Kurdish resistance is still strong in the terrorist Islamic Republic of Iran

The Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI), was founded under the leadership of Qazi Mohammadi, (also known as Peshawa) on August 16, 1945. Peshawa declared the First ever Kurdish Republic the next year, on January 22, 1946, and was elected as its President.

The creation and establishment of this Republic was historic, as it was the first time in the history of our nation that the Kurds were governing themselves in one part of Kurdistan. The Republic was short-lived, its message and objectives, however, continue to live on in our nation’s memory.

The Kurd’s and the PDKi have not given up on their struggle for the liberation of Kurdistan from occupation and the Kurds from oppression. 71-years has since passed, and the Kurd’s resistance is still strong.

The Party has vowed to continue on the struggle for the liberation of Kurdistan and for this, it has had hundreds of its leaders and Peshmargas, paying with their precious lives. The Party has since this year’s Nawroz (Kurdish New Year) announced that it will continue on sending its Forces to be among our people, and it will not stand by while the terrorist Islamic Republic of Iran terrorizes and militarizes Kurdistan any further.

For this, ever since late June, a number of its Peshmargas and cadres have like our leadership made the ultimate sacrifice and have become the symbol of our renewed struggle. Hundreds of others have gone deep inside east Kurdistan to carry out their organizational and political activities.

The Party has stated that it will intensify and increase the number of the Peshmarga Forces, and its activities. The Kurds have welcomed this decision and have pledged their support and assistance to the Forces.

Long live PDKi
Long live Peshmarga
Long live Kurdistan

The Skies in Places That I Have Been, 2013 – 2016

These are photographs by a very amateur photographer – me – using some very professional cameras (at times), of the skies and weather on my travels in Syria, Vietnam, Turkey, Cambodia, Bulgaria, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Spain, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Macedonia, Greece, France, Serbia, Ukraine & on the Sea.

They are randomly ordered and not labelled – the best ones (IMHO) are not at the top – but between time pressures and Blogger usability issues that is just the way it is for now – so scroll down to the end – some of the most interesting shots are dotted throughout. I will at a later date re-order them in terms of my preferences and also add descriptions of place and time.

Subject Matter 

So many colors, so many natural phenomena, so much beauty including Dawn, Sunrises, Sunsets, Dusk, Storm Clouds, Rolling Fogbanks, Rainbows, Double Rainbows, The Moon, Lightning, the Full Sun, the Blood Moon 2015 & Eclipses. 

Camera Types 

The pictures are of varying quality because they were taken variously with a Nikon Camera, Canon Camera, Pentax Camera, Sight Camera, iPhone Camera, Scope Camera & Samsung Phone Camera. 

No Copyright – Free to Use 

I hope that you enjoy them – they are offered for those who are interested in travel and photography and nature and not as a professional gallery. I do not enforce copyright on any of these images. Mother nature provided the spectacle for free and so do I. Feel free to share them or post them or print them or bin them 🙂 

We do not travel to escape life but so that life does not escape us. (Quote author unknown – at least by me at any rate).


Putting Islamic Sects & Extremism in Context

As a non-religious person it pains me that instruction in religion is still required to understand many present day world events. When I say non-religious – I mean that I do not subscribe to what is known as institutional or organized religion.

Many beliefs so fanatically pursued today by devoted adherents bear little to no resemblance to the goodness or opinions that inspired them in the first instance and say more about human weakness, geopolitics, ambition, greed and intolerance than spirituality.

Evolution & Interpretation of Islam  

Over the last thousand years Islam has spread through various groups spread and hundreds of ethnicities and in the process has evolved very differently in different locations.

The Indian sub-continent has a greater Muslim population than all the nations of the Arabian peninsula put together. With Indonesia, Pakistan, Nigeria, Iran and Bangladesh in the mix then the the Arabs become a very small minority among Muslims worldwide.

Many Muslims (especially ones outside the Arabian peninsula) have adopted some elements of the surrounding culture and their traditions from pre-Islamic practice and look very different to the beliefs at the root of most of the trouble at the moment.

Islam is not Monolithic

Islam does not have a monolithic structure and is rather made up of many different sects. These sects vary widely in their interpretations of Hadith (Islamic customs), have varying internal structures, follow different worship patterns and have different attitudes to externals and other religions and belief systems.

