Russia is successfully advancing in the Middle East – Part II
Russia is aware that it can only subjugate the U.S. and the European Union, along with them the NATO and Israel, and on long-term all Sunni states, even Saudi Arabia, if it increases its power in the Middle East. And so far it succeeded eloquently. The use of the term “eloquently” to describe Russia’s successful invasion is due to the fact that although it conquered as a tyrant, it is perceived as the “savior” and will not be fought by the locals similar to how a body fights an alien bacterium back. No, Russia was “eloquent”, it had a well-planned strategy from A to Z, including its coherent and powerful media strategy, mainly because Russian know Arabic, know the culture very well, manipulate through demagogy and false information, do not have a recent invasion burdening their reputation and are in vicinity to the Middle East unlike the U.S.
Part I of this report discussed Russia’s grip over the sea – Mediterranean, some straights, as well as the grip over the land and thus the upper hand over trade routes connecting Iran with Beirut or Tartous and the connected cargo transportation, additionally to that the grip over the sea means Russia will have the hegemony over existing pipeline networks, which have been established since decades. Further, the grip over the sea includes training Lebanon on how to thwart “sea invasions” as Russia will train Lebanon on”piracy, maritime searching and rescuing, and counter-terrorism.” The insisting on the maritime part is related to the dispute on block 9 with Israel, for which Russia’s Novatek won the bidding. Novatek is a Russian firm and one of its beneficial owners is Gennady Timchenko, a Russian billionaire and member of Putin’s inner circle.
Thus, Russia is leveraging its position through Lebanon and Lebanon is using Russia to ensure that Israel will not continue its by U.N. unpunished incursions through Lebanon’s air, land and sea borders and that Block 9 will be resolved. However, Lebanon will be paying the price for opening its land, sea and airports for Russia’s military not because the U.S. and E.U. will inactively stand by and watch the take over, but because Lebanon will be under a new hegemony, which does not abide to international laws, led by a corrupt regime.
The horrendous consequences will be on short-term even though the Israeli military and maritime threat will be thwarted, because Lebanon will be at Russia’s mercy without the U.S., which keeps the balance between both global powers and this balance ensures that no hegemonic force dictates Lebanon’s economy and policy. Lebanon must be made aware not to give Russia such high leverage and not to exclude the U.S., because Russia will remain a massive threat for the U.S., and Lebanon can benefit from both countries’ rivalry if it keeps a good relationship with both. Lebanon must draft a strategy and reduce the privileges of Russia before it is too late. Although Hezbollah’s weapons are a threat to Lebanon’s sovereignty as well as the Russian military agreement, Hezbollah’s weapons are used to pressure on the U.S. and Israel till the maritime, land and air incursions of Israel cease and the Palestinian state is established – a double-edged sword – and blame goes on the U.S.-Israeli policy. The U.S. is tactically using arming the Lebanese Army to maintain its presence in Lebanon although it will need a decade to gain in it a solid partner, but only if it maintains its presence in Syria, pushes for a regime change, which then includes its allies from various sects and ethnicities in the government and ensures a Taef-like Syrian Constitution.
Part II discusses further plans of Russia which are being executed
Grip over the air. Additionally, Russia has its grip over airbases in Syria and Lebanon. The latest draft of the cooperation deal between Lebanon and Russia states that Russian civic and war airplanes will operate from the Lebanese airport(s): Beirut air port and the military airports Nahr al-Bared, Rene Mouawad Air Base or Kleyate Airport, Rayak Air Base, Hamat, Wujah Al Hajar Air Base and Baadaran airstrip.
In Syria, Russia has its grip over Syria’s airbases beside Hmeimim which is officially Russian and not Syrian: Abu ad Duhur air base, Al Qusayr air base, An Nasiriya, As-Suwayda air base, Damascus International Airport, Deir Zzor air base, Dumayr air base, Hama air base, Jirah air base, Khalkhalah, Marj As Sultan, Marj Ruhayyih, Minakh, Qabr as Sitt, Rasin el Aboud, Saiqal, Shayrat, Tabqa, Taftanaz, Tiyas. And Syria’s airports: Al Thaurah, Aleppo, Damascus, Deirezzor Al Jafrah, Latakia and Palmyra.
What remains contested are the Qamishli Airport and Tabqa Airbase which are partially (Qamishlo) or fully (Tabqa) under the control of the Syrian Democratic Forces and the U.S. However, the U.S. plans on establishing one of the biggest air bases in the Middle East in Rif Raqqa in Tel Siman, beside the airstrips in Kobani, Ain Issa, Rmeilan and Rif Hasakah.
Russia’s grip over the air through the S-400 anti-aircraft missile defense system deployed in its Hmeimim air base are the biggest threat of all. The Russian military has deployed four units of its state-of-the-art S-400 defensive systems to Hmeimim.
The Russian invasion is not restricted to the sea, land and air, but also covers technologies, culture, ruling system, corruption and elitism, and more or less its lifestyle in certain regions as long as they are not inhabited or ruled by a Shia or Sunni majority, which rejects the Russian lifestyle. To make sure that its invasion in the Middle Eastern countries does not face a local resistance, Russia will ensure take over of the thinking process of the locals through the restricted information on the media, social media and internet.
Grip over the internet and networks. Russia is launching a new internet not only to oust the U.S. and for surveillance. The Russian internet will be deployed in Russia, Brazil, India, China and South Africa, by August 2018 as reported by RBK portal however this may include Syria and Lebanon. China was an obvious choice, however the surprising new is India, which currently is on the U.S. axis. If successful, Russia’s new internet would be a huge blow for the U.S. internet and companies bound to it.
Grip over the language and culture. Syria has always been an anti-U.S. regime system which projected its policy in the scholar, university and military education system. However, now Syria moved to a new level as the Russian language was introduced at schools as the second language after Arabic in order to abolish any possible U.S. invasion and cultural hegemony through the English language. In Lebanon, Farsi is already taught in Shia schools. The introduction of Russian to Lebanese schools is inevitable. Already in 2017, Russia introduced Russian courses to the Lebanese Army, the General Security Forces, the Internal Security Forces and the State Security under the pretext of aiming to enhance military and security cooperation between Lebanon and the Russian Federation. The Head of the Russian Cultural Center in Baalbeck-Lebanon announced that “Russian is being educated to the citizens in order to spread the Russian culture.” Russian universities are being introduced to university students which are very attractive for Lebanese students, especially that the U.S. has more and more shut its universities and borders to foreigners due to security reasons and abuse of the free education by students involved in terrorist activities.
Ousting the U.S. out of the Middle East will be hard for Russia, as noticed in North and East Syria. However, ousting the U.S. will be very easy, to mention few “if”s: 1) if the U.S. citizen is not informed on the economic impact of leaving the Middle East, 2) if the rise of Alt Right and Alt Left continues in the U.S.: political Islam cannot be thwarted through destruction of the Western values of U.S. citizens, 3) if U.S. citizens vote for an in the dark ophtalmologue instead of a well-informed politician, 4) if the media disinformation diffused by RussiaToday, Breitbart, InfoWars, PrisonPlanet, GlobalResearch, VeteransToday, MintPressNews, Sputnik and others continues. The Mueller Investigations revealed to the U.S. citizens about 1% of Russia’s plan to disrupt it from within since military action is impossible. As Abraham Lincoln, the best president in U.S. history, prophesied “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”
Part III of this report deals, among others, with the impact of Russia’s advance on Kurds, Turkey, Europe and NATO.
Joumana Gebara – Senior Middle East Analyst