures another seven-year term after winning almost 90% of the vote, with polling only held in government-held areas…Assad garnered 10,319,723 votes, or 88.7%.”).

Conditions within Syria at the time of the election were not conducive to a fair election in which the majority of Syrian’s did not or could not vote.  “Syria: The story of the conflict,” December 8, 2014, BBC News, as found on the www at http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-26116868 (“Almost 200,000 Syrians have lost their lives in the escalating conflict between forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and those opposed to his rule. Syria’s bloody internal conflict has destroyed entire neighbourhoods and forced more than nine million people from their homes.

A further 6.5 million people, 50% of them children, are believed to be internally displaced within Syria, bringing the total number forced to flee their homes to more than 9.5 million – half the country’s population. An estimated 10.8 million are in need of humanitarian assistance inside Syria, with 4.6 million living in areas under siege or hard to access.”).

[iii] “Q&A: Syrian activist Suhair Atassi”, February 9, 2011, Al Jazeera, as found on the www athttp://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/2011/02/201129135657367367.html.

[iv] The Arab League consists of 22 members: Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, State of Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.  Syria’s membership was suspended.  “Arab League suspends Syria”, November 12, 2011, CNN, as found on the www athttp://edition.cnn.com/2011/11/12/world/meast/syria-unrest/.

There are also four observer states:  Brasil, Venezuela, Eritrea, and India.

[v] Bassem Mroue, “Bashar Assad Resignation Called For By Syria Sit-In Activists”, April 18, 2011, The Huffington Post, Associated Press, as found on the www at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/18/bashar-assad-resignation-syria-protest_n_850657.html. See also “Syria: Mapping the conflict”, July 10 2015, BBC News, as found on the www at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-22798391 (“Russia and the US disagree sharply on Syria. While Russia has backed the Syrian government, and provided it with arms, the US wants to see the removal of President Assad.”).

[vi] The European Union has received most of the Syrian refugees.

See eg Chappell, Bill, “Germany, France Announce Plans To Welcome Thousands Of Migrants”, September 7, 2015, NPR News, as found on the www athttp://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/09/07/438285460/germany-france-announce-plans-to-welcome-thousands-of-migrants?sc=17&f=1001&utm_source=iosnewsapp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=ap(“After a weekend in which tens of thousands of Syrian war refugees and other migrants reached Austria and Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel says Germany is putting 6 billion euros ($6.7 billion) toward coping with the influx, France has committed to receiving 24,000 migrants….”)

To date, the United States has only taken in approximately 1,000 Syrian refugees.  However, it recently indicated a statement that over the next twelve months, it would take in 10,000 Syrian refugees.  Edwards, Julia, “U.S. to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees: White House,” September 11, 2015, Reuters, as found on the www at http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/09/11/us-europe-migrants-whitehouse-idUSKCN0RA26220150911.

Conversely, the United States has born the greatest share of the cost in the fight against IS, with Great Britain’s expenditures falling second. “John Kerry to visit UK for Syria crisis talks,” September 15, 2015, BBC News, as found on the www athttp://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-34264512 (“The US has allowed 1,500 Syrians to resettle since the start of the conflict, and the Obama administration has said a further 10,000 will be admitted over the next year.

According to the White House, the US is the single largest donor to the Syrian crisis response, having given over $4bn (£2.6bn) since it began.”).

[vii] Lardner, Cynthia, “ISIS Gone Corporate”, Game of Thrones Meets House of Cards,  June 19, 2015, as found on the www athttps://www.linkedin.com/pulse/isis-gone-corporate-cynthia-lardner-deverouxcleary-1?trk=mp-reader-card (Citations Omitted).

[viii] “IS, al-Qaeda, and how jihad uses chemical weapons,” September 16, 2015, BBC News, as found on the www at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-34262447.

[ix] Lister, Charles, “Viewpoint: West ‘walking into abyss’ on Syria”, September 28, 2015, BBC News, as found on the www at http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-34371501.

[x] Id.

[xi] “David Cameron to call for new Syria peace drive at UN”, September 27, 2015, BBC News, as found on the www at http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-34372286.

[xii] ISIL captures last government oilfield in Syria, September 7, 2015, Al Jazeera, as found on the www at http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/09/isil-capture-parts-government-oilfield-syria-150907123935546.html; “ISIS captured Assad’s last oil field in Syria, activists say”, September 7, 2015, ABC News, as found on the www at http://www.cbsnews.com/news/isis-captures-last-oil-field-under-syrian-control/.

