Intervention in Syria may last a year or longer, Russian official says

Bloomberg reports: As Russia’s air war in Syria nears its fourth week, officials now admit that Moscow’s aim is far broader than the publicly announced fight against terrorist groups.

The Kremlin’s real goal is to help Syrian President Bashar al-Assad retake as much as possible of the territory his forces have lost to opponents, including U.S.-backed rebels, Russian officials told Bloomberg News. Moscow’s deployment of several dozen planes, as well as ships in the Black and Caspian Seas, could last a year or more, one official said.

President Vladimir Putin is willing to run the risk of falling into the kind of quagmire that helped sink the Soviet Union a generation ago for the chance to roll back U.S. influence and demonstrate he can dictate terms to Washington. If the strategy is successful, Russia’s largest military drive in decades outside the former Soviet Union would force the U.S. and its allies to choose between Assad, whom they oppose for his human-rights abuses, and the brutal extremists of Islamic State.

“They’re going to have to recognize that Islamic State is the real threat that has been countered only by the Syrian regular army commanded by President Bashar al-Assad,” said Iliyas Umakhanov, deputy speaker of Russia’s upper house Federation Council, who oversees international relations at the assembly.

A top Russian military official said on Friday that the Kremlin sees no moderate opposition in Syria, leaving only terrorists and the pro-Assad forces Moscow is backing. [Continue reading…]

This echoes the position that the Assad regime has long maintained: that the only opposition it faces is from “terrorists.”

On the one hand the Syrian government claims that it is open to diplomatic initiatives and yet at the same time it says there is nothing to negotiate until its opponents have been “eradicated.”

In essence, what Putin and Assad are saying is this: We want to promote peace — as soon as we’ve won the war.

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2 thoughts on “Intervention in Syria may last a year or longer, Russian official says

  1. Mencken

    ISIS is ultimately the product of the U.S. The callous illegal conduct of all those many interventions and occupations; the numerous war crimes committed in the name of “peace”, the favored option of creating a failed state in preference to one that was strong but even slightly independent of the U.S.; the criminal and inhuman treatment of populations in the quest for intelligence, culminating in what can only be described as a Gulag; all of this has culminated in the blowback of ISIS.

    Add to that, the incredible folly of supplying arms to the “good” terrorists in Syria, which somehow all found their way to the bad terrorists of ISIS and al Qaeda; it shows again that the U.S. only knows how to destroy countries but not how to put them back together.

    Anyone who thinks Syria would be better off under the head-loppers – which is the only future actually offered by Obama, is sorely mistaken.

  2. Paul Woodward Post author

    This is the lesser-of-two-evils argument: Yes, the Assad regime is monstrous in its brutality but the alternative would be worse.

    Superficially, it sounds reasonable, yet it doesn’t stand up to analysis.

    To talk about Assad remaining in power is to overlook the fact that he has lost control of most of Syrian territory. So, unless one finds it acceptable that the war continues without end, your desired outcome — if it was to be explicitly stated — would be for Assad to regain control of the country he once ruled.

    To accomplish that goal would require a much larger intervention than the one thus far provided by Russia and Iran. It would require the thorough subjugation and elimination of every element of the opposition during which time most of the remaining civilian population would be forced to flee the country.

    In other words, in spite of the fact that I’m sure you are sincere in seeing yourself as a peace-loving America who wishes the U.S. government would desist in the imposition of its will through military force, when it comes to Syria, you have unwittingly reconciled yourself to the idea that Syria needs to be destroyed by its own government and their allies if there is any hope of saving it.

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