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Perfect Storm: Putin’s Invasion a Gift to Close Allies Iran, Syria

Deadlines rapidly approach on Assad's chemical weapons and Tehran's nuclear program, deals now surely on the road to detonation.

by
Bridget Johnson

Bio

March 17, 2014 - 6:37 pm

WASHINGTON — In a bid to avoid military strikes that the White House was lukewarm about launching, Syria’s regime committed to clear all of its chemical weapons from the country by June 30.

The end of the six-month interim nuclear deal with Iran, which likewise has more than a few skeptics within the Beltway and beyond, rolls around on July 20.

While the world’s attention is diverted by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and annexation of the Crimean peninsula, his most nefarious allies have important deadlines to meet.

Timelines that, by all indications, are punctuated by obfuscation and delays while Iran and Syria’s ally in the Kremlin — Russia, for example, is Bashar al-Assad’s biggest arms supplier — has the world’s eyes trained on Eastern Europe.

In addition to this perfect storm, the State Department is demanding a Middle East peace plan blueprint be accepted by the end of April.

“We’re going to have to take some tough political decisions and risks if we’re able to move it forward. And my hope is, is that we can continue to see progress in the coming days and weeks,” President Obama said today while welcoming Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to the White House.

“We don’t have any time to waste,” Abbas chimed in. “Time is not on our side, especially given the very difficult situation that the Middle East is experiencing and the entire region is facing… Mr. President, I’m aware that you have several international concerns in various places around the world and we know that you are dedicating your time and effort for peace, and so are the teams that are working on this.”

After a fruitless meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in London on Friday, Secretary of State John Kerry said afterward that they nonetheless “agreed that we are going to stay in touch in the next days on Ukraine, as well as on the other issues of concern, which we are working on – Syria, Iran, and other challenges of mutual concern.”

But a senior administration official speaking on background today about Ukraine and the latest sanctions said “clearly we’re willing to indicate that this is going to have costs in our bilateral relationship.”

“But if you look at the scope of those other issues, on the Syria chemical weapons issue, Russia is deeply invested in that project and, in fact, we’ve seen a picking up of the pace in terms of the removal of the CW from Syria,” the official said. “Similarly, on Iran, Russia would only be further isolating itself were it to cease cooperation through the P5-plus-1, and Russia has its own interests in avoiding an escalation of events in the Persian Gulf or nuclear proliferation.”

Moscow has been eager to ink deals with the Islamic Republic regardless of its nuclear status. In January, the two began negotiating a $1.5 billion-per-month oil-for-goods swap intended to undermine sanctions to the tune of half a million barrels of oil per day, sources told Reuters. Onetime Intelligence Committee chairman and former Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.) warned the House Foreign Affairs Committee this month that Iran and Russia were forging “a much closer relationship” centered around the capability to wage cyber attacks.

“Iran’s and Russia’s support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and their confrontation with US and Western policies aimed at Assad’s demise leads us to conclude that both countries intend to consolidate their strategic depth in the region, establishing themselves as an influential actor. Combine this strategic security objective with the geopolitical security interests, shared between Russia and Iran, and there is no better country with whom Russia could ally than Iran,” Seyed Hossein Mousavian, a former Iranian ambassador to Germany who served as the regime’s mouthpiece in nuclear negotiations with the EU a decade ago, wrote in Al-Monitor on Sunday.

“It is a safe assumption that if the Ukrainian crisis continues and Iran faces excessive demands and pressure from the West during the nuclear negotiations, Russia will move closer to Iran and the two states could form a power pole in the region,” Mousavian added.

Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman flew to Vienna on Sunday for the second meeting of the P5+1 and Iranian officials since the implementation of the interim agreement.

“I think that we all hope that the incredibly difficult situation in Ukraine will not create issues for this negotiation,” a senior administration official said on background Friday. “We hope that whatever happens in the days ahead, whatever actions we and the international community take, depending upon the decisions and the choices that Russia makes, that any actions that Russia subsequently takes will not put these negotiations at risk.”

The principal deputy assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Non-Proliferation said Sunday that Iran’s “very” active procurement of banned components needed in nuclear and missile programs has continued unabated since the interim deal began.

“We continue to see them very actively setting up and operating through front companies, falsifying documentation, engaging in multiple levels of trans-shipment … to put more apparent distance between where the item originally came from and where it is ultimately going,” Vann Van Diepen told Reuters.

