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The Power Vertical

The Daily Vertical: Kadyrov's Big Bluff Pays Off

The Daily Vertical: Kadyrov's Big Bluff Pays Offi
March 29, 2016
The Daily Vertical is a video primer for Russia-watchers that appears Monday through Friday. Viewers can suggest topics via Twitter @PowerVertical or on the Power Vertical Facebook page.
By Brian Whitmore

The Daily Vertical is a video primer for Russia-watchers that appears Monday through Friday. Viewers can suggest topics via Twitter @PowerVertical or on the Power Vertical Facebook page. 

A transcript of today's Daily Vertical can be found here.

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Comment Sorting
by: Arness from: Germany
March 29, 2016 12:16
I have noticed an interesting trend... Latetly RFE/RL relentlessly has been criticizing and trying to discredit the Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov. Many people probably do not understand why the US radio almost on daily basis would attack this politician. The reason is as follows.

Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov says the ISIS terrorist group’s leader, Ibrahim Samarrai who is known by the alias Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, works for the US Central Intelligence Agency and is financially supported by western secret services.

Recently Kadyrov said “Baghdadi should take off his mask and declare loudly and clearly that he is a CIA agent, that he has been recruited. They (the ISIS militants) are Shaitans (devils) and their sole obsession is to grab as much money as they can lay hands on. They are acting on orders from the West and deliberately exterminating Muslims.”

The Chechen leader called on Samarrai to confess to committing atrocities including the massacre of Muslims. According to the president, his forces are trying to hunt down and eliminate Samarrai and other ISIS militants...

Considering all these facts, we can understand the position of RFE/RL and whose interests it is trying to protect...
In Response

by: Alan Black from: UK
March 29, 2016 20:08
I would love to know how the CIA manages to recruit so many suicide bombers. Do they have a special training camp for them, akin to the McKamikaze Highlanders?
In Response

by: William from: US
March 30, 2016 09:47
One of the other western media's favorites was the line that Putin was “weaponizing” refugees, shamelessly propagated by NATO chief General Philip Breedlove. This one was particularly deceitful as it utterly disregarded the hundreds of thousands of refugees who fled nations torn apart by NATO interventions well before Russia entered the Syrian war.

When Palmyra was taken by ISIS, Western media gave the story extensive coverage. They were "outraged" when the militants blew up the 2,000-year-old Arch of Triumph. Now you would think they’d have been delighted to see it liberated from the group of jihadists currently terrorizing not only Syria, but Europe, too. Instead, they can barely stomach it.
In Response

by: Regular Joe from: USA
March 29, 2016 21:04
Ramzon Kadyrov says a lot of crazy and factually incredible things. RFE/RL doesn't need to discredit Kadyrov - he does just fine all by himself. This nonsense about the CIA supporting jihadists has been pushed by back-channel propaganda (back-channel because it's too crazy for even RT or Sputnik to use, hence Kadyrov), since the Chechen wars as an excuse for the difficulty the Russian military had in suppressing the Islamist rebellion there.

by: Nick from: USA
March 29, 2016 12:20
The recapture of the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra this week was the single biggest defeat for ISIS since it declared its caliphate, but the West does not seem interested. Why? Because then they’d have to give some credit to Russia.

Indeed, it must have been a tough weekend for Western media’s favorite Syria pundits. It’s hard to fathom that any observer — regardless of their particular leanings — could feel anything other than relief at such a victory.

Yet, there’s a strange sense that some pundits might actually be a little bit disappointed. Not to see the back of ISIS in the city, of course, but to be faced with the uncomfortable reality that their narrative is quickly unraveling.
In Response

by: Arthur Litherland from: Canada
March 29, 2016 15:52
You might have missed Boris Johnson's article in the Telegraph
The recapture of Palmyra has also been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Jerusalem Post, National Post and Globe and Mail.
In Response

by: Nick from: USA
March 30, 2016 09:43
Sure, they covered it. They had to. But in contrast to the coverage the city was given when it was captured, the initial reaction to its liberation was fairly subdued. Some of the initial reports yesterday did not even mention the word Russia.

