On 17 September 2018, France, Israël and the United Kingdom carried out a joint operation against Syrian targets. During the brief moments of combat, a Russian reconnaissance plane was brought down by Syrian ’friendly fire’. Study of the recordings shows that an Israëli F-16 had flown hidden behind the Ilyushin Il-20 in order to confuse the Syrian Air Defences.
The destruction of a Russian military aircraft by the fault of Israël, during a joint operation by the United Kingdom, France and Israël, caused consternation in all the chancelleries. Since the start of hostilities in Syria seven years ago, if there were a ’red line’, it was that the different protagonists should never endanger Russian, US, or Israëli forces.
We are sure about very little of what actually happened, except that :
a British Tornado took off from Cyprus to land in Iraq. During the flight, it violated Syrian air space in order to scan the Syrian defences and make the allied attack possible.
less than an hour later, four Israëli F-16s and a French frigate, L’Auvergne, fired on targets in the Syrian governorate of Lattakia. The Syrian air defences protected their country by firing their S-200s against the French and Israëli missiles.
During the battle, an F-16 used a Russian Ilyushin Il-20 as a shield. The Ilyushin was flying a surveillance mission over the area, localising jihadist drone launch sites. The Syrian defences fired a missile, aiming for the thermal signal of the Israëli aircraft. Theoretically, therefore, it could have destroyed the Russian plane by mistake.
This is, however, implausible, because S-200 missiles are equipped with a reconnaissance system able to distinguish between friendly and enemy targets, which the Russian Minister for Defence successively confirmed, then denied. In any case, the Ilyushin was destroyed, without our knowing for certain how, or by whom.
The cowardice of the British and French leaders led them to censor all information concerning their responsibility in this operation. London made no comment, and Paris denied the facts. Neither the BBC, nor France-Television dared to mention the subject. For these two countries, more than ever, the reality of external politics is excluded from the democratic debate.
Immediate interpretation of the events
We do not know if the destruction of the Russian aircraft (causing the death of the 15 men on board) can be blamed on the Israëli pilot – which seems highly unlikely – on the Israëli army, or on the alliance which carried out the attack.
On the answer to this question hangs the possibility of conflict between four nuclear powers. The situation is therefore extremely serious. It has no precedent since the creation of the Russian Federation, at the end of 1991.
The British-French-Israëli aggression is the response by these three countries to the Russian-Turkish agreement signed only a few hours earlier at Sotchi. It came into play after the US refusal, at the beginning of September, to bomb Syria under false pretences, and the sending of a US delegation into the Arab world in order to express its disagreement with the British-French initiatives.
The Sotchi agreements were signed by Turkey under intense pressure from Russia. In Teheran, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had refused to sign the Memorandum concerning the withdrawal of the jihadist and Turkish forces in Idlib. This had not pleased President Vladimir Putin, who answered first of all by reaffirming the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria and, furthermore, by underlining for the first time the illegitimacy, under international law, of the Turkish military presence in the country. Ten days later, a very unsettled Mr, Erdoğan accepted an invitation to Russia.
The Sotchi agreement, while distancing Turkey a little further from NATO with its energy contracts, forced Ankara de facto to withdraw from a part of the territory that it occupies, allegedly to better protect the pseudo-« rebels » gathered in the governorate of Idlib. Besides this, Turkey only has one month in which to confiscate the heavy weaponry of its friends from Al-Qaïda and Daesh in the demilitarised zone.
This agreement was obviously unacceptable for London, Paris and Tel-Aviv :
in the end, it plans for the disappearance of the jihadists as an army, while London has been supervising, training and manipulating them for decades;
the end of the dream of a French mandate over Syria and of the creation of a new French colony in the North of the country, under the phoney name of Kurdistan (Kurdistan is legitimate only within the frontiers which were recognised by the Sèvres Conference, in 1920.) In other words, not in Iran, nor Iraq or Syria, but only in what is now known as Turkey).
the end of the regional domination of Israël, faced with a stable Syria under Russian protection.
Mid-term interpretation of the events
The British-French-Israëli military alliance has not entered into action since the Suez Canal crisis in 1956. At that time, Anthony Eden, Guy Mollet and David Ben Gourion joined their forces in order to humiliate the Arab nationalists, particularly the Egyptian Gamal Abdel Nasser, and to re-establish the British and French colonial empires (« Operation Musketeer »).
