US President Obama announced on 29/12/2016, three weeks before his departure, of a number of tough sanctions against Russia, including the expulsion of a large number of Russian diplomats from the US, 35 diplomats and the closure of missions and complexes of Russian diplomats in Maryland and New York under the pretext of espionage. All this escalation in tensions is against the backdrop of US accusations of Russia’s cyber hacking the US elections. Does this require all of these procedures? Or there is a change in Russia’s role in Syria that necessitated these actions? Or are there other reasons especially that Trump professes to improve relations with Russia while Obama is making it worse!
Jazak Allah Khair.
In order to get a clear response, we need to review the reality of what happened and then we review the questions you raised:
First: As for what actually happened, it is true that the current US administration is actually worsening US-Russian relations. Russia understood the message and immediately responded by Kremlin spokesman Peskov that Russia has pledged “adequate reprisals” over US sanctions and accused Washington of trying to destroy ties by making “unfounded” allegations of interference in the US election. The United States wants to “definitively destroy US-Russia relations which have already reached a low” adding that Russia will “react in an adequate manner based on the principles of reciprocity.” (news.com.au, Russia Today, French Channel, 29/12/2016).
Some aspects of worsening the relationships were the following US steps:
1- The US President, Barack Obama said on 15/12/2016 that the United States will respond to the Russian hack to influence the US Obama explained to NPR radio: “I think there is no doubt that when any foreign government tries to impact the integrity of our elections… we need to take action.” Adding, “And we will respond at a time and place of our own choosing.” The US president continued: “some of it “the response” may be explicit and publicized, some of it may not be”… (NPR, France 24, 16/12/2016). The US administration’s response appeared in the sanctions announced by Obama against Russia.
2- The US President, Obama attacked Russia sarcastically, describing it as “a small country” and said, “They are smaller and weaker, their economy does not produce something others want its procurement only oil, gas and arms, and it does not develop”. (Russia Today, 17/12/2016)
3- The US Treasury Department announced on 20/12/2016 to impose new sanctions on seven Russian businessmen and eight companies in protest at Russia’s annexation of Crimea and conflict based in Ukraine, according to Reuters news agency… and the sanctions target seven people, including many cadres in the Russian bank, which is the closest to the Russian authorities, as well as four construction companies that operates in Crimea annexed by Moscow. The US administration said that the move “confirms rejection of the occupation of Russia to the Crimea and the refusal to recognize attempts to annex the peninsula.” (dotmsr.com 20/12/2016).
4- The US playing to the tune of Star Wars programme to respond to the continued development of Russia’s nuclear weapons, and in this framework US laws were modified to allow the militarization of space. “It must be pointed out that the US Congress included two important amendments to the bill at the stage of ratification, one eliminates the limited deployment of Washington’s missile shield, while the second requires the initiation of work on the design of new components in this system for its deployment in space in the future. US newspaper, Los Angeles Times, reported that Trent Franks, Congress member from the Republican party and one of the senior members to introduce the amendments, admitted that they depend on the program “strategic defense initiative” launched by President Ronald Reagan in 1983, and also known as “Star Wars”. (adn.news, Dar news website, 24/12/2016), and is meant to add tensions with Russia.
5- The US House of Representatives adopted on Friday, 2/12/2016, a bill giving $3.4 billion to the US Department of Defense in 2017 in order to “deter Russia.” This was supported by the 390-member of the House of Representatives, where only 30 were opposed to the bill. The American Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter announced in the presentation of the defense-spending bill to Congress that the United States “is consolidating its positions in Europe for its NATO allies in the face of Russian aggression”. (Sputnik Russian Agency, 03/12/2016)
6- In addition, the United States has lowered Russia’s rank in resolving the Syrian crisis, and replaced the Kerry-Lavrov duo, which is cherished dearly by Moscow, and view it as an indicator of the return of the greatness of Russia, by the Russian-Turkey duo. America, although in constant contact and continuous support of the Russian-Turkish efforts in Syria, to ensure the implementation by the parties of their projects in Syria, but the format of Russia-Turkey instead of Russia-America has lowered Russia’s rank as an international player down to the level of Turkey a normal state, and this can be seen in the context of US pressure on Russia.
7- This escalation truly scared Russia. In its response to the US sanctions imposed by Obama, the Russian President said that Moscow reserves the right to respond to the new US sanctions against it, but it will not stoop to the level of the current US administration and will not target diplomats. He added, “We will not create problems for American diplomats, and will not expel anyone. And we will not prevent members of their families and their children from using the usual places of recreation during the New Year’s holiday. Moreover, we invite the children of US diplomats that are acknowledged in Russia to attend a New Year’s Eve celebrations in the Kremlin.” (Russia Today, 30/12/2016) Moscow’s setback from the standard response, which is similar treatment indicates two issues:
First Issue: Moscow’s severe fear of the objectives and consequences of this crisis with Washington.
