Monday, June 13, 2016

Russia's Syrian Blitz

Da Tovarisch!

The new Russian battlefront just happened to be a territory in which American-led Western forces were already operating. The United States was also funding and supplying anti-Assad militias far removed from the theater of operations in which ISIS was functional. That was revealed to the world only when Russian forces targeted and destroyed the CIA-trained weapon depots that had supplied them. The presence of Russian and American forces in the same theater, with both nations shooting at the other’s proxies on the ground and harassing each other in the skies, sparked an acute international crisis.

Contrary to the confident pronouncements of the Kremlin’s Western parrots, Moscow’s only goal was to prop up the ailing Assad regime. Why Russian forces would attack ISIS, which Damascus has funded and nurtured that insurgency in order to keep more moderate anti-regime rebels busy.

The Daily Best Pentagon Correspondent Nancy Youssef revealed on Thursday that U.S.-backed rebel forces on the ground in Syria are collapsing under withering assault from Russian-led forces. “Russian strikes have hit numerous hospitals and routes used by the more moderate opposition,” Youssef reported. Under Russian pressure, anti-regime militias in the rebel stronghold of Aleppo have started to collapse.

If Russia’s objective at the start of its campaign in Syria were to secure the faltering Assad regime and protect its Mediterranean port in Tartus, Moscow has been wildly successful. In the process of securing its interests, Russia also managed to win an agreement with the United States aimed at “de-confliction”–e.g. carving out operating zones so that American and Russian asset didn’t accidently start shooting at one another—legitimizing its presence in Syria.

Meanwhile, America has begun panic betting in Syria and now has up to 250 Special Forces operators fighting alongside its proxy forces on the ground. With no clear metrics for success but many for failure, the United States finds itself aimlessly escalating a conflict it cannot afford to lose but has no interest in winning.