[xiii] Dawar, Anil, “Alarm as Syria sells 10,000 passports with few questions asked,” September 11, 2015, Express, as found on the www athttp://www.express.co.uk/news/world/604394/Alarm-Syria-sells-10000-passports-few-questions-asked.

[xiv] “How The Assad Regime Pushes Syrians Out, Fueling Refugee Surge”, September 14, 2015, NPR News, as found on the www athttp://www.npr.org/2015/09/14/440327641/how-the-assad-regime-pushes-syrians-out-fueling-refugee-surge?sc=17&f=1004&utm_source=iosnewsapp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=app.

[xv] Arshad, Mohammed, and Irish, John, “Russia seizes initiative in Syria crisis; France bombs Islamic State”, September 28, 2015, Reuters, as found on the www at http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/09/28/us-mideast-crisis-putin-usa-idUSKCN0RR0H820150928.

[xvi] Lardner, Cynthia, Game of Thrones Meets House of Cards, April 9, 2015, as found on the www at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/game-thrones-meets-house-cards-geopoliticalmeltdown-cynthia?trk=mp-reader-card and at  https://cynthiamlardner.wordpress.com/game-of-thrones-geopolitical-meltdown/,

But see “Ukraine conflict: France hopes to end Russia sanctions”, September 7, 2015, BBC News, as found on the www at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-34174382 (“French President Francois Hollande has said that following recent ceasefire progress in Ukraine he hopes to see the end of sanctions against Russia.” This is a bilateral or mutually beneficial move as, “EU sanctions and a subsequent Russian embargo have hurt many French and European companies.”).

[xvii][xvii] A third possible asset of the Russian government is its relationship with its wealthy neighbor China.  Oddly, this relationship is not explored in a single news article discussing Russia’s involvement is Syria.  It is well known that China lacks the energy necessary for its own people.  Syria is rich in natural resources.

Whether coincidental or not, China has visibly increased is naval presence.  Russia has a naval base on Syrian soil where, thus far, only large shipments have been received.  See Tikhonova, Polina, “Has Russia Just Entered Syrian Civil War?”  September 5, 2015, Value Walk, as found on the www athttp://www.valuewalk.com/2015/09/has-russia-just-entered-syrian-civil-war/.  See also Petras, James, “The Two Faces of Capitalism and Left Options”, September 7, 2015, Global Research, as found on the www athttp://www.globalresearch.ca/the-two-faces-of-capitalism-and-left-options/5474315 (“The US has mobilized its EU followers to impose crippling economic sanctions on the Russian state and private enterprises in order to weaken its oligarchical ruling class under President Vladimir Putin, force ‘regime change’ and return Russia to the status of the pillaged vassal state under Boris Yeltsin (1990-2000).

Russia’s capitalist state, dependent on the oil and gas industries and western investments and markets, has responded by building up its military defenses. Faced with a US-imposed economic blockade and the growing militarization of US clients on Russia’s periphery, Moscow is finally developing local industries to substitute for EU and US imports and establishing alternative trading partnerships with capitalist China, India, Islamist Iran and the center-left regimes in Latin America.”)

The most obvious evidence of Russia’s presence in the Syrian Civil War emerged in November 2013, when Russian newspaper Fontanka published an article, exposing the Slavonic Corps, consisting of mercenaries sent to Syria to protect Assad’s infrastructure, particularly his oil wells.

[xviii] “Syria: Mapping the conflict”, July 10 2015, BBC News, as found on the www at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-22798391 (In July, it was reported that “Russia has sent advisers and hardware to Syria [and] had despatched an advance military team to Syria, as well as housing units and an air traffic control centre to an airfield.)

[xix] “Fighting around key Syria town ‘leaves 47 dead’ – activists”, September 5, 2015, BBC News, as found on the www at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-34165761.

[xx] Id.

[xxi] Brennan, Christopher, “US warns Putin’s foreign minister against dangers of increased aid to Syria’s Assad as reports claim that Russia is setting up ‘forward operating base’ in war-torn country”, September 6, 2015, The Daily Mail, as found on the www at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3223951/US-warns-Putin-s-foreign-minister-against-dangers-increased-aid-Syria-s-Assad-reports-claim-Russia-setting-forward-operating-base-war-torn-country.html#ixzz3l9P1p8LA “Se(cretary of State John Kerry called Russian Foreign Minister on Saturday and warned that increased presence could lead to greater loss of life

Call comes amid unconfirmed reports that soldiers speaking Russian have been seen fighting anti-government rebels in Russian-made vehicles

The United States has warned Moscow about dangers of increased aid to the Syrian government amid multiple reports that Russian soldiers had begun participating in the country’s civil war.”).

