As we digest the news that 81 year old King Salaman of saudi Arabia has replaced his nominated heir, a 57 year old nephew of the king, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who is considered to be fairly moderate by Saudi Arabian standards, with his son, 31 year-old Prince Mohammed bin Salman, prominent in the Wahhabi sect, the most fundamental and implacably anti Christian branch of Islam, and a far more radical figure than either his father or his uncle, whose most recent role in the Saudi hierarchy, as a defence minister, has seen him in charge of managing the brutal war waged by Saudi Arabia on Yemen.This is probably not a man whose first priority is to promote peaceful cooperation between Muslim states and the secular democracies, a fact that is highlighted in my report on the rise of Mohammed bin Salman back in 2015, when I predicted bin Salaman would succeed his father, and this would not be good news for those who want to work for peace. The fact that the USA has been a partner of Saudi Arabia in its efforts to destabilise the middle east highlights the dangers of the current escalation in Syria where the US led coalition is on the verge of direct combat with government forces backed by Russia and Iran. Here's my report on the situation in Syria, originally published at Boggart Blog:
Russia’s deputy foreign minister launched a blistering attack on the USA following the downing of a Syrian Su-22 jet that was carrying out operations against Islamic extremist forces close to where America’s illegal military presence in Syria is based. In a press statement Sergei Ryabkovas described the attack on the Syrian plane, which ws operating in Syrian airspace, as an “act of aggression” and proved the USA’s “support for terrorists”. Russia announced that from June 19 all all cooperation with the US under the framework on the “memorandum of incident prevention in Syrian skies”, will cease. This suggests there will probablyy be even greater deadly escalations of tensions between Russia and the US-led coalition in Syria.
Moscow also warned that world – beating Russian S400 missile defense systems already deployed in Syria will intercept any aircraft in the area of operations of the Russian Aerospace Forces in Syria:
“In areas where Russian aviation is conducting combat missions in the Syrian skies, any flying ojects, including jets and unmanned aerial vehicles of the international coalition discovered west of the Euphrates River will be followed by Russian air and ground defenses as air targets,” the Russian Defense Ministry is quoted by Sputnik as having stated.
In this latest breach of international law, on June 18, the Syrian army reported that combatants of the US-led coalition had brought down its aircraft in southern Raqqa countryside when it was fulfilling a mission against the Islamic extremist rebels of Daesh. Later, the coalition confirmed the attack saying that it shot down the Syrian government forces’ Su-22 aircraft as it had allegedly been bombing in an area where US-backed rebel forces, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), were stationed, south of Tabqa in the Raqqa province. The US-led coalition called its attack on the Syrian army’s jet “collective self-defense,” adding that it contacted the Russian military to de-escalate the situation after the incident. This admission proves the US is siding with anti – government rebels in Syria, which no matter how appalling anyone thinks the Assad regime is, still violated the United Nations charter.
Contrary to earlier claims by the US that, it “contacted its Russian counterparts by telephone via an established de-confliction line to de-escalate the situation and stop the firing”, Russia claims the US-led coalition command didn’t use the deconfliction channel with Russia to avoid an incident during an operation in Raqqa. Russia and Syria have previously accused the USA of trying to unilaterally impose non aggression zones. The fact remains however that no matter how much Washington and NATO hate it, Russia and Iran have forces operating legally in Syria, having been invited by the legitimate government, while US and NATO forces in the country have no such legitimacy.
“Russian Aerospace Forces’ jets were conducting operations in Syrian airspace that time. However, the command of the coalition forces didn’t use the existing channel between the air command of the Qatari airbase al Udeid and the [Russian] Hmeymim airbase to avoid incidents over Syria,”The Russian ministry said at it demanded a thorough investigation by the US command with the provision of its results and measures taken.
“We consider such actions of the US command as an intentional violation of its obligations in the framework of the memo on avoiding incidents and the safety of aviation flights during operations in Syria signed on October 20, 2015.”
A bilateral memorandum of understanding was signed between the United States and Russia signed in October 2015 to ensure the safety of flights during combat missions over Syria. It is well know, though not officially admitted, that the US effort in Syria has prioritized removal of the Assad regime over defeating Islamic extremism. Barack Obama said as much several times in speeches and discussions of the middle east war. As Syria is a long term ally of Russia, China and Iran, American meddling in its domestic politics, which has been going on since 2011, can only be seen as provocation and war mongering.
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