Second Issue: Moscow is counting on the hand-over to the new Trump administration in Washington that will restructure the relations of the two countries on the basis acceptable to Moscow. And due to Russia’s lack of political awareness, it thinks that the next president, Trump, would be different from his predecessor, Obama in his view of Russia, overlooking that the vast institutions of governance all over America is leading any president, and any party, to proceed in the implementation of his country’s foreign policies, and that the difference between Obama and Trump, when it happens, it is intended to carry out the drawn American policy.
Second: Review the questions raised above:
1- These sanctions from the Obama administration against Russia comes in light of America’s reassurance of the stability of Russia’s role in the implementation of the international mission in Syria, and Russia is carrying out the task to the fullest. America had completed implicating Russia in Syria to the extent that it is impossible for Russia to get out of the Syrian quagmire and when America was reassured it lowered Russia’s rank to be a partner of the Turkish agent regime, in Syria, instead of the actual American regime. Therefore America’s escalation to its relations with Russia and increasing its pressure on is not related to the Syrian issue.
Russia is steadfastly serving the American interests in Syria service and this is never a matter of doubt to America, but that Russia’s policy in Syria has become trapped in the followings of America – Iran and its supporters, the Syrian regime, Turkey and the opposition affiliated to it- and it cannot pursue its own policy, it is neither able to withdraw and leave Syria for the unknown, and therefore it is installing and expanding its military bases in Latakia and Tartous … nor is it able to control the pace of the fighting due to the absence of a prepared ground force in Syria. For all this, the Russian role in Syria has become stabilized, and even shackled to the US policy and its followers, the actors in the Syrian crisis. That is why this escalation is not due to Russia abandoning its role drawn for it by America, because Russia has not abandoned it.
2- It should not spring to mind that the US sanctions announced by President Obama is an angry reaction to the electronic hacking, which may have contributed to the loss of the Democratic Party and presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton. Because it if this was so, then the Obama administration would have rushed on the issue of sanctions before the Electoral College certified the election of Trump officially as the president of the United States on 19/12/2016. However opening the case after the success of the president-elect and the approval of the constitutional institutions, it questioned strongly the credibility of the elections and the credibility of the next president, and the US administration will not accept to participate in… Even if we assume that there were circumstances that prevented the imposition of sanctions prior to the approval of the results, then the requirements of the political understanding of the major states if they were not forced to announce the results after the approval of the result of the Presidency, then they will use other excuses than hacking, to avoid questioning the success of the next president, and since the sanctions were imposed after the success of the president officially under the pretext of Russia’s intervention in the elections, then, is not the real reason.
3- It may be argued that the development of Russia’s nuclear weapons and offensive missile is the reason for the current US pressure, in response to comments by Russian President. He said in statements during a meeting with the leadership of the Defense Ministry in Moscow: “We must raise the efficiency of the nuclear strategic forces to a qualitatively new level, allowing to confront any military risks that may threaten Russia”. (Anatolia website, 22/12/2016). Although this had an impact, but the small size of the Russian economy makes Moscow’s efforts in this not serious, after the United States and the West generally succeeded in the elimination of the pillars of a wide-ranging line of industry after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Russia became a country that exports raw materials, while retaining a great deal from the military industry, which means that Russia does not seek to compete with the United States internationally, but is calling for America to accept the role of Russia in international politics. Those demands are rejected by America altogether, even Russia’s service to America in Syria was not enough for America to recognize Russia as a superpower, and involve it in other international issues that is Russia, which inherited the Soviet Union, and inherited the pages of the history of the American-Soviet agreement. It had hoped that the cooperation with the United States in Syria would lead to total agreement. It was demanding more cooperation on the international arena with America, and this, if anything shows the political weakness of the Russians, America tore the pages of their harmony with the Soviet Union when it had effective and concrete presence around the world, how can it now accept this with a small country – Russia – as described by Obama ?!
Russia in this new small size does not represent a real threat to America that requires this escalation, all this shows that Russia’s statements about the development of nuclear weapons is not the real reason behind Obama’s escalation of tensions in the relationship with Russia.
