Putin takes charge, orders Russian troops to Syria after Obama’s plan flops

This is really interesting! Now it’s Russia against the ISIS. I will be following this very closely.

The following article was taken from the Washington Times. The link to the original article (with its stupid unrelated auto-play video that I had to silence four times) is given at the end.

Putin takes charge, orders Russian troops to Syria after Obama’s plan flops

Vladimir Putin views the Syrian army and its Iranian allies as incapable of defeating the Islamic State in Syria, prompting the Russian president to directly intervene in recent weeks by setting up an air base and sending in tanks, artillery and jet fighters, a report to Congress says.

Mr. Putin’s bold yet risky move of putting troops on the ground directly confronting a terrorist group contrasts sharply with the Obama administration’s strategy of an air campaign over Syria but little other military action in that country.

 The Islamic State controls wide sections of territory in Iraq and in Syria, where it has proclaimed a capital of Raqqa in Syria’s east.

Analysts at the Congressional Research Service delivered an assessment to lawmakers Friday that says Mr. Putin is helping his ally, Syrian President Bashar Assad, and protecting Russia’s southern flank in the Caucasus, where Islamist fighters congregate and deploy.

Russia’s recent activity in Syria also may be motivated by an assessment that the Syrian military forces are becoming less capable and that Iranian support may be inadequate to preserve the Assad regime,” said the report. “Moscow’s primary intentions may include safeguarding the Assad regime, preserving Russian naval access to Syria, and challenging U.S. policy toward Syria.”

The report added: “Putin’s recent call for an all-out effort against the Islamic State also may stem from the sizable number of jihadist fighters from the North Caucasus fighting in Syria, who may pose a serious problem for Moscow should they return to Russia.”

If Mr. Putin does view the war against the Islamic State as stagnant, he has an ally in Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Gen. Dempsey told reporters this month that the war is “tactically stalemated.”

Russia’s military commitment to Syria sent the Obama administration scrabbling to adjust a policy battered by both Democrats and Republicans. The administration’s plan to put ground troops in Syria in the form of moderate rebels has basically failed. Fewer than a half-dozen fighters remain in the country after a number of their colleagues were killed.

Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said Friday that Defense Secretary Ashton Carter spoke by phone with his counterpart, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, to ensure that each side understands the other’s intentions in Syria. The call effectively unfroze contact between the two militaries.

Mr. Carter has been the most outspoken critic of Russian actions in Europe. He said in August that Mr. Putin’s regime, which annexed Crimea and invaded Ukraine, is now an “antagonist” — something it had not been for decades.

But Russia’s move in Syria is more complicated because Mr. Putin says he shares the same goal as the U.S. — defeating the Islamic State, also known as ISIL and ISIS.

While Mr. Carter has been a harsh critic, Secretary of State John F. Kerry has taken the lead in talking with the Russians. Mr. Kerry’s recent statements on Syria seem to be shifting as he adjusts to the fact thatRussia has become a much bigger player in Syria.

He spoke Tuesday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Afterward, the State Department press office issued a statement: “Secretary Kerry also reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to fight ISIL with a coalition of more than 60 countries, of which Assad could never be a credible member, and emphasized the U.S. would welcome a constructive Russian role in counter-ISIL efforts. The Secretary stressed that there is no military solution to the overall conflict in Syria, which can only be resolved by a political transition away from Assad.”

In London on Saturday for talks with the British foreign secretary, Mr. Kerry suggested that Mr. Assad’s exit is opened-ended.

“We have said that Assad has to go. But how long, what the modality is — that’s a decision that has to be made in the context of the Geneva process and negotiations,” Mr. Kerry said.

Russia has a long history of supporting the Assad family dynasty, which granted it a naval base and gives Moscow an avenue for significant influence in the Middle East and a way to maintain economic and military ties with Iran.

Why Russia would commit troops to prop up Mr. Assad and then agree to his removal is unclear.

