[Ed. – Yeah, yeah. This isn’t even really about Syria. It’s about Russia and Turkey, NATO, Ukraine, Russia’s southern and western situation, etc. More on it later.]
After Vladimir Putin sent Russian forces to Syria in September, President Obama offered this prediction: “An attempt by Russia and Iran to prop up [Bashar] Assad and try to pacify the population is just going to get them stuck in a quagmire and it won’t work.”
As quagmires go, Mr. Putin will take it. On Monday he announced that Russia will begin withdrawing the “main part” of its forces in Syria having accomplished his strategic goals at little cost.
Mr. Putin rescued Mr. Assad when Russia’s Middle Eastern client was in danger of falling and has put him in a much stronger position. Russia focused its bombing on Mr. Assad’s moderate Sunni opponents, not Islamic State. The bombing and Hezbollah’s ground forces have broken the opposition’s hold on Aleppo and consolidated a larger safe zone in the Syrian west for the Alawite regime.
Having established these facts on the ground, Mr. Assad is now well placed to exploit the U.S.-Russia brokered Syrian peace talks.