The Serious Implications of the Unopposed Russian Military Build-up in Syria

Western Inertia Enables Russian Geo-Political Gains

The geo-political gains that Russia are achieving in the Middle East due to EU / USA / NATO / UN inaction will not be reversed with diplomacy. Whether the US administration – current or pending – does or does not decide to change their policy on the region is irrelevant now because when or if they do it will likely be too late as it will risk direct military confrontation with the Russians already on the ground.

Summary Satellite‬ Imagery Analysis‬ of Russian‬ Military‬ ‪‎Buildup‬

The following observations were made at ‪‎Bassel‬ Al-Assad International Airport‬ Sept 4. to Sept 24. 2015 to include:
1. Additional helicopter‬ hard-stands;
2. Ground clearance taking place for future construction;
3. Construction of large new concrete surfaces and taxi ways; 
4. Initial positioning of mobile housing units;
5. Temporary tent‬ facilities;
6. A battalion’s worth of ‪‎armoured‬ ‪‎vehicles‬ & tanks in temporary soft surface parking locations;
7. Several new helicopters deployed to location with rotors removed to facilitate air transportation;
8. Transport aircraft on runways with open nose cones for loading / unloading‪ troops‬ and ‪‎equipment‬;
9. 15 x new helicopters arrived to the airbase between Sept 4. & Sept 20. identified as Mil‬ Mi24‬ attack‬ helicopters‬;
10. Also new on Sept 20. – a large number of fighter aircraft sitting on parking bays parallel to the two runways at the airbase;
11. 4 x Sukhoi‬ ‪‎Su30MKI‬ multi-role fighter aircraft;
12. 12 x Sukhoi Su25‬ ground attack aircraft;
13. A further 12 x Sukhoi ‪‎Su24‬‘s to the base on Sept 24.;
14. Additional construction ground clearance land scars and further deliveries are observed on satellite imagery today Sept 24.;

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Russia & Assad -VS- The West, The Kurds & the Non Islamist Anti-Assad Militias

The Russians have moved to support Assad their long time ally. The West in the event of an intervention would do so to assist the Kurds against ISIS most likely but also to assist the anti-Assad non Radical Islamist militia’s, the latter bringing them into direct conflict with the Russian forces.

Loss of Near Time Regional Opportunity & Increased Complexity

There will now be no NATO / US bases in Syria for the foreseeable future without direct conflict with or agreement from the Russians meaning “boots on the ground” from the West are unlikely to be within easy reach if direct military intervention is eventually agreed by the Western allies and their coalition partners.

Even in the event that the USA and the coalition partners limited their actions to supporting the Kurds against ISIS the planning and logistics would be exponentially more complex due to the existing Russian presence.

The Russians have stolen a march in the region right under the noses of the West – Russia has been allowed to take the initiative in the Middle East. Western Europe is weak – the compromising of Europe is Radical Islam’s stepping stone to undermining the US. Europe needs the US to have strong leadership – the outcome in Europe will dictate the outcome in the US.

The Russian-Iranian-Chinese Triumvirate

In addition, the Iranians are controlling matters in Iraq (outside of the KRG) through their Shi’ite militia and on the ground QUDS forces. The Chinese too are making in-roads in the region driven by the rapid growth in oil and gas imports, Chinese trade with the Middle East has risen from around 20 billion USD a decade ago to an estimated 230 billion USD last year, with the trade volume expected to exceed 500 billion USD by 2020. The Russian-Iranian-Chinese triumvirate are leaving the West in a distance second place in the region.

Western Europe is Distracted

Meanwhile Western Europe’s resources are being stretched and infrastructure overwhelmed with all the negative effects of the conflict in particular the refugee crisis and the associated internal security risks which we have discussed in our post Schengen: Compromising Europe’s internal security by “democratic consent” previously and replied to criticism of our hypotheses in that post through Rebuttal to Comment on the LinkedIn Forum: Counter Terrorism & Geopolitical Security

Putin’s Coup De Grâce

The Russians have spectacularly come out on top in this one – Putin must be a very happy man – and the US runs the risk of losing existing bases in Turkey due to poor relations with Erdogan over the ISIS fight and his governments hijacking of that alleged process to further persecute the Kurds, the only consistent and viable opposition to ISIS in the region since 2013 and additionally bomb the PKK and murder countless Kurd civilians in the process.

Ukraine too and the US influence therein is threatened and the Crimea and the Black Sea firmly under Russian control both outcomes threatening Western Europe’s energy needs. It is easy to be tongue in cheek and suggest that Obama must be on the FSB payroll – they could hardly have done a better job themselves.

