Hisham Melhem writes: President Obama’s epic failure in Syria brought Putin out of the cold and now Putin is trying to bring Bashar Assad out of the cold and into a Russian led coalition to fight ISIS and other radical Islamists like Jabhat al-Nusra, with the promise to the Europeans that this new coalition will help alleviate their Syrian refugee crisis, the very crisis Putin had helped in creating by his considerable lethal support of the Assad regime. If there ever was a deal made in hell this would be it.
Putin the arsonist is fading away, and Putin the fireman is emerging as the indispensable leader to fight Islamist terrorism in Syria, and to save Western Europe from those refugees storming its ramparts and trying to enter its rapidly closing gates. Every Russian move and every Iranian decision in Syria scream loudly that the two states are as committed as ever to the survival of the Assad regime.
Before his arrival in New York, Putin confirmed his intentions to support Assad in an interview with Charlie Rose of the “60 Minutes” program on the CBS television network when he was asked if he was planning to “rescue” Assad. “Well, you’re right.” Then he warned that the destruction of “the legitimate government” in Syria would create chaos and disintegration as was the case in Libya and Iraq, in a clear jab against American interventions in those two states. “And there is no other solution to the Syrian crisis than strengthening the effective government structures and rendering them help in fighting terrorism. But at the same time, urging them to engage in positive dialogue with the rational opposition and conduct reform.”
The false narrative of the Obama administration, and some European countries and a growing number of analysts that confronting ISIS, al-Nusra and other Islamists is the urgent priority now, has played into Putin’s narrative and is beginning to reflect a very disturbing shift towards rehabilitating Assad.
Assad’s regime is the most brutal military machine in Syria, responsible for the killing of more than 95 percent of civilians, according to human rights organizations. Syrians in the main are fleeing the country because of the depredations of the Assad regime. The United Nations envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura said it explicitly that it is “totally unacceptable that the Syrian air force attacks its own territory in an indiscriminate way, killing its own citizens. The use of barrel bombs must stop. All evidence shows that the overwhelming majority of the civilian victims in the Syrian conflict have been caused by the use of such indiscriminate aerial weapons.” [Continue reading…]