$5Bn Russian weapons for an old customer

WAR is good for the weapons industries. Regional conflict in the Middle East must be music to many ears around the world. Most of all to those who want to sell outdated guns and mortars to corrupt officials with stacks of cash stolen from the state treasury. Besides what do the buyers care they will buy crap at a high price only for the commission involved. Once the weapons fail to fire they will simple supply more of the same. When things get really messed up they will change buyers asking higher prices than before. New buyers will just buy from the old buyers nasty stock and resupply them to those fools who will just end up paying more and more.

Russia is spreading its wings in the Middle East again. Under Putin Russia wants to project its hard and soft powers to reposition itself as a “rising” superpower. The former communist country wants to step out from its years of isolation and retake its position on the world stage. Keeping a base in the Middle East will be critical for this mission. Thats where Tartous, Syria comes in. Iran will be a strategic partner for the forseeable future for Russia since Iran and US are not going to close ranks any time soon. Egypt is still a US ally thanks to the Muslim Brotherhood decision to stand by the peace treaty with Israel. Billions of US Dollars are involved as defence aid through that arrangement. Its more like Dollars for Peace treaty for Egypt.

More news from Russia on its arms sales:

Russia may join the ranks of major importers of weapons to Iraq. During the visit of Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki’s, a contract for $5 billion may be signed for the sale of MiG fighter jets, products of Russian Helicopters, anti-aircraft missile systems, armored vehicles and other weapons to the Middle Eastern country. 

In Soviet times, Baghdad was one of the main buyers of the products of MIC USSR. After the war in the early 1990s, military and technical cooperation between Russia and Iraq was at a very low level. After the second US-Iraq war, Russia began supplying weapons to Iraq in larger volumes. Between 2008 and 2011 the new government in Baghdad purchased Russian weapons worth $246 million dollars. The bulk of the purchase was helicopters. In this same period, the actual deliveries of weapons and military equipment of U.S. production totaled $6.56 billion dollars, according to the director of the Center for Analysis of World Arms Trade (TSAMTO) Igor Korotchenko.

According to the Iraqi News Agency Shafaq, during the visit of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Moscow scheduled for October 10, new contracts for the supply of arms and military equipment may be signed.

// If the deal goes through, Iraq will be among five largest importers of Russian arms. According to the newspaper, contracts will be signed for the supply of the products of the pro RAC “MiG”, “Helicopters of Russia, and “Tula “Instrument Design Bureau” in the amount of $4.3 billion dollars. It is assumed that Iraq would sell 30 Mi-28N combat vehicles and 42 anti-aircraft missile and gun complex “Shell-S1.” Additionally, there may be new contracts for the supply of MiG-29M/M2, radars, armored vehicles and other weapons.

Until now, the main supplier of arms to Iraq was its main occupant – the USA. Baghdad has purchased from the U.S. military-industrial complex M1 tanks, F-16 fighter jets and other weapons for nearly $15 billion. The Americans supplying outdated weapons to Iraq at traditionally high prices – 36 old F-16 for over $5 billion dollars. In addition, Baghdad purchases equipment from the governments of other countries occupying Iraq. Ukraine supplies over $1.5 billion worth of weapons.

Last year, Russia has retained the second place in the world in terms of arms exports, selling weapons abroad for 11.3 billion dollars. Most likely, this year the country will also remain in second place with a total export at $13.293 billion, or 19 percent of the world supply. The main volume of shipments accounted for a very small number of countries that have the potential to negatively affect the front-runner position of Russia in the global arms trade.

In the next four years, in terms of the signed contracts, the leaders of Russian weapons import will be India, Venezuela, and Vietnam. “First place in the period from 2012 to 2015 in Russia’s arms exports will again be taken by India with $14.3 billion dollars. In second place instead of Algeria will be Venezuela with $3.2 billion. Vietnam will be in third place,” said Igor Korotchenko to the media based on the improved analytical predictions by TSAMTO. In the fourth place in terms of procurement of military goods from Russia is China with $2.8 billion followed by Syria with $1.6 billion.

The share of the top three importers of Russian weapons in the overall balance of supply abroad will be 62.43 percent, the share of the top five – 74.9 percent. The total volume of the Russian arms exports in this period is projected at $32.5 billion dollars. The emergence among the major buyers of Russian military equipment of Baghdad is unlikely, said the director of the Center for Analysis of World Arms Trade.

“Personally, I have serious doubts that Iraq will buy billions dollars’ worth of our weapons. They will not be allowed to do it. Iraq’s foreign policy is tightly controlled by the U.S., and no matter what they say, that Iraq broke away from America and left to float freely – it is not the case. Of course, there are some contradictions between the administrations in Washington and Baghdad. However, Iraq is tightly attached to the American war machine. In previous years, they purchased solely from the U.S. for the amount of over $6 billion. We sold for under $300 million dollars. The numbers speak for themselves. So I do not expect very large contracts. Even if Iraq wants to buy a large quantity of Russian weapons, America will be opposed to it,” said Igor Korotchenko to “Pravda.Ru.”