[xxii] Lister, Charles, “Viewpoint: West ‘walking into abyss’ on Syria”, September 28, 2015, BBC News, as found on the www at http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-34371501.

[xxiii] “Toying with Russian troop deployment to Syria, Putin appears ready to reset relations with US”. September 7, 2015, as found on the www athttp://www.foxnews.com/world/2015/09/07/toying-with-russian-troop-deployment-to-syria-putin-appears-ready-to-reset/.

[xxiv] Id. See also “Syria conflict: US presses Russia on military build-up,” Supra Endnote xxvii (“Jonathan Marcus, BBC defence correspondent opined:

Russia’s backing for Mr Assad should be seen not as a vote of confidence in Syria’s embattled president but as an investment in a country where Rmkussia believes it can play out its foreign-policy role.

Indeed Mr Putin’s military deployments signal that he will not let the Assad regime fall. This does not mean Mr Assad will be there forever.

[xxv] Starr, Barbara, “U.S.: Russia may be seeking proxy in case Syria’s Assad falls”, September 26, 2015, CNN Politics, as found on the www at http://edition.cnn.com/2015/09/26/politics/syria-putin-russia-american-strategy/

[xxvi] Id.

[xxvii] “David Cameron to call for new Syria peace drive at UN”, September 27, 2015, BBC News, as found on the www at http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-34372286.

[xxviii] “A stronger UN: The Elders hold high-level talks in Liechtenstein”, September 7, 2015, The Elders, as found on the www athttp://www.theelders.org/article/stronger-un-elders-hold-high-level-talks-liechtenstein (Gro Harlem Brundtland, Deputy Chair of The Elders, said, “The UN is a vital part of our global security and governance infrastructure but it has to change – its present arrangements are neither normal nor reasonable.”).

[xxix] “Syria conflict: US presses Russia on military build-up,” September 16, 2015, BBC News, as found on the www at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-34263955 (“”Secretary Kerry also reaffirmed the US commitment to fight ISIL (Islamic State) with a coalition of more than 60 countries, of which Assad could never be a credible member, and emphasised the US would welcome a constructive Russian role in counter-ISIL efforts.”).

[xxx] “Syria conflict: Russia ‘to continue Assad military aid’”, September 15, 2015, BBC News, as found on the www at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-34256389 (“Russian President Vladimir Putin has pledged continued military support for Syria’s Bashar al-Assad despite growing concerns over Moscow’s role in the war… The US would prefer to see more “constructive engagement” from Russia with the coalition against so-called Islamic State (IS), spokesman Josh Earnest said.”).

See also Wagner, Laura, “Putin Defends Russian Military Support For Syrian Regime”, September 15, 2015, NPR News, as found on the www athttp://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/09/15/440578356/putin-defends-russian-military-support-for-syrian-regime?sc=17&f=1001&utm_source=iosnewsapp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=app (“Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday defended his decision to provide military assistance to the Syrian government, saying that cooperating with Bashar Assad’s regime is necessary in order to defeat ISIS…”)

[xxxi] Arshad, Mohammed, and Irish, John, “Russia seizes initiative in Syria crisis; France bombs Islamic State”, September 28, 2015, Reuters, as found on the www at http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/09/28/us-mideast-crisis-putin-usa-idUSKCN0RR0H820150928 (“Russia appeared to seize the initiative in international efforts to end the conflict in Syria…U.S. officials said Kerry was working on a new political initiative in New York that would include Russia and key regional powers.

It was announced in Baghdad that Russian military officials were working with counterparts from Iran, Syria and Iraq on intelligence and security cooperation to counter Islamic State, which has captured large areas of both Syria and Iraq.

The move was seen in the region as potentially giving Moscow more sway in the Middle East.

Russian President Vladimir Putin derided U.S. efforts to end the Syria war, which has driven a tide of refugees into neighboring states and Europe.

“We would welcome a common platform for collective action against the terrorists,” Putin said in an interview on Sunday on CBS’s “60 Minutes.”

The United States, Britain and some other allies in recent days have softened demands that Assad immediately leave power, raising the possibility that he could stay during a transition.”).

[xxxii] Bays, James, “Russia steps up Syria support ‘to stop fall of Assad’”, September 26, 2015, Al Jazeera, as found on the www at http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/09/russia-troops-syria-stop-imminent-fall-assad-150926180925801.html (“Russia intends to step up its military involvement in Syria to prevent the “imminent” collapse of the Syrian government, the EU’s foreign policy chief [Federica Mogherini] has told Al Jazeera.”).