US has caved in to Rus­sia over As­sad and Syria

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - BY ANSHEL PF­EF­FER

THE CLOS­ING weeks of 2015 have seen the first signs of a po­ten­tial power-shift over the Syr­ian war. The most ob­vi­ous man­i­fes­ta­tion of this was the tacit agree­ment of the US to ac­cept a po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion in Syria with­out Pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad’s de­par­ture.

While both Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry con­tinue to in­sist that Mr As­sad has no fu­ture in post-war Syria, they have agreed to a UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tion that does not men­tion him. They have also made it clear to the op­po­si­tion groups that will be in­volved in the talks tak­ing place in 2016 that in­sist­ing As­sad goes is a “non-starter”. Their ca­pit­u­la­tion has been a diplo­matic vic­tory for Vladimir Putin, who has so far seen mixed re­sults from his high- pro­file in­ter­ven­tion in Syria. On the ground, Rus­sia’s mil­i­tary de­ploy­ment to Syria has pre­vented As­sad from fall­ing but failed to re­gain large swathes of ter­ri­tory lost to the rebels or Daesh.

It has also come at a cost. In Novem­ber, Tur­key shot down a Rus­sian Sukhoi fighter-bomber, killing one of its crew. There have been other Rus­sian losses but, for now, th­ese are be­ing hid­den from the pub­lic back home.

Far more se­ri­ous ca­su­al­ties have been sus­tained by Rus­sia’s al­lies. Iran, which has lost dozens of sol­diers, is al­ready pulling back much of its con­tin­gent. Hizbol­lah has lost an es­ti­mated 1,400 fight­ers, and thou­sands more have been in­jured.

Rus­sia, how­ever, has achieved its main ob­jec­tives: in­ter­na­tional recog­ni­tion for its cen­tral role in Syria; a per­ma­nent foothold in the Mid­dle East, in­clud­ing its port at Tar­tus; and world at­ten­tion de­flected away from east­ern Ukraine.

The West is now fo­cused on the threat of Daesh, rather on As­sad, de­spite the fact that the Caliphate is

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