At a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing last week on the State Department budget, Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) noted how much the administration was leaning on Russia in the Iran and Syria deals. Moscow stepped in when Obama decided to enforce his “red line” against Assad’s chemical weapons use, brokering the deal for the dismantling of the program.

“He’s now missed several deadlines for commitments that he had made,” Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) said, adding it’s “not realistic” to think they’ll meet their latest deadline. “So, can you say what more we can do to pressure Assad to make sure they reduce these chemical weapons?”

“We were working effectively with Russia up until recently, obviously, with respect to this. And it’s a question mark where that’s going to go. Now, Russia was extremely helpful with respect to the chemical weapons effort because of their influence on the regime and their ties to it. And we were also helpful because the president made it clear that if there wasn’t some alternative, he was going to strike. And neither the Russians nor Assad wanted that to happen,” Kerry replied.

“So, the president’s decision, coupled with the cooperation that ensued thereafter, got this regime in place to remove the chemical weapons. I’d say about 30 percent of the chemicals — 33, you know, a third of them are now removed and under control. We have the locations where the rest of them are now contained in 12 different locations. We have to move them from there to the port in Latakia.”

Those 12 locations are only the production facilities declared by the Syrian government to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, sites that were supposed to be destroyed by Saturday but remain intact.

Kerry conceded that whether they can achieve the target timeframe “will depend to some degree on the outcome of events that we’re obviously all focused on with respect to Ukraine and so forth.”

“My hope is it will not interfere, that what happens in Ukraine will not interfere. I think Russia maintains a significant interest in not having these chemical weapons loose; not having them fall into the hands of terrorists, particularly since they are a proximate neighbor,” he said. “And therefore, my hope is we will continue no matter what. But we’re focused on getting them out.”

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) noted that Iran already has about $5 billion more ready liquid assets since signing the P5+1 deal, money ready to flow into $100 million per year Hezbollah payments. “I would expect that we would see even more terrorism with this additional money available to the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he said.

“Well, Senator, look, I am glad that we have designated Hezbollah a terrorist organization and we’ve led the effort to make sure that Europe has followed now, and labeled them a terrorist organization. And if I had my druthers, obviously we’d like to see them disappear,” Kerry responded. “But we’re working at dealing with Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations in many different ways. But I do believe that we’re on the right track with respect to this first step agreement with Iran because the alternatives are, you know, not as productive as the possibility of being able to reach an agreement through the negotiating process.”

Bridget Johnson is a career journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
What a bunch of crap.

The latest on the snipers is that they killed both police and protestors. Looks like they were sent to inflame the situation. Who would that benefit? Hmmmm

It is fascinating to watch you paid trolls come and go. You actually cite Lyndon LaRouche as if to say he is pulling strings here in the U.S. ??

And you actually write "There is NONE [sic] evidence that President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine and annexed the Crimean peninsula." Really?

GO HOME YOU STINKING TROGLODYTE. This is PJMedia, and you are a rank amateur. We are used to a far higher caliber of liar and purveyor of propaganda. We are proud to say that we wade through and deconstruct the best, most carefully constructed and skillfully packaged set of leftist lies ever assembled, and we do it on a daily basis. We are Americans, and even our liars do a better job of lying than you piece of crap Russians. If you are going to invade a country, then act like men and admit it. It just proves that when it comes down to it, you are still afraid of what we could do to you if we chose. Losers.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Obama is just doing this “sanctioning seven Russians”, so that when Russia doesn’t invade Ukraine, or at least doesn’t invade western Ukraine, or at last doesn’t invade Germany and France, or at least doesn't invade Washington D.C., he can say his wise and forceful action stopped him. The MSM will then praise him and the Nobel Committee will give him another peace prize and all democrat senators will declare him our indispensable President for Life..
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Obama and Kerry carry no respect into Russia, China or Iran.

Rice, Power, Biden are completely dismissed. The parade of clown ambassador appointments shows a lack of seriousness.

The disappearing American influence, the incredible shrinking US ability to assist our allies and resist our enemies is now at the Rubicon.

Taking away 7 Russians allowance and giving them a timeout, is embarrassing. Russia is laughing hysterically at the impotence and they are going to reciprocate against Senators and others.

To suggest that John Kerry has an ounce of credibility or should be believed about Iran, Syria, Israel, Ukraine, Russia is not supported by actual known facts and evidence. He has been absolutely wrong every step of the way, dissembles and misled the American people.