This is exactly what happened with this new attack : as was confirmed by the Secretary General of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, none of the targets under attack were linked in any way to Iran or Hezbollah. This British-French-Israëli action had nothing to do with the international struggle against the jihadists in general and Daesh in particular. It also had no connection with the overthrow of the Syrian Arab Republic or its President, Bachar el-Assad. Its main objective was to kill military scientists, in particular the rocket specialists from the Institute of Technical Industries in Lattakia.
This is therefore the resumption and continuation of the policy of targeted assassinations waged by Israël for the last twenty years, successively against the Iraqi, Iranian, and now Syrian scientists. It is one of the pillars of colonial policy : to prevent the submitted populations from attaining the same level of education as their masters. In former times, the Westerners forbade their slaves from learning to read under pain of death. Today, they eliminate their scientists.This policy was relaunched with the British-French-US bombing of 14 April 2018, in which the only target destroyed was the Scientific Research Centre in Barzeh, then with the breakdown of the 5+1 agreement with Iran (JCPoA) which forced the country to close its nuclear physics faculties (May 8, 2018).
It was a joint initiative : the jihadists destroy the past, the Westerners destroy the future.
Long-term interpretation of the events
Since the deployment of Russian troops in Syria, on 13 September 2015, to help Syria in its fight against the terrorists, the allies of the United States have understood the impossibility of carrying out the US plan without risking a world war. With the arrival of Donald Trump at the White House, they have progressively questioned their war objectives, abandoned the plans of the « Friends of Syria » and fallen back on their respective historical strategies.
It is this logic that led them to reform the alliance which provoked the Suez crisis, and it is this same logic which pushed Germany to distance itself from them.
At the beginning of the First World War, the British, French and Russian empires decided on the partition of the world which they would implement as soon as they had gained victory. The treaty was negotiated by Mark Sykes, Georges Picot and Sergueï Sazonov. During the course of the World War, however, the Tsar was overthrown by the Bolcheviks, which meant that the areas of the world originally reserved for the Russian empire were once again up for grabs. Finally, at the end of the World War, only the part of the plan relative to the Middle East was applied, under the name of the « Sykes-Picot » agreement.
The return of Russia to the international game obviously brings into question the British-French colonial sharing of the Middle East. The foreseeable clash has just occurred, either accidentally or deliberately, with the destruction of the Ilyushin Il-20 during the joint British-French-Israëli military operation.
How to react
The bewilderment of the international community in the face of this brutal awakening of a century-old conflict can be measured by the Twitter silence from the White House.
During the Suez crisis, the Israëli troops engaged were twice as numerous as all the British and French forces together. The total number of coalition forces was about 250,000 men. This was therefore a very large-scale operation compared to that of Lattakia. But it remains true that the two sequences work from the same diplomatic logic, and may lead to the same developments.
During the Suez crisis, in the middle of the Cold War, the Soviet Union threatened the United Kingdom, France, and Israël with a nuclear riposte if they refused to withdraw from Egypt. At first, NATO supported the Europeans in threatening Moscow with a World War, before changing its mind. In the middle of the Cold War, therefore, the United States temporarily supported the USSR in order to halt the European folly.
For Washington, allowing the Europeans to pursue their plans was the equivalent of pushing all the Arab nations into the arms of the Soviets. Apart from that, it simply was not feasible to accept the French-British intervention at the same time as they were denouncing the repression of the Hungarian revolution by the Warsaw Pact.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Vice-President Richard Nixon launched a monetary attack against the pound sterling, sent their naval and airborne forces to interfere with the British-French-Israëli complex, and forbade the use of French military material financed by US funds.
International peace was preserved thanks to certain third parties such as the Secretary General of the UNO, Dag Hammarskjöld (who was assassinated three years later, and was posthumously awarded the Nobel Peace Prize); the Canadian Minister for Foreign Affairs Lester B. Pearson (who also received the Nobel Peace Prize); and the leader of the non-aligned nations and Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru.
The Suez crisis profoundly upset not only international political life, but also the national reality of the United Kingdom, France and Israël.
Circumventing the European vetos at the Security Council, the UNO General Assembly called for the withdrawal of the invaders and created the first United Nations intervention force.
In the United Kingdom, the House of Commons demanded the end of colonial politics to the profit of the promotion of the economic interests of London via the Commonwealth.