For example the the Sufi school of thought is more tolerant of other religions a trait shared by the Ibadiyyas while the Saudi Hanbali sect is conservative and Wahhabi/Salafist movement is downright fascist in its views. Persian Muslims identify more as Persians than Muslims. The Shafi’i muslims of Southeast Asia and the Kurds of Turkey, Syria, Iran and Iraq are moderate in their interpretation of Sharia. Sufism is prevalent in Southeast Asia but this also giving way to a more extreme Deobandi movement that has inspired the rise of Taliban. There are also a few very moderate schools like Ahmadiyya and Mahdavia a lot of it influenced by Indian cultural elements.

Almost every major religion has a conservative segment that interprets the religious edicts more seriously than the mainstream. Sometimes these extreme sects also get quite violent. Even the highly pacifist Buddhist religion went on a rampage against the minorities in Sri Lanka and Burma/Myanmar.

Tolerance and peaceful co-existence is the worldview of the majority of Muslims and the radical sects represent a very small but highly visible percentage of the total. It is the saturation coverage in the mainstream media of radical Islamism, much of it without context, that represents one of the greatest dangers we face in terms of marginalizing Islamic moderates in Western society.

Much of what is going on in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and North Africa at present has its roots in the actions of external groups and interfering foreign interest groups.

Monarchies & Dictatorships

Many successful Muslim countries – Indonesia, Turkey and Malaysia are democracies. The majority of Muslims in these countries are moderate given the level of social stability although this has changed significantly in Turkey over recent years. Historically though the Arab world has in the main been defined by monarchies or dictatorships promoting a tendency towards extremism in the population manifested in 2011 in the Arab Spring which kicked off events in Syria and Libya.

Foreign influence

The 2004 BBC television documentary series by Adam Curtis called The Power of Nightmares explains the evolution and escalation of the current conflict over time and the external influences and politics that motivated many of the actions that have the region where it is today.

The Middle East is of course a very strategic region and thus a number of external players have always operated there out of self-interest preventing democracy and in many cases supporting tyranny. The Saudi regime is supported by the Americans who have also fomented sectarian conflict in Iraq by supporting the anti-Sunni government some years ago. Over the last 50 years Russia, France and Great Britain have all sought to overtly and covertly influence events in the region.

The Many Forms of Extremism

Salafi is the most extreme Islamic school of thought (Sayyid Qutb) and is the biggest source of terror groups funded by Saudi oil money. They are ~1% of the world Muslim population, but are responsible for a big chunk of the trouble. Al Qaeda and ISIS are both Salafi groups.

The Taliban is a Afghan Pashtun organization based on the Deobandi school of thought. The Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas in the Gaza Strip are Sunni. Hezbollah is a Shia organization. The civil wars in Syria and Iraq have exposed the radical sectarian tendencies within Islamism and the Saudi-Iranian proxy conflict in Yemen has showcased the fact that much of the funding and motivation for the sectarian conflict in the region has its roots in these two countries as they compete for regional influence.

Controlling the Ummah

Conservative extremists have not agreed on how they should remove the non-Islamic influences and even what is counted as non-Islamic. Many of the extreme groups believe their own interpretation of the Quran (religion), Hadith (customs), Sharia (law) is correct and that the other schools of thought are deluded or even demonic. And they go to extreme lengths to prove the other one is incorrect. Fundamentally, it is all about power. Each ethnicity and each school of thought wants to be the one that controls the Ummah.

European Freedoms undermined by an Ultra-Liberal Fifth Column

When did having national pride, holding a strong justified opinion on equality and freedoms, practicing your religion (Christianity), identifying with your culture and seeking to preserve hard won freedoms evolve from being noble activities to frowned upon signs of potential ultra right-wing fascist tendencies.

For the sake of clarity the definition of a fifth column is any group of people who undermine a larger group — such as a nation or group of nations in an alliance (substitute the EU) — from within, usually in favour of an enemy group or nation. The activities of a fifth column can be overt or clandestine.