“If Russian officials continue to reject the premise of Assad’s ouster as a precondition for a transition or counterterrorism cooperation, U.S. officials may confront a more lasting proxy conflict scenario,” the Congressional Research Service report said.

It was written by analysts Carla E. Humud, Steven Woehrel, Derek E. Mix and Christopher M. Blanchard.

James Russell, a former Pentagon official and now an instructor at the Naval Postgraduate School, said Mr Putin “seeks to punch his weight.”

“I don’t believe he cares a whit about the survival of his client, Assad,” he said. “But he does see some tactical advantage that may accrue to scaring us all into believing that Russia can somehow succeed where we in the West have failed in Iraq and Afghanistan in propping up a failing regime. Putin is seeking any vehicle open to him to try and create the sense that Russia is powerbroker on the global stage.”

Ken Allard, a retired Army intelligence officer, said Mr. Putin views the breakup of the Soviet Union as an historical mistake by Russia.

“The Syrian deployment now brings Russian influence, arms and troops, to bear at a key geographic linchpin, between the Med and Israel’s entire northwestern frontier,” he said.

Link to the original article: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/sep/20/vladimir-putin-orders-ground-troops-to-syria-after/?page=all#pagebreak

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My experience with a shadow person

When I was a little kid, I often had dreams of being haunted by a shadow being at night. I remember the figure being that of a boy like myself and I was terrified of those nightmares. The worst nightmare was when I saw myself sleeping and this shadow suddenly jumped up on me and started choking me. I opened my eyes and to my horror, I saw this shadow being still on top of me. I thrashed my body, but I couldn’t move. I lay there paralyzed and I shouted for help. As I started shouting, the shadow person dived away from me and passed right through the grilled window nearby. My shouting woke up my uncle who was sleeping nearby and he comforted me. That was the last time I ever saw that being  and I was about six years old when it happened.  Till now, I am unable to confirm and dismiss that it was all a dream.

I am documenting this today because I came across a Wikipedia page that describes these shadow people. I had no idea that other people too have experienced this. I literally shivered when I read this line: people had reported the figures attempting to “jump on their chest and choke them”. This is exactly what happened to me.

The Wikipedia entry about shadow people:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shadow_person

Update: 10 minutes after publishing this post, I remembered something. I have a fear of getting choked. Sometimes, I feel that my neck is exposed and I feel that it has to be protected. Whenever I get this feeling, I rub my neck. I am not sure if this fear is because of the incident that I have described above.

Thani Oruvan — Movie Review

I just came back home from the theatre a few minutes ago after watching this movie for the second time, and I have to say that I am really surprised that director Mohan Raja has done such a fantastic job. The movie doesn’t have one single scene that could be called unnecessary save for a single song sequence. The movie has just a single song in it and I don’t remember the last time when I saw such a Tamil movie. I am really surprised by the fact that Mohan Raja has gone strictly by following the rules of screenplay writing. He has shown us only what we needed to see and it is such a tightly knit screenplay. The highlight of the movie is the character of Siddharth Abhimanyu, played so well by Arvind Swamy. Siddharth is a monster who would stop at nothing to achieve his goals and he is understandably the crowd favourite. I would have loved to see some special build-up scenes for him, you know, like him walking in slow-motion with a cool background score? There were so many opportunities for the director to do that, but Mohan Raja chose not to. As I said, this is a zero-fat movie — there are strictly no unnecessary scenes. I loved the background score throughout the movie — “HipHop” Thamizha has done a great job.  The movie packs some powerful dialogues and the main character of the movie, Mithran, has been played to perfection by Jeyam Ravi. Nayanthara’s character was cute and it fits perfectly into the story line. There are no unnecessary anything in this movie.

Things that I loved about the movie:

  • Tightly woven screenplay
  • Siddharth Abhimanyu
  • I loved how both the protagonist and the antagonist fall into an obsession over each other and towards the end they even like each other! That was a nice touch.
  • Background score

Kudos to the team for making such an enjoyable movie! I hope to see more such films and more of Arvind Swamy in Siddharth Abhimanyu like characters.

thani oruvan