JUNE 3, 2012 – MNS QUESTION AND ANSWER SESSION FOR MNS READERSHIP CONCERNING RUSSIAN RELATIONS WITH SYRIA.  Answering questions today is Kenneth Dalglish, former coach and manager of the Liverpool Barclay Premiere League Football Club.

QUESTION:  Mr. Dalglish, how is it you are viewed as an expert on Russia and Syria?

ANSWER:  People always ask me these questions at the pub and I consistently repeat the same answer:  I was a sapper with the Scottish Fusiliers in Palestine during the Mandate and have developed very substantial contacts with both Moscow and Damascus.  When not coaching football, I regularly converse with Mr. Putin and Dr. Assad.  I am, at present, an advisor to the President of Syria.       

Coach Dalglish seen here, with a Syrian bodyguard in the background, attending a closed meeting of the Syrian Security Council in Damascus.  His participation raised eyebrows at Whitehall!

QUESTION:  Why do the Russians view Syria as a linchpin for their policies in the region?

ANSWER:  The answer is for one thing:  Tartooooooose.  (Laughs uncontrollably).  The Russians have spent close to one billion quid revamping the harbor at Tartous.  It now accommodates their aircraft carrier and naval battle group in the Mediterranean.  Syria is the only country on the Mediterranean that encourages the sale of Russian vodka, a necessity for Russkie sailors.  (Laughs again with gusto).

QUESTION:  But are there other reasons?

ANSWER:  Well, there’s that arms sales business.  The Syrians buy Russian armor, artillery, aircraft, helicopters, radar systems and anti-aircraft and anti-ship missiles.  Sometimes the Iranians pay for these weapons for the Syrians.  The arms manufacturers in Russia think Syria is a good customer.  I certainly would agree.  It buys alot of vodka for the employees of Tupolev and Yakovlev. (Laughs wildly).

This is a artist’s rendition of the Mig31B Foxhound.  Syria has purchased a full wing of the aircraft although they have not been seen flying over the country. 
QUESTION:  Anything else?

ANSWER:  Syrian plums are very delicious and make the best slivovitza, (guffawing into the microphone).

QUESTION:  Are you alright, Mr. Dalglish?  Can I get you anything?

ANSWER:  (Slapping his lap phrenetically)  Yes!  How about some Stolichnava vodka, tovarisch!! 

Unfortunately for Russian sailors, the vodka they are allowed to drink is usually much lower in quality than the “Stolie” preferred by Coach Dalglish.
 QUESTION:  You seem calmer now.  How would you describe your relationship to Vladimir Putin?

ANSWER:  It’s very dry.  You see, he doesn’t approve of drinking alcohol!! (Ha! Ha!)  But he likes me because he says that hearing my Scottish burr reminds him of the days when he was a KGB officer in East Germany. (Bursts into laughter).  He says I talk like his old driver, Wolfie!! 

Mr. Dalglish only became serious after we broached the subject of the American owner of the Liverpool team who discharged him.  We cannot repeat what he said.  We cannot understand what he said.
QUESTION:  What about Dr. Assad?  What’s your take on him?

ANSWER:  He’s a football fan, all right. Arsenal fan!  (Explodes into a fit of laughter).  He likes a big arsenal!  Get it?   

QUESTION:  Hmmm. Yes.  But what do you contribute to Syria’s security strategy?

ANSWER:  I control the spikers!  (Slurping down vodka while laughing).  I spike the punch at our meetings at the Presidential Palace.  (Rolling to the floor and salivating).  I’m the life of the Ba’ath party!  Prez. Assad says I make the Muslim Brotherhood so miffed, they (churgling)….choke on their worry beads.  He says: “I just kill’em”. (At this point, two crewmembers approached the coach and repositioned him in his seat).  

QUESTION:  Anything else you’d like to say about the Russians?

ANSWER:  (Wiping tears from his eyes)  It’s a gas!!  It’s natural gas.  The Russians don’t want the Turks to get their grubby fingers on the natural gas off the coast of Lebanon and Cyprus. The fleet protects shipping to Syria, especially arms from Russia and oil from Venezuela.  The Turks are really tiffed about this.  The Turks are always upset about something.  But, they really did kill Two Million Armenians!  (Collapses in a convulsion of laughter).    

The editorial staff wish to thank Mr. Dalglish for his insights into Russo-Syrian relations and look forward to hearing from him again.