TUG-OF-WAR OVER SYRIA

This high-level attention is central to what Putin hoped to achieve by moving troops and armor into Syria —to rescue his poor international reputation and be treated as an important leader in world affairs.
Mitchell Orenstein, Foreign Affairs, Sep. 20, 2015
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ith the 70th commemoration of the UN General Assembly approaching, the world has watched as Russia suddenly and dramatically ramps up its military support to Syria, in the form of tanks, planes, helicopters, and even troops. The question, however, is why. On top of the upcoming UN summit, Putin’s pivot to Syria comes as hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees seek asylum across Europe and the US from the brutal conflict. While there are some who see Putin’s latest geopolitical move as one of a bold and decisive leader in world affairs, others see it as a desperate ploy. The Kremlin has not yet escaped the hot seat for its aggression in Ukraine, nor has it avoided the subsequent economic and political consequences. The problem for Putin is that he cannot simply walk away from Crimea, at least not without the risk of suffering crippling political blowback in Russia. Moving the game to Syria takes the eyes off Moscow and Ukraine, and focuses them on Washington’s failure to do much of anything in the Middle East’s bloodiest conflict. Additionally, decisive action in Syria has the potential to prop up Putin as an important world leader with whom the West can and must do business.“ Another important factor in Putin’s plan to step up in the international community, of course, is to save his man in Damascus, Bashar al-Assad. This presents perhaps the most significant impediment to US-Russia cooperation in Syria- answering the question of Assad’s future, after having killed so many of his own people. If the West is to capitalize on this opportunity to coordinate with Russia, it is important that they not forget Crimea, however, and should at least negotiate concessions in Ukraine in exchange for better diplomatic relations. In Syria, for either Moscow or Washington to be successful, there is a need for multilateral action. Ideally, the US and Russia will come to terms and act together to end the bloodshed in Syria and quell the Islamic State, while simultaneously ending the conflict in Ukraine, and creating a precedent for continued cooperation between Russia and the West. But only time will tell if the Kremlin and the White House can play nice.

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Russia calls on US for dialogue on Syria|| Al-Jazeera

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The West cannot seem to switch gears and understand that the new Cold War is here to stay. The question now is not whether or not to hold talks with Russia, but to the contrary, how to ensure military security for both sides under current conditions. … Apparently, that is a task for future Western leaders because today’s are clearly failing to cope.Alexander Golts, The Moscow Times, Sep. 21, 2015

If the United States, feeling that its interests are undermined by getting sucked into the Syrian civil war, leaves a space unoccupied on the game board, Russia feels it has to take over that space.Julia Ioffe, Foreign Policy, Sep. 25, 2015

Like the US, Russia has a strong interest in stability in Syria and in defeating the Islamic State; but it has no interest in allowing the US to install its choice of regimes in Syria or elsewhere in the region.Jeffrey Sachs, Project Syndicate, Sep. 15, 2015
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TUG-OF-WAR OVER SYRIA

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