We can even take as an example the report by RFE/RL from yesterday ('Palmyra's Destruction'). No even a single word about the Russian involvement, as if Palmyra city liberated itself from terrorists by the God's mystical command. Almost all of the Western mainstream media followed such a cliche. It is clear to anybody that it's just an organized campaign, and we see no freedom of the press here.

While some western mainstreams even used the Syrian army’s success to cast doubt over Assad’s commitment to fighting the terror group.

Just let’s imagine for a moment that it had been British and American warplanes involved in the battle to retake Palmyra. The front pages of Western newspapers would be overflowing with self-congratulations. Someone would probably be running in to drape an American flag over the ancient ruins. Neocons and liberals alike would be making the TV rounds, happily predicting the beginning of a new dawn for the Syrian people. The usual script...
In Response

by: O.Howard from: eastern USA
March 29, 2016 16:55
You don't seem up to date on the strategic ISIS war situation in Syria. Kurdish forces have been advancing steadily from around Kobane against ISIS with American air support and currently stand less than 30 km from Raqqa and 50-60 km from Deir ez-Zor. Raqqa is so central to IS logistics, propaganda, economy, etc that its loss entails collapse of ISIS on most or all of its fronts in Syria.

The currently flurry of international diplomacy is probably about the governments of the various countries involved in Syria talking about will happen after ISIS has lost central-eastern Syria and collapses into western Iraq (where it will be finished off). Assad is the next intolerable problem in Syria and his fate is the obvious topic.

The Assad/Russian/Iranian offensive on Palmyra is like Stalin's offensive in Manchuria in 1945- it's not very large compared to previous operations, it's a grab at a relatively easy target where opponent is already in fatal defeat elsewhere, and it's all about shoring up the Assad regime's economic and political position. Other than an attempt to impress as a military force, for the regime it's probably mostly about securing the oil/gas fields around Palmyra, because otherwise Assad has to beg for more money (which he cannot repay) from Iran to buy oil on the world market. As for the military operation- reports are that ISIS lost about 100 fighters killed at Palmyra before withdrawing. This is 2% of the 5,000 it probably lost killed in and around Kobane.

Of course the Assad regime propaganda and Russian propaganda is to play up the significance of this relatively cheap and minor and opportunistic but picturesque victory. What Russian effort there has been against ISIS has been relatively minor in the big picture and the Assad regime has, as is well known, generally been in cynical collusion with ISIS for years.

In short, there are existential problems for ISIS and for Assad in the present moment. Palmyra is a distraction.
In Response

by: Regular Joe from: USA
March 29, 2016 20:57
Perhaps the West would rather not take sides in a battle between the terrorist quasi-state, ISIS, and the Assad regime, whose brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters created the civil war in Syria, and whose brutal and inhumane atrocities against civilian populations are paled only by ISIS itself.

Let's not forget who and what Assad - Russia's client government - really is.
In Response

by: Anonymous
March 30, 2016 15:47
look here all the disappointment of yours State Dept Rep for the taking of Palmyra by Siryan army
but we must remember a consideration made by a Syrian army officer, later he died in battle
"Palmyra would never have been caught
if someone had not pretended not to see the columns of ISIS militants
avancing in open space in the middle of Desert for hundreds of kilometers
Only a blind man could not see"

by: peter from: ottawa
March 30, 2016 22:58
Where was the chimpanzee to delete all those off topic comments from above. Junior is going to be upset.

by: Walt DuBlanica from: Birdsboro,Pa.
April 01, 2016 17:48
Brian, if you would only occasionally say something positive about Russia you would have more creditability. Russia can not be 100% bad.

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The Power Vertical is a blog written especially for Russia wonks and obsessive Kremlin watchers by Brian Whitmore. It offers Brian's personal take on emerging and developing trends in Russian politics, shining a spotlight on the high-stakes power struggles, machinations, and clashing interests that shape Kremlin policy today. Check out The Power Vertical Facebook page or