This administration has led us to the abyss. And we are staring deeply into it.

They are not to be trusted to tell us the truth about anything. Or to guide us to safe harbor.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (20)
All Comments   (20)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
One would only have to read the Bible to see where this is headed. It's in Ezekiel 38/39 and Isaiah 17.
Russia is on the move to, eventually, attack Israel. Her partners in this crime include Syria and Iran(Persia). The reason: commodities/goods/stuff. Israel has a thriving market born of dust and is mighty tempting. On this trip to disaster, Damascus gets removed from being a city. There is nothing left except for wandering animals. A Northern part of Israel will also suffer but Russia/Iran will pay the heaviest price at all but "a sixth part of thee" being destroyed. It's coming quickly.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
I dare say if Russia and China were good at manufacturing military weapons and had half a brain they would team up with Islamic countries and tell the US to shuv it.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Quote: "While the world’s attention is diverted by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and annexation of the Crimean peninsula..."

Sorry BRIDGET, but where did you take this information?
From the LYING Lame Stream Media?

Here are absolutely UNDENIABLE, UNDISPUTABLE, IRREFUTABLE, BEYOND any DOUBT, CERTAIN, CONCLUSIVE and UNQUESTIONABLE FACTS about Ukrainian "CRISIS"

1) Kiev snipers hired by Maidan protest leaders (Yanukovich opposition)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TEb4xCk-lP8

2) Senior US State Department official Victoria Nuland has been caught giving a harsh instruction to the EU WHOM they should to cook for the new "president" and future government of Ukraine.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NTos0duooaU

3) The State Department spokesperson Jan Psaki is grilled over leaked tape by correspondents of the State Dept.
@2:55 It's more that discussion. Two top US Officials on the ground discussing a plan they had to broker a future [Ukrainian] Gov't bringing officials from the UN's to seal the deal. This is more than US trying to make suggesting. THIS IS US IS PLAYING A MIDWIFE IN THE PROCESS.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jW1WDbDX7wE

4) Kiev Snipers Hired by US-Backed Opposition WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR HIRING SNIPERS, WHO GUNNED DOWN PROTESTERS AND POLICE in Kiev and NOT the deposed government of Viktor Yanukovich, as the media widely LIED. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VdZpR8BsYMw

5) Political activist Lyndon LaRouche predicted that EU and USA will CREATE Ukrainian "Crisis". https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fEKAWB7rCgc

UNDENIABLE TRUTH is that 95.5% Crimeans did vote to DIVORCE Ukraine and go back to Russia where Crimea belong from the 1770's until ~1955-1956 when Nikita Khrushchev (I hope you know who he was) gave Crimea to Ukraine. On WHAT grounds? He was Ukrainian. The population of Crimea always was over 70% Russians.

FACT #1: Eastern Ukrainians ALWAYS was closer to Russia and about 60% Russians lived there. But with the time thru the marriages they blended. Even the Eastern Ukrainian language is softer than the Western Ukrainian.

FACT #2: the Western Ukrainians always were unfriendly nationalist, hostile toward Russians and toward Eastern Ukrainians and hard chore anti-Semitists, who during the WW2 collaborated with the German NAZI and served as policemen on the occupied territory by German NAZI.
The majority of the Jews’ Pogroms were staged and done by Western Ukrainians. But they were in the minority in Ukraine.

There is NONE evidence that President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine and annexed the Crimean peninsula..."

The citizens of Crimea have expressed a wish to join Russia.

President Putin was falsely blamed for an "invasion" in Georgia and bombing South Ossetia, when it was President of Georgia with NATO who attacked South Ossetia.

You have to ask: "Why should the Russians always are the bad guys? Isn't the USA and EU?"
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
What a bunch of crap.

The latest on the snipers is that they killed both police and protestors. Looks like they were sent to inflame the situation. Who would that benefit? Hmmmm

It is fascinating to watch you paid trolls come and go. You actually cite Lyndon LaRouche as if to say he is pulling strings here in the U.S. ??

And you actually write "There is NONE [sic] evidence that President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine and annexed the Crimean peninsula." Really?