Third: So the above-mentioned cases are not the real reasons for the escalation of tension, it is something else that can be understood when reflecting on the following matters:
1- Any politician can easily realize that the main international dilemma in front of America today, which is the rise of China, and its ability to build a giant economy that has the potential of real threat to the US economic uniqueness in the world. If you add to that the military accelerated spending in China, which exceeds the spending in countries such as Russia, Britain and France combined, and because many of its military programs are kept in secret. China has become a major concern for American politicians, and all the American officials’ statements were on this subject in recent times, US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter believes that China raised the possibility of further militarization, and said that America is in transition…
Washington DPA: US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said at a forum of defense in California: “After 14 years of counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism … we are in the midst of a transition strategy to respond to the security challenges that will determine our future.” Carter said that China reclamation of land in the South China Sea, raised the prospect of further militarization and a greater risk of miscalculation …” (Al Quds Al Arabi, 08/11/2015). President Obama said that the future of America is decided today in Asia. He said that his campaign for re-balancing of American foreign policy focusing more on Asia is not a “passing fad” of his presidency…” (Vientiane, Reuters, the Seventh Day, 06/09/2016) and its focus on Asia means confronting China.
2- During the era of the Soviet Union, it had close ties with China and the Union due the unity of the Communist Party. America was then working hard to defeat the Soviet Union, it took its closeness with China very seriously, and worked to separate this convergence as a necessary step to weaken the Soviet Union and defeat it. Then Kissinger’s plan came to upset the relationship between China and the Soviet Union, and has succeeded to a large extent … and now the reality changed, America is afraid of China’s power and it noticed a convergence between China and Russia, which it wants to stop, as a necessary step to isolate China and to weaken it, just as it did previously, but in reverse, this is pointed out by the Washington Post Newspaper. Russia Today cited from it on 18/12/2016 the following: “According to the article that 45 years ago the former US President Nixon attempted to change the “triangle” format: the Soviet Union – the United States – China, he gambled on the breach in the development of relations with Beijing. On 4/2/1972, Nixon held a meeting with his adviser for the national security, Kissinger, in order to discuss his Nixon upcoming visit to China. Kissinger told President Nixon during the meeting that “the Chinese are just as dangerous like the Russians and even in the historical perspective they are more dangerous than the Russians”. He added: “that after 20 years if the next US president, is as wise like you, he will depend on the Russians in his policy against the Chinese.”
3- Therefore, the recent US sanctions against Russia can be understood, and the continued American pressure for some time on Russia, and this pressure which is adopted by most members of the Republican party in Congress, i.e. the next president’s party, Trump, as well as the Democratic Party. This pressure is a new US policy against Russia, in order to drag it into the alliance with the United States against China, as if America is saying, which is also what Russians are stating openly, that the Obama administration had demolished the American-Russian relations and brought it to the bottom. However, Russia has a golden opportunity with the arrival of President Trump to repair relations with Washington! This means that fixed-governing institutions in America deliberately use time left of the Obama administration to speed up the escalation in tension with Russia, so that Russia will not have a life line of survival and hope, except through the understanding with the next Trump’s administration, which believes in deals making, which means that the reform of relations with Russia will only be through a big deal with it regarding China. To achieve this it is using the rumors of respect of President-elect Trump, for President Putin, and that they can be allies against China.
4- What makes this is likely is that President-elect Trump started to worsen US relations with China even before he took office. He states that he will carry out his campaign promises by imposing large taxes on Chinese goods, and to encourage American companies to return, and this is a large commercial threat to China. Trump, initiated contact with Taiwan’s president in a dangerous precedent suggesting that America is reviewing its papers to put pressure on China, including the threat of abandonment by the American policy of “one China” policy, and this is a major political threat to China. Thus, the first priority of the new US administration is to address the rise of China. Russia Today cited on 18/12/2016 from the Washington Post: US President-elect Donald Trump’s behavior says that he is considering the possibility of reviewing US policy toward China. Trump called for a tough policy towards Beijing, through his statements and his telephone calls. The US president-elect has made contact by telephone with the President of Taiwan, for the first time in decades. Later, Trump expressed his doubts in Washington’s commitment to the “one China” policy, during an interview with American Fox News, which the United States followed since the historic visit of President Nixon to China. Trump accused China of committing commercial machinations.
5- As for how the Trump’s deal would be with Russia against China, America is certainly not planning to put the weak Russian economy in the face of China, and also it is not planning to use Russian culture against China. Russia is free of any culture of its own after the fall of Socialism. However America is keeping an open eye for the military capabilities of Russia, which America can use around China, such as commissioning Russia to participate against nuclear weapons of North Korea, or to engage it in threatening energy supplies to China from it or from Central Asia, or even participating in the imposition of policies regarding freedom of navigation, especially in China Sea and the participation in America’s efforts to make China exit the islands. All those options not to mention the pushing of Russia directly into confrontation with China, are all internationally suicidal for Russia. But Russia could find itself involved in those US policies in return for keeping its image as a superpower!!