In France, the Communists, the Gaullists and the Poujadists (including Jean-Marie Le Pen) united against the Centrists and the Socialists; a configuration that has never been seen since. Six years later, President De Gaulle considered that by recognising the independence of Algeria, he would put an end to military collaboration with the colonial state of Israël and restore the policy of friendship and collaboration with the Arab peoples, which had always characterised France, apart from its colonial period.
The position of the Western powers concerning the aggression on Lattakia is all the more difficult because, in violation of their agreement with Russia, the Israëlis only informed Moscow of their operation a long time after it had begun, and only one minute before they began firing. As for the Pentagon, they affirmed that they had not been warned at all. But let us not forget that the Israëli-Russian mutual non-aggression pact in Syria only exists because Israël is the US arsenal for the Middle East, housing (with Italy) the stocks of US weaponry for the entire region. If Israël truly did not inform the Pentagon of its actions in advance, then it can not benefit from US protection, and consequently the mutual non-aggression pact may be called into question by Russia.
The Russian response depends on the position of the White House, which we do not know for the moment. It must be guided by a desire to lessen tension, if possible, and also to maintain dissuasion by punishing the guilty party or parties as soon as the Kremlin names them. It is not necessary for Russia to make this sanction public as long as the chancelleries concerned are informed.
The Russian response
Russia has the choice of seeing in the destruction of their aircraft nothing more than a mistake by an Israeli pilot, or by the Israëli army, or again, by all three of the states implicated (the United Kingdom, France and Israël). The Russian Minister for Defence, Sergueï Choïgou, telephoned his Israëli counterpart, Avigdor Lieberman to inform him that he held Israël responsible for the accident, and reserved the right to riposte. A little later, President Putin declared « This is a series of tragic events, because our plane was not shot down by an Israëli aircraft ». He was careful to distinguish this situation from that of the deliberate destruction of a Sukhoï 24-M by Turkish fighters in November 2015. We are therefore heading towards the public designation of Israël as the sole responsible and a secret sanction against the three states involved.
The Israëli chargé d’affaires in Moscow, Keren Cohen Gat, was summoned by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, while in a knee-jerk reaction, Israëli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attempted to shovel the responsibility for the accident onto Iran. An Israëli delegation, led by the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, General Amikam Norkin, rushed off to Moscow with unprecedented haste. They contested the claims of the Russian Minister for Defence, affirmed that Israël was innocent, and that all the blame belonged to the negligence of the Syrians.
President Donald Trump, a great admirer of Richard Nixon’s foreign policy, was thus provided with the perfect occasion to finish with the British-French-Israëli support for the US deep state. However, in the middle of his election campaign, he can not afford to give the impression of supporting the Russian rival while he beats up his allies. He is therefore seeking a way of presenting his internal public with this major change of direction. From this perspective, during an interview with Hill TV, he condemned the US engagement in the Greater Middle East which was decided by his predecessor George Bush Jr after the attacks of 11 September 2001.
On 23 September, the spokesman for the Russian Ministry of Defence, General Igor Konashenkov, presented the synthesis of Russian intelligence and the information transmitted by Syria and Israël.
He accused the Hebrew state of having deliberately violated the mutual non-aggression agreement of 2015 by not giving Russia advance notice of its attack and by lying about its targets.
He accused it of having endangered civilian flights present in this zone of the Mediterranean, and of being responsible for the destruction of the Ilyuchin Il-20.
He denounced its non-assistance to the Russian soldiers when their plane stalled.
He also accused General Amikam Norkin of lying by pretending that the Israëli jets had already returned to Israël when the Russian plane stalled and crashed.
Finally, he deflected the accusations of amateurism laid at the door of the Syrian Anti-Air Defence System.
However, he abstained from publicly blaming the United Kingdom and France, who were nonetheless just as concerned by his remarks against Israël.
In case the White House should find an acceptable narrative of the facts for its electors, Russia could forbid the United Kingdom, France and Israël from making any intrusion into the maritime, terrestrial and aerial space of Syria without the authorisation of Damascus. London and Paris would have to cease their threats of bombing under whatever pretext at all (false chemical weapons) and withdraw their special forces. This measure would be valid for all protagonists in general, except for the United States and, in Idlib, for Turkey.
Source: Voltaire Network