The Middle East – A Russian & Iranian Sphere of Influence

The conclusion – the continued unopposed build-up of Russian forces in Syria will mean that a direct Western intervention in the region is rapidly becoming an impossibility without a willingness to accept the risk of a direct military confrontation with Russia and the escalation of the conflict beyond all recognition – and not even the most hawkish US Republican would consider such an option as acceptable.

In the mid-term it would suggest that the Middle East is inexorably moving toward being an undisputed Russian & Iranian sphere of influence.  

Satellite Imagery Analysis of Russian Military Buildup at Bassel Al-Assad International Airport Sept 4. to Sept 24….
Posted by Graham Penrose on Thursday, September 24, 2015

1. Additional helicopter hard-stands:

2. Ground clearance taking place for future construction:

3. Construction of large new concrete surfaces and taxi ways:

4. Initial positioning of mobile housing units:

5. Temporary tent facilities:

6. A battalion’s worth of armoured vehicles & tanks in temporary soft surface parking locations:

7. Several new helicopters deployed to location with rotors removed to facilitate air transportation:

8. Transport aircraft on runways with open nose cones for loading / unloading troops and equipment:

9. 15 x new helicopters arrived to the airbase between Sept 4. & Sept 20. identified as Mil Mi24 attack helicopters:

10. Also new on Sept 20. – a large number of fighter aircraft sitting on parking bays parallel to the two runways at the airbase:

11. 4 x Sukhoi Su30MKI multi-role fighter aircraft:

12. 12 x Sukhoi Su25 ground attack aircraft:

13. A further 12 x Sukhoi Su24’s to the base on Sept 24.:

14. Additional construction ground clearance land scars and further deliveries are observed on satellite imagery today Sept 24.:

Acknowledgements:
STRATFOR – Full Video Analysis Here;
ALL SOURCE ANALYSIS;
GEONORTH – Imagery Coordination Center

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Schengen: Compromising Europe’s internal security by "democratic consent"

Co-Author: Mr. Douglas Straun, Senior Risk Analyst & Defence Consultant

FRANCE – The Southern European states are now in total collapse and helpless to stop the daily flood of “refugees” – estimates say that there are 635,000 “refugees” waiting along the Turkish coast to cross to Greece. 

Ignorance is Bliss – Self Delusion is the order of the day

23,700 arrived in Austria this week of which 78 % were male and an estimated 83% of those males were under the age of 30 – the series of videos on this page shows the skewed media reporting of this phenomenon:

Video #1: Shows the aggression of the male “refugees” at Röszke; 

Video #2: Shows Hungarian SF firing water-cannon & tear gas at “refugees” as if to say that it was an unprovoked act against women & children as reported by the misleading media segments that lack the proper context or frame of reference; 
Video #3: Shows the predominantly fit young male demographic of the overwhelming majority of these “refugees”;

There are likely many ISIS members / sympathisers hiding in plain sight here – their actions in these videos show they are fit and aggressive enough to be able to direct their energies against the enemy in their own nation – a passion to enter Europe not matched by a passion to liberate their own country from tyranny or assist their women and children to leave with them. 

The Need for a Unified Refugee Policy & Rigour in Registration & Deportation

Proper screening of these “refugees” is essential – lax German & Swedish policies are encouraging these activities and are planting the seeds of future mayhem in Europe. 


The deserving and legitimate refugees need to be protected, cared for, housed, integrated and healed – those who do not fall into that category must be immediately deported to put an end to this socially engineered migration encouraged by a rampant “one size fits all” attitude to the phenomenon being peddled by the liberal and naive in Western Europe. 


A Unified Policy Response is Unlikely

There is no possibility – based on the inaction of the EU, NATO, UN and the USA in Libya, Syria and Iraq over the last twenty four months – of any cohesive and unified policy emerging. The nations on the front line of the problem cannot cope and the hand wringing, chin trembling nations who were the root cause of the current conflagrations from North West Africa to the borders of India stand idly by and watch while their open borders ideal goes to hell under the feet of countless economic migrants, welfare opportunists, some political asylum seekers and some genuine refugees. 

Building a Sleeper Army by Social Media – Phase 1 (2013 / 2014) 

In our blog post Precision Guided Message – Radical Islam, Social Media, and Building a Sleeper “Army” of the 23rd July 2014 we addressed Phase 1 of the ISIS sleeper cell radicalisation and recruitment strategy: 

With a reported 2500 Western fighters (Grose, 2014), IS’s efforts would appear to be a success, but how influential was the use of social media and what are they doing differently? Additionally, are “boots on the ground” the only indicator of success. We do not believe so. A more threatening and undermining effect of this strategy is the construction of a sleeper network and the manipulation of international cells whom IS never intend to draw to the actual conflict zones.

