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Believe It or Not
A Swing and a Miss in Syria?

To the surprise perhaps only of the Obama Administration, the recently-brokered Syrian ceasefire is proving less than effective. UN convoys loaded with aid for the people of Aleppo and other besieged areas are standing by in a buffer zone on the Turkish border for the fourth day in a row now. They’re unable to move further because the Syrian government hasn’t granted the necessary permits and assurances.

The Russians are pointing fingers. They have accused U.S.-backed rebels of numerous violations, including failing to fall back near Aleppo. According to the Kremlin, the rebels failed to pull back from Castello Road, the only entry point into the besieged city, and on top of that are regrouping and rebuilding their strength. The Russians also claim that the Syrian army originally retreated according to the agreed-upon terms, but has resumed its position along the road as of Friday evening (local time).

Doing his best to push back, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry issued a warning to Russia, saying that if the Syrian regime doesn’t let the aid trucks through, there will be no U.S.-Russia military coordination in Syria.

Excuse us while we put our surprised faces on at where this has all so quickly ended up. As Walter Russell Mead wrote when the ceasefire was brokered,

Secretary Kerry, after much hard work, has gotten Putin to accept an temporary alliance with the United States on Russia’s terms. Assad is already stronger as a result of this agreement; America’s alliance network in the Middle East is already weaker. It’s likely that Putin will push the envelope of the agreement to inflict further humiliations on the Obama administration and inflict further damage on America’s international position. One hopes that at least the people of Aleppo will gain some kind of reprieve from all this, but unless the next administration changes course, the restoration of an Assad-run Syria is looking more likely than before Kerry flew to Geneva.

Only the U.S. Administration thinks Russia should be as eager for a Syrian ceasefire as it is. This is not ultimately about Syria—the Kremlin’s big picture goal is to serially humiliate the United States, thus weakening the foundation of the liberal world order. And thus, once again, Lucy looks to be snatching the football away just as Charlie Brown tries to kick…

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  • Kev

    The problem with Syria “ceasefire” is simple: US-backed rebels act as if the ceasefire does not exist. Don’t blame this on Putin, Russia has shown a lot of patience when dealing with Americans, their allies and clients in Syria. It’s the US that needs to finally prove it can control its bunch of reprobates.

    • adk

      Hear the Voice of Kremlin…

      • Kev

        It’s probably your conscience talking. US is backing head-chopping jihadis in Syria. In your heart you know this is immoral and wrong.

        • adk

          Right you are,comrade: my heart and conscience are telling me one thing, but my CIA paymasters demand something completely different.

      • Jim__L

        On the plus side, part of this comment was actually checkable.

        We may yet be able to persuade them into substantive discussion of the issues at hand, instead of just cheerleading for Russia. =)

        Always keeping in mind, of course, the caveat that he’ll still be hustling for his side, and we mustn’t forget to hustle for ours. “End of History” complacence is hurting our game, here — has been for years.

        • adk

          Not sure I quite understand tour comment. Here’s how I see things.

          The Russian goals in Syria are quite clear: keep Assad in power no matter what the human costs, keep the refugee outflow going thus further destabilizing EU and humiliate Obama/US as much as possible. Everything else is either secondary or a bonus. Bonus goals include furthering discord between EU and US and US and Turkey — all members of NATO. ISIS may even serve Putin’s goals by conducting terrorism in Europe and, possibly, in the US (recall the Soviet support for Palestinian terrorism in Europe in the 70-80s).

          Obama’s goal is also pretty straightforward — to run out the clock without any major eruption. Hence a kabuki “war” with ISIS and equally bizarre cease file non-stop “negotiations” between Kerry and Lavrov. Our MSM has now pretty much dropped Syria as a topic and went to full-time war with Trump, so Kerry can keep on flying to Geneva and back without too much domestic disturbance.

          As for Kev, he’s just another Putin propagandist albeit with a better English. Read him if you want to know the latest “party line” from Moscow.

          • Jim__L

            That’s just it — to a significant extent, listening to the party line from elsewhere is what diplomacy (and foreign policy) is about.

            In Russia’s case it obviously needs to be taken with a fairly hefty grain of salt, but (if you’ll forgive the mixed metaphors) it’s all part of the dance. I’m happier reading Kev’s stuff because it seems a bit more up to the (anomalous, for the Internet) standards of the TAI discussion boards — it’s less of a waste of time.

            Granted, simply reflecting a couple of points made in the article doesn’t give a huge amount of insight, but as you point out, it’s better than the usual.

  • Andrew Allison

    What else is new?

  • adk

    ” John Kerry issued a warning to Russia, saying that if the Syrian regime doesn’t let the aid trucks through, there will be no U.S.-Russia military coordination in Syria.”

    After Kerry had already unfriended Lavrov on Facebook over some previous violations, there is not much else the United States can do.

    • Kev

      How do we know these “aid trucks” do not contain arms for the terrorists? It’s probably not wise to let them through until some kind of inspection regime is put in place.

  • f1b0nacc1

    This surprises ANYONE?

    • JR

      Not anyone with a functioning brain stem. So yes, a lot of Democrats must be surprised.

      • f1b0nacc1

        Point well taken…

      • adk

        They might be surprised if they cared about that at all.

        • JR

          Good point. They must be too busy redefining the meaning of a phrase “insurance death spiral”.
          Obama really did a lot of damage in the Middle East. But even in his bumblings he managed to bring Israel closer together with its Sunni neighbors as well as make Saudi Arabia spend money on its own defense for the first time in a long time. So this Democratic administration hasn’t been a complete failure, despite doing its darnedest.

          • adk

            Yes, there’s a microscopic bit of ointment in their barrel of flies.

          • JR

            The rest of the world doesn’t feel bad for us, so I’m not going to feel bad for us. Everybody ultimately gets what they deserve. If we keep on electing people like Obama, we cannot be expected to remain a dominant country in the world. History clearly states as much.

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