The Vacuous PC Pseudo-Ideology

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In the case of current German and Swedish refugee policy they are overt and facilitated by the main stream media and a slavish adherence to the bonkers notions dictated by that non-specific vacuous pseudo-ideology that is referred to as “political correctness”. This misguided set of cobbled together directionless principles is code for “I have not got the strength of character to defend an opinion that upholds the traditions and beliefs of my community” or “I despise my own culture and wish to dilute it and eventually replace it with an external alien set of aggressive, contradictory and oppressive ideologies”.

PC slaves label opponents as “reactionaries” but if you define this as a person who holds political views that favour a return to the status quo ante, the previous political state of society, which they believe possessed characteristics (discipline, respect for authority, etc.) that are negatively absent from the contemporary status quo of a society – then it is a badge to be worn with pride.

Putting Minority Rights in Context

The most extreme treatment of minorities has been carried out by 20th and 21st-century dictatorships. The worst examples are those of totalitarian regimes that carried out genocide to eradicate unwanted groups in society. Ironically the main players in the most extreme of these events were the Germans, Russians and Turks during the Holocaust, the Purges and the Armenian Genocide respectively. All once again playing an active role in the facilitation and exacerbation of contemporary tragedies of a similar scale.

In the case of current #German and #Swedish #refugee policy they are overtly anti-European facilitated by the main…
Posted by TMG Corporate Services on Friday, January 8, 2016

The Holocaust perpetrated by Nazi Germany murdered six million Jews, one-third of the total world Jewish population, as well as a significant portion of the Roma (“Gypsy”) community. Homosexuals were also a targeted minority for extermination.

The Soviet Union, under Stalin, carried out mass executions and deportations of dozens of Caucasian and Central Asian ethnic groups; some now face extinction. More recently, the Russian Federation has waged a brutal war against its own republic of Chechnya, killing tens of thousands of civilians and displacing more than half the population.

In April 1915 the Ottoman government embarked upon the systematic decimation of its civilian Armenian population. The persecutions continued with varying intensity until 1923 when the Ottoman Empire ceased to exist and was replaced by the Republic of Turkey. The Armenian population of the Ottoman state was reported at about two million in 1915. An estimated one million had perished by 1918, while hundreds of thousands had become homeless and stateless refugees. By 1923 virtually the entire Armenian population of Anatolian Turkey had disappeared.

Other examples of mass killings of a minority by a dictatorship include the Nigerian campaign against Biafrans, the Hutu genocide of Tutsi in Rwanda, Saddam Hussein’s mass killing of Kurds and Shiites in Iraq, and the Sudanese government’s sponsorship of mass killing, raping, and deportation in Darfur. The project for an “ethnically pure” Greater Serbia undertaken by Slobodan Milosevic resulted in the murder of 200,000 Bosnian Muslims and 10,000 Albanian Muslims in Kosovo by a killing machine that was stopped only by military campaigns carried out by NATO.

The Tyranny of the Majority Reconsidered

Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in the “Tyranny of the Majority,” Chapter XV, Book 1, Democracy in America: “If it be admitted that a man possessing absolute power may misuse that power by wronging his adversaries, why should not a majority be liable to the same reproach? Men do not change their characters by uniting with one another; nor does their patience in the presence of obstacles increase with their strength. For my own part, I cannot believe it; the power to do everything, which I should refuse to one of my equals, I will never grant to any number of them.”

Democracy in its purest form requires minority rights equally as it does majority rule. As democracy was conceived, the minority’s rights must be protected no matter how singular or alienated that minority is from the majority society; otherwise, the majority’s rights lose their meaning – in theory.

These rights are considered the essential element of any liberal democracy. The British political philosopher John Stuart Mill took this principle further. In his essay On Liberty he wrote, “The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community against his will is to prevent harm to others.”

The Tyranny of the Minority

Mill’s “no harm principle” aims to prevent government from becoming a vehicle for the “tyranny of the majority,” which he viewed as not just a political but also a social tyranny that stifled minority voices and imposed a regimentation of thought and values. Mill’s views became the basis for much of liberal political philosophy since, whether it is free market or economic liberalism or social liberalism.

The irony is that as we stand today in Europe the principle has been reversed as a social tyranny prevails that is implemented by elected governments that stifles majority voices and imposes an alien and contradictory set of undermining minority agendas.