It is hard to imagine that Russia will be able to escape from the American pressure, to be put aside in the face of China. Russia is inflicted with political shortsightedness, and this illness became chronic, so it can not estimate the consequences, just as it is indifferent to the Muslims’ responses because of its brutal involvement in Syria. Due to its shortsightedness, it sees Muslims in kings, presidents, and current figures, they pose it no real threat. It does not realize that America refused to do the job itself in Syria because it is aware of what is beyond these presidents and kings. Therefore Obama’s sanctions and this deliberate escalation in tensions is to push Russia in a corner and pushes it to Trump “its friend”! So paving the road for Trump to make a deal with Russia to isolate it from China, and even carry acts of aggression against China. This is the most probable reason for the deliberate Obama escalation in tensions at the end of his term, to prepare the way for Trump to achieve the goal of the US policy mentioned developed by American institutions for the new term, as evidenced by indicators. US politics is determined by the institutions and implemented by presidents regardless of the president’s party.
6- As for China, it is aware of the looming danger, this is why it is tempting Russia with investments albeit cautiously, and is running joint military exercises with it, and votes with it in the Security Council with regard to the Syria veto, all in order to prevent its use by Washington against it. But the hostile view of Russia in the minds of Chinese politicians is almost entrenched, but the language of the new interests posed by China’s growing economy, and the urgent need for raw materials and energy resources both available in Russia, push the hostile outlook to hide behind a curtain.
As for China, it is aware of America’s hostility towards it, and the insult that happened to Obama in his recent visit to China is an indicator to that:
In his latest visit to China as president of the United States, US President Barack Obama found himself compelled to use the emergency ladder at the rear of the plane that carried him to Guangzhou Airport to attend the first summit. It is not because of a fire or a technical failure, but because the Chinese authorities did not provide a special ladder to exit from the front of the plane normally. Observers believe that China deliberately insulted the US president and that this reflects the size of the tensions in the relations between the two countries that differ in many files and issues, beginning with the declaration of the United States and South Korea of the deployment of a missile shield on the territory of the latter, as well as the American position of the dispute between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea, and the recent decision by Washington to impose additional fees on imports of Chinese steel. (Al-Jazeera, 05/09/2016)
7- One of the paradoxes of time that the former national security adviser and US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, is today in person, despite his old age, is the champion of Russian reconciliation with the next president Trump, he himself pays visits to Moscow and conducts meetings with Putin, to move things in this direction, i.e. the direction of alliance with Russia against China. Russia is excited of this, thinking that Kissinger is interested in its interests! Dmitry Peskov, press secretary of the Russian president, said that Moscow welcomes the participation of the US former Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger in restoring the relationship between Russia and the United States. Peskov said in a press statement on Tuesday that Kissinger, the former US Secretary of State, is one of the most wise and intelligent and experienced politicians, and has deep experience in Russian affairs, and at the level of US-Russian relations. (Arab media network, 27/12/2016)
This direction taken is also indicated by some informed sources in Europe, Russia today reported on 28/12/2016 the following: Bild, a German newspaper, wrote that Kissinger sees improving relations with Russia is necessary due to the increasing strength of China. As the US Secretary of State is a negotiator with experience, and he personally met with President Putin, he will be a mediator in the normalization of relations between the two countries. According to the German newspaper, Trump is seeking to lift the sanctions on Russia, “on the advice of Henry Kissinger,” and this is indicated too with, “the analysis carried out at the request of the concerned European organs”, which was based on data obtained from the transition team of President Trump.
All of this indicates that America is implementing an effective policy on the Russian and the Chinese side, its main basis is to push Russia to serve it in the Chinese arena. This is initiated by the Obama administration by launching the pressure phase on Russia, and the plan President-elect Trump is to make the deal with it, America does not show any doubts about the necessity of Russia’s response to the US pressure and rush with it against China.
Fourth: Thus major countries fight and even non-major ones pursue their interests with the disparity according to the varying influence between those countries, the common denominator among them is this misery and evil that lies visible in the world. Furthermore what is painful is that Islam has no state to control and bring back this world to its senses and spread the good in its lands, not only in the lands of Islam, but also in the surrounding areas to the land of Islam. However, Islam has men.
صَدَقُوا مَا عَاهَدُوا اللَّهَ عَلَيْهِ فَمِنْهُمْ مَنْ قَضَى نَحْبَهُ وَمِنْهُمْ مَنْ يَنْتَظِرُ وَمَا بَدَّلُوا تَبْدِيلًا
“Among the believers are men true to what they promised Allah. Among them is he who has fulfilled his vow [to the death], and among them is he who awaits [his chance]. And they did not alter [the terms of their commitment] by any alteration.”
Who will bring back the Islamic state, Allah willing, the state of Islam, the righteous Khilafah that will shift the balance of the world towards the good.
إِنَّ اللَّهَ بَالِغُ أَمْرِهِ قَدْ جَعَلَ اللَّهُ لِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدْرًا
“Indeed, Allah will accomplish His purpose. Allah has already set for everything a [decreed] extent.”
7 Rabii’ II 1438 AH