Russia withdrawing from Syria in defeat?

Russia’s Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin announced, to the sur­prise of many on Mon­day 14th March 2016 that “the main part” of Russ­ian armed forces in Syria will start to with­draw, telling his diplo­mats to step up the push for peace as UN medi­ated talks resumed on end­ing the five-year-old war. Russ­ian spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin believed the troops had largely achieved their objec­tives since arriv­ing in autumn. After 5 months of bomb­ing the north-west of Syria, tar­get­ing the Syrian revolutionary that opposed the al-Assad regime, Rus­sia has achieved many of its aims, but also failed in some crit­i­cal areas.

Rus­sia has secured and main­tained the regime of Bashar al-Assad which 5 months ago was on the verge of col­lapse. As far as Bashar al-Assad was con­cerned the inter­ven­tion by Rus­sia came in the nick of time as his army was strug­gling to main­tain an area the size of Bel­gium. Al-Assad’s forces were crum­bling and the Russ­ian inter­ven­tion allowed them to receive more weapons, equip­ment and jets which gives them a new lease to con­tinue the fight.

Rus­sia was able to break the advance of the Syrian revolutionary in Latakia and Idlib and through indis­crim­i­nate bomb­ing cam­paign drove the rebel groups into a defencive position, today even the rebel posi­tion in Aleppo is under threat as the cities held by the opposition is vir­tu­ally sur­rounded by Iran­ian proxy forces and al-Assad’s forces. The Russ­ian inter­ven­tion and sup­port has given al-Assad regime a new lease of life and reversed the revolutionary 's momen­tum.

Bashar’s forces, today have the advan­tage in the bat­tle for Syria.
Rus­sia used Syria to demon­strate and test its armed forces, new weaponry, tac­tics and strat­egy as it under­goes mod­ern­iza­tion. Although Moscow’s oper­a­tion in Syria was rel­a­tively lim­ited in scale, the Krem­lin tested new weaponry and hardware.
Russia’s inter­ven­tion involved air­craft never before tested in com­bat, includ­ing the Sukhoi Su-34 strike fighter, and a ship-based cruise mis­sile fired more than 900 miles from the Caspian Sea, which sur­passed the Amer­i­can equiv­a­lent in tech­no­log­i­cal capability. Putin high­lighted in an inter­view broad­cast on Russ­ian state tele­vi­sion back in Octo­ber 2015: “It is one thing for the experts to be aware that Rus­sia sup­pos­edly has these weapons, and another thing for them to see for the first time that they do really exist, that our defense indus­try is mak­ing them, that they are of high qual­ity and that we have well-trained peo­ple who can put them to effec­tive use. They have seen, too, now that Rus­sia is ready to use them if this is in the inter­ests of our coun­try and our peo­ple.” Rus­sia also tested out new doc­trines on the rapid deploy­ment of its forces far from home and the results of these were seen with the rapid buildup of forces in Syria and it abil­ity to sup­ply equip­ment, troops and re-supply these over months.

Polit­i­cally Rus­sia gave the US inspired polit­i­cal solu­tion a new lease of life as the Syrian revolutionary were under­min­ing it by facing-off against the al-Assad regime and com­pletely under­min­ing any nego­ti­a­tion. Russia’s indis­crim­i­nate attacks that led to the deaths of over 1000 civil­ians and effec­tively forced the major­ity of fac­tional lead­ers to sit at the nego­ti­at­ing table.Russia’s attacks were indis­crim­i­nately tar­geted at Syrian revolutionary fight­ing al-Assad’s forces and only token attacks took place against ISIS. The Russ­ian attacks to some degree iso­lated Ahrar al-sham and Jab­hat al-Nusra, as Rus­sia con­ducted huge bomb­ing raids in civil­ian areas, claim­ing they were tar­get­ing these groups, all of these achieved the aim both the US and Rus­sia worked towards of bring­ing the opposition to the nego­ti­at­ing table, a nego­ti­a­tion that in the long term includes a coali­tion gov­ern­ment with Bashar al-Assad himself.

But despite these gains, Rus­sia has failed in its most impor­tant aim in Syria and that was to link its inter­ven­tion in Syria to other issues, mainly Ukraine, as well as Euro­pean and US sanc­tions on Rus­sia. Europe made mat­ters very clear, Kon­rad Szy­mański, Poland’s new Europe min­is­ter back in Octo­ber 2015, warned of a ten­dency in Euro­pean pol­i­tics to look for a pre­text to not hold Rus­sia to account over Ukraine. “We’re open to acknowl­edg­ing Russia’s use­ful role in any part of the world if [it’s use­ful] from the Euro­pean point of view, but we aren’t going to link that to other sit­u­a­tions in which we see that Russia’s role is less con­struc­tive.” The US, whether John Kerry or Obama and every other US offi­cial have refused to enter­tain any talks on Ukraine due to Russia’s role in Syria. In fact the US has reminded Rus­sia of the need to give up the east of Ukraine which Russ­ian forces con­tinue to occupy.

The next round of talks on America’s peace process will begin on March 15th in Geneva and despite Russ­ian announce­ments of its with­drawal this does not imply the com­plete with­drawal of Russ­ian forces. Rus­sia will main­tain its bases in the coast. These upcom­ing nego­ti­a­tions will show if a grand bar­gain has been made on Ukraine, but by all indi­ca­tions it would appear the US has suc­cess­fully used Rus­sia to prop-up the regime in Dam­as­cus and estab­lish a ground real­ity which the US was strug­gling to con­struct. If this is the case, and in time it will become clear, Putin may very well be pulling out in defeat, hav­ing con­cluded that the much hoped-for grand bar­gain in Syria has failed.


By: Abu leak (81.70)

Tags: Syria

Location: Syria