During the visit of Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki to Russia other issues in addition to the military contracts will be discussed. During the visit, the parties may sign a number of documents on the Russian-Iraqi inter-industry and investment ties. Relevant programs are being refined by the chambers of commerce of Iraq and Russia. Baghdad expects Russia’s direct investment in Iraq at over $10 billion.

Murat Karayilan: Hoping for a Kurdish Spring

Kurds are 40 million strong. They spread out along the southeast Turkish border and into Syria, Iraq and Iran. The most famous Kurd in Islamic history is Sultan Salahdin Ayubi (RA). He was the man who united Syria and Egypt to make a unified army under his command which then liberated Al Quds (jerusalem) from the Crusader kingdom.

The Kurds are now fighting on several fronts. In Iraq they were nearly imprisoned by the Baathists. Syria is no different. Now with Syria and Turkey nearing a full blown conflict Kurds in the buffer zone could be the favorite shooting target for Syrian and Turkish forces.

The borders that unjustly separated a nation only to keep another nation satisfied (at least partically) is a massive exercise of injustice by the colonialists at the end of WWI. Dividing the Ottoman provinces created this mess we see today. Further divisions will only help to increase border tensions and raise the prospect of war in the region.

Kurdish political party PKK is almost like the PLO of the Kurds. Here is an interview from the leader of the PKK to Al-Jazeera:

Murat Karayilan: Hoping for a Kurdish Spring – Talk to Al Jazeera – Al Jazeera English.

Road to Damascus is through Ankara

Qatar and Saudi Arabia find it convenient to finance the bullets being supplied to Syrian Free Officers based in southern Turkey. The Arab tribal states would not dare consider opening war fronts on their boundaries no matter how far. They dont have an army to defend themselves and besides its always easier to fund raise another country’s war which in the end benefits the tribal heads.

Take for example the Iran-Iraq war. After nearly 10 years of destruction to his country Saddam came to realise he had been duped by the tribes he had considered to be his “sunni” brothers. Iraq was a bulwark against Iranian popularity in the Arabian Gulf. Shiites were feared as possible corners of revolt against the monarchs whose rule depended completely on peoples’ loyalty to their clan and US-NATO backing. Khomeini’s popular slogan to export the Islamic revolution was knocking the living daylights out of the sunni kings and they found Saddam stupid enough to do their work. He fought an insane and ridiculous war with Iran costing a few million men dead, hundred billion dollars lost, and a region in devastation.

Saddam had to once again prove his extraordinary genius this time by attacking the little emirate of Kuwait inviting the whole world to come and shred his country into 3 pieces. That was still not enough for him. He had to wait another 12 years for the final assault before the Iraqi army of 250 thousand strong was annihilated by the US in the 2003 war. 

The point being Iraq was never the target for invasion nor the object of admiration. Iran was the country which had to be stopped by the sheikhs and Iraq was their answer. So long as they needed Saddam to fight their war they were ready to bank roll him. When the job was done he was no longer indispensible. 

It’s the same thing repeating all over again this time with Turkey and Syria as the new players. This time Turkey has replaced Iraq and Syria replaced Iran. The threat is still Iranian popularity amongst the shii population in the Arab Gulf. Turkey with its strong army can do what Iraq did to Iran, pin Syria down for a long drawn war. Grow the fear of shiite takeover of sunnis amongst the population and use the sectarian political game to keep the common people away from any unified stand. Will Turkey fall for this?

More reading from a strategic site:

The North Atlantic Council emergency session called upon the request from Turkey condemned the Syrian “aggressive acts”. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the alliance had a plan to defend Turkey with force as a NATO member according to the article 5 of the organization’s charter. The Turkish parliament urgently made a decision authorizing a “right” to conduct trans-boundary military operations that is to start military action against Syria any time…

The Turkish armed forces began to concentrate artillery, armor and air units at the Syrian border. Turkish Chief of General staff visited the area and made some hostile statements. Prime Minister Erdogan spoke by and large along the same lines with the only reservation that his country “had no intention of starting a war”. It should be noted that the majority of Turks doesn’t support the anti-Syrian policy of their leadership. The fact is corroborated by mass demonstrations with “no to war” slogans and critical views expressed by parliamentary opposition. It can be understood. Curbing ties with Syria has damaged economy, internal instability is on the rise. Kurdish radical organizations intensify their activities; extremists come to Turkey together with the Syrian refugees. The incident with the Syrian civilian airliner, that was made land by Turkish fighters, added fuel to the fire. The aircraft allegedly had arms on board. In reality it happened to be radar parts. The Turkish authorities committed this act of hostility against Russia and Syria after detailed consultations with Washington. It’s a known fact a Syrian militants training camp is situated in the Syrian territory, the arms are paid for by Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The CIA experts are among those who distribute the weapons.