Surely Frau Merkel your Salafi Wahhabi jihadi friends will be offended by this public display of such an offensive hand gesture.  

The German 20th Century Guilt Complex

The time line that explains how Europe has developed contradictory attitudes to “tolerance” that undermines its own people and favours external opportunists begins at the end of World War II. Europe and Europeans have a cultural and historical distinctiveness that sets them apart from other regions and in particular is entirely at odds with the alien cultures of the Middle East and Near Asia both politically, ideologically and spiritually.

Even the most uninformed are in some way aware that the cultures of Europe and the Middle East / Near Asia have been at loggerheads for millennia. The fact that Europe maintained an upper hand in recent centuries belies the uncomfortable truth that from the mid-500s to the mid-1500s Europe risked being overrun by various aggressively expansionist Islamic empires.

I will not do justice to the usual anti-Crusader rant that Islamic extremist apologists use to justify Islamic disgruntlement with Europe and Europeans. Suffice to say that those events were a direct response to incursions and threats from the Caliphate(s) at that time and have worn thin as any form of practical justification for any contemporary ideology that seeks to use these almost millennia old events to justify any current foreign or cultural policy.

The refugee crisis in Europe has been caused in many respects by the naive social policies of Germany and Sweden. After the events of the 20th century, Germany has since the 1940s, sought to “atone” for the atrocities and deprivations it imposed on most of Europe in the previous 50 years by seeking to demonstrate its alleged tolerance and openness.

The “lost post war generation” in Germany struggled with an identity crisis and a guilt complex and subsequently heavily subscribed to even the most misguided 60s civil rights movements, soviet infiltrated anti-nuclear campaigns, “believe in nothing” flower power nonsense and embraced and encouraged most all marginal and deviant groups that emerged then and since, under the guise of equality and multiculturalism.

Sweden’s Self-Serving Opportunism  

The “brave” Swedes who to their eternal shame – along with Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Andorra, Liechtenstein, Vatican City, San Marino and Switzerland held a neutral stance during World War II – breached the nation’s neutrality in favour of both Germany and the Western Allies when it became expedient.

During the German invasion of the Soviet Union, Sweden allowed the Wehrmacht to use Swedish railways to transport (June–July 1941) the German 163rd Infantry Division along with howitzers, tanks and anti-aircraft weapons and associated ammunition, from Norway to Finland. German soldiers traveling on leave between Norway and Germany were allowed passage through Sweden — the so-called “permittenttrafik”. Iron ore was sold to Germany throughout the war.

And for the Allies, Sweden shared military intelligence and helped to train soldiers made up of refugees from Denmark and Norway, to be used in the liberation of their home countries. It also allowed the Allies to use Swedish airbases between 1944 and 1945. In 1943, following an order to deport all of Denmark’s Jewish population to concentration camps, nearly all of Denmark’s 8,000 Jews were brought to safety in Sweden. Sweden also became a refuge for Norwegian Jews who fled from Nazi occupied Norway.

They now confuse the noble activity of becoming a refuge for anti-fascist and Jewish refugees from all over the region during that time with their current open door policy to Islamic economic migrants and other North African and Asian opportunists.

What the actions of Sweden during that time demonstrate about Swedish mentality is that they are incapable of holding a strong opinion – they are opportunists unlike the ruling classes in Germany who are simply determined to thrust Europe headlong once again into a crisis of their making.

Economic & Ideological Bullies

Not content with being the economic bully boy of the European Union the Germans now insist on foisting their twisted visions on the rest of Europe and in doing so undermine many of the principles that Europeans hold dear. Germany like Russia has always shown a propensity for authoritarianism and the psyche of the German nation is demonstrably schizophrenic as it flip flops from one extreme to another as everyone else picks up the tab for their ideological mis-adventures.

Migrant Crisis is putting whole of Europe in Danger
(This section is an excerpt taken entirely from an article in The Express 7th January 2016)

Countries such as Sweden and Germany that have taken in large numbers of migrants now have significantly more men than women. According to Dr Valerie Hudson this alone is a recipe for higher crime. But we cannot discount the fact that these migrants are also coming from an alien culture.

