Tag Archives: New Syrian Forces

Russia Needs the Islamic State to Save Assad

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on June 20, 2016

Cross-posted at The Interpreter.

After a coalition supporting the regime of Syrian ruler Bashar al-Assad conquered the city of Palmyra from the Islamic State (IS) in late March, suggestions were made that this demonstrated the efficacy of the pro-Assad coalition in fighting IS, and doubtless the same will be said if and when the pro-regime forces conquer Tabqa. It isn’t true. From the time of Russia’s direct intervention in Syria on 30 September 2015 to Moscow’s announcement on 14 March 2016 that it was withdrawing “the main part” of its “military” from Syria, IS was almost untouched and al-Qaeda was barely damaged, while the Assad regime was bolstered and the moderate opposition, particularly those components supported by the West, were gravely weakened.

Despite Moscow’s claims that its mission was fighting IS or “terrorism,” Russia’s real goals can be summarized as three:

  1. Rescue the Assad regime, which was assessed to be in mortal peril
  2. Damage the mainstream armed opposition, especially those elements supported by the West, in order that Russia can …
  3. Rehabilitate the Assad regime internationally by inter alia leaving only extremists as its opponents, depriving the international community of credible interlocutors, and therefore strengthening the Russian hand to make peace talks an instrument for re-legitimizing Assad, rather than removing him

In recent days, this basic war strategy has been seen again in southern Syria. Continue reading

America Abandons the Syrian Revolution

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on August 14, 2015

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In the last week, two events have provided further evidence that the United States has effectively sided with the Assad regime in Syria, acting effectively as the regime’s air force, and that America’s alliance with Assad is part of the broader policy of détente with Iran, facilitated by the nuclear deal, which has ceded Syria to Iran as a sphere of influence. Continue reading