Sunday, October 30, 2016

Russia is calling the shots in Syria

Post-America is not even a significant actor. Russia is assuring that Assad stays in power, and it will be Russia that determines how ISIS is dealt with:

Earlier this month, Russia’s defense ministry, which has reinforced its air defenses in Syria with very modern S-300 and S-400 missiles—although ISIS has no airplanes—bluntly informed the Pentagon that any efforts by the U.S. Air Force to bomb targets in Syria without Moscow’s approval will be met with force, without delay or hesitation.
Moscow is now practically egging on the Americans. And why not? In Syria, Putin has achieved his strategic aims of saving the Assad regime while painting the West as inept villains who back jihadists. President Obama’s confident prediction that Moscow’s Syrian intervention would find the same quagmires his White House has abetted in Iraq and Afghanistan was badly wrong. For the Kremlin, shooting down American warplanes would be the crowning glory of Russia’s Levantine expedition, which has exceeded strategic expectations at limited cost to Moscow.
The Pentagon is well aware that the Russian military would greet a confrontation in Syria with glee. We need to accept strategic reality, now. While many American politicos and foreign policy mavens—importantly Hillary Clinton is among them—advocate a No-Fly Zone in Syria to prevent the Assad regime and its Russian allies from using airpower to kill civilians, the reality is that an NFZ already exists in Syria. It’s supplied by the Russians.

Russia in the Putin era obviously have starkly different geo-strategic interests from those - such as are left after years of planned decline - of post-America. Having solidified its axis with Iran and Assad-ruled Syria greatly enhances its ability to further them.

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