Vladimir Putin has sent Russian forces to Syria to prop up the regime of Russia’s ally, Bashar al-Assad.
He said he is joining in the war against the so-called Islamic State (aka ISIS, ISIL or Da’esh). The U.S. government said Russia is targeting the U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army and other “moderate” rebels rather than ISIS itself.
I’m not sure how significant that difference is. I don’t think it is realistic to think it is possible to overthrow Assad and keep ISIS out of power without sending American forces to occupy Syria—and even then the outcome would be doubtful.
Many countries besides the USA and Russia have conducted air strikes in Syria. One list includes Australia, Bahrein, France, Israell, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and should have included Canada and Turkey.
I don’t think Russia is in a position to challenge the U.S. military presence in the Middle East directly. I think Putin’s plan is to enhance the power of Iran, Syria and Hezbollah vs. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Israel, but to minimize actual Russian activity.
Putin’s Lightning War in Syria by Mike Whitney for Counterpunch.
Let’s All Take a Nice Deep Breath Over Russia’s Air Strikes in Syria by Kevin Drum for Mother Jones.
More on the Disintegration of Syria by Josh Marshall on Talking Points Memo.
Countries that carried out air strikes on Syria by Rula Jebreal on Twitter.
First Video Report From Russia’s Air Base in Syria Shows Su-34s in Action by Tyler Rogoway for Foxtrot Alpha.