The following is a transcript of a block-busting radio report presented by Yevgeny Satanovsky, a Middle East expert. Our transcript is a slight modification of the subtitles in this video: https://vimeo.com/263728681, thanks to the translation team ALAFF. It also ends at the start of some small talk, just a few minutes before the radio talk is over.
The reporter is Yevgeny Yanovich Satanovsky (born in 1959), Russian orientalist and economist, one of the leading experts in the field of politics and economy of Israel, as well as other countries of the Near and Middle East. Founder and President of the scientific center «Institute of the Middle East» (formerly the Institute for the Study of Israel and the Middle East). Candidate of Economic Sciences, Professor.
One of the most famous and popular Russian specialists/experts on the Middle East. A regular participant of Russian radio and TV programs, always with an accurate and in-depth assessment of the situation in the Middle East, in particular, in Syria.
In this video Yevgeny Satanovsky examines the situation in East Ghouta, Syria, based on the recent materials of Chinese analysts translated into the Russian language by the Russian Sinologist Maksim Kazanin.
Yevgeny Satanovsky is generally speaking but with occasional interjection of remarks by his partner Kornievsky.
The report narrated by Satanovsky is based on a translation from the Chinese by well-known sinologist Maksim Kazanin.
We recommend watching the Russian-language video with English subtitles here: https://vimeo.com/263728681
Let’s start the 1st hour with the military issues related to East Ghouta, where [we are seeing] the climax of the operation to clean up and free E. Ghouta from terrorist groups. The material was provided by our good friend Maksim Kazanin based on the text of Chinese analytical military publications, which are always interesting. Therefore, neither of us [addressing co-host Sergey Kornievsky] – neither you nor I – bears absolutely any responsibility for anything said here. These are the Chinese and any complaints should be addressed to the Chinese analysts. This is what they think, ok?
Ok, we don’t make this small remark for nothing.
So… it so happens that the area of E. Ghouta is teeming with terrorist groups. It must be said that Russian military specialists conducted in Ghouta exactly the same kind of operation as they did in East Aleppo, ie, the “carrot and the stick.” Complicated negotiations like this:
“Ok, we’ll let you out with your family members, Dear Radicals… and would you mind leaving for various places? You want your families to stay alive? Kindly oblige us.”
You see, when you look at the way our people work and the way the Americans work, it’s quite different, because when you hear Trump’s statements, for example, on Iraq and even on Syria,… these are really amazing statements because you get the feeling he has not been told until now that this is Sunni resistance. And the stupidity of the Americans gave power to Shiites and Kurds over Sunnis.
KORNIEVSKY interjects: Do you think it would make any difference?
You know what? It is always useful for the US president to understand what is going on, because what he says means that, for example, the Sunnis must leave the areas where they live. Where should they go? To the moon?
There’s no population in those provinces where ISIS was supported. Well, you can defeat mercenaries. You can do that. You can defeat volunteer foreigners, ok?
But what about local natives? Do you allow a total purge with destruction of the population?
If not, then what? Such a simple Russian question. What? [using a slang word for “what” in Russian]
In this regard, our military work very competently, minimizing military and non-military losses. And this gives them new opportunities for dialogue with new people who can be taken out of the war by transferring them to a non-aggressive regime.
Ok, you don’t like Assad? But can you all leave the war? That’s it. Well, now, for example, there is an opportunity to liberate E. Ghouta from Faylaq al-Rahman militias.
The famous field commander Abdul Nasar Sumara commands this group, and it must be said that so far there have been a lot of [Russian] operations in E. Ghouta and the Chinese indicate that the absolute majority of these operations have failed. Which is absolutely not typical of operations planned by Russian military advisers. The conclusion is unequivocal – a wide agent network in the ranks of the Syrian armed forces. Very serious losses in the top command staff – in the last 3 years, 7 generals of the Syrian army. In addition, several experienced professional Russian military advisers died there. And this was clearly noticed. You see for almost 6 years, the enclave of E. Ghouta has been the main base for terrorist attacks on the capital of Damascus, for attacks on the military of the Syrian government and even on the Russian bases of Khmeimim and Tartus. And as a result of the analysis of the navigation data, it became clear to our specialists that the UAVs were launched from E. Ghouta. Well, where else?