GO HOME YOU STINKING TROGLODYTE. This is PJMedia, and you are a rank amateur. We are used to a far higher caliber of liar and purveyor of propaganda. We are proud to say that we wade through and deconstruct the best, most carefully constructed and skillfully packaged set of leftist lies ever assembled, and we do it on a daily basis. We are Americans, and even our liars do a better job of lying than you piece of crap Russians. If you are going to invade a country, then act like men and admit it. It just proves that when it comes down to it, you are still afraid of what we could do to you if we chose. Losers.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Obama administration cannot intimidate Russia nor does Syria or Iran take us seriously. So what will Obama do? Attempt to bully Israel of course. Except that Netanyahu has also taken full measure of our president and will not cave.
Israel already knows that they are alone and is probably getting ready to act in their own best interests.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
"At a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing last week on the State Department budget, Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) noted how much the administration was leaning on Russia in the Iran and Syria deals. Moscow stepped in when Obama decided to enforce his “red line” against Assad’s chemical weapons use, brokering the deal for the dismantling of the program."

Is that how they're spinning this? Obama decided to enforce his "red line"? Putin saved Obama the embarrassment of the Senate refusing his petition to bomb the Syrians with his "unbelievably small" strike. As for Ukraine, Putin is now proffering the invoice for his services to Obama during the Syrian showdown.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
An excellent reason to support the Ukrainians, look who our failure to do so encourages.

[BenSteinVoice]Spengler. Spengler. Spengler...[/BenSteinVoice]
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Obama and Kerry are grossly underestimating the circumstances and overestimating themselves; blinded by their ambitions.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well, you're right about Kerry, but he's probably grateful for the chance to get away from Terrrrrayyyyyzaaaa, and it's too cold to go yachting or windsurfing. As for Obama, he's too busy fund-raising and picking his b-ball brackets for all this nonsense, while President Jarrett is working overtime trying to craft a fig leaf for the lad.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
http://nyyrc.com/blog/2014/03/iron-tent-curtain-falls/

But back to Ukraine and Russia for a bit. As explained in an article on this blog a few days ago, the major Russian player behind the ambitions to annex parts of Ukraine appears to be one Aleksandr Dugin, a neo-fascist. Yet his idolization of Italian fascist Julius Evola (as he was expelled from the university he was studying at in Moscow for secretly translating Evola into Russian) does not quite do justice to Dugin’s adoration for fascism: indeed, he also openly admires the Nazis.

Just look at what Dugin himself has stated.

- Nazi theorist, Karl Haushofer, is remembered for Lebensraum, the idea that Germans needed “living space” to feed the Aryan race, and thus must conquer neighboring countries. Dugin believes in grossraum, the same concept, for Russia. He has even written numerous essays and books on the subject.

- Dugin fashions himself a professor of “Geopolitics,” a concept coined by Haushofer, who was the doctoral thesis advisor of the Nazi Germany’s Deputy Fuehrer, Rudolf Hess. (Hess was also the individual who transcribed Hitler’s meandering ramblings into the infamous (and equally unreadable) book, Mein Kampf.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Don't forget Mackinder, whom Haushoffer took his inspiration from.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
And what is wrong with MacKinder? He introduced the concept of manpower and heartland. I have read that historians are confused about the demise of Assyria. I have read where they ascribe Assyria's fall to manpower exhaustion from countless wars.

MacKinder introduced academic concepts, but did he call for genocide?
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
You entirely missed the point. MacKinder was speaking of these Geopolitical concepts prior to Haushoffer, who was a keen student of his. Nothing more was implied.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Okay, I missed your point.

I saw MacKinder in 1 or 2 articles in Strategy & Tactics. Nothing racist was mentioned, which is where I though you were going. But you didn't & I read too much into your comment. My apologies.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
No worries.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment

Would Putin respect this more than Mom Jeans Barry and Spandex Windsurfer?

https://mobile.twitter.com/tedcruz/status/444834924609019904/photo/1?screen_name=tedcruz
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Obama is just doing this “sanctioning seven Russians”, so that when Russia doesn’t invade Ukraine, or at least doesn’t invade western Ukraine, or at last doesn’t invade Germany and France, or at least doesn't invade Washington D.C., he can say his wise and forceful action stopped him. The MSM will then praise him and the Nobel Committee will give him another peace prize and all democrat senators will declare him our indispensable President for Life..
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Which Nobel committee would that be?

The Dead old white guys suffering from white guilt or the Muslim "Cultural Enrichers" that replace them?
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
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