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by Al Martin

Real Politik in Syria & the Middle East: Cold War 2.0? Or World War III?

(10-21-15) There’s a joke going around that Russian President Vlad Putin said -- Negotiating with Obama is like playing chess with a pigeon. The pigeon knocks over all the pieces, craps on the board, then struts around like it won the game. It has become apparent that Obama is getting outmaneuvered in Syria and the Middle East fiasco. During this grand confab at the United Nations a few weeks ago, wherein each of them denied that they asked the other for a meeting, which they always do -- which is absurd because one of them is afraid of looking weaker than the other one.

      Putin did everything the right way by trying to get the United States and the western powers that are already involved in the bombing campaigns in Syria to get them to coordinate with the Russians. And that was the right thing to do. The problem is that Obama and the other Western Powers don’t want to get involved with Putin, since Putin has been bombing anti-Assad Syrian groups.

      Since Syria was a so-called client state of the former Soviet Union, Russia wanted to see Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, the former eye doctor from London, remain in power. Meanwhile the United States and the rest of the world doesn’t.

      So what’s the problem with Assad? The problem is that he keeps killing so many of his own people which then creates a political problem. Those who oppose him are the majority of the Syrian population.

      Everything in the Middle East revolves around tribal connections. Assad is a Sunni Muslim but what is not often discussed is into how many Shiite factions this gets broken down. This is in a very small area of the country.

      Bashar comes from a Sunni sect that represents only about 20% of the Syrian people. He’s doing what his father did – which is repressing the other Sunni factions as well as, of course, the other Shia factions, even though Syria is one of the very few places where Shias are in the minority.

      So is this a religious or ideological tribal dispute? The issue is being framed in the media as being something “ancient” and ideological, so the Western Powers can say “this is a problem that can never be solved.”

      In fact religion has nothing to do with it. It’s about power and political control, where there are many minority sects but there is no single majority sect, so when minority sects come to power, they want to remain in power and control the country’s assets. Therefore they repress -- kill, shoot and bomb – everyone who is opposed to them which is about 80% of the population.

      This naïve concept that people in Washington have, especially the Democrats, is that you can get some sort of inclusive representative government somewhere in the Middle East. What they want to do in Iraq – to base a policy either military or economic - is not going to happen.

      What Obama should have done is called Putin’s bluff and taken up Putin’s offer of cooperation of operations in Syria because both sides have a vested interest in containing this ISIS faction which is now gaining power everywhere in the Middle East -- and is threatening all Middle Eastern governments.

      At this point we’re way beyond proxies, which is a 1980s concept -- meaning that CIA and MOSSAD sponsored ISIS and that Syria is being sponsored by Russia. Now you have a consolidated group that has the resources to threaten everyone. Therefore both the United States and Russia have an interest in defeating this group – or groups. Why? Because they represent a threat to everyone’s mutual interest. That’s why Iran wanted to get involved.

      If Iran gets their troops involved, that becomes a political problem for Obama because the American people have been taught that the Iranians are bad – and therefore we can’t come to any accommodation with them.

      It’s not so much Russia, but it’s the United States because they maintained the KISS philosophy – Keep It Simple Stupid – for the Unwashed where they said Iranians wear the Black Hats and Iraqis wear the White Hats. They delineated everybody in Black and White Hats so it’s easier for Joe Six Pack to understand.

      Of course in the Real World, it doesn’t work that way and now we’re finding that in the Real World, the organized governments that both sides supported in the Middle East can’t remain in power any longer – unless both sides commit military resources to oust or to eliminate what’s threatening them which is ISIL, ISIS or whatever they want to call themselves, which is gaining power everywhere in the Middle East.

      The Russians have been bombing anti-Bashar Syrians. Thus Obama played into Putin’s hands by refusing any cooperation or coordination in Syria to fight ISIS. This left the door open for Putin to do what he wanted to do and that is to support Bashar and keep him in power by subduing all of his enemies, which is what Russia is doing.

      The smart thing to do for Obama with Putin would have been to form some sort of military collaboration regarding Syria. All the American generals that were on CNN last week are all saying the same thing – and they’re right. In other words call Putin’s bluff and cooperate with the Russians. Then you would be able to deny the Russians’ ability to support Bashar.

      So where is this going? The Obama Regime is going to have to get smart and set up a joint military cooperation with the Russians in Syria and then expand it elsewhere in the Middle East. If the United States doesn’t do this, the problem with ISIL is simply going to grow because there are only so many resources that the United States and the western allies will commit. They will only commit to bombing campaigns that will take them only so far unless they put troops on the ground – or “boots on the ground” as they say – and the Russians are the only ones willing to do that.

      Why isn’t Obama doing that? Because in the Democratic Party, this anti-Bashar attitude and the way Bashar and his father have been painted is that they are the Black Hats.

      The Republicans did it too and they’ve been painted for so long that way that it makes it politically untenable for Obama or any American government – no matter which party is in charge – to get involved in Syria with Bashar still in power.

      And why is there so much animosity against Assad even though he’s just another run-of- the-mill Middle Eastern “strongman” type? The animosity comes because he was a Soviet proxy. This is the Cold War mindset – and the son Bashar continues to be supported by the Russians. The son has killed a lot of people in Syria which gets a lot of press coverage in the West. Thus it is politically untenable for Western Powers to get involved in Syria while Bashar is still in power.

      The upshot is that the United States and the Western Powers are getting increasingly marginalized in the Middle East in this fight against ISIS, who everyone recognizes as a threat.

      We will see new power coalitions around Iraq and opposite powers formed around Iran and also around Saudi Arabia, which are going to form their own spheres of influence, the way that the Eastern and Western powers once did.

      Iran and Saudi Arabia will be the new spheres of influence in the Middle East to replace the old East/West spheres, i.e. Russia and the United States. These are the spheres of influence that once dominated the Middle East are now becoming less important. These are the former colonial powers.

      Iran will have the financial capabilities to step up with their sanctions being lifted. Saudi Arabia is pumping all the oil it can and has the financial ability and is able to form new spheres of influence that will supplant the old East/ West coalitions. And the United States is going to get marginalized. And the Russians will gain influence because the Russians are willing to get involved militarily in a way the United States and the West isn’t willing…

      Stay tuned…

    * AL MARTIN is an independent economic-political analyst with 25 years of experience as a trader on NYMEX, CME, CBOT and CFTC. As a former contributor to the Presidential Council of Economic Advisors, Al Martin is considered to be a source of independent analysis for financially sophisticated and market savvy investors.

After working as a broker on Wall Street, Al Martin was involved in the so-called "Iran Contra" Affair as a fundraiser for the Bush Cabal from the covert side of government aka the US Shadow Government.

His memoir, "The Conspirators: Secrets of an Iran Contra Insider," ( provides an unprecedented look at the frauds of the Bush Cabal during the Iran Contra era. His weekly column, "Behind the Scenes in the Beltway," is published weekly on Al Martin, which also publishes a bimonthly newsletter called "Whistleblower Gazette."

Al Martin's new website "Insider Intelligence" ( will provide a long term macro-view of world markets and how they are affected by backroom realpolitik.


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