Call the bluff

In Middle East on 30. September 2015 at 14:56

It’s easy to look for a chessboard when Mideast becomes the topic, it tells a lot about how few powerful determine what is to happen to the many powerless. The Saudi death-apologist Mufti may be right on this part when it comes to destiny, although this specific destiny is not determined by the Almighty, rather by these chess and card-players that point score and flex muscles.

Be it regional aspiring powers, or global political rivalry – when giants fight, the ants get mashed. And thus, when rivalry is at play in Syria, the masses must accept their fate. Because why should they be in possession of this power, what good do the masses know?


What is interesting to note is the recent (but not so recent at all) influx of Moscow’s dominance in determine an outcome of Syrian mess, the sudden revival of Assad as the only visible option left to protect, and the lack of political wit to solve this sea of blood by the populist anti-immigrant right and anti-imperialist left.

Who’s bluffing

Syria’s war theatre is all about creating the upper hand for in the end to have more to say in the hopeful to come dialogue. It is inevitable, and all parts (except the jihadi fatalists) know that endgame will be with pen and paper and some handshakes and perhaps even hugs.

Until then, what can I assemble? What cards do I get, and if I don’t have these cards, what impression can I make to have the larger share of this cake? For people will die, and they will rightfully become statistics – but the butcherer can be the savior by slaughtering some more. How’s that!

It’s true, all of this, but one thing is to be noted. Assad and Russia does not need to make this impression. This impression of having to risk a war with Russia is the long sought excuse to not to intervene. It’s a game of cards where the opponent actually nods to your bluff. Cry foul?

And it helps a lot when Putin – the strongman, the cut-the-crap-doer, the one who challenges the imperial USA – has his sympathizers among western-European populists on the left and right front. Much of this he does not even need to pay – PR companies should take notes.

Putin is a perfect example of a man who can flex muscles based on steroids despite it being nothing but empty air. And he can do so because European deterrence has not worked, he tested it in Georgia and Ukraine through salami-tactics, he tests it in Syria, and thus he becomes the master of illusions well helped by his admirers. Obama, Hollande and Cameron has ended up drawing swords only to sheath them again, credibility is at a low.

Full house

A mass-murderer is now suited as being inevitable. We don’t have any better alternative they say. This is lazy thinking. Assad has become the one with no cards at hand, but whom everyone tells has a full house – and they all have a nice laugh. In reality, long into the conflict, populated areas managed to form effective self-governance despite being without regime control.

Questions arise, why is Junior in need of Russian and Iranian assistance if he is winning? In north Idlib is lost, Aleppo has a terrible siege among several parts, while Hama is in the middle of warzone, his southern control is divided where Druzes of Suweida chooses to play safe and within their confinement, while Daraa is under fire from rebels, and from east marches the caliphates army, destroying whatever is left in the empty desert.

His supposedly own Alawi camp is much divided and has been from the start, but for lazy thinkers it’s all about sectarian warfare proven by the shouting of jihadists. The Kurds on the other hand become quite handy. Assad knows this game of pitting one against the other. Why would he open up his prisons of jihadis and remove his forces from Kurdish areas? All of the sudden he gets two more fronts who fight amongst each other’s – and best of all, they both fight or stay indifferent to Syrian rebels. Nice move Junior, dad is proud.

Assad is still losing soldiers and officers who have lost hope in the fight – Iranian and Hezbollah led factions de facto steers the troop movements and strategy, and now Siberian troopers will try to refuel whatever is left of armies and mercenaries loyal to Assad.

But these friends have different interests. While Tehran wants Damascus to be held, Putin wants Assad to rather secure the coastal strip with Latakia and Tartus – Damascus is a lost case, and a costly project. Khamenei knows that – if it gets out of hand, ensure there is nothing to take control of. And where will the damascene go when their home is nothing more?

Assad has ended up being controlled by foreign powers, but it’s all good as long as the foreign power is not someone from the west – cry of joy for European anti-war left.

Weak hand

Do notice the right and left in Europe. Both of whom talk of borders, one of erasing them and take in the influx of humans, others of closing them and safe what is for them a national survival – both though agree that Syria is not our cup of tea – we have seen plenty of gratitude from Iraq and Libya they respond.

This logic – of helping refugees somewhere else, or to take in so many as possible, by being a bystander to a mass murder – does not add up. Especially not when right-wingers shed tears for lack of funds to refugee camps, while they cannot pay up, or when left-wingers shout out against western intervention, but gets blind when Russia, Iran or any other does the same. Thus the bluff is caught, has this been a domestic ideological game all along?

Welcome to Syria, a state where whole world resides, except the Syrians themselves. But why care, let’s make the next move, let’s play this game of chess until we await the final ceremony of pens, papers and handshakes – because we can always say in the end; never again. Light some candles, hug some refugees and all is well.

Blame game

Who is to blame for this conflict? Certainly not the main culprit as he has become the savior, and why should one blame the interventionists who already are there – rather blame the ones we fear will intervene. And certainly not touch upon Muslim sentiments by question where the black banner gets its recruits and support from – because Muslims themselves are not able to ask these questions at all, orientalism for the win.

Critique bounded by ideological and historic enmity is not always that smart – yet there is something to it. Why is it that the Arab Gulf Bedouins instead of reducing the load of refugees, has managed to create more of them? Why has the Sultan in Istanbul managed to make Kurds a direr enemy, than the savages of black banners?

What is clear is that almost all the players to this game have forgotten rights-based democracy in Syria. That dream is only for the crushed Syrians to dream. Be it a populist in Europe, or the Turk from Rize, the beheader in Najd or the hangman from Qom – they seem to already have concluded that this people needs to be disciplined, that democracy is not the right at this point – how benevolent of them.

Truth is, those who are supposed to ease up for Syrians, have themselves managed to split a opposition, they have fuelled up and strengthened unwanted elements, and they have played in the hands of the regime.

But as this chessboard will run out of moves, these bastards will become messiahs and we will applaud their courage to end the bloodshed. It was a sacrifice we were willing to take, they will say, and now we sacrifice some calories to move this pen so peace can find its place.

Well done, well played, care for a new round?


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