The dangers are already obvious. In Germany a wave of sex attacks over the New Year was perpetrated by migrants who showed no regard for their victims or the law. The threat is compounded by the possibility of jihadists using the crisis as a cover to sneak operatives into Europe. Even if only a tiny minority of the migrants identify with terrorist groups the risk is still unacceptably high.

There are still those labouring under the delusion that these people are refugees. They are not.

Historically when refugees have fled persecution they have overwhelmingly been women, children and the elderly. What we witnessed in 2015 – something which shows no sign of stopping in 2016 – was the mass movement of young men. These are migrants coming to Europe to further their own interests, not vulnerable people in need of sanctuary.

We owe them nothing. Europe’s leaders need to stop ushering in ever more of these new arrivals and start doing something about the problems caused by their obsession with open borders.

Paris police got it right Paris yesterday marked the first anniversary of the attacks on the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. A year on from those dreadful events Europe’s anti-terror forces are still on tenterhooks.

This was graphically demonstrated in the French capital as police shot dead a man who was wearing a fake suicide vest and soldiers were deployed on to the streets. The officers involved had little choice but to shoot to kill.

The officers involved had little choice but to shoot to kill. While his bomb may not have been real he was still waving a knife, shouting jihadist slogans and carrying an IS flag. As a spokeswoman for France’s interior ministry said: “The security forces showed true professionalism and vigilance.” The police must do everything in their power to keep the public safe.

Acknowledgements & References

1. John Stuart Mill. On Liberty, The Library of Liberal Arts edition, p.7. https://publius2013.wordpress.com/2012/05/31/tyranny-of-the-minority/
2. A Przeworski, JM Maravall, I NetLibrary Democracy and the Rule of Law (2003) p.223
3. John Adams, A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America, Vol. Three (London: 1788), p. 291.
4. Volk, Kyle G. (2014). Moral Minorities and the Making of American Democracy. New York: Oxford University Press.
5. Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human: First Sequel: Mixed Opinions and Maxims, 1879
6. Ayn Rand (1961), “Collectivized ‘Rights,'” The Virtue of Selfishness.
7. The Repressive Tolerance by Herbert Marcuse Jump up
8. Lani Guinier, The Tyranny of the Majority (Free Press: 1994)
9. Lacy K. Ford Jr., “Inventing the Concurrent Majority: Madison, Calhoun, and the Problem of Majoritarianism in American Political Thought”, The Journal of Southern History, Vol. 60, No. 1 (Feb., 1994), pp. 19–58 in JSTOR
10. University of Virginia
11. First Principles Journal
12. Democracy Web
13. Donald J. Maletz The Journal of Politics Vol. 64, No. 3 (Aug., 2002), pp. 741-763 Publish
14. Daily Express
15. CNN
16. BBC.com
17. Channel 4 Dispatches
18. Mail on Sunday
19. The Times
20. Vocativ
21. The IB Times
22. Business Insider
23. Newsweek
24. The Long War Journal
25. Defense One
26. The Washington Institute
27. Reuters
28. VICE News

Erdogan State Sponsored Terrorism – Ankara Bombing

This video shows the moment a blast ripped into a crowd of ‪‎Kurdish‬ innocents holding a ‎peace‬ rally on October 10th, 2015, in ‪‎Ankara‬, ‪‎Turkey‬. Two explosions minutes apart killed 120+ (and rising) people and wounded over 180. ‪

‎Erdogan‬ is a war criminal, mass murderer, radical ‪‎islamist‬ and a ‪‎terrorist‬.

"I want to fight ISIS. Whom do I reach out to?"

My firm and I have first hand experience of the “volunteer” process regarding, in particular, the fight against ISIS in Rojava (Western Kurdistan) and the other Kurdish cantons that stand between Syria (in theory) and Southern Turkey. 

In our case the groups fighting against ISIS in that area included the YPG (around Al Hasakah), YPJ (no direct involvement as we had no female volunteers), Dwekh Nawsha (Iraqi Assyrian Christian Militia) and elements of the Peshmerga along the border side of the The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) lands predominantly the Kurdish region of Northern Iraq referred to as Iraqi Kurdistan or Southern Kurdistan bordering Iraq and particularly the areas west of Mosul and Duhok and around Sinjar.


