Monday, 5 October 2015

Russia in Syria

President Obama states that Russia is acting in Syria "out of weakness". I hope he is correct, but I fear it is equally likely that ex-KGB man Putin is acting on good intelligence and on the advice of his generals that now is the best time to step in . With all the existing combatants tiring, it could just be that the Russian intervention will tip the balance in favour of al-Assad, giving Putin bragging rights throughout the Middle East and beyond.

The president and our defence minister seem to be stretching the truth when they say the Russians' preferred target is the legitimate opposition to the Syrian régime rather than ISIL/Da'esh. According to old Iraqi hand Patrick Cockburn, Russia is attacking al-Qa'ida's affiliate in Syris, al-Nusra, as well as another group which is an enemy of the West and Da'esh.

Whether Assad survives or the situation in Iraq and Syria settles down to a war of attrition, what is needed is a UN-sponsored diplomatic effort to redraw national boundaries along more logical and sustainable lines.

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