Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Knight to C4

Don't play chess with the Kremlin - they'll sucker punch you every time.

Yesterday John Kerry, US Secretary of State, answered a journalist's question along the lines of what would it take for America not to attack Syria with an offhand remark that Syria would have to hand over all its chemical weapons within a week, and then added, of course Syria won't be doing that.

Bad move!

Russia jumped on the opening and said they would be happy to broker that deal. The Syrian foreign minister piped up that Syria liked the deal as well and before the White House even heard the toilet flushing, their plans to bomb the Syrians back to the Stone Age were being washed down the tubes - well, were somewhat postponed anyway.

Nice move by the Russians. Tactically superior to the previous, "you attack Syria and we'll attack Saudi," which the Americans were not believing.

So now everyone can take a breather while some sort of handover plan is worked out: who will take custody of the weapons; who will inspect to ensure all the weapons are handed over; where will the weapons be taken, or can they be destroyed in-situ; who will inspect the destruction? There is a lot of detail to be worked out - and war machines are notoriously expensive to keep cocked at def con zero. Before long the boss has to say, "stand down guys, it's not going to be any day soon."

And it has to be said that the Syrian rebels are conspicuously failing to play the Great Game competently.  First it was a rebel leader eating a fallen regime soldier's heart in a YouTube video, and now they have gone and attacked a Christian village, killed a bunch of people and told the rest to convert to Islam or get beheaded. Way to go guys - that's really not going to sway the Yanks to your side!

Most Americans are already pretty unconcerned about who runs Syria. Getting them riled enough to want to intervene is a challenge. It's really only the Israeli and Saudi lobbies that are making the running here. They want the regime gone. Israel because the regime is pro-Iran and Hezbollah, and Saudi because the regime is Shia-aligned and they are Sunni (you will recall that Al Quaeda is Sunni - Bin Liner was a Saudi born and bred.)

The Russians support the regime because it gives them a navy port in the Mediterranean (they also  have Sevastopol but the Ukrainians are getting antsy about them using that) and if the regime fell and was replaced with a bunch of Sunnis it would swing yet another Gulf country into the American camp.

So, American military action has been stalled for now, a few days have been bought, but the game goes on - it's not mate yet.

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