Uncomfortable Facts

russian bombsTwo stories in one day which you would expect to disrupt the faux-anti-imperialist narrative, but which probably won’t. Narratives stand high above facts, after all.

First, ISIS claims responsibility for a suicide attack which killed Saudi soldiers in Aden, Yemen.

Second, according to this article, printed in full below, Israel has agreed to provide intelligence on the Syrian opposition to Russia, to help it with its bombing runs. In return Russia promises to stop weapons flowing through Syria to Hizbullah, and to tolerate any Israeli bombing of Syria. The last paragraph says that Tzipi Livni, Israel’s former Foreign Minister, “has called for direct cooperation with Iran and Hezbollah in order to protect Israeli interests.”

UPDATE: My friend Elizabeth Tsurkov says this: “Israel is simply ensuring that it can bomb Hizbollah/Iranian targets without being shot down by Russian jets of S-300 systems. There’s no indication anywhere that Israel is sharing intel with the Russian regime on this issue. … Middle East Monitor is a site that it known to fabricate stories.” She may well be right about the source, and about the intelligence sharing. But Russian-Israeli military cooperation is increasing, not only in Syria.

Mainstream and leftist opinion – often guided by a cabal of ageing orientalist white men (Cockburn, Fisk, Bromwich, Glass, etc) – will continue to hold that Saudi Arabia controls ISIS and Russia is lined up with Assad and Iran in a confrontation against the Zionist West, which is intent on Assad’s downfall. These useful idiots are smoothing the way for the fascist-imperialist axis.

Meanwhile Russian fire falls on Syria’s liberated cities, striking the Free Army in Homs and Jaysh al-Fateh in Idlib, Hama and Lattakia, striking also buildings used by self-organising civilian revolutionary committees and Byzantine ruins outside Kafranbel. Dozens of civilians have been murdered. One in  twenty of Russia’s strikes have targetted ISIS.

It seems regime/ Iranian ground offensives will follow, particularly in northern Homs and the areas of Hama and Lattakia near the regime’s coastal stronghold. The aim is to shore up Assad’s collapsing regime in the fifth of Syria he retains. The larger hope is to destroy the opposition, leaving only Assad and ISIS standing. Then the West may more openly back Assad to take the rest of the country back.

The imperialist assault will undoubtedly extend the war in time and expand it in space. The coming months may see grievous setbacks for opposition forces. In the end, however, Russian bombs will not be able to alter the demographic reality any more than Assad’s bombs or the Iranian militias could before. Assad is running out of fighting men; foreign troops, however many arrive, can extend but not win his war. And not only the opposition militias but the majority of the Syrian people too will refuse to cooperate with any plan envisaging regime survival. For them Assad, not ISIS, is the supreme evil, and with good reason: Assad’s forces are responsible for the overwhelming majority of civilians killed and driven out.

Beyond that, Russia’s economy shrank by 5% last year. Russia isn’t strong so much as it is constantly appeased. But Syria’s fighters are in no mood for appeasement. When the Russians first walked into Afghanistan, when the Americans first walked into Vietnam, they thought their operations would be easy and brief…

Here’s the Israel-Russia cooperation story in full:

Israel will provide Russia with intelligence information about opposition sites in Syria to facilitate Moscow’s military operations, Channel 2TV has reported. The Israeli network said that a senior delegation of Russian army officials will arrive in Israel on Tuesday to coordinate the military cooperation.

The delegation will be led by First Deputy Chief of General Staff General Nikolai Bogdanovsky, who will meet his Israeli counterpart, Major-General Yair Golan as well as senior officials in Israeli military intelligence, the air force and the Mossad. Channel 2 noted that the visit follows the meeting between Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow three weeks ago.

According to the media report, Israel will submit more requests to the Russians in exchange for “attractive” offers to facilitate the Russian army’s military operations in Syria. It also revealed that Netanyahu and Putin have agreed on several issue in principle, including a Russian pledge to stop the flow of weapons from Syria to Hezbollah, as well as to allow the Israeli air force to carry out operations freely in Syria, even in areas where the Russian army is stationed on the Syrian coast.

Senior officers in the Russian and Israeli air forces will discuss the mechanisms for the coordination of Israeli overflights of Syrian airspace to avoid any conflict with Russian aircraft on operations against opposition groups. Israel is likely to request Russia to coordinate its moves in the Mediterranean in a manner that does not affect Israeli submarines gathering intelligence about Lebanon and Syria.

Another report by Israel Radio on Sunday claimed that Tel Aviv will provide vital intelligence to the Russians in a bid to reduce Iranian influence in Syria.

Meanwhile, Israel’s former Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, has called for direct cooperation with Iran and Hezbollah in order to protect Israeli interests. Maariv newspaper quoted Livni as saying on Friday, “Netanyahu must understand that the world looks at Iran and Hezbollah as legitimate partners in the confrontation against Daesh.” She warned that Tel Aviv’s geostrategic position will be hurt if the Israeli leadership does not realise what must be done do to influence the shifts in the balance of power in Syria.

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