To solely focus on the immediate effect in terms of IS fighting numbers in the field and to encourage this social media activity so that Western intelligence agencies can locate activists or anticipate operations in the short term is one dimensional and ignores the more worrying mid to long term effects and possible strategic intentions of IS.

Additionally we commented that: 

One of the contributing factors in the forward momentum of the Islamic State (IS) [formerly and variously the Islamic State of Iraq & Syria (ISIS) or the Islamic State of Iraq & al-Sham; and the Islamic State of Iraq & the Levant (ISIL)] is the rapid and regimented dissemination of the organization’s message.

At the time of writing of that blog post there were as stated above an estimated 2500 foreign fighters active for ISIS in the Syrian conflict – by October 2014 (a mere four months later) this had risen to an estimated 16,500.  


Similarly since then the incidence of lone wolf attacks by radicalised Islamists in Europe has grown exponentially since 2014: the Charlie Hebdo massacre, the brutal murder of Drummer Lee Rigby (2nd Battalion, Royal Regiment of Fusiliers), the ‎Thalys Arras Train Incident, The Porte de Vincennes siege, the attack on the Jewish Museum of Belgium, the Krudttønden Cultural Centre attack in Copenhagen it is clear that the long distance radicalisation tactics had been effective.     

In conclusion we had stated:

This analysis considers IS’s basic use of two social media tools through June/July 2014. When al-Qaeda used online tools for recruitment, a thorough tactical analysis with in-depth assessments about the organization’s success was not possible until almost a decade after recruitment began (Gerwehr & Daly, 2005). It is likely that in-depth research about IS’s success or failure to use social media may take a comparable amount of time. However, since IS has succeeded in recruiting more Westerners than any other group to date, it is imperative to begin the process now. We recommend analysis of accounts which are providing the highest level of audience segment targeting toward Western audiences, including analyzing names chosen for such accounts and their use of idioms and slogans, with particular attention to evidence of positive Western response and IS’s ability to capitalize on success, to predict threats and develop countermeasures. Other avenues for analysis are currently being developed and results and findings will take the form of further posts on our various publishing platforms.

Building a Sleeper Army by Covert Migration – Phase 2 (2015) 

Meanwhile, as part of the current migration crisis Islamic State, Al Nusra Front and Al-Qaeda terrorists are gleefully and freely executing the building of a large scale sleeper network throughout Western Europe.

How much more destructive, effective and demoralising will these new attacks be when executed by seasoned extremists, tested fighters and ideologues who are natives of the regions in question sent directly from the heart of the conflict in Syria & Iraq, who have likely seen family and friends die during the recent conflicts and who have been tutored personally by the extremist leadership of these organisations? As opposed to first or second generation Western European radical Islamists who learned their trade by distance education, short visits to training camps and likely had no personal tragedies to call upon to escalate and motivate their actions and extremism in the name of Radical Islam.  

A bold claim – the evidence for which TMG Corporate Services holds and will publish in a series of blog posts over the coming weeks and months including names, locations, former affiliations, current affiliations, current aliases and likely objectives.

A phenomenon borne out by The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) and the work of Harleen Gambhir and her team who conducted simulation exercises on February 27 and March 16, 2015 to discover the diplomatic and military opportunities and pitfalls likely to arise in the coming months of the counter-ISIS fight. 

Several developments that ISW predicted during the simulation have already occurred. Identifying these scenarios and opportunities in advance they believe can enable the US and its allies to make better-informed decisions in the long-term.

ISIS – Three Simultaneous Well Orchestrated Campaigns

They have also focussed on how ISIS is executing their global strategy and they categorise this ISIS strategy as having three simultaneous campaigns:

1. Defending its existing territory in Syria & Iraq;   
2. Working with regional affiliates to “foster disorder in the near abroad” – the Middle East and North Africa; and 
3. Launching terror campaigns focussed on the “far abroad” to include the West, Australia and South East Asia;  

The current infiltration of Western Europe under the guise of “refugee” status is an element of the “far abroad” element of the three pointed strategy being pursued by the group.

Understanding the Inaction by the EU  

All the while Brussels and its legion of liberal misguided bureaucrats stubbornly cling to the Schengen concept that is woefully inadequate and for which they never legislated would result in current events and who are now unwilling to accept responsibility for this, let alone amend Schengen for fear of compromising the precious Euro.

We are witnessing the invasion of Europe and the compromising of its internal security by “democratic consent”. Federal Europe and its bureaucratic structures, liberal mindset, lack of martial spirit and slavish adherence to political correctness is the greatest weapon that the Islamic State possess and it is exploiting that weakness to maximum effect at present.