The USA and NATO use Turkey as a “battering ram” to destroy Syria and eliminate it for being an ally of Iran and a potential threat to Israel. Incapacitating Syria will make easier the destruction of Iranian nuclear program and quelling Hezbollah in Lebanon, the movement that poses a threat to the Jewish state, especially after it launched an Iran-made unmanned aerial vehicle over the Israeli nuclear facilities…

At that Turkey doesn’t play the role of a Western puppet on a string in the given situation, even if it is acting in line with global NATO policy. It has its own goals in Syria besides the so to say “Euro-Atlantic interests.”

First, Ankara is interested in supporting Syrian anti-government groups where Syrian Muslim Brothers make up the major striking element. The contemporary leadership of the country is represented by the Turkish association of Muslim Brothers. The incumbent Prime Minister was jailed under the military regime for his fidelity to Islam. At present the influence of military is significantly curbed. 650 acting senior commissioned officers and 250 retirees are put behind bars as a result of bringing top military officials to court. They are the so called “elite of Kemal”, who support the secular ideology Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of Turkish Republic. It should be noted the members of Sufi tarikats (religious orders), especially Nаqshbandi and Iskander-Pasha, are actively pushed to key top state positions. The Sunni Islam values are becoming more and more important in Turkey. The overthrow of secular Baath regime in Syria and preparation of Syrian Muslim Brothers to get hold of power fully meet the interests of the incumbent Turkish leadership.

Second, the Turkish leaders position themselves as the heirs and assigns of the Ottoman Empire and do their best to strengthen the Turkey’s stand as a regional center of power. That’s where the expansionism towards Syria and other states comes from. Turkey has territorial claims on Syrian territories. For instance, Alexandret Sanjak that is part of Syria since the end of WWI. Turkey never forgot Syria was part of the Ottoman Empire for four hundred years. That’s why Syria’s dismemberment, inevitable if Bashar Assad is toppled, meets the interests of the Turkish ruling top.

Third, at present the Turkey’s interests are concentrated on toppling the incumbent Syrian regime, they match the interests of Sunni Persian Gulf monarchies, first of all Saudi Arabia and Qatar. It’s important for them to get rid of Syria, because it’s an ally of Shiite Iran, a country they see as a threat since the days of Iranian revolution of 1979.

The Turkey’s geopolitical ambitions go far beyond Syria. Turkey has actively pursued its interests in the Muslim regions of the Russian Federation and Muslim republics of the former Soviet Union. Suffice it to mention Turkish-Tatar colleges in Tatarstan and the same type of educational centers in the republics of Central Asia where teaching is done in Turkish and English. The graduates (the author has had a chance to meet some of them) automatically become champions of the Turkish great power doctrine. Turkey never leaves attempts to strengthen its clout in Crimea. It comes to memory that during the first and the second Chechen wars the Chechen militants found refuge in Turkey.

It is assumed that in cases of hypothetical downfall of the Bashar Assad’s regime, US-Israeli strike against Iran and unleashing a large-scale military conflict in the “Greater Middle East” that would get close to the Caucasus and further to the South of Russia, Turkey will not lose the opportunity to treat itself to the “Russian pie”.

Everything said doesn’t mean it’s the time to go back to the days of Cold War and curb the relations with Turkey. To the contrary these relations should be broadened and deepened. It relates to economic projects, interaction in managing political issues, including the management of Syrian crisis. There is a statement by Syrian National Council based in Istanbul that attracts attention. The Council is the most well-known group of Syrian opposition. The statement confirms its agreement to consider the possibility of armistice with the Syrian authorities. Damascus has also expressed its willingness to start talks. The Russia’s President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Turkey, re-scheduled on December this year, can play a very positive role. Nevertheless, while having contacts with Turkey, Russia should be as scrupulous as never while analyzing all possible options of the way the events may develop in the most “hot” spots of the world.

Do Kurds want independence

Kurds are the largest stateless people on earth. 30 million kurds were dispersed into 3 separate states without moving an inch from their homes. The end of the Ottomans gave the British and French colonizers to play chess on the political map of the Ottoman lands. Kurds ended up becoming unwanted toys for Syrians, Turks and Iraqis. For decades they were marginalised through political deprivation at best and at times heavy firepower from aircrafts and fighter jets. what do the Kurds want, an independent state of their own?
Actually they never pressed any such demand. The PKK of Iraqi Kurdistan, and quite possibly the equivalent of being the PLO of global Kurds, staes:

Kurds on both sides of the Syria-Turkey border say they’re not seeking an independent Kurdistan, but instead to establish autonomous and fully recognized Kurdish regions along the lines of Iraq’s KRG, which remains under the sovereignty of a federal Iraq. These regions would nonetheless also share in some version of an open-border supra-Kurdish federation. That’s a perspective long espoused by jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, who believes that the nation state is an outdated model unsuited to the needs of the Kurds.

