The U.S. Cannot Pass Syria on to Putin
David Ignatius – The Washington Post
Moscow’s military intervention comes as the United States is reckoning with its setbacks in Syria and Iraq in combating the Islamic State.
Given these reversals for U.S. policy, should the Obama administration simply accede to Moscow?
That would be a significant mistake, in my view. For all of Putin’s vainglorious boasting, the Russians can’t defeat the Islamic State. Quite the contrary, Russian intervention (in partnership with Iran) may fuel the Sunni insurgency even more. And if U.S. military partners in the region — such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey and even Israel — really think Washington has ceded the ground to Moscow, the region could become even more chaotic.
Why the U.S. Needs to Dance With the Russian Bear in Syria
The Editorial Board – Los Angeles Times
Engaging Russia in this way is an acknowledgment of its growing influence in the region, but denial of that reality serves no purpose….
But Russian assistance in defeating Islamic State — an objective the U.S. seems to have elevated above an early exit for Assad — shouldn’t be spurned simply because Moscow supports Assad, or because of differences on other matters, such as Ukraine. And, as a practical matter, coordination will be necessary if both Russia and the U.S. are launching airstrikes against Islamic State positions in Syria….
For Obama’s GOP critics, this frustrating state of affairs is the result of the administration’s failure to pursue a more muscular policy both in Syria and in its relations with Russia. We remain unconvinced that the U.S. could have turned the tide in Syria by arming Assad’s “moderate” opponents, a problematic strategy that became even riskier with the rise of Islamic State. Nor was it realistic to believe the U.S. could exclude Russia from discussions about Syria’s future.
Obama’s Test for Putin in Syria
The Editorial Board – Bloomberg View
What might U.S.-Russian cooperation look like? Both sides want to defeat Islamic State. But Putin sees it as a fight to defend of the rule of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while Obama sees Assad as a brutal dictator who needs to go. For the U.S., the enemy of its enemy is still its enemy.
It’s worth noting that Obama has the better of this argument.
Although Islamic State is responsible for horrific acts of violence, so is Assad, whose brutality has made him Islamic State’s best recruiter. Forced to abandon chemical weapons, Assad now favors barrels filled with explosives and shrapnel or oil, dropped from helicopters. In Aleppo governorate alone, these indiscriminate weapons killed 3,000 people last year…
Therein lies a slight opening for progress. The U.S. and the world should not agree to Putin’s demand for an alliance with Assad against Islamic State unless Putin can get Assad to stop barrel-bombing his own people.