Russian Strikes Again Expose US Disarray

New York (AFP) – Russia’s dramatic entry Wednesday into the Syrian war put the United States on the back foot once again and left Washington struggling to regain the military and diplomatic initiative.

As US Secretary of State John Kerry was in New York trying to coordinate with his Kremlin opposite number Sergei Lavrov, a Russian officer contacted the US embassy in Baghdad.

His message was simple: Russian jets are about to launch air strikes in Syria, please stay out of their way.

Kerry_Iran-Deal-Congress

Kerry quickly protested to Lavrov that this was not in the spirit of Moscow’s promise to agree a “de-confliction” mechanism to ensure Russian flights do not interfere with US-led operations.

But the strikes were already underway, potentially altering the balance of power in Syria back in favor of Bashar al-Assad‘s regime, and Washington was looking at a fait accompli.

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Lavrov’s next move was to promise to bring a motion before the UN Security Council to coordinate “all forces standing up against Islamic State and other terrorist structures.”

This would be a plain victory for Assad, who invited the Russians to join his battle to cling on to power, and a defeat for the United States, which has demanded he step down.

The attacks came despite President Barack Obama sitting down with Russia’s Vladimir Putin on Monday at the United Nations for 90 minutes of what both camps called “business-like” talks.

One week ago, Kerry — despite being in frequent contact with Lavrov — told reporters that Russia’s deployment of war planes was consistent with their only defending their own base.

And just hours before the strikes began he appeared on CNN to say that Russia’s involvement could be an “opportunity” to persuade them to apply pressure on Assad to moderate his behavior.

After the strikes Kerry addressed the UN Security Council, but even here his message was mixed….(read more)

Source: AFP/Yahoo News



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