“Of course, whether or not a federation emerges depends on so many other determinants, like the international community, not to mention how events in Damascus turn out,” says Altug. “But this is a political coming of age for the Kurds. They are pursuing a pragmatic and politically astute strategy.”

Asked whether the region was ready for an independent Kurdistan, Barzani was fairly open. “It’s a natural right of the people. But when and how it will be ready is a different question,” he told al-Jazeera last week.

Turkey’s problem is that events in Syria could force its hand in dealing with its domestic Kurdish challenge — and not just militarily. Erdogan has seesawed between conceding more democratic and cultural rights to Turkey’s Kurds, and adopting a hawkish militarist stand — thousands of Kurdish politicians and activists are currently under arrest for allegedly belonging to a political offshoot of the PKK. “That’s the most essential question,” wrote Birand. “What effort are we making to solve our own Kurdish issue, to comfort our own citizens of Kurdish origin?” Regardless of the answer, that question is now increasingly central to shaping Turkey’s responses to the rebellion next door.

 

Stop all sectarian splits and divisions

 
Ottoman caliphate ruled over Syria, Iraq and Turkey under one super state with its capital in Istanbul, for centuries. Before Ottomans, Abbasids, Umayads and Fatimids kept these lands united under the central islamic government. The sultanate was the umbrella for diversities where nation-state boundaries did not matter. Mankind in Islamic sense is but one community created by one Creator, Allah swt.
 
Two weeks ago Iraq’s main cities were litterred with body parts due to explosions which took over 82 innocent lives. This week saw 19 dead and counting. Sunnis blame shias, kurds blame sunnis, Iraqis blame Syrians, Turks blame Iraqis and Syrians, and this game of maniacs goes on and on.
 
Syrian uprising against the ruthless Baath regime is being met with heavy firepower from Assad’s criminals. It is feared that the Syrian fight spill over into Iraq and Turkey, making western intervention a necessity to hold regional security. Israel is not a silent spectator in this great game. They see the end of Hizbullah and Hamas linked to the fall of Assad. The risk for Israel lies in loosing Syria to the Muslim Brotherhood (as in Egypt) through democratic elections. Democratic process will likely hinder Israel’s plan for its Arab neighbours since the Muslim Brotherhood is the most politically organized opposition movement in the Arab world and it should be expected to gather majority votes in a free and fair election.
 
The price for regime change with foreign help for the moment is further division of lands on sectarian grounds. Iraqi Kurdistan’s near-independence came as a part of that post Saddam package for Iraq and for Syria northern Kurdistan could gain autonomy from central authority in Damascus. Most likely more independent states in that region will only increase their probability of in-fighting with foreign arms assistance. The desire to make sectarain conflicts central to the cause of disunity and division is strikingly opposite from the Ottomans and their predecessors. The goal for past rulers was unity, religious tolerance and security of life.
 
Israels’ most dreaded resistance fighters Hamas and Hizbullah have long been benefactors of Syrian assistance. Israel would want to see these two organizations leave the greater Syrian region (Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine) for good. PLO was forced by Israel to quit its headquarters in Jordan after the massacre of bloody september. PLO’s relocation to Tunis reduced its armed strength and capability almost entirely. Israel would want to see a repeat act by pushing Hamas and Hizbullah out of the region. 
 
Since the war with Hizbullah in southern Lebanon in 2006 Israel has been on the offensive on Assad blaming his regime for Rafik Hariri’s assasination leading to the withdrawal of Syrian forces from Lebanon. Current uprising offers Israel another avenue to play with Syria’s future. The real fear amongst Syrians is if Israel manages to hijack the revolution they will once be stuck with a hypocritical double standard regime.
 
Assad al Bashar has played into the hands of his enemies by launching military strikes against the opposition. Did he have any other option? Probably not, dictators such as Assad and Ghaddafi remained in power only by the use of force against their people.  
 
Sectarianism is a result of division of lands. It is not a solution as wrongly proposed by western countries. The unification of middle eastern countries is discarded by the west as something evil and unacceptable to the international community. The reaction is exactly the opposite for the european union. Last year when Germany bailed out Greece from financial collapse. Now it is Spain’s turn to be bailed out. Germany is helping these countries with aid in order to save the alliance of the european countries. Western world wants unification for themselves but promotes division for “third world” countries.
 
Division of lands into a dozen countries fighting between themselves and often spiralling into yet more smaller states make them weaker and weaker. Do they not realize this?