It was planned that the Islamists would control Ghouta at least until mid-summer of 2018. And in early May – let’s note that it is now the beginning of April – it was planned to strike at Russian military targets. Why is Ghouta being purged now? Well, why wait until someone strikes us? Let’s deal with it in advance.
So it was clear that this process of terrorist action had to be eliminated. And then it became clear that – I remind you it’s a Chinese analysis; direct all complaints to Beijing – it became clear that, in the settlements of the region, there is a significant number of foreign advisers. The active military personnel include the US, Great Britian, with modern weapons and satellite communication. If you think the “phantom of Skripal” and all the hysteria about that, is just because they don’t like us – it’s not quite true. This is their response to a very specific failure in a very specific area of the globe, directly American and British failure. [NSS highlighting]
And, let’s say in advance, failure with quite major losses. The command of the US special forces, in order to deter the Russian armed forces from the offensive on E. Ghouta, has developed a plan for another night-time missile attack using 200 Tomahawk missiles against those Syrian military facilities where Russian special forces units, advisers or significant ammunition reserves and equipment are located.
This is very interesting. Remember, Gerasimov made a very strong statement, that if something flies at us, we’ll shoot it down and will also strike the carriers.
And here on Russian TV people fell into so hysterics – “What? Are we really gonna strike Americans, British?”
Well, we have no other choice if they strike us. Besides, according to the Chinese, who are responsible for the text, the Americans planned to land their troops in E. Ghouta and make it as difficult as possible for us to carry out our actions to eliminate Islamists in this part of Syria.
But they [the US command] did not carry out this plan, for a number of reasons.
Observers from Arab countries and Chinese analysts had expected the US military to take the most decisive steps to preserve the groups under their control. In fact, this would have been a declaration of war on Moscow. But since we stated what we stated – once again, I repeat, the idea of destroying not only airborne weapons but also their carriers – it’s about this, about military operations [war].
Before the beginning of the operation in E. Ghouta, the Russian aerospace forces increased the aviation grouping to 100 units.
In particular, 8 Su-34 fighter-bombers were deployed at the Khmeimim airbase, which, with pinpoint strikes, eliminated control points and communications of the likely adversary. Further, the Americans did not expect that the pilots of the Su-34s and Su-27SMZ [not counting the other aviation] could make 30 flights a day and more. Over 3 months of operation, about 7000 bombs were dropped onto the enemy’s positions. About 20,000 militants were killed along with members of their families. This is just to note: We rarely enter into detail if an operation is ongoing. Maybe later, post-factum [some details may appear]. Well here you have the details. What very seriously affected the fighting spirit of the military, who did not accidentally start to come out in the 10s and 100s of thousands of people, is the pinpoint elimination of the American and British military instructors. COMMENT… As a result of the night bombardment, on March 17, 2018 alone, about 200 servicemen of the US special operations were eliminated.
I repeat for those who have not yet heard it – Kornievsky and I are not reporting this. It is the opinion of Chinese analysts. What can we do? Well, they somehow got this kind of data according to their monitoring, using the Chinese intelligence services.
No one wants to associate this with the hysteria of the Skripals, with the “solidarity campaign.” Let us note: the solidarity of diplomats … Have you ever heard from the American side, from the British side, a single word about what we are talking about now?
I haven’t. Isn’t it interesting?
Korenievsky interjects: They don’t echo the Chinese, that’s for sure.
What do you mean “they don’t echo”? You think they’re idiots? To admit such losses? To admit their failure? To admit such incompetence?
Maybe you want it to be bruited to the media?
Imagine how Trump would be raked over the coals by newspapers that already don’t like him very much.
Well, I must say that Syrian government forces are not very effective but sufficient Russian operations forces were concentrated there. And it was they who struck the positions of militants, and showed superlative performance in capturing field commanders.
