The United States’ Surprise Allies in Syria
David Ignatius – The Washington Post
U.S. military commanders are now recommending a “Syria first” strategy that relies on the Kurdish fighters and a smaller Arab force to move gradually toward the Islamic State’s capital of Raqqa, [Syria] just 25 miles south of the Kurds’ forward positions.
Russia’s military intervention complicates the budding U.S. partnership with the Kurds and their Arab allies….
The U.S. alliance with the Syrian Kurds was unusual in that it was largely a result of serendipity…. It was seen at first as a delaying action, while the United States waited for the much larger “train and equip” force that was supposedly coming.
Looking at the sudden switch in U.S. strategy, an optimist might quote the Rolling Stones lyric about how “you can’t always get what you want,” but sometimes “you get what you need.” A pessimist would wail back: “Gimme shelter.”
Making Sense of Russia’s Syria Strategy
Audrey Sushentsov – National Interest
First, Russia can disrupt the terrorist infrastructure and prevent it from holding ground without the necessity of defeating it completely. North Caucasian terrorists are eliminated at home, but in Syria’s “no man’s land” they can rebuild training facilities and launch the export of terror to Russia – as they did in Afghanistan under Taliban.
Second, Moscow seeks to sustain a friendly regime in Syria. Russia can invest in its first major military naval facility in Mediterranean and secure primacy in gas extraction projects on the Syrian, Cyprus and Israel shelf.
Third, Russia is asserting itself as a leading Middle East power capable of effective expeditionary military operations. Before that, no one else besides the U.S. could have projected power so far from its borders.
How U.S. Must Push Back Putin in Syria
Ted Cruz – CNN
We need a real, robust campaign that maximizes our overwhelming air advantage. We need to focus our efforts not on trying to create friends, but on supporting our real ones, especially the Kurds in Iraq and Syria who have actually had success against ISIS.
And rather than pouring more resources into a dysfunctional Baghdad, we should extend consistent, robust assistance to our regional allies — Israel, Egypt and Jordan — who are on the front lines of this fight.
These actions would demonstrate real American resolve to dismantle ISIS without entangling us in some sort of devil’s bargain with al-Assad or the Iranians. And they would demonstrate to Putin that we will not allow him to move unimpeded into the region to advance an agenda that is contrary to our own.