The Recruitment Process

This is fraught with danger as from your question it would seem that you have no current points of contact and therefore no independent method of verification of the person(s) with whom you would liaise with. 

There are myriad persons and Facebook pages claiming to be recruiters for various groups. Many are run by European based ex-pats who have little or no coordination skills and are driven by a blind desire to assist the cause of Kurdish independence across the cantons located currently in the sovereign territories of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran which they claim as Greater Kurdistan. 

Additionally, there are many bogus ISIS or ISIS sympathiser accounts masquerading as pro-Kurd recruiters and the fallout from travelling on the say so of one of those is obvious I would have thought. 

Travelling to the Region

In the last 8 months in particular using Turkey, Jordan or Qatar as waypoints to the region for the purposes of participating in the fight is highly risky. 

Bear in mind also that while most countries do not penalise their citizenry for travelling to support the fight against ISIS – countries like Australia make no differentiation and the penalties for doing so – on return – are severe.

The Benefit of Volunteers to Local Western Supported Groups

In mid to late 2014 the foreign volunteers were a valuable PR tool for the Kurdish cause and drawing attention to the issues – reference Jordan Matson, The Lions of Rojava, Gill Rosenberg, Samantha Jay and others. 

This PR angle is well and truly exhausted and as such many volunteers are more of a hindrance than a help to the Kurds in particular, who are the most viable opposition to ISIS in the region of Syria. But remember there are 35/40 million persons who claim Kurdish ethnicity in the region. They do not lack manpower – they lack heavy weapons. 

Joining the Peshmerga is an altogether more complicated matter and I have nothing to add regarding that here. 

Many of the other groups have suffered from fraud scams and media hungry foreign volunteers who have left without improving the situation of the groups they allegedly joined and in many cases having taken monies via GoFundMe campaigns have never handed same to the groups that they were allegedly fundraising for. 

Summary

I could write for 50 pages on background and risks and dangers and the naivety of foreigners heading out who have no previous military experience and the fraudsters and the inherent dangers and so on but there are many many articles and many hours of video – most recently BATTLING ISIS by Channel 4 Despatches which will do a much better job of covering those topics than I and which you will find with a simple Google search.   

My opinion: If you have no previous military experience, disaster relief expertise, militia training background, combat medic or other medical experience in a high risk area or conflict zone then do not go. 


If you wish to assist, consider the following options: 

  • Donate to the Kurdish Red Crescent or any other official and authorised charitable bodies helping the people in the region;  
  • Donate to official and authorised charitable bodies assisting the Syrian refugees – both those languishing in dreadful conditions in Turkish and Lebanese refugee camps or those who have transited to Europe and are attempting to cross hostile frontiers to reach Germany, Sweden or the United Kingdom; 
  • Assist those Syrian refugees who have reached your countries;   
  • Lobby your political representatives to change the attitude to formally arming the Western supported militias fighting ISIS in the region with the heavy weaponry they so badly need;  
  • Lobby your political representatives to have the PKK delisted as a proscribed organisation and recognised as a de-facto legitimate armed wing of the Kurdish people actively defending Kurdish civilians from state sponsored Turkish terror and Turkish death squads;  
  • Lobby your political representatives to insist that the nation of Kurdistan is recognised as a sovereign state and that the regions and territories of Bakur, Rojhilat, Basur & Rojava are consolidated under the flag of an independent Kurdistan and their lands returned by those in Turkey, Syria, Iraq & Iran who have for so long denied Kurdish nationhood and terrorised the indigenous populations; 
  • Or lend your time in any other positive ways – from a distance – but in a meaningful and consistent way; 
  • Also and of particular importance – remember that regardless of the wisdom of the decision – that the PKK is a proscribed terrorist organisation according to the powers that be and travelling to assist this group or donating to this group will be accompanied by the obvious repercussions. 

See the VICE NEWS journalists who were arrested and the Iraqi Turkish based journalist and translator Mohammed Ismael Rasool currently on week five in a Turkish prison facing terror charges for simply filming a story on the PKK. 

ENDS.

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