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“Assad Is Winning”

While the US rearranges chairs around the table for another round of diplomacy over the fate of Syria in Geneva, Russia, Iran and their allies are rearranging the armies on the battlefield, undermining the very basis for the negotiating process the Americans are counting on. The AP reports:

In November, government troops broke a three-year siege of the Kweiras air base in the northern province of Aleppo, and in December they captured another air base, Marj al-Sultan, in an opposition stronghold near the capital, Damascus. Allied fighters from the Lebanon’s Shiite Hezbollah group, as well as Iranian military advisers and pro-government militias, have helped the army take several areas in and around Latakia province, the heartland of Assad’s minority Alawite sect, which dominates the military and government.

The latest victory came last week with the capture of the town of Salma, one of the most significant government advances since the Russian air campaign began. Overlooking the coast, it is only 12 kilometers (seven miles) from the border with Turkey, a key supporter of rebels in the area.

“The Syrian army has shifted from a defensive mode to offense,” said Gerges. “Before the Russian intervention the army was bleeding, it was desperately trying to maintain its position, but now it has achieved major tactical gains on many fronts.”

This does not bode well for the Geneva talks, as neither side will be interested in making compromises while the front lines are in a state of flux, Gerges added.

Noted Syria expert Joshua Landis put it more bluntly in an interview with the LA Times:

“Assad is winning. Russian air power [has] changed the entire dynamic of what’s going on, and it just gives the Syrian army an incredible boost. […] What I’m hearing from Damascus is that it has taken time to digest the new technology, for the Russians to get well situated, get the intelligence they require and know what they’re doing.”

It’s almost as if the Russians aren’t trying to help us—and it’s almost as if diplomacy disconnected from policy doesn’t really get you anywhere.

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  • Arkeygeezer

    Russia and Syria are winning because they are not afraid to wage war. Their rules of engagement are to kill the enemy and any civilians that get in the way. ISIS has no rules of engagement; they just kill.

    Now, who would you rather have to deal with ISIS; Russia and Assad led Syria, or the Wahhabi clerics of Saudi Arabia with E.U. and U.N. support?

    • f1b0nacc1

      Absolutely correct. War is about breaking things and hurting people, and if that isn’t a terribly comforting phrasing, it is still true. The Russians understand this, and they are more interested in winning this war than they are making the Nobel committee happy.

  • Beauceron

    This is, it seems to me, is working out perfectly for Obama. He did pretty much nothing other than call for Assad to step down, but that gives him some cover at least as for indicating what he hoped would happen. Meanwhile, it’s the Russians who will draw the jihadist ire– at least for a while.

  • Jim__L

    Where’s Re?

    • Dale Fayda

      My thoughts exactly!

  • Dan

    Frankly, for our purposes Assad seems like the least worst option.

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