It was the Russian special units who captured the commander of Faylaq al-Rahman, after which in fact it was pointless to resist.
The Chinese note the very high efficiency of certain types of [Russian] weapons and military equipment, including the BMP (IVF, Infantry Fighting Vehicle) Terminator and Terminator II, thermobaric ammunition, and so on and so on. And from their viewpoint, there is absolutely the highest level of coherence between the different Russian units.
This goes to show how professional the Russian army is, how it can fight if it really has to. The army certainly does not want to fight but…
Back in March 2018, the Chinese expressed the opinion that the resistance of Islamists in the eastern, central and southern parts of E. Ghouta is conditioned by the presence of a large number of American and British military advisers. Compared to East Aleppo, the situation there is different. In E. Aleppo, there were also a lot of [foreign] advisers. It was like a good pudding stuffed with raisins. They became very annoying during this period. But it turned out that here [E. Ghouta], they can’t escape the fact that they will be identified and taken prisoner. Including when trying to get out of the encirclement with the militants.
Well, as of April 1, 2018, 44,000 militants and 23,000 of their family members withdrew from settlements of E. Ghouta. And this is not counting the 120,000 civilians. We’re talking only about militants and their families, among whom the British and Americans are embedded in disguise. According to Chinese information – I repeat this with pleasure and a certain degree of irony – the most desperate attempts to get out of the encirclement were made by the servicemen of the 22nd regiment of the special airborne service of the British armed forces.
To escape the cordons of the Russian military police, they disguised themselves in paranjas [traditional robe for women that covers the head and body]. Some even managed to reach the province of Idlib.
I now recall Keresky in a woman’s dress –
Kornievsky interjects: practically a paranja – yeah.
Yes, yes, well, almost a paranja. Abdulla in the paranja in our movie. Remember? He stabbed Petrushka…
I must say that the British make maximum use of disguise techniques during secret operations in Syria and Afghanistan. The units of the Russian special operations forces managed to block about 200 British military advisers in one of the districts of E. Ghouta. [confirmed by Chinese and Arab sources--NSS] To free them, London used all diplomatic channels of communication with Moscow to reach appropriate agreements.
Is it clear now why they are so hysterical? All this “Skripal case,” beating their heads against the wall, shouting about a “secret monster from the depths of the sea”…
Well, yes, after we grabbed them by the throat like the Kraken with its tentacles, and pressed their dull heads against the wall.
According to the Chinese experts, the Americans through operative agents in Syria, tried to organize an offensive from the al-Tanf region, from the territory of Daraa Province, to divert part of the Syrian troops and Russian specialists from E. Ghouta.
But there are enough aircraft, enough other aviation arms, so the Russian military can simultaneously strike objects and vehicles of Islamists in any part of Syria.
Americans, via the special services, provided 350 flights to Jordan over the last 3 months. Modern arms are delivered there and they plan to deter the attack of the SAR (Syrian Arab Army) forces and Russia in the southern and south-western directions.
We understand the Chinese specialists assess the situation as follows:
They say that the US ill not withdraw their units, especially since they do not intend to reduce the presence of military advisers among the militants.
In this situation, their wards will be under the influence of the Turks, the Saudis, UAE and other countries.
In addition, “they are certainly interested in the collapse of Syria, but Washington cannot lose control in the region, which is of strategic importance for Russia and China.” Elegantly put by the Chinese analysts. This is related to the narrative that “we’re along there, saving someone,” but in fact…
Well, no, for some reason, the Chinese believe that this is important for them too. Maybe because there are a lot of Uighur terrorists, maybe because they haven’t the least doubt about whom the US will use the trained Uighurs against. Given the trade wars that Trump has declared against China, the war against producers of steel and aluminium. And you know that the answer, right?
For 128 products, very serious taxes will be in effect, up to 25% of the cost.
Well, that’s how it is.
In this case, I can only say thank you very much to [translator] Maksim Vladimirovich Kazanin and secondly, to our Chinese analyst colleagues.
END OF OUR TRANSCRIPTION (small talk at the end omitted)